We are well into July and you know and I know that that should bring with it the introduction of a new topic. But alas, the European heatwave of the last few weeks has had me tanning, sweating and being in large bodies of water as much as possible. Not ideal for updating a blog. But today is a delightfully cool and rainy Sunday and I am here to bring you this joyful message: Space has been extended!
I have a couple more things lined up and space is just too vast a field to just cut off. So let’s explore some more. Today, we’re going to orbit the most colorful, ridiculous and happy part of space-themed scifi: Animated kids movies!
Please enjoy – in no particular order – three of my favorite animated kids movies in the space category.
Lilo and Stitch
It’s truly a Disney classic at this point, so if you haven’t seen this heartwarming story of an alien finding a family on Hawaii, do so right now. The little blue alien known as Stitch comes to Earth after escaping an alien research facility where he had been bred to be pure evil. Which he tries very hard to be until he is adopted by the little girl Lilo who lives with her big sister because her parents – in true Disney tradition – are dead. The alien turns their life upside down but slowly becomes part of their little family. This movie lives through its colorful depiction of life in Hawaii (can I be adopted there too?) and most importantly, through the best little family that has ever been. Stitch’s evolution from evil little bringer of destruction to part of a loving family is just the charry on top. Of course, there are governmental and extraterrestrial adversaries to defeat, hula dances to learn and waves to surf too. It’s truly the alien kids movie equivalent of a tropical adventure family vacation. Watch the trailer here.
Earth has been taken over and everyone is being held in internment camps until the homestead ships of the invaders bring their entire race to live on our planet in our stead. This doesn’t sound like a kids movie at all but you’d be surprised what you can get away with if you make the aliens cute, colorful blobs and the heroine that saves the day a little girl with a fat cat. Said little girl is voiced by Rihanna and has somehow evaded the beams of light that sucked up everyone else, including her mom. Her quest to find her has her being thrown together with one of the aliens who had previously been taught that humans were the bad guys. Together they travel the world in a flying car and try to stop the invasion while looking for mom. It’s a very colorful and cute version of an age-old story about fear of the unknown, war and, in the end, friendship. Watch the trailer here
A nice summer day full of backyard barbecues and family fun times is crudely interrupted when a potentially dangerous space alien lands in a suburban garden. This of course prompts the government to roll in with military forces to try and contain it while a couple of friendly locals rush to aid the alien. This is the plot of Planet 51, except that the potentially dangerous alien is an American. Oh and that the planet he has landed on is essentially the same as Earth but inhabited but slightly smaller than human green beings. It’s a really fun spin on the usual alien encounter storyline and the absurdity of Planet 51 being exactly like Earth is addressed excessively, making it seem purposefully funny instead of lazy writing. It’s also just very enjoyable to see the quintessential American golden boy being the alien. Watch the trailer here.
I’m sure I’ve missed some other very good, very colorful and very alien movies that would fit the category but these three are the ones that stayed with me enough to come to mind when thinking about space scifi. Sometimes, kids movies and especially animated ones can explore themes that would be too weird, to difficult to explain properly or too expensive to film as live action movies for adults. The assumption that kids will just roll with whatever plot-hole-ridden storyline you conjure up as long as it’s presented with enough jokes and bold colors must be very freeing for scifi-filmmakers.