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Some Anvils Need To Be Dropped / Animated Films

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  • Most Disney-Pixar flicks have some sort of underlying message.
    • WALL•E gave the viewers a few, like "Get up and do something" and "Corporate culture shouldn't tell you how to live your life". The director claimed the Green Aesop was an Accidental Aesop since it was just required to create the setting.
    • While being a kickass action-comedy, The Incredibles has some major messages on both the strength of family and the individual vs. a homogenizing society.
    • Most parents and children are probably glad that Monsters, Inc. dropped the anvil that there's no need to be afraid of your closet.
      • In its prequel Monsters University showed that even though you failed College or University, it doesn't mean you're doomed to be a failure for the rest of your life, and you're never too old to get an education (as shown with Don Carlton).
      • Monsters University also points out that although you may have to surrender your lifelong dream, it doesn't mean surrendering your life-long interest, and there are other options to serve that interest. Even if it was a lower position, Mike becomes a Scare Assistant who is treated like an equal to his Scarer friend.
      • It also contains the Hard Truth Aesop that you can still fail even with hard work and trying your hardest.
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    • A Bug's Life drops anvils about brainstorming, teamwork, questioning authority, standing up for your beliefs, and the price of oppressing a population.
    • There are two important messages in Up, which both tie into one another.
      • The first is "don't ignore what's really important by clinging to your regrets", which Carl learns when he realizes that his house and the associated memories don't matter as much as the people in his life right now.
      • The second is that "life is unfair, but you can't let that ruin your chances at being happy". Carl never took Ellie to Paradise Falls, Russell never sees his dad again, and Muntz had his reputation destroyed. It's sad, but it's not the end of the world. Carl and Russell instead move on with their lives and find happiness regardless, while Muntz becomes corrupted by his own bitterness.
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    • Brave says that being stubborn and not trying to understand the viewpoint of someone you disagree with will cause problems, especially because their reasons might be deeper than you think. The whole plot of the movie began because neither Merida nor Elinor tried to understand what the other wanted; Elinor kept trying to force Merida to do what she wanted while Merida continued to defy what she was told. It's only by compromising and both of them realizing the other had valid points that they were able to come together.
    • Inside Out:
      • While it may suck at some points to be afraid, sad, etc., and the complications of other emotions can seemingly make life difficult, there's more to life than just being happy.
      • It's alright to cry and/or feel sad sometimes. There are many, many people who feel that you need to be happy all the time, and even some people who believe that if you aren't always happy then there's something wrong with you. Those are the people who need this anvil.
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    • The Good Dinosaur: Like the message about sadness from Inside Out, it's okay to be scared. You can't live without fear, but you can overcome it.
      • A smaller but important one: Parents are a part of you, but you also have the choice to be your own person. You even have the choice to be someone better than them.
    • Coco:
      • No matter how long somebody has been famous, it does not make their wrong-doings right. Sooner or later, they've got to face the music. And a responsible fan does not turn a blind eye to what they did wrong. (Alternatively, Family is more important than fame because fans are fickle and will turn on a celebrity for the slightest misdeed).
      • Death doesn't have to be sad or scary; it can be a celebration and a reinforcement of how much people love you and miss you. What one should actually be scared of is being hated or forgotten, even after you pass away.
      • While it's understandable to be angry at someone who wronged you, do not let grudges consume you. Cursing and wishing the worst of them is something that you will likely regret later. Imelda had to learn this the hard way.
      • Although there's nothing wrong with following one's dream, sometimes there are more important priorities than ambition, like family and loved ones.
    • Toy Story 3 has an Aesop of a different sort: Just because you had a Dark and Troubled Past doesn't justify you being a horrible person, as is the case with Lotso. He may have been lost by his former owner, but it was ultimately his choice to give up on her, and him being asshole is all his fault, not anyone else's.
    • Soul teaches how having a singular passion or purpose in life is great, but it's not the same as living, nor is it the one thing about your life that can/should make you happy. It's the little things in-between the exciting ones that make life worth living.
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet reminds us that while the internet can bring out the worst in people, that doesn't make it inherently bad; there are also a lot of good things that come from the internet.
    • What's more, in the end, Ralph staying in touch with Vanellope after she chooses to stay in "Slaughter Race" is a testament that a long distance relationship (be it platonic or romantic) doesn't have to be the end.
  • Robots delivers two:
    • "You can shine, no matter what you're made of."
    • Oppress a lower cast of society with fear, abuse, and racism long enough, and the people you've been repressing will strike back. Hard.
  • The Iron Giant drops the anvil that you are who you choose to be. Regardless of what you're "programmed" to do, you choose who you become.
    • It is also very explicit in its condemnation of nuclear weapons, and of paranoia and xenophobia in general.
  • Tangled makes no secret of its moral about dreams, but damned if it doesn't do it beautifully anyway. Better, it actually teaches that people go through life with more than one dream, as opposed to the idea that people are defined by one thing. Or, as Flynn puts it, "That's the great thing about dreams. Once you've found one, you get a new one."
  • The Princess and the Frog. Work hard to achieve your goals, and don't go for the quick "too good to be true" route. At the same time though, it's important to not neglect things like friendship or love.
  • While the moral in the movie isn't in the original novel, Disney's take on The Hunchback of Notre Dame handles its anti-bigotry message far less Anviliciously — and with far more skill — than its immediate predecessor, Pocahontas. It's best illustrated in the song "God Help the Outcasts".
    • It also brutally calls out the very misguided belief that Hiding Behind Religion automatically makes you a "righteous" person. As shown through Frollo's character and his actions, there are concepts (like planning genocide, killing innocent families, abusing children, forcing an innocent woman to choose between death or rape, and doing whatever you can to get what you want at the expense of others) that are completely unacceptable and evil, and you will be punished for them no matter how "devout" you claim to be.
    • The Hunchback of Notre Dame also heavily challenges the Madonna–Whore Complex and the idea of seeing women as objects. Frollo's lust for Esmeralda and his refusal to see her as anything but a whore consumed him and was his ultimate undoing. Likewise Quasimodo put her on a pedestal and saw her only as a pure Madonna — all the while believing he 'deserved' to have her without getting to know her. The reason why Esmeralda falls in love with Phoebus is because he treats her like a person worthy of respect and is willing to know and accept her strengths and flaws. It may seem painfully obvious to drop the idea that "Yes, a woman is a person and not an object", but it's still a point that a lot of people (audiences and writers alike) don't really understand.
  • The Lion King (1994): "Ah yes, the past can hurt, but the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it."
  • The 1988 animated English film When the Wind Blows (based on the comic book of the same name by Raymond Briggs, which is similarly effective), about a retired couple living in the country, who survive a nuclear attack. They do everything they've been told to (largely the equivalent of tarps and duct tape) while waiting for someone in authority to come to their aid while they slowly die.
  • Ferngully for its antipollution message and the one of animal testing that's in the uncut "Batty Rap" song. The way the music and Robin Wiliam's narration go, its pretty damn creepy. And all true.
  • ParaNorman has "If you treat people like freaks, they'll turn into freaks later in life" with characters like Uncle Pendergast and the witch's ghost.
    • Also, "you shouldn't scapegoat people because what they do scares you", and "don't let fear change who you are".
    • Bullies aren't restricted to the big kid who makes fun of you and picks on you: Anyone can become a bully. Alvin may be your stereotypical bully, but as Norman points out, Agatha also fits the bill for allowing herself to become just as cruel as those who wronged her.
  • Raya and the Last Dragon: You can't ever hope to improve the world if you're unwilling to have faith in its people to work with you. Distrust will only make things worse for everyone. Although trusting everybody isn't always wise, trusting nobody can be just as costly.
  • Frozen tells us that fear can be a very harmful thing, and that love can bring out the best in you. Also, true love isn't limited to a romantic relationship.
    • Also, you shouldn't give your heart and trust to a total stranger. You might just be falling into somebody's trap.
    • Also, it's justifiable to worry about your kids but overprotecting them and teaching them to be timid and fearful is just as bad. Pretty important message nowadays.
  • Frozen II teaches about Fantastic Racism and how it can ruin people around them. As a result, Anna, out of all people, has to destroy Arendelle, the city she swore to protect, in order to "maintain balance" in order to atone for her family's sins.
    • Even the closest of siblings will one day have to go their separate ways as life takes them in different directions. It may hurt that they can't be together all the time, but it's a necessary part of life, and it's important to try to keep in touch while exploring new aspects of life.
    • You may discover that your ancestors or people you once respected committed horrible acts against others. It's impossible to condone or rationalise these acts, and most of the time it's impossible to undo all the damage. However it is important to make amends to build a better future.
    • Speaking of the sacrifice, the true feeling of bond isn't about loving each other. It's about how much both are willing to sacrifice what they value for the betterment of others and for themselves.
  • Batman: Under the Red Hood says that killing is always wrong, no matter how logically you try to explain it or how justified you think it is. Doesn't make the person it gets dropped on any less of a woobie though.
    • Superman vs. the Elite seemingly hand-waved this ideal within the first half of the film, but later on when Superman pretends to adopt this take-no-prisoners approach, everyone's initial reaction was "This isn't right". The true anvil was that society does not always know what's best for it and that they need guidance, not the threat of punishment to progress.
  • The LEGO Movie tells us that all of us can be special, every single person, no matter how ordinary, has the capacity to create awesome things, and that trying to control everything will only stifle the creativity. And EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!
    • Plus: Even when you're a special, individual person with the capacity to create amazing things, sometimes the best way to succeed is to follow a centrally-developed plan as a team.
  • The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part:
    • Okay, so not everything in life is going to be "Awesome", but that doesn't mean you can't make it better, especially with your loved ones by your side.
    • Not all problems can be solved by "being tough". In fact, Emmett learns the hard way that violence usually ruins a situation.
    • Growing up is mandatory, but growing cynical or mean is (thankfully) optional.
    • Most importantly: It's easy to harden your heart, but real strength is opening it up to people.
  • How to Train Your Dragon teaches us that violence and blind hatred are never right, parents don't always know what's best for their kids, and just because something is popular or a tradition doesn't mean that it is right.
    Stoick: A man who kills without reason cannot be reasoned with.
    • From the same film while the above aesop described above is fairly dark, the main aesop— that wise, compassionate rule by earned loyalty is stronger than forceful, abusive domination— is unsubtle but no less necessary.
    • And finally, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World shows that The Power of Love can triumph over evil and how it can bring the good side of the humanity regardless of species. In addition, it tackled the hard aesop about letting your family go, so they can start their own journey while embracing the future.
  • Pocahontas - in a war, both sides are still people. Neither side is completely good nor completely bad. And in a war, innocent people are still going to be hurt no matter how "justified" people believe their reasons for fighting are.
    Pocahontas: Look around you! This is where the path of hatred has brought us!
    • Also it's important to try. Doing nothing in a bad situation will only make things worse. Attempting to do something at least has a chance of helping. And don't let setbacks stop you from continuing to try. Pocahontas's first attempt to do something backfired horribly - but she succeeded on her second attempt.
    • Racism goes both ways. This aesop is also particularly effective because unlike other media, it avoids portraying white people as totally evil and the natives as totally good. Although Ratcliffe was on an exploitative mission, most of the settlers joined him because they wanted to have a much better life in the New World than what they had in England and they only had a stereotyped view of "the Injuns" from tales told of them. Powhatan's tribe did have every right to be concerned when the settlers came along (especially with weapons, garb, and hairstyles that they had never seen before) but they still reacted with hostility and violence instead of attempting to understand "the paleface visitors". By the time the climax comes around, both sides end up absolutely dehumanizing the other as they prepare to outright slaughter the other race. So long story short, even though the English miners committed the original wrong when they set foot in North America, the Native Americans were far from innocent themselves.
  • Big Hero 6:
    • Don't waste your potential.
    • Sometimes when you face a seemingly insurmountable problem, all you need to do is look at it a different way to find a solution.
    • As long as you remember them, your loved ones are never really gone.
    • Don't shut people out when you're hurting. Your friends and family can and will give you a reason to move on and the strength to do it. Effectively demonstrated by Hiro and his Foil Yokai; Hiro allows his brother's friends, Baymax and his aunt to love and guide him through the loss of his brother while Yokai operates alone. Hiro comes out of his grieving a hero while Yokai loses everything.
    • Don't give into Revenge or it could end up hurting yourself and others.
  • Zootopia
  • The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea: Don't lie or keep secrets from your children, or else they could end up trusting the wrong people.
  • The very first Peanuts movie, A Boy Named Charlie Brown, sees Charlie Brown fail constantly at flying a kite and playing baseball before finally finding something he's good at - spelling. He goes all the way to the national spelling bee with the respect and support of the other kids, but ultimately loses when he misspells "beagle" - his own dog's breed - when he's one of only two contestants left. After he goes home with nobody there to greet him, the loss leaves him too devastated to get out of bed the next day before Linus comes over with some words of encouragement. The message is a blunt one but still necessary - you can try your hardest and put all of your heart, soul and energy into something and still come up short, but failure isn't always permanent, and the best thing to do when you fall is to just get back up again.
  • The Peanuts Movie (2015): If you want to be liked, just be yourself. You don't have to go to crazy lengths to attract people's attention. Charlie Brown had spent the whole movie thinking of ways to impress The Little Red-Haired Girl, and as it turns out, he didn't need to for her to see him as the wonderful person he is.
  • Sausage Party. While the movie's message about religion is not very subtle (But then again, nothing about the movie is subtle), it does bring up several good points:
    • Strict adherence to religious beliefs can prevent you from living your life to the fullest.
    • However, abrasively telling people that those beliefs are wrong won't get them to listen to you. Even if you mean well, you'll just come off like a jerk that's forcing your views on them.
    • Many people need some kind of belief system in order to get through their lives and would rather believe in something that gives them hope than in nothing at all.
    • It can be difficult and frustrating to talk about religion due to deeply ingrained beliefs and ideologies on both sides of the aisle; but at the end of the day, neither side has all the answers.
  • Kung Fu Panda:
    • There is no silver bullet for success and glory. Those things must come from your own efforts.
    • Bullying and belittling someone because they don't meet your standards is cruel and heartless, and that you must work with people to the best of their ability, and change if your methods don't work.
  • Brother Bear: Petty, destructive, and irresponsible actions always have a consequence that can wind up hurting the people closest to you. Holding hate in your heart and acting on your prejudices can be just as destructive to others, even if you can't see the damage or refuse to see it yourself at first.
  • The Prophet: The segment about love. Mustafa believes that love is important and marriage is beautiful but he continuously stresses independence. The couple must love each other but not devote themselves entirely to one another as they are still people with their own wants and desires.
  • Our Friend Martin: While you can't change the past (at least not without disastrous consequences), you can change the future for the better.
  • Spies in Disguise: The film couldn't be less subtle with the benefits of Walter's pacifism and the importance of protecting people rather than hurting them, but paired against Lance's Ineffectual Loner, it's not hard to see that Walter's philosophy is better.
  • Kitbull: Pit bulls aren't bad dogs. Just because bad people use them for dog fighting, that doesn't make the entire breed bad. The short drops this anvil with no words at all, but makes it very clear that the pit bull is a sweet, friendly, gentle lug of a dog who just wants to be friends with the kitten, even after he's treated like crap by his previous owner. Pit bulls as a breed have garnered a bad reputation because of people constantly using them for fighting, and even now, the stigma still persists. At one point, Tia Torres of Pitbulls And Parolees fame, who runs a pit bull rescue center, promoted the short on Facebook and praised its portrayal of pit bulls, furthering the message.
  • Happy Feet: The last wild places in the world are worth protecting and preserving.
    • "Your way of doing things is not inherently better than my way just because of tradition."


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