Animated films have been a large part of my childhood and teenage years, perhaps more than I'd like to admit. There was just something inherently magical about non-living things that could spring to life. Some people think animation is for children. I don't agree with them; animated films are for anyone who wants to imagine a world different from ours, a world where toys can talk or a world where cars compete in grand races. Before getting into my top 5 animated films of all time, some honourable mentions that didn't make it to my list are Frozen (2013), The Lion King (1994), Shrek (2001) and Ice Age (2002).
5. Ratatouille (2007), Amazon Prime Video
A classic Disney film, Ratatouille follows the life of a rat in Paris, Remy, who dreams of becoming a chef. His dream virtually comes true when Alfredo Linguini, a young man who works at a restaurant realises Remy's potential. The two become an eccentric team, with Remy hiding under Alfredo's chef hat, pulling different strands of his hair to instruct and guide him through cooking in the restaurant's kitchen. As they practise more, they get better and Remi finds success through Alfredo.
I think the very idea that a rat dreams of becoming a chef someday is very heartening and the fact that a human helps him achieve it is brilliant. The film has a cult following, and for good reason, since it managed to portray an animal most people would find despicable as extremely lovable and adorable. You don't need to be a child to enjoy Ratatouille!
4. Inside Out (2015), Disney+ Hotstar
The movie is about Riley, a young adult who recently moved to a new city and struggles to fit in. The interesting part, however, is that her emotions — Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger and Fear have been personified as characters living inside her mind. They're shown to be seated around a gaming console, and when they push the buttons, they control Riley's emotions. The movie is a journey of self-discovery for two seemingly simple emotions in particular: Sadness and Joy, with Joy actually being sad at one point and Sadness cheering her up! The emotions are on a mission to save Riley when she starts losing strands of her personality due to the unintentional loss of her core memories. Joy and Sadness undertake an arduous journey across Riley's mind in an attempt to save her and end up rediscovering her childhood memories, along with reminiscing the different emotions she experienced for the first time.
The concept is very unique and I found it particularly clever that the five main characters are literally playing with Riley's emotions every time they select a button, and the audience can see this unfold on the screen. The makers show how these decisions affect Riley's interactions at home and school making Inside Out a very genuine attempt at displaying an 11-year-old's emotions. It truly makes one marvel at their own complexities.
3. Brave (2012), Disney+ Hotstar
Brave, set in medieval Scotland, chronicles the life of a young brazen princess, Merida. She is, by all means, a badass, a person who defies social norms, questions ancient sexist traditions and is a better archer than all the pathetic lads who compete in her 'swayamvar'. The movie is not just about her struggle for independence, but also a portrayal of how fragile familial relationships are, how easy it is to wish ill upon someone after an argument and how hard it is to rectify things. Through the course of the movie, Merida discovers the power of magic, the true meaning of bravery and the importance of love.
The movie has a myriad of gems to offer: a strong female protagonist, a little bit of witchcraft, lots of humour and a realistic portrayal of mother-daughter fights! Brave deserves a place in my top five because it is much more than just a movie for me — it was the first time I saw a princess without a prince to save her at the end of the day. Merida is her own doom and saviour!
2. The Incredibles (2004), Disney+ Hotstar
A movie about a family of superheroes, The Incredibles chronicles the boring suburban life of the Parrs, who are all gifted with powers. Bob and Helen Parr were Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl respectively before the government banned all superpower activity. A few years later, they have boring jobs and absolutely no excitement in their lives as they raise a family without fighting crime at night. Everything changes one day when Bob gets secretly deployed on a mission that goes wrong. The movie is about the family's struggle to reunite and defeat the bad guys.
The movie is an extremely interesting watch because it has a bit of everything: action, comedy, drama and suspense. The Incredibles is, in my opinion, one of the best portrayals of the perils of being a superhero, while also being a part of a family — something everyone can relate to!
1. Kung Fu Panda (2008), Netflix
One of the most iconic and popular animated movies of all time, Kung Fu Panda is literally the story of a panda, Po, who wishes to be a master of Kung Fu. The movie seems like a comedy of errors when Po, the son of a goose who runs a noodle shop, gets selected as the Dragon Warrior, an announcement most people think is a mistake. Master Shifu, a legendary Kung Fu trainer subjects Po to the harshest training regimen hoping to break his spirit. The Furious Five — Tigress, Mantis, Monkey, Viper and Crane — are the best fighters in town and reject Po as well, believing his selection was a mistake. Only the wise old turtle, Master Oogway, believes in Po and encourages him to not give up since the valley needs a protector from Tai Lung, a disgruntled student of Shifu's.
The movie has deep philosophical moments and inspirational quotes such as, "There is no secret ingredient", moments of true self-discovery and a very sweet portrayal of parental love. Kung Fu Panda is packed with action, has great punchlines and witty dialogues, and has a really memorable soundtrack. It is a pleasure to hear Jack Black and Angelina Jolie give voice to Po and Tigress. The franchise has two other films that were released in 2011 and 2016 but the original, brought by DreamWorks Animation, still remains my favourite animated movie of all time.
It seems like the best animated films are those that have just a touch of reality and the absurdest of premises!