Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: Feminist-Friendly Animation?

By Lisa Bennett, NOW Communications Director

As the stepmom of a 10-year-old and a fan of animation myself, I’ve seen lots of kids movies in recent years. We went to the movies this past weekend to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and I definitely recommend it to families, except maybe those with very small children (some of the scenes toward the end might be too scary). It’s very funny, the story is clever, and it weaves in several good messages, not the least of which is that smart girls are cool.

On the down side, the movie has precious few female characters (a problem that has plagued many a Pixar movie as well). The main protagonist is a male character, and around him we see his father, the male mayor, the male cop and his beloved son, the male villian, etc. The main character’s mother is a positive figure in his life early on, but she’s missing from most of the movie because she’s passed away (doesn’t that seem to happen disturbingly often in stories for kids?). If you look on the movie’s website, the characters page boasts an eight males to one female ratio.

Additionally, the male and female leads begin to kindle a romantic relationship, complete with the prerequisite kiss. Not to be an unromantic grump, but are young kids really craving romance in their stories? Or is this a case of our society making sure kids get a heaping helping of opposite-sex relationship modeling as early as possible? It seems like nothing can stop Hollywood from writing courtship into children’s entertainment, not the prospect of pairing up a donkey with a dragon (Shrek), a hippo and a giraffe (Madagascar 2), a penguin and a hula-dancer dashboard ornament (Madagascar 2) or even a blob-like monster and a Jell-o salad (Monsters vs. Aliens). As long as they’re male-female, it’s good to go. And don’t get me started on the Disney princess movies, which appear to exist solely to convince girls that there’s no such thing as life without a prince.

What are your kid movie pet peeves? And what other good movies are out there for adults who want to share positive movies with the kids they love.

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