I’m never giving up animated movies, no matter how old I get.
I don’t just mean the award-winning ones, either. Most people will understand if you watch Miyazaki without a convenient child to use an excuse, and you could probably get away with doing the same when it comes to a lot of Disney/Pixar stuff. You’ve probably got to mention cinematography or themes when you talk about them, but there’s some wiggle room.
No, I watch and genuinely enjoy everything from “Moana” to that animated Robinson Crusoe movie with the talking animals, all without a single child to justify myself. I’m even looking forward to this Friday’s “Leap!,” featuring an orphan girl who wants to be a ballet dancer and a boy trying to invent mechanical wings for himself.
There’s a sense of freedom in good (or at least decent) animated movies that so few adult films seem to match. You have to check your disbelief the moment you step through the door of the theater, because no one’s going to bother explaining why animals talk or no one is surprised to see little yellow creatures walking around in overalls. Kids can fly, fish can talk, babies are created by huge magical machines and all the best villains make puns.
This is the world kids live in daily, and animated movies take full advantage of that fact. Everything is strange and wondrous, so everything seems equally possible. The idea that babies are made by a machine really doesn’t seem any more weird to them that they’re growing in their mother’s stomach, and they just assume animals can talk. Humans can, after all, and when you hear two dogs barking at each other it’s pretty clear they both understand what the other dog is saying.
For a grown-up like me, however, the rules of “reality” are closing in day by day. We know all the scientific reasons for things, that most surprises are bad, and that genuine bad guys do things so evil it can make you nauseous. We know that happy is a relative term, and that even the most cheerful ending of a movie takes a lot of work to maintain after the credits roll.
But when I watch animated movies, I don’t have to worry about any of that. Kid rules apply, and my imagination can run wild in a world where anything is possible and it doesn’t have to worry about bedtime. The best movies feel like I’ve gone on the kind of magical adventure that adults aren’t supposed to have, but even the average ones feel like a vacation. For that hour and a half, anything seems possible.
Yes, jokes about bodily functions crop up a lot. But they’re pretty common in adult movies, too, and honestly I’d rather listen to a poop joke meant for a 7-year-old than a 37-year-old. And yes, some animated movies are just flat-out awful, but if I ignored a genre because some of the movies in it were bad I’d soon be completely out of things left to watch.
So I’ll keep living in a world where animals talk in a language we can understand, and kids can fly without worrying about things like the laws of physics. Call me an honorary kid if you have to, but I’m not going anywhere.