YMMV / Pollyanna

  • Adaptation Displacement: The Disney film is probably more commonly known than the book it was based on. Things such as Nancy having a sweetheart Aunt Polly disapproves of, the town being Harrington Falls and characters such as Angelica and Tilly are inventions of the film. Likewise there was a silent adaptation starring Mary Pickford, as well as a couple of TV adaptations. But if someone says 'the movie', they're usually referring to the Disney one.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Pollyanna seems like an extremely good junior version of a Stepford Smiler. At least until she starts to move toward the Despair Event Horizon.
    • Aunt Polly's dislike of Pollyanna's father is tied to her sister marrying him. Is it because she wanted her sister to marry Mr Pendelton (as in the book)? Or does she resent him for the fact that her sister died of malaria in the West Indies because he was a missionary?
    • Does Mrs Snow have depression? She never gets out of bed and talks constantly about dying, as if she were terminal. It's quite possible that after the death of her husband, she may have just given up altogether.
  • Common Knowledge: Everyone 'knows' that Pollyanna is a silly naive optimist. They'd be surprised to discover that the story hints she's a Stepford Smiler - as she does crack once or twice before her accident causes a Despair Event Horizon. Notably the author spoke against The Pollyanna trope - claiming Pollyanna did not deny any kind of sadness or negativity, but rather maintained a positive outlook in the face of such tragedy.
  • Deader Than Disco: The book was enormously popular upon release, with one editorial claiming the Glad Game was "the greatest game ever discovered since the foundation of the world." There were even Glad Clubs, where people sported badges of smiling girls. But after two World Wars, it was noted that the book dropped in popularity. Some theorised it belonged "to a more innocent time" - indeed the Disney film's lower than expected Box Office intake seemed to confirm it. These days it would be more commonly enjoyed as a children's book. However the Disney movie is something of a Cult Classic.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Agnes Moorehead's turn as Mrs Snow is a highly praised part of the movie. Her defrosting is held up as one of the most heartwarming moments of it.
    • Nancy gets a lot of love too, due to being the first one Pollyanna wins over - and acting as a Cool Big Sis to her for most of the story.
  • Fridge Brilliance: It's said that Pollyanna's father was a minister in the British West Indies. She's also seen teaching Nancy the English folk song 'Early One Morning' as they walk to Mrs Snow's in the movie. We can thus assume that Pollyanna's father was English, which would explain her accent. Note that Hayley Mills has a few American pronunciations in her lines, which seems to indicate that she grew up with an English and American parent.
  • Fridge Horror: Pollyanna is crippled because she was trying to grab her doll off the roof. It was Mrs Snow who made sure she got the doll in the first place. The look on the poor woman's face at the end as Pollyanna looks away from her suggests she might have heard about it.
  • Girl Show Ghetto: Walt Disney attributed the movie's relatively disappointing performance to the possibility that the title attracted more females than males.
  • Jerkass Woobie: It's hard not to feel sorry for Aunt Polly after Pollyanna's accident.
    Polly: That child lies up there because of me!
  • Narm Charm: One critic noted that a notoriously saccharine children's book in the hands of "the master of schmaltz" had the potential to be Tastes Like Diabetes - only to turn out "to be his best live action film ever."
  • One-Scene Wonder: The lady playing the drums during the bazaar.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • In the book where Pollyanna prays at her father's grave, saying how hard it is to be glad all the time.
    • In the movie where Aunt Polly's facade breaks after Edmund has told her "you can give anything but love."
  • Unbuilt Trope:
    • This is indeed the Trope Namer for The Pollyanna. But the trope itself Flanderises this part of Pollyanna's character. As noted above, she appears to be a bit of a Stepford Smiler and the Glad Game is really all she has - and we see that happy face disappear once or twice. She's nearly broken by the end, but gets better.
    • Parts of the story feel like a deconstruction of White Man's Burden, and the novel was written back in 1913. The book criticises the fact that Aunt Polly donates her money to various causes, because she only does it out of a stuffy sense of obligation. The film exemplifies this - with Polly getting a lecture about how people don't like false charity.
  • Vindicated by History: The Disney film was a modest success, bringing in under $3 million. However it is held up as a classic these days, and Hayley Mills became associated with the character.
  • The Woobie:
    • Pollyanna herself. She's lost both her parents by the age of twelve, and growing up she never had enough money for luxuries like toys or new clothes. What's more is that she's saddled with an aunt who couldn't give a rat's ass about her (at first anyway). It's hinted that the Glad Game is really the only thing keeping her going.
    • There's a case to be made for Millie Snow too. She's forced to put up with her crabby old mother every day. Imagine how she must feel hearing her own mother talk as if were going to die any minute. Although Mrs Snow's When She Smiles moment is Played for Laughs, there is something a little unnerving about the idea that Millie is so shocked at her mother being nice.