‘Life, Animated’ is a Joyous Documentary About the Transcendent Power of Movies

GameStop, Inc.

life-animated-001

It can be easy to be cynical towards Disney. The behemoth of children’s entertainment has made an imprint on our culture landscape, and the gigantic corporation seems to swallow up certain aspects of our culture in order to churn out cheap plastic trinkets, video games, and movie-themed rides at their amusement parks. But there’s a genuine connection that people make to the animated world of Walt Disney, and people of all ages carry that connection with them for most of their lives. One individual who identified with the anthropomorphic characters of Disney’s animated films is Owen Suskind, an autistic man in his early 20 who has spent his life bonding with Disney movies. His story is documented in the new film Life, Animated, which explores Owen’s life in a moment of transition and how his connection to Disney gave him and his family hope even during the most trying of times.

Owen’s young life isn’t that different than the lives of many other children. He laughed. He played. He was the apple of his parents’ eyes. Then at the age of 3, Owen suffered problems with his speech and motor functions. He was diagnosed as autistic. Years passed and his dear parents Ron and Cornelia Suskind saw no improvement in their young son. Specialists and doctors gave them no new answers, and their hearts sank when faced with the sad realization that their son may be beyond help. One day, the young Owen began to speak to his father, trying to a form a sentence despite the difficulty with pronunciation. It was then that they realized that Owen was trying to speak a line of dialogue form Aladdin, the early ‘90s animated cartoon. Over time, Owen was able to gain communication skills from Disney movies and narratives of the films gave him understanding as to the nature of the world.

At 23, Owen is ready to leave his life at home and venture out on his own. He’s about to graduate from his school and move into his own apartment nearly 70 miles from his parents’ home. Owen is about to step out into an unknown world yet always retains the comfort of the Disney animated movies, even when his girlfriend of three years dumps him. Despite all of his struggles, Owen strives for normalcy and friendships. He’s even given the opportunity to speak at a conference on autism in Rennes, France.

The film by director Roger Ross Williams takes its inspiration from the book Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism by Ron Suskind. One of the most interesting aspects of Owen’s story is how he bonded closest with the sidekicks of the Disney movies, even going as far to write his own story The Land of the Lost Sidekicks which appears in animated form in the movie. In the story Owen injects a sense of autobiography as he cavorts with his favorite animated sidekicks. Always feeling an outcast, Owen doesn’t view himself as the leading man in any of the Disney films which he loves, so he crafted his own story of sidekicks where he could emerge as the hero. As with much of the film, it really has the ability to tug on the heart strings.

Life, Animated doesn’t always tell its story in the most cinematic of fashion, but those deficiencies are obscured by the charismatic, lovable Owen. When the camera peers upon him watching a movie, mouthing every word of dialogue in sync, the joy in his eyes leaps through the screen and it’s impossible not to revel in the his visceral excitement. One of the most entertaining parts of the film is when Jonathan Freeman and Gilbert Gottfried (voices of the villainous Jafar and Iago in Aladdin) make an appearance at the Disney club that Owen has organized. There’s just something so amusing and heartwarming about this young man being beyond thrilled at the chance to meet Gilbert Gottfried, and the legendary comedian feeds off Owen’s joyous aura and freely riffs zingers. It’s moments like these that make Life, Animated a worthwhile viewing experience.

When it seems that the public discussion concerning autism is typically relegated to the nonsensical debate over vaccines, a film like Life, Animated is welcome addition to the discussion. This isn’t a movie that tries to peddle pseudoscience or answers to questions that have no solutions. Here is a movie that is about love, compassion, and the power of the movies. It’s impossible not to well up a little bit at some of the film’s more trying moments and impossible not to laugh and smile at its more joyous ones. It doesn’t matter if you love the animated films of Disney or see them as crude pieces of profiteering, when you see what these movies do to buoy the soul of Owen Suskind, they’ve proved their value is beyond the bottom line.

Life, Animated
  • Overall Score
3.5

Summary

Life, Animated finds the power of the movies in the heartwarming story of Owen Suskind, a young autistic man who has found a unique form of therapy in the animated films of Walt Disney.

Anytime Costumes

Leave a Reply

FanboyNation
Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
‘Wednesday’ Comes to Blu-ray on Tuesday from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

‘Wednesday‘ Comes to Blu-ray on Tuesday, March 26, 2024, from Warner...

Toy Lei Talks About Playing Auntie Victoria in ‘The Brothers Sun’ – Interview Rewind

Asian-American actress Toy Lei stars as Auntie Victoria in the new...

Marcus Massey Talks ‘Winnie-The-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2’ – Interview

Marcus Massey Shares his Wisdom as Owl in ‘Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and...

Event News Event Reviews
‘MJ the Musical’ Chronicles the Life of the ‘King of Pop’ Running at Segerstrom – Review

‘MJ the Musical‘ is the Ultimate Stage Adaptation, Chronicling the life...

Aiden Sinclair and Michael Rangel Talks ’57 Ghosts’ Aboard the Queen Mary Séance

Aiden Sinclair and Apparitionist, Michael Rangel Discuss their new Theatrical Séance...

Luke and Madison Rhoades Open ‘Slashers Axe Throwing’ – Interview

Luke and Madison Rhoades Open Orange County’s first ever horror themed...

Automotives Football MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Olympic Runner Colleen Quigley ‘On The Road to Paris’

Team USA Olympic Runner, Colleen Quigley is On The Road to...

Paralympian Swimmer Ahalya Lettenberger On The Road to Paris

Team USA Paralympian Swimmer, Ahalya Lettenberger is On The Road to...

Ultimate Women of Wrestling Comes to the Globe Theatre – Interview

Ultimate Women of Wrestling Comes to the Globe Theatre on Sunday,...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse, battle at the Infernal gate pt 2

Oh Bruh, you did NOT just quote "Predator"!

Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse – Battle at the Infernal Gate pt 1

NO NATURAL PREDATORS!

Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse – SID SPEAKS!

"We Demons! Let's go CRUNK on this punk-ass world!"

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Joe Kwaczala Talks About His new Comedy Album ‘Funny Songs & Sketches’ – Interview

Joe Kwaczala Talks About His new Comedy Album ‘Funny Songs &...

Songwriter and Poet, Tamara Mechael Talks About Her Career in the Arts

First Generation Assyrian-Chaldean, Songwriter and Poet, Tamara Mechael Talks About Her...

Louden Swain Headlining Los Angeles Show at The Echo

Press Release – Louden Swain are headlining Los Angeles show at...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League Gameplay Trailer

The first Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League gameplay trailer was revealed during...

Wonder Woman Game
Wonder Woman Game Announced By DC and WB Games

Wonder Woman game will feature the iconic hero in a 3rd...

MultiVersus
MultiVersus brings Batman, Arya Stark, Bugs Bunny, and More

MultiVersus is bringing Shaggy, Harley Quinn, Jake, Batman, Arya Stark, Bugs Bunny,...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Gary Morgenstein Talks ‘A Dugout to Peace’ the Final Installment of his Trilogy

Gary Morgenstein Talks About ‘A Dugout to Peace‘ the final installment...

Chris Clews Is ‘Raised on the 80s’ and Shares Those Life Lessons

Chris Clews was ‘Raised on the 80s‘ and Shares Those Life...

Roye Okupe Brings Authentic African Representation to HBO Max and Cartoon Network

Nigerian-American, Roye Okupe brings authentic African representation to HBO Max and...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand Demo

The new ‘Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand‘ is ready to ship...

Chef Jen Peters and Matthew Clayton Bring us the ‘Good Flour’

Canadian Super Chef Jen Peters and Matthew Clayton Bring us the...

Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide
Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide

The Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide is now available to help...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Episode 38: Hamid Rahmanian

Join Whitney Grace as she speaks with artist Hamid Rahmanian, who...

No Preview
Toon-In Talk Episode 37: Niki Smith

Whitney Grace interviews graphic novel writer and artist Niki Smith about...

Toon-In Talk Episode 36: Rob Paulsen

Rob Paulsen takes some time from his busy voice acting schedule...