When we were kids (except those of you born in the '80s - y'all still feel like toddlers to me, I'm very sorry), kids' movies weren't always safe. Ferrett's example was Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory - Wonka was clearly fuckin' nuts. You knew you couldn't trust that guy. The freaky scene in the tunnel with the worms crawling on the person's face and whatnot? Freaked me right the hell out. But I loved the movie. (Incidentally, the things that scared me the most in any Roald Dahl book were the Vermicious Knids in Great Glass Elevator, but that's neither here nor there.)
My example was The Neverending Story. Except for the very end, the happy shit they tacked on, but *still*. Good guys lost. The Rockbiter, shaken by the loss of his friends and blaming himself for it. Artax giving in to despair in the swamp. And scary stuff...the big wolf that attacks Atreyu in the ruins. The Nothing, for crying out load! No villian I've seen in a kids' movie before or since can beat the Nothing. And the hero lost.
These movies were not safe. Anything could happen to these characters. Anyone could die, anyone could be hurt. You didn't know that there'd be A Happy Ending.
Fast forward. What do we have now?
Hey, here's an example: Ice Age. Ice Age is a halfway decent little movie, pulled up from mediocrity solely due to its use of a Rusted Root song. So. In Ice Age, you have your happy group of talking animals thrown together on a mission, blah blah blah, but - shock and horror! - one of them, the sabretooth tiger, is really a bad guy. But that's okay, because he fully and easily atones, which is signified by his self-sacrifice to allow the others to get to safety.
The animals get the human baby back to his family and walk away... but then here comes the fuckin' tiger, miraculously alive and barely wounded! It's a miracle!
And that is what's wrong with kids' movies today. The tiger should've died. In our day, the tiger would've died. It makes no sense to have that tiger come back. There's no rhyme or reason to it...
But these days, our kids are so protected from the world that we may as well encase 'em in bubble wrap. The tiger always lives, so to speak - so the kid doesn't get drawn into the movie, the kid knows everything will be fine. The kid isn't crying for the tiger like we cried for Artax, because the kid knows the tiger's coming back, knows that no one's in any real danger.
And that is the problem. If there's no danger - if the kid knows that everything will turn out sunshine and roses - there's nothing to the experience. The child is almost being told not to feel, not to care. None of it means anything. Do we see anything like The Dark Crystal's Skeksis in today's kids' movies? Oh hell no. "Because it might scare them!"
Why do people not want the kids to feel anything? What are we protecting them from?
Yes, I'm rather disgusted.
Chime in, y'all. Examples? Opinions?
(And this goes for books, too. Bridge to Terabithia, man. Must have Miss Kid read that.)