Here are some movies my daughter has been obsessed with.
Secret Life of Pets. Cute jokes about pets, but by the 500th viewing you start to realize that the plot makes little sense and you can’t understand how the characters move around. What is the rabbit’s actual goal? How did that guinea pig stuck in the vents make it into a different building? Why didn’t Katie properly introduce two strange dogs before leaving them alone together for what has to be the longest workday I’ve ever seen? According to my toddler, though, this movie has everything: it has dogs, it’s got, well…more dogs. She is in. To. It.
Trolls. I’m going to admit — I enjoyed this. I liked the songs, I liked that everything looks like it’s made out of felt, I even liked the crazy story. It was just fun. There’s been no big demand from miss baby, though, so we haven’t rewatched yet.
Mary and the Witch’s Flower. Baby’s first anime! I wanted to watch it, and I put it on thinking she’d ignore it. Instead she pointed excitedly at the screen whenever a cat or some other animal showed up, and in between seemed like she was actually watching the movie. Mama’s little girl is an anime fan; guess the apple really doesn’t fall too far from the tree.
Moana. Songs: check. Beautiful water: check. Adorable pig: double check. My daughter claps when the end title slams on the screen, as if in appreciation, and she’s made a enough lilting sounds during the musical numbers to convince me she’s trying to sing.
As I helped set up the kid’s movie at the library recently, a boy filed in with his family, his nose in a graphic novel. Moms chatted, kids flopped on cushions, and this kid kept reading his book.
Ninety minutes later the movie ended, and we turned on the lights. When I noticed the kid again, he was standing among the other kids, book open, looking down. It was seamless, as if he’d never closed the book since I turned out the lights and hit play on the movie. And maybe he didn’t– maybe he read straight through, more interested in what he could read then what he could watch. Or maybe once one form of entertainment ended, he slipped back into the other one at hand before I could even see the transition.
I was the girl who read Animorphs on my lap between lessons, who couldn’t leave the house without a book in my bag, who couldn’t handle a trip to Maine until her mother took her to a bookstore to restock. So kid, I relate.
A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I decided to totally forget how many children really do go to opening weekend Disney movies (all of them, every child) and popped into the newest flick, Zootopia. Once I managed to fine-tune my attention so I no longer noticed the loud mom over-explaining every single theme in the movie to her toddler, I became suddenly thrilled to realize I was watching a movie about prejudice and biases.
A couple of these biases are obvious before you even go into the movie. Judy Hops is a little bunny who’s told her whole life she can never be a cop, and even after she aces the academy she’s given no respect from her lion and elephant coworkers and her water buffalo boss. Then there’s Nick Wilde, a hustling fox who’s not really as shifty or untrustworthy as he seems.
Then, Zootopia gets a little more complicated.
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