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'Epic' and other animated films become great educators

Published: Thursday, May 23 2013 5:51 p.m. MDT

"The development of confidence in one's self is critical to (children) functioning in the rest of their life," Kinikini said. "If they see themselves as capable, it gives them greater confidence to meet their own needs and overcome obstacles and adversity."

As children gain a stronger self-concept, recognizing their own strength and ability, it prepares them for a future of success and happiness.

'Up'

Perhaps one of the most touching and memorable montages in movie history is the opening love story between Carl and Ellie Fredricksen in Disney/Pixar’s “Up.”

Comprising their married life together, the five-minute montage, with a carousel-like score, introduces the idea of death and grief to some of the younger audiences. But what’s more, it teaches the theme of moving on after a loved one is gone.

Carl tries to escape by fulfilling his and his late wife’s dream of traveling to South America. Eventually, Carl realizes that loving his wife was a great adventure.

In an interview with Christianity Today, the 2009 film’s director, Pete Docter, said the film’s message is all about the relationships we create with other people.

“It’s so easy to lose sight of the things we have and the people that are around us until they’re gone. More often than not, I don’t really realize how lucky I was to have known someone until they’re either moved or passed away,” Docter said.

Audiences of children and adults can come to learn the value and importance of loving other people, whether they are friends, family, strangers — or a wilderness explorer named Russell.

'How to Train Your Dragon'

Parents and kids alike had a chance to channel their inner Vikings in DreamWorks’ 2010 blockbuster “How to Train Your Dragon,” as the movie’s hero, Hiccup, finds and trains what his village considers to be the most deadly dragon in the world — the Night Fury.

Hiccup, the scrawny but inventive son of the village leader, wants to prove himself as a fierce dragon slayer. But to do so would go against everything Hiccup believes in.

The unlikely hero must decide how to be true to himself, though it goes against the expectations of the masses.

While most of the world will never have to learn to train a formidable dragon, the movie’s hero teaches audiences the importance of looking beyond what society tells you is the norm.

'Megamind'

"I guess destiny isn't the path chosen for us, but the path we choose for ourselves."

These wise words from the blue, big-headed, super-genius Megamind in DreamWorks' "Megamind," give young audiences hope for a future regardless of their past.

The 2011 hit tells the classic tale of good versus evil. But in this case, evil, embodied by Megamind himself, must decide his own fate.

After defeating the city's hero, Megamind creates a new face of justice to fight. But when his creation backfires, Megamind must choose between defending the city he loves and watching it burn at the hands of another villain.

Though Megamind comes from a past of "evil," he realizes he doesn't have to let it define his future.

Kinikini said this is a concept that is important for kids to grasp.

"When (children) make a poor decision, they are not locked into that outcome forever. They can change in a postive way," he said.

Emmilie Buchanan is an intern for the Deseret News with Mormon Times. She recently graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho. Contact her by email: ebuchanan@deseretnews.com or on Twitter: @emmiliebuchanan

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