Wednesday, January 6, 2010

adult protagonists in movies for kids

Has anyone seen the movie, Up, from Disney/Pixar? I finally saw it and at about 25 minutes in I was crying! Without giving too much away, the movie begins with Carl, (the old man in the image) as a little boy with an affinity for flight. He meets a little girl, who loves aviation, too, and as they grow up they fall in love and marry. They plan to go on an adventure in South America, but life happens and things never quite go their way. The little boy (in the boy-scout uniform) enters the film when Carl is a 78 year-old man, but the majority of the story still revolves around Carl and his dream to travel.

What I'm trying to get at here, is that I often wonder why films for kids typically feature adults or adult-thinking/talking toys or animals (Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., Flushed Away, Ratatouille) as the main characters? (....clearly I watch too many of these movies). In children's literature, you rarely see an adult as the protagonist. In fact, I'm trying to jog my memory right now to think of one, but I can't. Anyone know a book for kids that features an adult as the main character? I'd love to know. Funny thing is, when I first started writing more "seriously", one of my first books was about a 23 year-old, immature guy who went on an adventure with Big Foot. A writer friend-of-a-friend read my manuscript and brought it to my attention that children may not be interested in reading about a person they can't really relate to, both physically and mentally, yet. Good point. But for some reason, back then, this thought hadn't crossed my mind - maybe it was all those movies influencing me? Now, of course, I know she was right and it makes perfect sense, and after our conversation, I re-wrote that book to feature an 11 year-old girl....

I'm curious, though, why does an adult, or an adult-like character, work as the star in a kid's movie, but not in a kid's book? Clearly Disney/Pixar is doing something right, because these movies make loads of money. So is it because there is usually a kid or an anthropomorphised animal as a secondary character? Is it because kids watch these movies mainly for the visual effects and the characters don't really matter so much? Or, is it so that the parents and adults, who are paying to see the film, will be entertained and more able to enjoy the movie? What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. I've found a children's book featuring an adult as the protagonist - "The Twenty-one Balloons," by William Pene du Bois - published in 1947.