Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Movie Tropes for Children Found in Dreamworks’ Home (2015)

A student of the Disney film collection knows that most Disney narratives feature an absent or distracted parent. Poor Bambi loses his mother to a bullet, Snow White and Cinderella are orphans, and Inside Out’s Riley is a little girl lost when her parents begin a new life and a new business in San Francisco. Dreamworks’ Home makes use of this trope to invent a charming tale about aliens overtaking Earth and consigning humans to a restricted zone.

Gratuity “Tip” Tucci watches the aliens carry away her mother. Like little Wall-E, Tip watches films of her mother to provide their back story. These movie clips reveal how close Tip and her mother were, how loving their relationship, and how much Tip misses her. She vows to find her mother, to rescue her from alien control. Thus, Tip’s quest takes direction, and her adventure begins.

Children’s movies often feature children who must grow up too soon. They must make their way in a world both foreign and familiar. Along the way, they encounter self-serving adults--just as poor Tramp did, as Lassie often did, and as Snow White certainly did.

A child's adventure may be along a pathless wood or a
well-marked path under a clear sky. Who among us
wouldn't wish for a well-marked path for our children?
Photograph provided by Al Griffin Photography.
Tip also proves how resilient and resourceful children can be against an uncaring or chaotic world. She never wavers in her efforts to find Mom, and her determination further endears Tip to audiences, teaching them that setting a goal and working hard to attain it trumps simply wishing on a star every time.

Happy endings await Tip, Bambi, Snow White, Cinderella, Riley, Wall-E, Tramp, and Lassie. Each overcomes trials to reunite with lost loved ones or find a new, loving family.

Reading Challenge:

“Read” any and all of the films referenced in this essay. Review also the literary term “inciting incident.” Consider the absent or distracted parent trope often used in children’s literature as the inciting incident for the child’s quest.

Writing Challenge:


Write a letter to Dreamworks or Disney arguing for or against the happy endings resulting from the child’s quest.

Connye Griffin is My Writing and Editing Coach.
She also writes for Our Eyes Upon Missouri