For years Walt Disney Animation Studios has captured the hearts of children everywhere. Now grown children are making up a high percentage of animated movie goers. It’s clear from the numbers that animated family films are not just for families anymore. More and more millennials are going to the cinema to see films traditionally marketed to a much younger demographic, and that’s not even taking into consideration viewing habits on outlets like Netflix. Film companies have caught on, too. It is an opinion that the lure of animated and young adult features to millennials is much more complex than pure nostalgia.
Given the oft-discussed circumstances millennials currently feel, it’s no wonder more and more 20-somethings are deferring adulthood. Animated and young adult films offer a simple, pure form of escapism. As we deal with financial and political unrest, it’s reassuring to watch a film where we know the stakes and the outcome. There is no moral ambiguity or uncertain endings; good will prevail. If the hero works hard, he or she will win—something no longer guaranteed for the real life of this generation of young adults.
In addition, while recent numbers reveal that representation of women in film remains dismal, animated and young adult films often feature women in leading roles.
Now you might be thinking adult Disney fans must suffer from the aptly named Peter Pan Syndrome, right? Overgrown Tinkerbells spending their free time and money at Disney movies and theme parks. If that is what you’re thinking, you’ve officially identified the biggest misconception about adult Disney fans. They want you to know they are not overgrown children, silly or immature.
Of course, it’s impossible to discount the power of nostalgia. But many articles indicate these folks are full-functioning adults, who enjoy typical grown-up pleasures. For older millennials, who remember the pre-Internet era, Disney serves as a constant. You might get older, but Disney stays the same.
If you haven’t been to a recent animated PG film recently, try one of these showing in a theater near you.
PG | Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Penelope Wilton | Directed by Steven Spielberg
BFG tells the tale of a young girl, the Queen of England and a benevolent giant known as BFG, who set out on an adventure to capture the evil man eating giants that have been invading the human world.
PG | Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill, Diane Keaton
Directed by Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane
Remember the forgetful friendly fish from Finding Nemo? She is back in Finding Dory. Dory seeks to reunite with her loved ones and every one learns a few things about the true meaning of family along the way. This deep-sea adventure, with its swirling colors, is enchanting.
THE SECRET LIVES OF PETS
PG | Louis C.K., Kevin Hart, Lake Bell, Albert Brooks
Directed by Chris Renaud, Yarrow Cheney
Max (Louis C.K.) is a spoiled terrier, who enjoys a comfortable life in a New York City until his owner adopts Duke, a giant and unruly canine. During their walk outside, they encounter a group of ferocious alley cats and wind up in a truck that’s bound for the pound. Luckily, a rebellious bunny named Snowball swoops in to save the doggy duo from captivity. In exchange, Snowball demands that Max and Duke join his gang of abandoned pets on a mission against the humans who’ve done them wrong.
PG | Neel Sethi, Idris Elba, Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray | Director by Jon Favreau
Raised by a family of wolves since birth, Mowgli (Neel Sethi) must leave the only home he’s ever known when the fearsome tiger Shere Khan unleashes his mighty roar. Guided by a no-nonsense panther (Ben Kingsley) and a free-spirited bear (Bill Murray), the young boy meets an array of jungle animals, including a slithery python and a smooth-talking ape. Along the way, Mowgli learns valuable life lessons, as his epic journey of self-discovery leads to fun and adventure. I was so taken by the animated technology in this film, I saw it twice.