Bully for you!

Brundle Guy writes:

Although a lot of animated children’s movies are by-the-book and rote, every now and then I feel like they can slip something through that’s exceptional. Every now and then the gatekeepers are looking the other way, and a storyteller gets to slip the kids a little bit of the harsh medicine of growing up along with the general buzz and hullabaloo of kids’ entertainment.

Recently Brundle Gal and I checked out “ParaNorman,” a claymation flick that I really dug. I thought the movie was pretty sweet top-to-bottom, but one of the things that really jumped out at me was the movie’s mature take on fear and bullying, which I thought worth bringing up.

The movie uses some fun, silly horror movie pastiche to show a lot of different angles on how fear often comes from ignorance and can make people become defensive, lash out and act unreasonably, hurting themselves and others. It doesn’t candy-coat the message by simply having big bad guys who act out of fear, and good guys who valiantly oppose them. It invests in showing how EVERYONE acts this way, and how hard it can be to try and get past those gut reactions.

Also, in this time where bullying has become such a hot-button topic, I had to tip my hat to a kids’ movie that doesn’t so much show people triumphing over bullying as realizing that it is an ever-present, unavoidable part of life and learning how to deal with it. Isn’t it occasionally refreshing to hear a little bit of the now sadly old-school “life is tough, get some gristle or get eaten” kind of talk?

This is not to say that the movie is a curmudgeonly, preachy message movie. I found it fun, exciting, unpredictable and fairly moving. AND it was legitimately creepy, which I very much support. It’s also visually pretty beautiful and imaginative.

I couldn’t find any pictures of the incredible final confrontation with the “antagonist,” I suppose the studio is keeping those under fairly tight wrap, but I thought it was some brilliant and effective movie-making.

But outside of all that, I wanted to take a moment to applaud a movie made for children that certainly has all the fun and frolic, but also delivers an unusually mature and tough message. I feel like the last time I saw something like that was in Pixar’s “The Incredibles,” which is pretty much the only children’s movie I can think of whose message is, “Guess what? You’re probably not special. That’s OK, most people aren’t, deal with it.”

Also to the credit of “ParaNorman,” when was the last time you saw an animated film that had an extended physical comedy sequence involving a recently deceased body?

What about you, fellow Uncouthers? Any particular favorite “tough love” kids movies/stories?

About Brundle Guy

Half Man, Half Middle-Man, he's paid to help others realize their artistic visions while struggling in obscurity with his own. What hath social science wrought?!
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1 Response to Bully for you!

  1. Nice posting. I don’t follow kiddie stuff but you’ve hit on a sore spot I retain from childhood: the tendency so many creators of kiddie entertainment have to want to sell the general message “Follow your dream! You can be anything!” Man oh man, what a disservice to kids, or at least to the kid I was. I wanted some trustworthy advice and suggestions. Instead I got stuff that was almost guaranteed to ruin a life. But maybe it made the parents and teachers feel good about themselves?


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