5 Disney Flicks That I Watch Differently Now That I’m a Dad

My wife and I are big Disney fans especially when it comes to their movies. But some of the films have new or added meaning to me now that I’m a parent. Here are a list of five of them. Couple notes. I’m only referring to animated features. No live action. Also, these five films were all released prior to Baby Girl’s birth. So no mention of Frozen or Inside Out or Moana.

~~SPOILER ALERT: If you don’t want to know how some of these films end, maybe skip this post~~

From descending order:

5. Beauty and the Beast (1991)


I remember when Beauty and the Beast first premiered, people made a huge deal about the animation of the ballroom waltz scene, the dolly shot that started on the chandelier and traveled around Beauty and the Beast as they danced. It was a first for its time. These days it seems par for the course. But I digress.

You find in a lot of the animated films Disney chose to make, especially in its Renaissance period of the late eighties and nineties, a major plot device revolved around the relationship between a father and daughter, specifically the daughter’s refusal to obey the father’s wishes and/or conform to his expectations. Ariel shrugged off King Triton’s rule that merpeople may not make contact with humans. Princess Jasmine ran away from the castle after getting sick of the Sultan’s insistence that she marry a prince rather than someone she loves. Pocahontas disobeyed Chief Powhatan’s order that she keep away from the English.

Beauty and the Beast is different. It may be the only Disney film of this era where the father is outwardly supportive of his daughter from the start of the story. While the rest of the villagers make fun of Belle’s bookworm tendencies, Maurice pushes her to soak up as much knowledge as she can. Imagine that. A father letting his child fly in the direction she wants to fly.

When I think about the film now, it’s their relationship I zero in on. Not Belle and the Beast.

Side note – I still think this entire story is messed up. Two words: Stockholm syndrome.

4. The Little Mermaid (1989)


About King Triton. Forget for a second that he looks like a walking billboard for testosterone replacement therapy (honestly, a guy that old who’s that ripped has got to be taking some serious human growth hormone – which would be funny given his feelings about humans). King Triton’s story arch is almost the opposite of Maurice’s. In the beginning, he’s critical of her fascination with the human world. But in the end, he gives Ariel legs so that she may be with the man she loves. All of this happens after he sacrifices himself for her, surrendering his trident and swapping places with Ariel before Ursula can turn her into a polyp. When I first saw The Little Mermaid, my favorite character was Sebastian the crab. Now, I find myself paying more attention to Triton.

3. Toy Story 3 (2010)

toy story 3

After I first saw Toy Story 3 I felt it was the best film of the trilogy. The sentiment hasn’t changed. The scene when all the toys join hands as they descend towards the incinerator and their inevitable fiery end? That was some dark, adult-themed, gut-punching stuff.

These days though, it’s not the most impactful moment for me. That moment comes at the end. The real end. The end of innocence. It occurs when Andy, heading off to college, hands Woody and the rest of his toys over to Bonnie. Andy’s all grown up and there’s nothing the toys can do about it. He’s moving on so they are too. He says goodbye to the last of his childhood and crosses the threshold into adulthood.

The day Baby Girl and Baby Boy box up their toys I’ll likely react the same way I react when I see this scene. I’ll shed a tear.

2. Finding Nemo (2003)


Sure Dory stole the show. And yes, the tale of a father searching for his lost child strikes a nerve. But watching it again, the scenes I enjoy most involve the interactions between Marlin, the sea turtle Crush and his son Squirt. I take you now to the moment when Squirt falls out from the current and has to swim back in.

Marlin: Oh my goodness?

Crush: Whoa, kill the motor dude. Let us see what Squirt does flying solo.

Squirt: Whoa! Whoa! That was so cool! Hey Dad, did you see that? Did you see me? Did you see what I did?

Crush: You so totally rock, Squirt! So give me some fin…noggin…


Crush: Little dudes are just eggs, leave ’em on the beach to hatch, then coo-coo-ca-choo, they find their way back to the big ole’ blue.

Marlin: All by themselves?

Crush: Yeah.

Marlin: But-but-but dude, how do you know when they’re ready?

Crush: Well, you never really know. But when they know, you’ll know, you know?

I’ll never really know when Baby Girl and Baby Boy are ready. But when they know, I’ll know, you know?

1. The Lion King (1994)

lion king

Yes, it’s Hamlet on the Sahara with a happy ending. And, like Beauty and the Beast, some the animation was before its time (see the wildebeest stampede as exhibit A). The music’s great, the drama’s moving, and the humor’s just the right amount of corny (“What’s a motto?”  “I don’t know, what’s a motto with you?”). The Lion King is, in my opinion, one of the best animated films Disney has every produced. But now that I’m a dad, the element that stands out to me can be described in three syllables.


Has there ever been a more admirable father figure in any other Disney or Pixar film? Mustafa’s loving yet also a disciplinarian. He is powerful yet also humble. He is the ultimate protector yet also sensitive enough to admit to his own fears. He communicates openly with Simba and guides his son while allowing him to find his way. Some of his lines could fit well into a guide of how to live life:

“Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance…you need to understand that balance and respect all creatures.”

“There’s more to being king than getting your way all the time.”

“Being brave doesn’t mean you go looking for trouble.”

When in doubt, what would Mustafa do?

So those are five Disney flicks that I watch differently now that I’m father. What about you? What Disney films do you see differently in light of being a parent?


2 thoughts on “5 Disney Flicks That…

  1. Fox and the hound! Don’t let society dictate right wrong use your brain and your soul to guide you. Key message – Reminding us that when push comes to shove, our basic instinct to want to help others overcomes our social conditioning.


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