Cartoon Movie Trend: Junior Knows Best

Film critic Steven D. Greydanus talks about animated movies in light of Disney’s latest release, Moana. He points to many examples of children following their hearts or a variation thereof in defiance of their parents. “In each case, the child defies the ultimatum — and here’s the crucial bit: In the end, the child’s aspirations are vindicated, leading not only to a paternal change of heart, but to a revolutionary breakthrough in the social status quo.”

Back in 2010, Greydanus identified this trend and labeled it “Junior Knows Best.”

A common note in these stories is parental caution: concern for limits and boundaries which children must break through. The caution nearly always runs the same way; we don’t get stories of parents encouraging cautious children to face their fears. Nor (Cloudy With Meatballs aside) do we get stories in which parental cautions turn out to be warranted. The parents are always the cautious ones — and they’re always wrong.

One thought on “Cartoon Movie Trend: Junior Knows Best”

  1. That’s why Disney movies were banned from our video player since the mid-1990’s when my oldest daughter was born until my daughters were old enough to discuss the real-life implications of the fundamental issues.

    I find the “Kids are smart. Parents (especially dads) are dumb.” theme going back a couple of generations. The original Parent Trap back in the 60’s was built on the “you must disobey your parents to make good things happen” concept. I also saw it in the 2007 Nancy Drew movie where the theme was more like, “It’s okay to disobey Dad if you know it will work out alright in the end.”

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