Why Disney Kids Of All Ages Should See Strange World With Their Parents

With the holiday season quickly approaching, one of the best things to do with the family around this time of the year is to watch movies together. While there are certainly staples featuring the likes of Charlie Brown, the Miser Brothers, Buddy the Elf, or Jack McClane, it can sometimes be difficult to find a movie that truly appeals to the whole family. Well, Walt Disney Pictures has the solution for that problem with their great new film called "Strange World."

Inspired by the pulp adventures of the early 20th century, the film follows the legendary Clade family, who are known to be innovators and adventurers. When their homeland of Avalonia is in danger, they must embark on a treacherous expedition through uncharted land to get to the bottom of their problems. But in order to do that, they must also confront their unresolved issues with each other and get on the same page to make it happen.

While this may sound like your typical animated fare, this movie directed by Don Hall and written and co-directed by Qui Nguyen (who previously worked together on "Raya and the Last Dragon") is incredibly warm and heartfelt without being too heavy-handed with its messaging, which deserves to be heard by every member of the family. From the young kids to the grandparents that are young at heart and everyone in between, there's truly something for everybody to take away, proving once again that animation isn't just for kids

Although, if that recommendation isn't good enough for you, I'm more than happy to dig into it with you.

(There are light SPOILERS for "Strange World" from this point on. Please proceed with caution.)

Don't give up, the future starts now

Move over, "Ferngully" and James Cameron's "Avatar." "Strange World" is the new film on the block to remind the youth of the world to care for our planet. Whether it's exploring the unknown to learn more about various ecosystems or enacting various conservation practices to create a more sustainable use of nature, something needs to be done. This message is manifested in the movie through Ethan Clade, the youngest member of the Clade clan who is voiced by Jaboukie Young-White.

There are a couple of moments where Ethan expresses these ideas. The first one that comes to mind is when he attempts to bond with his father and grandfather by playing a card game called "Primal Outpost." While the two older Clades are obsessed with figuring out a way to win, Ethan gets frustrated with his family's inability to listen and communicate properly. Exasperated and about to storm off, he explains that the game is actually about finding a balance between society and nature to create a harmonious environment where the two can co-exist.

The other scene is a meeting of the minds between father and son. As Ethan's dad explains their plan to use every last crate of Pando on their ship as weapons to stop the herds of creatures attacking the heart of Avalonia, the younger Clade says that he doesn't want to participate in the unnecessary killing. While he's encouraged to think of it as farmers exterminating pests, Ethan is determined to find another way to solve their problems.

Nothing changes if you change nothing, and Ethan and his generation are the change we need. 

Talkin' 'bout my generation

If children are our future, then their parents (and the other people around the same age) are the present. In the world of "Strange World," they're represented by Searcher Clade, the character voiced by Jake Gyllenhaal. As a child, his father was grooming him to be an adventurer just like him; however, Searcher was much more interested in farming and biology. To him, all his father cared about was the next adventure rather than what his son really wanted to do with his life. Because of this, the two constantly found themselves at odds. And on the day that Searcher's dad chose the treacherous journey through the impenetrable mountains of Avalonia to discover what was out there over listening to his son about the life-changing plant that he discovered, the legendary leader of the Clade Clan disappeared along with any chance of reconciliation between father and son.

With so much left unsaid, Searcher kept his emotions toward his father pent up for many years. Yet at the same time, he ended up repeating the patterns that caused him generational trauma when it came to raising his own son, Ethan. As mindful as he tries to be as a parent, Searcher's journey is a great reminder that if you don't learn from history then you're doomed to repeat it. That's why therapy is so important and talking about your feelings shouldn't be so taboo. If Searcher had only listened to his son the way that he wanted his dad to listen to him, then he wouldn't be experiencing the familial issues he's having on this life or death mission, which also ended up being an inadvertent rescue mission for Ethan's grandfather.

Times they are a-changin

Finally, speaking of the Clade family patriarch, the grandparents and the other people at retirement age can take a lot away from Jaeger Clade's storyline in "Strange World." Basically considered a mythical figure in Avalonia for his countless heroic excursions, the imposing adventurer played by Dennis Quaid has been described by /Film's own Ethan Anderton as a "dirty hobo with a flamethrower" or "Hagrid but a badass" when Searcher, Ethan, and the rest of their ship's crew find him years after his disappearance. But one shave and a haircut later, the eldest Clade is back in business and ready to pick up where he left off, for better or for worse.

Just like Searcher's childhood, Jaeger is still obsessed with completing his mission to find out what lies beyond the mountains. And just like back in the day, this is causing friction between father and son, except this time there are much larger implications for the modern Avalonian way of life at stake. However, during a vulnerable moment for the revered explorer, he says that he "can't change now" and that he's afraid of what his life will be like when his death-defying adventures are over. This is the only life Jaeger Clade knows.

Making life-altering changes is difficult at any age. That's why older people sometimes jump right into another job after working for decades already. Although, it is possible and it sounds a lot better than grinding at your job until your final days. While I'm sure there's a mountain of psychological analysis on this topic, Disney's latest feature film covers this complex subject matter pretty succinctly in an easily digestible way. And that works out for the best since it's important to establish a healthy work/life balance no matter how old you are.

Message received

Ethan, Searcher, and Jaeger Clade's issues are universal. Everyone all over the world and from all walks of life should be more mindful of the environment and more empathetic in general. Learning from the past will only benefit our futures. And old dogs can learn new tricks as long as they remain open to the possibility of change. While all of these things are easier said than done, "Strange World" does an excellent job of saying them. Despite the lack of promotion for the latest theatrical release from the House of Mouse, hopefully fans of all ages will come to appreciate it in time and really embrace the messages it delivers.

"Strange World" debuts in theaters on November 23, 2022.