You would have to be living under a soundproof rock to not know about Disney’s record-breaking, ubiquitous movie Frozen. If you live or work with small children, you’ve no doubt been serenaded with the soundtrack, or enjoyed having the entire story recounted to you. I count myself among the film’s many fans, albeit taller than most. So what is it about children’s movies that gets to us – and in many cases – sticks with us forever?
In the spirit of scientific research, I turned to Facebook for some (un)official polling. I asked my friends what their most loved movies were as kids, and what they continue to watch now. I also asked those with kids what was on high rotation at their house.
This is what I learned.
Aspiration is Important
Beloved characters are beautiful, strong, brave and smart. They encompass all that we want to be. In the movies, they have perfect hair (a magic carpet ride at high speed and Jasmine and Aladdin had perfect do’s), perfect clothes and courage in bucketloads when faced with challenges.
…But Relatability is Paramount.
The best characters – the ones we love deeply – are flawed. They don’t have all the answers. Kevin McCallister was brave when he was foiling the robbers, but come Christmas morning, he just wanted his Mum. Marlin was a nervous wreck letting Nemo go to school, and every parent felt his worry acutely. Simba ran away after Mufasa died, because he was scared and alone. We see ourselves and our own fears and shortfalls in these characters and life seems a little less scary.
Music is the Universal Language
It’s been 20 years since the Lion King was released, and I guarantee that my brother and I can still sing every word, in every voice, to Hakuna Matata. Say the words “In West Philadelphia” to anyone born 1980 onwards, and watch what happens. In the list of responses, music is the thread that connects them. People told stories of dancing in their basement, singing loudly in the car with their siblings, and recreating the songs in dramatic performances to family.
When I first saw Aladdin, I had been camping with my family for weeks and we reached the first city we’d seen in a long time. We went to lunch in a restaurant (a buffet – I chose spaghetti and ice-cream, same bowl) and then to the movies. It was pretty much the greatest day of my young life.
Whether it was an annual tradition with family, or a sleepover, or a special trip, the answers often recalled seeing their favourite films alongside details about who they were with, and where.
What are your favourites, and why?
Kids Movies at the Roundhouse: The Lion King is on Sunday, January 11 at 11am. Admission is free.
By Megan Simm, Roundhouse Blog Team. Megan works in communications and freelances as a social media strategist and blogger specializing in the non-profit sector. She is passionate about local food, community and sustainability. Follow @MegSimm on Twitter.