Strange World finally brings the strange magic of Disney

Strange World finally brings the strange magic of Disney

A strange world

A strange world
picture: Walt Disney Studios

The family animated show has seemingly hit two paths diverging in the woods in recent years. On the one hand, there are heavily promoted, colorful films full of farts and jokes aimed at elementary school children. On the other hand, there are weepy, melancholic stories of loss, ostensibly made for children, but they feel much more like the inner monologues of 40-year-old screenwriters. Down one path at a trot Minions, Carsand Trollsdown the second Soul, Upand Inside out. But now Disney’s latest animated feature A strange world comes to cinemas, bivouacs in uncharted territory. It kind of goes back to the adventure Hercules, The life of a bugand Aladdinyet it feels completely different from anything the studio has produced before.

Much of the bold freshness of the film comes with the arrival of the Disney filmthe first gay teenager.” After several years of Disney/Marvel/Pixar/Star Wars inserting easily erasable queer characters into his films with little acknowledgment of their strangeness (even Black Panther: Wakanda Forever includes an LGBTQ+ character ready to be cut), finally giving us a substantial gay story in a children’s film.

The LGBTQ+ character in question is Ethan Clade (voiced by Daily show‘s Jaboukie Young-White), a teenage gambler hungry for adventure and swooning over his bestie Diaz (Jonathan Melo), the youngest of the trio of Cladian men at the heart of the story. Ethan is constantly embarrassed by his sweet and overbearing father, a farmer named Searcher Clade (Jake Gyllenhaal). Searcher is a local celebrity in the beautiful but remote land of Avalonia, having discovered electricity in the form of Panto, a plant he discovered on a fateful mission with his father, Jaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid). Jaeger, a career explorer determined to make it across the mountains surrounding Avalonia, left the Seeker during one such quest, never to be seen again.

While Searcher, Ethan, and his mother Meridian (Gabrielle Union) live a happy (if somewhat embarrassing for Ethan) existence in the now electricity-rich Avalonia, they are visited by President Callisto Mal (Lucy Liu), who informs them that Panto, their power source , is dying and that they must travel to an unexplored underground “strange world” to save their kingdom. Clades, along with his adorable three-legged dog, quickly find trouble in a colorful new land full of colorful new creatures. They discover a grizzled Jaeger, befriend a non-verbal blob, and narrowly avoid being eaten by ominous tentacle pods as they press against acid lakes and walking trees. And as the adventure unfolds, the trio of Clade’s men must unpack their various daddy issues — suffocation, abandonment, lack of appreciation for each other’s work, and of course, the inability to civilly play Ethan’s card game.

Strange World | official trailer

Beauty A strange world is director Don Hall and writer Qui Nguyen, the team behind Underrated Raya and the last dragon, never make Ethan’s weirdness an issue. It’s central to his character and the film’s plot, but it’s not a coming-out narrative. Rather, everyone in Avalonia seems to see queerness as an unimportant problem. In one scene where Ethan reveals his crush to his mach grandfather, Jaeger doesn’t bat an eye and instead starts strategizing with Ethan on how to impress Diaz. What a powerful moment the young viewer will experience!

In many aspects, A strange world it feels like the kind of fun romp that’s in short supply these days. With gorgeous animation, inventive creatures and bold voice acting, it’s a high-stakes adventure à la Rescuers or Monsters Inc Like those movies, it gracefully balances kid-friendly hijinks (the Jaeger has a flamethrower and there’s a joke about how the blob would be great for merchandising) and a more serious story that adults can appreciate (ie, intergenerational trauma). Unlike classic Disney, however, the cartoon villain is replaced by a more thoughtful psychological drama (in a move reminiscent of Spider-Man: No Way Home), diversity is in the foreground and the message of sustainability and caring for the planet is at the center of the story. A strange world it feels like a new iteration of Disney that is more thoughtful and inclusive without sacrificing any humor or fun.

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