Are cartoons more mature than movies aimed at adults?

Posted: November 30, 2009 by limabean03 in Current Issues, Film

One of my favorite memories growing up is heading off to the movies with my Dad on Saturday’s.  I recently tried to do this with my son David and was trying to figure out what movie we might go see.  I really wanted to see “The Fantastic Mr. Fox,” a Roald Dahl children’s novel set to the big screen by the very talented director Wes Anderson.  I was unsure if “Mr. Fox” would be a film suitable for David.  I was more concerned about any scary scenes frightening him than anything else.  I typed in “Is the Fantastic Mr. Fox suitable for children,” in the Google search bar and came up with this review.  Long story short, we didn’t go see the film, although I still want to.  But I did find this interesting quote in the review that I thought I’d share with you:

“A colleague remarked to me, as we were leaving the theater, that what we’d just seen isn’t a children’s movie—not so much because it’s crass but because its themes and humor aren’t on a kid’s level. If you remember, I opened this review with an allusion to midlife crises. And that’s something no 8-year-old can begin to understand. (Or care about.)

Which brings me to an interesting trend I’ve been seeing in movies of late: Children’s movies are often more mature, more thoughtful and more responsible than some of the adult-targeted flicks I see.

What I mean is that R-rated romps are often infantile in their composition and lack of intelligent nuance, trumpeting only perpetual (and irresponsible) adolescence. The likes of Fantastic Mr. Fox, meanwhile, laud moral compunctions, responsibility, cooperation and familial unity.”

I enjoy movies so I see quite a few of them and I have to agree with the writer’s point.  I recently saw a film called “Up”, which was probably one of the finest movies I’ve seen in years.  It is a children’s cartoon from Pixar, however the film dealt with incredibly complex material such as infertility, growing old, broken families, friendship and responsibility.  It was escapist on one hand (it is a cartoon after all!), but rather than remaining in escapist territory it actually caused you to return and reassess the complexities and confusion of life.  Contrast that with say, the recent string of comic book films that are marketed not to teenagers but to adult men.  In a well documented phenomenon called “delayed adolescence,” it seems as if Hollywood and a great deal of other commercial forces are helping to prolong a man’s teenage years well into his thirties.  Ironic isn’t it, that a theatre will be full of grown men watching the latest Spiderman as they engage the unfulfilled vigilante fantasies of their teenage years while eight year olds will be watching cartoons learning how to be responsible men and raise families.  Seems kind of backwards to me.  Oh well. 

For a preview of “Up” click below. 

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