When I was younger, animated movies were all the rage. I’m sure many people my age can relate. Disney’s animated classics played on repeat in my household, and I would beg my parents to take me to the movies every time a new animated flick hit the big screen. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed that animated films are often placed on the back burner. Advertising for these films is less apparent; their box office numbers often dwindle and my interest in seeing them has waned.
I’d say I’m a pretty frequent moviegoer but rarely do I choose to see an animated film — especially in theaters. Now, obviously they’re targeted toward a younger audience (both in terms of a more juvenile plot and in terms of marketing), and this plays a part in my waning interest. I am sure I’m not the only one, however, who can still watch tentpole animated movies from our childhood like “The Lion King,” “Pocahontas” or even “Shrek” and still enjoy them just as much as I did when I was a child. Part of that may be the nostalgia we feel watching them, but I think we’ve forgotten how genuinely good animation can be.
Recently, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” has received a ton of praise online from fans and critics alike, so I knew I wanted to check it out. As much as I love Marvel, I'm eager to see any film getting that much buzz. I was still skeptical about how much I would enjoy an animated film. Watching this film, I was excited about animation for the first time in a long time. Not only did it become one of my favorite animated films, but it became one of my favorite films. Period. No qualifier necessary.
Occasionally, an animated film will receive more attention than usual, like “Moana,” “Coco” or “Spider-Verse.” But even in those cases, we often use an altered scale to judge these films. We may judge them against other animated films we have seen, or say that it was good “for an animated film.” It’s rare that an animated film released this year or next will be any of our favorite films of the year, without the qualifiers — whether that’s because we didn’t take them seriously or we didn’t even watch them, to begin with. In fact, many of the classic animated films we love to watch are now being recreated using live action and CGI: forms of moviemaking that are arguably more appealing to us.
Animation is just as much a craft as any other form of moviemaking. Animators painstakingly create each scene from scratch. Actors breathe life into these characters using solely their voices. Tons of animated films are released every year, and it seems like fewer and fewer are talked about enough.
Next time you’re trying to decide what movie to watch, give a new animated release a try. Sure, the themes may be more juvenile, but that doesn’t make them less important. No matter how old we are, we could still use a reminder that everyone deserves to be loved or that facing our fears head-on is the best way to succeed. As an added bonus, you’ll have a ton of fun along the way.
Katherine Campione is a UF journalism senior. Her column appears on Wednesdays.