The magic of animated films

Why do animated films mean so much to us?

This is a question I started asking myself recently just for the fun of it. Just last week, the Frozen 2 trailer came out and last I checked, it has garnered more than 30 million views on YouTube. With the excitement seen here, as well as for the recent release of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, and numerous upcoming titles such as Toy Story 4, it seems that animated films strike a chord with most people. And no, it is not just kids.

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Frozen 2 (2019)

I am talking about full-grown men and women, myself included. You don’t have to look far to find people who are still excited about such films even though they are way past their “early years”. Just look on the Internet or look at your friends.

And that honestly has got me wondering – why do animated films mean so much to us? It isn’t exactly erroneous to say that most animated films made by the likes of Disney and Illumination are targeted towards a younger crowd. But either way, we still see adults equally (if not, even more) hyped up about these movies, queuing up for tickets at the box office.

One reason I can think of is nostalgia. My mom makes joking remarks about me when I watch animated films. She always says these films are for kids, and teases a 23 year-old me for watching them. This applies not just exclusively to animated films though. She says the same for superhero films. And that could be because our parents didn’t grow up watching these characters come to life. Guess who they recall watching most of these movies? Their children – us.

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Toy Story 4 (2019)

When Woody and Buzz Lightyear embarked on their first adventures, most of our parents were already in their adulthood. They might not have been drawn to watch Toy Story because there were other more “mature” movies available to them.

But for me, once I began to have a basic understanding of the world around me, I was already seeing Toy Story frequently playing on TV. Animated films formed a significant part of my childhood. I presume this is also the case for many of you. Maybe that is why we get so thrilled finding out there was a sequel to Finding Nemo, 13 years after the movie came out.

Movies like Finding Dory, Incredibles 2 and Toy Story 4 throw us all into a frenzy because these stories were huge parts of our childhood. Watching these familiar characters return brings back loads of good memories and maybe even reminds us of the happiness we felt as a child.

But is nostalgia the only reason we get so easily attached or attracted to animated movies? I’d like to doubt so. If nostalgia was the only reason getting us to watch animated films, why do we also look forward to watching brand new ones?

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How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019)

Assuming you are a little closer to my age, when films like Despicable Me, How to Train Your Dragon and Frozen came around, we were not really young anymore. Want even more recent titles? Sure. Rise of the Guardians, Wreck-It Ralph, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, The Secret Life of Pets, Moana, Coco are all titles that come to mind when it comes to animated films released in recent years. Yet we love them all equally. One of my favorite animated films of all time is Inside Out, a film that was released in 2015 when I was 19. I find myself more interested in animated films the older I get!

Perhaps, the “magic” of animated films is not really found in their ability to bring us nostalgia, but in their ability to bring us back to a simpler time. When we were young, our knowledge of the world was little and our imagination of what was possible – limitless. Now that we are older, maybe that’s not the case anymore. When we were young, our view and belief of the world was purer; maybe now, not so.

Perhaps, animated films serve as a reminder to our inner selves that we should never stop imagining. These films have always fueled our imagination in our youth and continue to bring out the child on the inside. Deep down, though our minds have long matured (and rightly so), our inner child remains; and he/she believes in and yearns for a world that is beautiful, colorful, even a little magical like how it is in many animated films.

The “magic” of such films lies in their power to remind us what true friendship (e.g. Toy Story, How to Train Your Dragon), heroism (e.g. Big Hero 6, Wreck-It Ralph) and family (e.g. Incredibles, Frozen, Coco) are like. Though we should definitely grow out of our childish selves, I say we should remain child-like in our faith towards humanity and the world as a whole.

Good people do exist. Good things can happen. Maybe it’s time to gather some good people around you and catch some good animated films again, don’t you think? See you at the cinema.