With Finding Dory all the rage right now, I find myself nostalgic for some of the original clichéd environmentally friendly kids’ movies. Even though they each repeatedly bash the “respect mother earth” mantra into the squishy brains of children, there’s something unique and enjoyable in each tale. Below are five of my favorites. Don’t see yours on my list? Add it in the comments section below or at The Unrefined Forum!
Of course, Finding Nemo needs to be mentioned. Less clichéd than most of the movies listed, it still calls for children to leave fishies in the ocean where they belong. The emotional story of a father’s search for his son, though, and the trials he goes through as he’s crossing the ocean make the hidden environmental cliché bearable (if not altogether forgettable). Disney and Pixar use beautiful artwork, classy comedy, and intense scenes to make this movie a forever favorite.
While Happy Feet’s main message was to embrace your own special talents, Mumbles the tap-dancing outcast penguin does chase down a fishing boat after his colony of singing penguins starts to starve to death. It’s Mumbles’ dance moves that key the humans into the penguins’ plight, and it’s the movie’s music that keeps us playing Happy Feet in the background while we’re doing chores.
Only the coolest of 90’s kids will know this classic. After some humans crash their truck and spill toxic gas into the forest, a little badger girl falls ill and needs help from her woodland friends. The mouse Abigail, the mole Edgar, and the hedgehog Russell go on an amazing adventure to find a cure, and in the process discover the horrors (and kindness) of humans. The unlikely friendship between these four animals is what keeps us loving Once Upon a Forest.
I may have used clips from FernGully in numerous reports for my Environmental Studies Minor–that’s how chock-full of environmental messages this movie is. They turn the evils of chopping down the rain forest into a sexy song by Tim Curry! His evil sludge-of-a-character has to be defeated by the fairy Crysta and her human love interest Zak, who use the power of love and trees to stop him in his tracks. What more could you want? A rap about animal testing by a bat voiced by Robin Williams? Done.
Nothing screams “save the environment” like The Lorax. The opening song talks about how they need to buy fresh air because there’s no real trees to produce any free air! But the music is so catchy and the story so moving, you don’t really mind that it’s every environmentally friendly movie rolled into one Suessified jumble.
Featured photo courtesy of The Lorax by Dr. Seuss