While animated films have always been a hit with kids, they increasingly focus on socially relevant topics. From gender equality to prison reform to Brexit and raising awareness against harassment, everything was covered. This year, animated films have not only entertained, but have also been a great means of education.
INCREDIBLE 2HIGHLIGHTED THEME: GENDER EQUALITY
This superhero animated film has delighted children and adults alike with the adventures of Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl and their children with superpowers – Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack. And although this is the basic premise, the sequel to Incredibles also advocates for gender equality. A change of circumstances forces Mr. Incredible to replace Elastigirl as she goes out to save the world. He’s torn between wanting to support her and being envious of missing out on all the action outside. However, he manages to stay the course by realizing that she needs him to be an equal partner, who shares a load of responsibility on her back by replacing her in her absence. And in the end, he manages to save the day and Elastigirl with her family firmly by his side.
PADDINGTON 2HIGHLIGHTED THEMES: BREXIT AND PRISON REFORM
The film tells the story of the titular bear, who was found at Paddington Station in London after spending his early years in “Darkest Peru”. Adopted by the Brown family, he looks at the world with curiosity. Paddington chooses to see the good in the people around him and wins hearts. While the goal may not have been to delve deeper, it touches on topics such as politics and social justice. Its anti-colonial tone has people claiming this is an anti-Brexit film, while the portrayal of Paddington’s fellow inmates appears to be a critical statement of the dehumanization of prisoners by society. Almost advocating for prison reform and a better society based on social justice.
STONE RABBITHIGHLIGHTED THEME: BULLYING FROM ALLERGIES
One of the most controversial animated films of 2018, Peter Rabbit follows the antics of a naughty bunny of the same name, who must keep a cool head when a newcomer challenges him. He has to fight for his house in the vegetable garden of a former farmer. The film received a lot of reviews for a scene centered on two characters throwing blackberries at Tom McGregor (heir to Mr. McGregor who owns the garden) knowing he is allergic to them. And while many were correct in pointing out that shedding light on a serious incident of bullying can’t be seen as a joke, he also rectified the fact that when they show Peter feels guilty for being a part of The entire incident he points out that allergic bullying is false and unacceptable under any circumstances.
ISLAND OF DOGSHIGHLIGHTED THEME: BAD USE OF PROPAGANDA
The film is about a boy and his dog and explores the love and loyalty they share for each other. However, as you dig deeper, you realize that the film also makes a political commentary on how things are shaping up to highlight the history of the underdogs in society. Considering the current global storyline, the movie seems to echo what’s going on in the world. The film’s island of exile is a place for convicts and victims of targeted propaganda. Isle of Dogs turns away from this atmosphere of human-made intolerance, encouraging a more humane approach while dealing with complex issues.
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3: SUMMER HOLIDAYSHIGHLIGHTED THEME: ACCEPTANCE OF DIFFERENCES TO REDUCE HATE CRIMES
Drac’s Pack takes a vacation on a monster cruise ship so he can take a summer break from running the hotel. Things don’t go as planned as Drac falls in love with the ship’s mysterious captain, Ericka. Like its prequels, Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation also plays ball with the theme of acceptance, which is a commentary on the times we live in. The monsters on board mirror the way we perceive ‘others’, thus amplifying our fears and prejudices and viewing others from that angle. The most important thing to remember here is to accept people for who they are, to respect differences, and not to judge a book by its cover.