Since May is the month for Mothers’ Day, I thought I would feature two movies that feature different mothers. One is a classic Disney cartoon about a baby elephant who is separated from his loving mother. The other is a more recent animated film (based on a story by science fiction author Neil Gaiman) that features a truly scary portrayal of an “other mother.” One of my May picks has a talking mouse. The other has a talking cat. One of my May picks is okay for families with small children (Dumbo). The other May pick (Coraline) is definitely for families with kids age 10+.
DUMBO is a Disney animated classic about a baby circus elephant named Jumbo Jr. who is nicknamed “Dumbo” by the other elephant mothers because of his big ears. Mrs. Jumbo loves her baby Dumbo and tries to protect him from bullying. When a group of boys cruelly tease baby Dumbo, Mrs. Jumbo gets very angry and attacks them to protect her baby. She is charged with being a “mad elephant” and put into circus jail, separated from her baby Dumbo. She comforts him through her prison bars and sings the beautiful love song “Baby Mine” that has made grownups cry for many generations. Little Dumbo is ignored by the other elephants, but a mouse named Timothy Q. Mouse becomes his friend and protector. Dumbo needs all the friends he can get, especially when he is the cause of other elephants being injured. When the circus owner makes Dumbo a clown, he is truly miserable…and still separated from his mother!
I know this all sounds sad, but Dumbo is about love. It is the story of a child (elephant) who is separated from his mother and wants to be with her again. It is the story of a friend who convinces Dumbo he can do anything---even fly! As in many movies that were created in old times, there are references and situations (like elephant drunkenness!) that may seem outdated in today’s world. If you don’t understand something in Dumbo, ask your parents…once they stop crying over “Baby Mine.” One thing that you will understand after watching Dumbo is how an elephant can fly. I think seeing Dumbo the movie makes Dumbo the Disney ride even more special.
CORALINE has one of the best talking cats ever in movies. Based on the humorous horror novel by Neil Gaiman, Coraline tells the tale of a girl whose family moves into the creepy old “Pink Palace Apartment House.” She is bored out of her mind, sick of adults not listening to her, missing her friends, and getting on her parents’ nerves. So, Coraline starts to explore the Pink Palace. She discovers that their neighbors include elderly performing sisters and a man who runs a circus of jumping mice. And that’s in her “real life!” Imagine what happens when things start getting strange! Her neighbors and her talkative neighbor Wybie play roles in the alternate world Coraline discovers. Coraline’s busy parents don’t have time for her. While exploring the Pink Palace, she finds another world with a seemingly perfect “Other Mother” and “Other Father,” who look exactly like her parents. But they have buttons for eyes and pay total attention to her. Coraline learns the perfect world isn’t as perfect as it seems.
Coraline is an excellent stop-motion animated movie that is visually exciting, a little bit scary, and always full of humor. I’ve been told by fans of the book that it is very faithful to the book. Coraline may be a little too scary for little kids, but parents and kids age 10+ will love it.