Kids movies are huge. They’re playful, light, and nowadays tend to have really great animation. Movies like Zootopia and Frozen have become hits all over the globe for grabbing storylines and great life lessons.
But I know many adults who refuse to watch kids movies. Why? I really don’t know. Perhaps they find them too juvenile. But to my adult friends who think so, you couldn’t be more wrong. Many of these movies are designed having parent viewers in mind, meaning the content tailored to an adult audience too. Many of the life lessons written for kids movies are arguably there for adults too.
So, here are 3 kids movies from the last 30 years with great messages that you should watch as an adult:
This film is the most recent on the list having only been released 8 years ago. But Up is a film every adult should see at least once. Despite its popularity, I have many friends who have yet to see it.
Up is the story of an old man named Carl who fulfills his and his late wife, Ellie’s, dream of going to Paradise Falls in South America. He ties thousands of balloons to his house to transform his house into a flying contraption and makes the move South. On the journey, Carl is surprised to find Russell (a Wilderness Explorer and boy scout) stowed below his house and the two end up bonding and having quite the adventure finding Paradise Falls.
I actually remember the first time watching the preview for Up. It was close to a decade ago now. The preview was simple, a house floating into the sky with thousands of balloons giving it flight. “Weird”, I thought. I later went to see the movie in theatres, sat in the first row, and ended up bursting into tears within the first 15 minutes of the film.
Why should you rewatch it as an adult?
Live in the Present
Up is an incredible story of love and compassion. As seen in the above clip, Pixar was able to capture the harsh realities of growing old, falling in love, and things not always going to plan within the first 20 minutes of the film.
Challenge: Watch this scene without crying.
The true beauty of Carl and Ellie’s relationship is revealed later in the film. Once at Paradise Falls, Carl is sad and seems unsatisfied with the reality of achieving this goal. He finds and opens Ellie’s scrapbook from her childhood, “My Adventure Book”, and discovers the book is filled with photos of the couple growing old together. It turns out that Ellie’s dreams and goals were simply to experience life with Carl.
This echoes the idea that we should be living in the present and enjoy what life offers us every day. We often get caught up in what is coming next and forget to be grateful for what life offers us in the now.
Russell and Carl’s relationship is an example of another lesson from Up. Although it is never mentioned, it appears that Russell does not have a close relationship with his father. Despite this, Russell ends up relying on Carl and looking up to him as a mentor. By the end of the film, Carl is at an award ceremony with other Wilderness Explorers and is the only one without his father present. Low and behold, Carl steps onto the stage and stands firmly in the place where Russell’s father would have been.
This is a powerful lesson in acceptance and dismantling of the nuclear family. Society places the expectation of families looking tradition, with a mother, father, and kids usually in the makeup. This, of course, is not the reality for many people. Russell looking up to Carl as a mentor, and physically seeing card stand in the place of “father” at the end of the film helps to recreate a new narrative what of a family might mean to some kids. And adults!
The Iron Giant (1999)
I always thought the Iron Giant was one of the coolest movies out there. I mean, how many kids have a giant alien robot as their best friend growing up?! But OMG, this film is a tear jerker. Hogarth, a young boy, discovers the giant robot and befriends him. The Iron Giant is essentially a huge gun with the capability of creating destruction, but Hogarth teaches the robot how to love and spread kindness. The robot definitely takes what he learns to heart and ends up sacrificing himself for humanity.
Why should you rewatch it as an adult?
Can we talk about selflessness? The Iron Giant sacrifices himself and flies into a bomb to save the town. Now, of course, I’m not suggesting for anyone to go out and put themselves in danger, but the message of doing something that might be tough for the greater good is strong.
This can take many forms in everyday life. It could be something as small as helping someone open the door, or letting someone out in traffic. Small acts of kindness go a long way in both making yourself and others feel good.
The Iron Giant is a character is who very quicked to be judged by everyone around him. Everyone assumes that a colossal sized alien robot is a threat (and I mean, what human wouldn’t). But what this town fails to do is even give the giant a chance. In the scene below, the general screams “It’s attacking!” without even take note that the giant was, in fact, rescuing a couple boys from a deadly fall.
Hogarth teaches viewers to not judge others by befriending and showing the giant the power of friendship and compassion. We as humans are often afraid of what is different and are quick to judge something we don’t understand and are afraid of. But just because we don’t understand or are scared of something doesn’t mean we should act in violence. In fact, we should really be using these moments as opportunities to learn and grow from one another!
This movie holds a very soft spot in my heart. The Land Before Time was regularly played in my household as a child. Both my sister and I were extremely fond of the characters, my sister even adopting the name “Littlefoot” from my dad.
The film follows Littlefoot’s journey to The Great Valley after losing his mother and getting separated from his grandparents in an earthshake. He encounters many hurdles along the way but makes friends with four other young dinosaurs looking for their own families too.
Why should you rewatch it as an adult?
It deals with loss
This movie has a very forward way of explaining that nobody is invincible and that death is a very real thing. While this may be a good way for young kids to get introduced to death, it’s also a great way for grownups to remember that death sucks but it is a part of everyone’s life. Littlefoot, although devastated, demonstrates perseverance and strength. That’s not to say he doesn’t show sadness, he does. Sadness isn’t a bad thing. But he doesn’t allow the death of his mother to be the death of him too.
…Then again, he would have died if he didn’t follow his mother’s last words and show resilience. So who am I to say?
Throughout the film, Littlefoot one by one encounters other young dinosaurs also on a mission to find their families. Although they are all completely different types dinosaurs, they become close friends and lean on each other for support throughout the struggles of survival. It is their differences that prove valuable throughout the journey to The Great Valley, from Ducky’s swimming abilities to Petri’s gift of flight when fighting off the terrifying Sharptooth.
This is a pungent reminder that it is important to accept others and to be compassionate regardless of differences. In fact, without our differences, we likely wouldn’t survive too! Imagine a world where everyone wanted to be the exact same. How would we grow and develop? We wouldn’t. Embrace difference!
The message is short but simple. Share. In whatever form that may come. The Land Before Time places its characters in life or death situations and somehow these little dinosaurs manage to share everything. From water to food to laughter to grief to hugs, they share it all.
In this day in age, we sometimes forget the power of sharing with those around us. The world is a competitive place and “me me me” seems to be all that is on most people’s minds. The Land Before Times teaches children and adults how good it can feel to share with those around you. And also how good it feels to be shared with! Think about the last time you were in a rush and someone held the elevator for you. Small acts of kindness go a long way.
Littlefoot’s mother’s last words were, “Let your heart guide you. It whispers, so listen closely.” Everyone on the planet should read this quote, every day, as soon as they wake up. So many of us are driven by money, power, and fame that we forget what life is really all about. While nobody knows the meaning of life, we do know that loving others makes us feel good and that following your passions has positive effects all around. Just check out this article on Elite Daily.
All in all, people love to love and to be loved. The heartfelt compassionate nature of The Land Before Time evokes a sense of lightness, love, and hope that every adult should take out with them in their daily lives.
Love is the underlying theme amongst all three films and most kids movies. But the reminder rings true for adults too. As The Beatles said, all you need is love!