Jamie Neish: Animation films not just for children

Toy Story. Pic: Phil Wilkinson

Toy Story. Pic: Phil Wilkinson

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THE recent release of Wrinkles, a Spanish drama about one man’s deterioration at the merciless hands of Alzheimer’s disease, came as a welcome reminder that the animation medium is as much for adults as it is for children.

Perhaps it’s high time, then, that Hollywood follow in the well-trodden footsteps of other countries in creating animation purely for adults.

Certainly most of the animated films produced by Hollywood studios, such as Pixar and DreamWorks, contain adult themes (the Toy Story series alone deals with abandonment, loss and loyalty), but most of these are kept hidden beneath a perfectly preened surface that has been fashioned in a way that appeals predom-inately to kids.

You only have to look at films like Persepolis, Waltz With Bashir, The Illusionist and upcoming Studio Ghibli release The Wind Rises to see how attitudes towards animation differ in countries outside the US, where it is used less as an eye-catching, money-making novelty, and more as a serious medium that, if used correctly, can add to a film’s potency by tackling social and political issues head on.

It’s not a prime example of rich substance, but television shows such as Family Guy, The Simpsons and South Park have long demonstrated that there is an audience ready and waiting for animation aimed directly at the older viewer. Hollywood just needs to be a little braver and start to take the same risks they take with their television shows.

Animated films from America will forever remain children’s fodder until someone takes that bold plunge into the unknown. But if it can work successfully elsewhere, to the point that their adult animation films are being nominated for Academy Awards, then it must be worth a shot.

Read more from Jamie at www.emptyscreens.com