Movies with M, Reviews

5 Animated Movies with Kickass Female Leads

Movies can and do have tremendous influence in shaping young lives in the realm of entertainment towards the ideals and objectives of normal adulthood.“- Walt Disney

Though we may accept or deny it, it is true that we do get inspired by movies and books. As the biggest form of entertainment, movies have the power to influence a lot of our actions and behaviors. This becomes doubly important with movies whose target audience are children. At that impressionable age, it is important to choose movies wisely and avoid those that might lead them to believe certain aspects of the society and one’s behaviour to be acceptable.

In a world that is seeing change in terms of its gender acceptance, there still needs to be a lot of work done, in terms of understanding. And what better medium than movies to develop this understanding, especially in children. If adults gain some fresh perspective in the process, all the better! Gender equality through cinema, can only stem from showing female characters in movies being more assertive. By portraying them as somebody with a mind of their own, rather than damsels in distress.

Since animated movies form the biggest chunk of movies targeted towards children, here’s my list of movies that I believe serve this purpose, quite well.

1. Brave

Why watch it:

•Merida (the female lead) is headstrong and clear about her expectations, making her an ideal source of inspiration for young girls, and even boys.

•The story breaks norms around marriages and the way princesses/girls are ‘supposed’ to behave.

•The princess (Merida) is not a conventional beauty; a far cry from the demure, blushing, damsel in distress,  that kids are used to watching in fairy tales. The producer Katherine Sarafian hereself, said about Princess Merida’s unruly mane of curly red hair, that the lead character embodied “a new kind of heroine who was trying to determine her own path in life, someone who is not defined by who she ran off and married.”

2. Moana

Why watch it:

•Seeing Moana’s people looking up to her proudly as their future leader, without questioning her gender or her merit, is refreshing.

•Moana doesn’t have a love interest which breaks so many stereotypes about Disney princesses.  It teaches young girls that they don’t need to have a man by their side to be strong and independent.

•Moana can do it all, singing, dancing, climbing treetops and fixing leaks; proving that skills have nothing to do with gender.

3. The Mitchells vs The Machines

Why watch it:

  • Katie (the female lead) is an outsider who doesn’t feel at home with most kids her age. And she has issues with her father regarding her choice of school, and pretty much everything. That’s two things most kids would be able to relate to.
  • It’s really relevant to modern lives, especially with the references to social media addiction.
  • The Mitchells are a largely dysfunctional, yet adorable family. This makes it relatable for viewers of all ages.

4. The Croods

Why watch it:

  • Eep’s dense, compact body is a far cry from the lean and bordering on malnourished animated heroines we’ve been used to accepting from the past. She can be the role model for making young viewers understand body positivity.
  • The movie has no dirty jokes, no references to other films, emotions that can be enjoyed and understood by small children, but with added subtlety that entertains adults as well.
  •  The characters are likable and interesting: Instead of being just bland archetypes, each one of them had their own virtues and flaws, making them authentic and relatable. This even makes their interaction in the story funny and slightly more complex than the predictable ones in this genre.

5. The Breadwinner

Why watch it:

  • It is set in a country other than the USA, increasing its scope for diversity as well as knowledge providing entertainment for young viewers.
  • Parvana breaks so many barriers to help herself and her family stride through the challenges that life throws their way. In the process teaching the viewers many virtues like bravery, grit and quick thinking.
  • Though the political content of such a story is obvious and the film does well to acknowledge it too, the Though the political content of such a story is obvious and the film does well to acknowledge it too, the prime focus is on the personal level. This is what makes The Breadwinner a truly great film; the fact that it is not a political narration but just a tiny intimate story that happens to be about politics, telling us how the dynamics of day-to-day life are affected because of political agendas.

What are your favorite animated movies? Do they have any inspiring female characters? Let me know in the comments.


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