All my children absolutely love this movie and my three-year-old has watched it so many times that he can quote the entire movie as it plays. We purchased it for my oldest son, who is eight, because he had seen it in the theaters and wanted to watch it at home. We all sat down one Saturday night to have a movie night with our friends. After we grabbed the popcorn and pillows, we settled in.
This is a cute movie about a little boy who is very intelligent and loves to build things using technology. His older brother attends a "nerd school," as it is called in the movie. It is a school for students able to create high-tech devices, or basically a STEM school. The older brother, Tadashi, creates a "personal healthcare assistant" robot named Baymax. I don't want give the story away and spoil it for those who have not seen it, but basically there are a series of events that occur, leaving the little boy, Hiro, to have to fight for justice. Hiro and Baymax create a bond that you wouldn't think possible between a boy and a robot. The two teach each other a lot about caring, compassion, and even empathy, along with their other friends.
At the start of the movie, I admit, I rolled my eyes quite a bit. I thought there was no way a movie could be more stereotypical of certain cultures. We start with Hiro and Tadashi, who are of Asian descent. Of course, the movies shows them as smart, into robotics, and basically "nerds." Fred is the stereotypical hippie kid. He isn't actually a student at the school but more the mascot because well, he isn't really smart enough to be in the school. Honey Lemon is a cute little blonde and, while brilliant, she is played off as a bit of a girly girl in her pink, pink, and more pink. And let's not forget her love of accessories. Go-Go Tomago is the other female in this movie. Go-Go, again, is what you would consider a stereotype of Asian culture. She is likable because she is strong and would do just about anything to help her friends. Lastly, there is Wasabi, who is the requisite black character for a Disney movie. He is bigger than all the other characters and is portrayed as a muscular man. The problem is that Wasabi is also played off as overly cautious and a bit of a dummy, although he attends the "nerd school." With all of this occurring in the first ten minutes, I wasn't sure I could finish it honestly. Then I somehow fell in love.
I stopped looking at the movie from the point of view of an adult, or even someone who pretends to know anything about film. Let's be honest - most of the movies I have seen recently were suggested by Boxy. At one point, she said I was having my nerd card revoked because I haven't seen the Star Wars movies yet. I am hoping in a week or so to have that taken care of. Instead, I started looking at this movie from the eyes of the three kids sitting around me. My nine-year-old, eight-year-old, and three-year-old were engrossed in it, each for different reasons.
My daughter, the oldest, was watching the movie, thinking that "nerd" girls are very cool and that you don't have to be a boy to appreciate robotics or technological things. My eight-year-old was thinking how awesome it would be to build a robot, along with the many ways it would be useful in the world. Then there is my three-year-old. He is, well, three. Therefore his only thought throughout the whole movie was how hysterical it was when Baymax called the cat "hairy baby." He has also been saying that for close to a month now. The point is that they are kids and I guess my husband and I have done a decent job. Unlike me, they did not once pass judgement on what a character was able to do or why. They just saw that the characters were able to come together and support each other in a common goal.
I even caught my oldest crying. I don't blame her since, after all, she is my daughter. When I asked why, she explained that she knew how Hiro was feeling when he lost his brother, that sometimes it is hard to just get over things. She said you shouldn't just have to deal and be positive when sometimes you just can't. I do believe my child now understands depression more than many adults do. She also felt like she understood why Hiro was so sad and that hurting someone else wasn't going to change that for him.
I wanted to hate this movie simply because of my initial reaction, but in the end I just couldn't. It has nothing to do with the fact that I have now watched it 100 times, or that my three-year-old can quote it line by line. I liked it because I could take a minute and step back and see it through the eyes of my children and what it meant to each one of them. Since watching it, they have each brought up several different discussions about the movie showing me that there was more to it than just the stereotypes I perceived in the beginning.