An Adult Look at Disney Movies Made for Kids

Dannon Sanders, Writer

Every person has memories of their favorite Disney movie from when they were a kid. Whether it be watching The Little Mermaid on VHS or going to see Moana in theaters, we all have a connection to those movies and the franchise as a whole that was so influential to us when we were young. But that influence does not have to end when we all inevitably grow up. Disney movies include themes, ideas, and lessons that are just as important and meaningful to adults as they are to children.

Disney proves that their movies are not exclusively for children by including especially adult concepts and ideas within their tales; sometimes the entire plot of a movie is developed upon an idea of this caliber. For instance, look no further than Disney Pixar’s heart-wrenching film, Up, in which we follow an elderly man’s journey of adventure and personal growth as he attempts to fulfill the unreached dream of his late wife. Grief, failure, and loneliness are some of the major themes of the movie, and if you leave out the part with the talking dogs the story of the film could be seen as an adult drama. Not many people can name another ‘children’s film’ that deals with themes as dark as death and grief.

The way Disney presents these themes also shows that their movies are made for all ages as well. Inside Out, Disney Pixar’s film that was released in 2015, shows this tendency. Like Up, this film contains immensely mature themes, such as the importance of “loss and what people gain when guided by feelings of sadness” (Ketner and Ekman). Not only that, but even the basic idea of portraying each human emotion as a personified character living within the mind of a child is not what you’d expect from a movie made for kids. The movie was created around themes and concepts that appeals to the emotions and minds of adults rather than children.

Now that it is clear that Disney movies are not only made for children, but people must also understand the importance of the fact that these movies offer value to adults as well. They can teach priceless themes to people; no matter their age. Manohla Dargis points this out in her review of Frozen II as she explains how the film serves as “a modest liberating détournement” with its fresh ideas of feminism. This shows just how important it is that everyone realizes how much these Disney movies have to offer to adults as well as children; and why we should all pay a visit to Disney+ without being biased against the false notion that these films were ‘made for children.’