In eleventh grade, I went to see a screening of Gnomeo and Juliet at the local movie theater with a friend. After buying our tickets and popcorn, we ventured into the theater to find seats. Just a few moments after we sat down, I heard a familiar voice behind me calling my name: “Julia?”
I turned around and, to my dismay, I saw one of my babysitting families. The mother, in as nice a tone as she could, asked, “Oh, are you here with some other kids you babysit?”
Her innocent question represents one of the fundamental flaws in our movie watching society: the idea that animated movies are exclusively for children. The fact of the matter is that this just isn’t true. Animated movies are beautiful, with messages that everyone can learn from, despite their age.
Still, as you get older, it gets less and less acceptable to go see animated movies, especially when you’re in college and happen to have judgmental friends. Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t write off animated movies just because you’ve gotten a bit older.
Forget CGI explosions and misleading camera angles—animation has no limitations when it comes to imagination. Frozen’s ice castle building scene during Idina Menzel’s performance of “Let It Go” was one of the most visually stunning things to grace movie screens in a long time, and How to Train Your Dragon’s beautiful flying scenes are something that a live action movie would never be able to accomplish. Animated movies will grab you visually in a way that live action movies are nowhere close to being able to.
2. Animation creates new worlds.
While live action movies are mostly limited to a couple of settings, cartoons are able to go all over the world, and through many others. In animation, fantastical worlds are the norm, and there aren’t budgetary constraints that stop filmmakers from going anywhere they want to go. The most recent example of this is the fantastic Lego Movie, whose attention to detail and ability to move through different Lego worlds (the Old West, Middle Zealand) at the drop of a hat is an incredible example of the extremely quick change in setting that live action movies just don’t have the budget for.
3. Animated movies will make you cry.
According to Time, we cry at animated movies because of science— seeing them activates our nurturing instinct, which releases prolactin, a hormone contained in breast milk which also happens to help produce tears. Well that may be true but I’d go with something much simpler— animated movies make us cry because they make us care.
I don’t know about you, but I find it much, much easier to relate to a robot who can only communicate through beeps than to a whole bunch of rich movie stars who are doing an ensemble movie to make some quick cash. The amount of feeling and heart that goes into cartoons makes them seem so much more committed to making people happy, and less focused on just making money.
4. Animated movies are a collaborative effort.
As Pablo Ruiz at Rotoscopers points out, live action movies are usually written by one or two screenwriters, who work alone or in small group settings. Animated movies, on the other hand, are almost always a group effort. They are more the products of studios, where groups of writers sit together for months at a time to work through all of their ideas and pick out the very best ones. The love and work that goes into each and every animated movie is incredible, and you can feel it flow through the screen as you watch. There are no slapdash animated movies— every cartoon is the product of years of work, and it definitely shows.
5. Animated movies stick with you.
Of the last ten movies I’ve seen, four have been animated, and those four are the only ones that I still actually think about. There’s something about animated movies that just makes them memorable in a way that live action movies can’t be.
I would say there are a few different reasons for this: the higher standard that studios set for animated movies, the attention to detail that animation allows for, and the clear and finished plot lines and valuable take-aways that live action movies so often forget about.
When going into an animated movie, you should always expect more. Expect to be entertained, but also expect to learn something that you may have forgotten— how to be nice to people, how to embrace who you truly are, how to never give up and just keep swimming. These are valuable lessons, and, even though they may seem obvious at our advanced age, they aren’t something we should forget. Animated movies can teach you a lot about yourself, and they’re not something you should overlook.