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Film / Life, Animated

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Life Animated is a 2016 documentary by Oscar winner Roger Ross Williams about Owen Suskind, son of Pulitzer-Prize winning author Ron Suskind (whom the best-selling book is the basis of the film) with High-Functioning Autism, and his love of classic Disney movies. It won the director award at Sundance.

At age three, Owen, who was so far having completely normal development, suddenly falls into a very deep form of autism. Soon, the only thing from his old life he still enjoys is watching movies from the Disney Animated Canon. As the family is watching one of them, Owen's mother notices a resemblance between a set of sounds that Owen has been regularly repeating and a line from a scene to which Owen keeps rewinding. Not only this, but the line is strangely relevant to Owen's condition. From this, the rest of the family finds a way to communicate with him.

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Tropes

  • Adaptation Distillation: Several parts of the original book were either cut or just got a quick mention, while the story of Owen's life goes a little further than in the book.
  • Author Appeal: Owen's love of sidekicks and 2D Traditional Animation on his own Fan Fic.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: The movie is this for Owen as it covers his transition from boyhood to an independent adult.
  • Death of Personality: The onset of the autism was so sudden that it was perceived as this by Owen's parents.
  • Eskimos Aren't Real: When Walter wonders how he's supposed to use Disney to give Owen The Talk, he mentions the concept of "Disney Porn" as if he finds it unlikely to exist. Anyone watching that scene with awareness of Rule 34 will know that "Disney Porn" is very likely to be a thing.
  • Eureka Moment: The "just your voice" line from The Little Mermaid is what made Cornelia realize what Owen meant by "Juicevorse".
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  • Fan Fic: Owen's is about a boy and his Disney sidekicks' adventures.
  • Happy Ending Override: The movie is this to the book when it comes to Owen and Emily's relationship, due to them breaking up.
  • Just Friends: Owen and his girlfriend by the end
  • Sidekick: Owen's favorite character archetype.
  • The Talk: Owen's brother Walter mentions trying to get around giving it to him, but points out that Disney movies aren't best suited for the subject.
  • Translator Buddy: Disney movies are basically this between Owen and the rest of the world.
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