My family and I have a movie-going Thanksgiving tradition. Every year, the boys get the little kids out of the house while the girls pop open the first of many bottles of wine and start cooking dinner. And for the past several years, the boys have taken the kids to see a movie, and the best Thanksgiving day movies have been Disney movies, like Frozen and Coco. But this year, we broke that tradition. Why? Because nothing looked good.
Walt Disney Animation’s latest feature film, Strange World, is reportedly set to lose $100 million at the box office. I admit I have yet to see it, but I understand why a lot of people clearly chose not to see it, either. And it is from that empathy that I write this piece. It did not appear to be a movie that was truly fun for the whole family.
Sure, the trailers showed that Strange World would be colorful and have a lot of movement to keep our attention, but the “adventure” story seemed to take a back seat. What I saw was 2 hours of daddy issues and half-blind diversity quotas with an adventurous subplot rather than a true adventure epic that just so happened to feature one of the most diverse casts yet and tackled family tensions. I don’t know about your family, but that is not something that my family and I would enjoy watching together.
If there is one cardinal rule to Thanksgiving nowadays, it is to keep politics completely out of the conversation, and this movie was not going to help with that. I mean, really, who wants to deal with the awkwardness of a gay teen romance, the determined belittling of the alpha male tendencies of a family patriarch, and more lecturing on climate change? No family needs to have Disney–which was once known for its escape from reality–throw all of those triggering topics back in their faces when they are doing all they can to put aside those differences for the holiday.
The inconvenient truth of the matter is that many audience members are now under the impression that Disney’s latest generation of storytellers are still incapable of letting the story lead everything–including Hollywood’s overt “moral” doctrine–and to do so in a believable fun way for everyone. Movies used to be reflections of what society actually was rather than a vision of what Hollywood wanted society to be.
On the other hand, I have also heard great things about the movie from those who have seen it. And if you are someone who gets off at seeing a movie that checks off all of the “woke” boxes from a POC female President, black alpha female/white beta male couple with an openly gay son, and even a disabled dog, regardless of the actual plot, I can see this being the movie for you. It still appears to be a beautifully animated motion picture, as well.
I think that Strange World could have pulled more from the box office if Disney had chosen a different premiere date. A summer premiere, for example, would have given family members more freedom to see the film on their own during a time they are not prioritizing annual family time. I still don’t think it would have been a success, but perhaps less money would have been lost if the movie arrived at a time when an individual approach to moviegoing was appropriate.
I still intend to see Disney’s Strange World so I can write a review to counter or confirm these initial thoughts. But in the case of those families who chose not to see it, I totally understand why.
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s and may not reflect the sentiments of Disney Fanatic as a whole.