Movie Rewind 2019 – Analyzing Childhood Movies

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This year, All Dogs Go to Heaven turns 30, Stuart Little turns 20, and Coraline turns 10. Time flies doesn’t it?

To celebrate the anniversary of these beloved childhood classics, I went back and viewed all three of them, analyzing the good and the bad. Do they still hold up today? Let’s find out.

All Dogs Go to Heaven

All Dogs Go to Heaven is a 1989 animated movie created by Don Bluth, whose movies include An American Tail, The Land Before Time, and Anastasia.

Revisiting All Dogs Go to Heaven was an interesting experience. Viewing it now, you start to realize how much it feels like an adult animated movie rather than a wholesome children’s tale.

In what type of animated movie does the main character die twice? There’s even a scene where the protagonist is trying to escape from Hell.

Charlie B. Barkin, the main character, is a member of a “dog mafia” operating out of New Orleans in 1939.

Within the first five minutes or so, Charlie and his friend, Itchy, are seen playing craps at a casino run by dogs. The other dogs are drinking, smoking, and betting on actual rat races.

These are elements that you would never expect to see in a traditional animated movie.

In a subsequent scene, Charlie is suggesting to his boss, Carface, that they expand their business by opening up a cabaret club with a full staff of “dancing” female dogs.

This actually highlights something unique about Charlie. Unlike most animated heroes, Charlie isn’t a wholesome, positive role model.

For the majority of the movie, Charlie is a selfish, smooth-talking gambler. It’s only until the very end that he seeks redemption through the teachings of love and friendship that he learns from Ann-Marie, an orphan that comes into his care early in the movie.

To touch base on some positives, the characters and locations are beautifully drawn with great colors. The animation is still fluid. The themes of love, friendship, and loyalty to what you believe is right are great lessons for kids to learn.

In terms of negative aspects, the songs weren’t very memorable, and some characters, such as King Gator, were not fully developed and felt forced into the plot.

There’s also a scene where a group of dogs are firing a ray gun. That’s right, a ray gun. This is supposed to take place in 1939.

 

Stuart Little

Stuart Little is a 1999 family comedy directed by Rob Minkoff, who is known for being one of the creators of The Lion King.

The story follows the titular character, Stuart Little. A small mouse who struggles to find his place within his new family.

Upon revisiting this movie, one of the first things that can be noticed is the film crew that worked on this. Among the crew members was the one-and-only M. Night Shyamalan, credited as the screenplay writer.

Yes, the same guy that made Sixth Sense and Split also adapted the classic Stuart Little children’s tale into a screenplay. Unbelievable.

The screenplay is actually one of the best things about the movie. It’s simple, yet entertaining. Each plot point flows naturally into the next. There’s no apparent pacing issues.

The movie clocks in at about an hour-and-a-half, which is definitely welcomed. It’s so refreshing to watch a movie that isn’t a two-and-a-half-hour bore, like many modern movies.

The writing is also comedic, fun, and clever. The fact that Mrs. Little took Stuart to a toy store in order to go shopping for clothes just brings a smile to your face.

Another surprise when watching the movie is that the CGI actually holds up for the most part. Stuart is animated using CGI, and despite viewing it 20 years later, nothing looks very jarring.

The only scenes when the CGI looks bad is when Stuart’s fur is wet, specifically the scene where he’s escaping through the sewers.

There weren’t any glaring negatives. The only thing that is bothering is that it’s never really explained how animals and humans coexist together in this universe.

When Stuart and other mice talk, nobody freaks out. They’re acknowledged as being natural members of society, but on the other hand, cats can talk too, but they seem to keep it hidden from their human owners. Why is that?

 

Coraline

Coraline is a 2009 stop motion movie by Henry Selick, the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas.

As many students would agree, Coraline is among the more darker movies from our childhood.

The movie is about a young girl named Coraline, who moves into a new home with her parents in the isolated woods of Ashland, Oregon.

Coraline feels neglected by her parents who are too wrapped up in their next book to actually spend time with her. To escape her cruel reality, she travels to the “Other World” by using a secret door in the living room.

The Other World seems much better at first, but before long, her dreamland descends into a place of nightmares.

As expected, the movie is just as dark today as it was back in 2009.

When rewatching the movie, you can also notice small details, such as the use of color and what it represents.

The colors do a great job of communicating feelings. In the real world, the colors are very muted and desaturated. There’s a scene where Coraline’s mom goes shopping and the entire rack is filled with nothing but grey shirts.

This world is no longer warm and welcoming, which represents the tense relationship between Coraline and her parents.

Coraline’s blue hair and fingernails can also represent that she’s depressed. Blue is a color commonly associated with sadness. A framed picture in her parents’ room reveals that Coraline used to have warm, brown hair. She and her parents also look quite jovial in the picture and the color is saturated. This represents happier times.

The constant contrast of color, along with the general aesthetic of the film, still provide the viewer with the same deep uneasiness as it did 10 years ago.

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