Not Just for Kids

by Robert Merriam

(source: wiki commons)

I really like movies and often, when talking about movies, I am asked which is my favourite. I, being quite a boring person, have given this question a lot of thought; after all, you will doubtlessly be judged based on your answer. It is then slightly reluctantly that I give the answer: WALL-E.

Upon hearing this, people often respond by saying something along the lines of: “Isn’t that a kid’s movie?”

And now I’ll get to the point: can we stop calling anything that is animated and rated U a "kid’s movie"? Of course, there is nothing wrong with being for kids; in fact, WALL-E is for kids, but WALL-E is also for everyone else and I refuse to be ashamed of loving it so much. Some people call these types of films "family movies", which is slightly better than "kid’s movie", but still implies that it is only for families. You shouldn’t have to watch WALL-E with your family as a joke, you should be able to watch WALL-E with anyone: as a film in its own right.

WALL-E, in case you’re unaware, is about a lone (and mostly silent) robot living on Earth hundreds of years in the future. The Robot (WALL-E) is the last functioning part of a huge operation to clean up all the rubbish left by the now-departed humans. WALL-E’s peaceful life of working, collecting knick-knacks and listening to show tunes is interrupted by EVE, a probe sent back to Earth by the space-dwelling humans. As you might be able to tell, from my incredibly boring synopsis (the movie is better I promise), the film has an environmental message, but, apart from that, it is exciting, visually stunning and deeply touching. In fact it has a lot in common with 2009's Avatar but is, for my money, much better. I would bet, however, that you would be prouder to call that film your favourite than you would to call WALL-E or any other animated film.

It saddens me that people avoid or belittle animation simply because it has been used traditionally to appeal to children more than adults or because it doesn’t contain enough violence or language to be taken seriously. 3D animation is one of the most painstaking and work-intensive ways to make a film and the quality of  the works of PIXAR, DreamWorks, Disney and Blue Sky is often greater  than much of the stuff produced for older audiences. Of course not all children’s films are masterpieces for all ages but, currently, it seems that we only pay any attention to them if they have a catchy tune to go with them (I’m looking at you, Frozen).

To its credit, WALL-E has gained a lot of respect since its release. It ranks at 61 in IMDB’s top 250 movies of all time, it has a 96% score on Rotten Tomatoes. It also won an Oscar for best animated feature. However, only 3 animations have ever been nominated for Best Picture and WALL-E was not one of them.

This lack of appreciation from the industry means that animation houses have to keep targeting their films ostensibly at children and families in order to make back the huge sums of money that these films cost to make. If more people went to see animation at the cinema, the extra profit might allow for some of these companies to start experimenting with more adult projects. Animation has such potential as a medium and, although its certainly not wasted at the moment, I still feel that, if it could be made for a wider audience, we could get a lot more great stuff.

I might well be wrong. Disney probably isn’t about to start making animation for anyone other than kids, but other young creators just starting up might never be able to tell the stories they want to if they are caught up in the Disney machine.

So what I suppose I’m trying to get at is: if you haven’t already watched WALL-E…please watch WALL-E. And if you harbour a great love for an animated film, don’t be ashamed, because it might just be awesome.

P.S :If you’re interested in seeing some quality animation at the cinema, The Book of Life looks pretty great and is out now.