It’s interesting to see two unsuspecting (kind of) movies that have been the biggest hits in theaters over the past months. Frozen has launched a seemingly endless phenomenon, and The Lego Movie has been a smash hit since hitting theaters last month (96% on Rotten Tomatoes!). It truly intrigues me that these are the two movies that almost everyone has seen and both are still topics of conversation even though Frozen (and out on DVD today) is five months old now, and The Lego Movie released early February.
Like most animated films, these two movies were not on the list for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, or anything like that at the Oscars a few weeks back (though Frozen won Best Original Song and Best Animated Feature) — but most of all, they are not the standard popcorn movies either. Both titles are kids’ movies, but they are being championed by kids and adults alike (I personally loved both).
So what makes these kids’ spectacles suitable for all ages? It would have to be more than just great storytelling; any Best Picture or Best Screenplay nominee would have that. Frozen seems to signal a second Disney Renaissance, bringing their animated features into a Broadway musical scope. The Lego Movie impressed millions by creating a feature-length film out of what seems like someone’s stop-motion Lego project. But, I’d like to cite another reason as the cause: I’d say the ‘family movie’ nature of these pictures helps bring them to this high level — in order for these films to truly be a smash hit, they must appeal to a very wide audience.
These family pictures are accessible for all ages. If the filmmakers do it right, it should be as enjoyable for the kids as it is for the parents— namely, everyone who goes to see it, likes it. Kids (who have to bring at least one parent along) show up for the fun nature of a flick and parents then enjoy movies such as this because they don’t insult their intelligence with poop and fart jokes. Not all family or kids movies pull this off, but Frozen and The Lego Movie did, and that’s part of what made these movies so big.
The other thing that makes a family movie much more successful is the lack of objectionable content. The more “adult” a movie, the more vulgarity, gore, lechery, and other such things enter into the duration. Some people just don’t take to that — some are turned off by certain risqué elements. If you look at some of the films that were up at the Oscars, you see those things. In Gravity a guy has a hole punched through his face by the vacuum of space. Dallas Buyers Club was about AIDS victims and one of the main characters is a transvestite — which could easily be a moving and significant topic, but not one wider audiences would seek out. On the flip side, goofiness or childishness can drive people away too. However, I’d say a majority of people will give a recommended family movie a shot before it would drive them away.
I do understand there are some movies out there that use some of that objectionable content to make a point, to drive home a message. If a film is being made about the gruesomeness of war, then there is a clear need for the gruesome. But Frozen proves that a great message doesn’t need objectionable content to bring it to light.
In fact, Frozen probably has one of the best messages of any Disney movie, counteracting their idea of love at first sight, and even the nature of true love, which had been overdone in the last Disney Renaissance and was often criticized. The Lego Movie displays many quality themes as well, all while never losing its lovable charm.
So that’s my take on why Frozen and The Lego Movie are so relevant to so many in our movie-watching circles. I can drag my reluctant brother or my parents (or anyone, really) to these movies, and by the end of it we’ll all be singing “Everything is Awesome” or “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” It just serves to show that getting butts in seats is really easy when filmmakers craft an exceptional movie for wider audiences, i.e. a family, or those who don’t seek out films with content they do not want to ingest. Frozen did that, and has the phenomenal backing to prove it. The Lego Movie also pulled that off with aplomb — it just hasn’t taken over Tumblr yet. No, not yet…
Photos via: Google