Reviews for Life, Animated ( 2016 ) 720p

Heart-warming and life-affirming

By: david-meldrum
f you want a life-affirming, joy-filled and moving lift you could do a lot worse than search this movie out. (I found it on Netflix). It's a lovely documentary film telling the story of a young autistic man who has learned to express his feelings and experiences through Disney animated films. It takes a light touch, mostly allowing the man and his family to speak and tell the story entirely in their own words - including how, as a young child, after months and months of silence, he found his voice through learning and repeating lines from the films. It's a great watch, heart-warming without ever being patronising. Seek it out

A Whole New World

By: evanston_dad
This documentary follows a family and its struggles to break through to their autistic son and brother, which they eventually do through the medium of Disney movies. The film follows the autistic son as he leaves home to live on his own in an assisted living facility, while it recounts the evolution of his condition and its effects on the family.

"Life, Animated" is a perfectly fine film and one that I enjoyed without feeling especially strongly about it. It's an interesting if not fascinating peek into the world of autism, but the parts of the film I found most compelling were the brief interviews with the older brother, who is terrified at the prospect of a future where he is single- handedly responsible for taking care of his brother. There was a whole other documentary to be made out of that.

And the Disney company couldn't have asked for a better commercial. At first I was amazed that the filmmakers were able to get rights to all of the Disney clips shown throughout, but then I thought about how much free publicity the company would get from this film alone and was no longer surprised.

A nominee for Best Documentary Feature at the 2016 Academy Awards.

Grade: B+

A joyous documentary on the power of film

By: eddie_baggins
If one were to seek evidence on the powerful impact films can have on people's lives, then Roger Ross Williams documentary Life, Animated would be the perfect start.

A lovingly crafted look at the life of 23 year old Owen Suskind, who at a young age was diagnosed with autism and subsequently went on a quiet lonely path where he no longer communicated with his family or engaged in everyday life, only to have found solace and in many ways saving in the forms of animated Disney films, Life, Animated is an insightful look into not only those affected with Autism but the power that films can enact upon those that fall under their spell.

Utilising a vast array of Disney footage alongside some beautifully drawn original imagery to express Owen's past, future and dreams as well as an abundance of heart-warming moments with Owen and his loving family, Ross Williams has a clear affection for the story his telling and it comes across in every aspect of this Oscar nominated documentary.

It certainly helps Ross Williams cause that Owen is such a fascinating subject matter (Owen's candidness when talking about his life and condition is truly captivating) and it's a joy watching Owen's growth from a struggling adolescent, to a young adult looking to try and make the best with what his been given and the way in which these films that hold such a dear place in his heart express Owen's otherwise hidden feelings is eye-opening in many ways.

Whether it's hearing Owen himself or his mother Cornelia, father Ron or loving older brother Walter talk about these films and their part in Owen's growth, Life, Animated remains constantly engaging throughout as we're allowed access into the inner sanctum of this once in a life time human being's journey to the next stage of his life.

Not without the odd sprinkling of heartbreak, Life, Animated is a mostly joyous documentary that will be enjoyed by those of all ages and Ross Williams insightful examination of various touchy subject matters should be commended, while Disney will likely be thankful that this unofficial plug for their wondrous animations is such a champion for their years of outstanding work in telling important stories in a way that's at once magical and life like in equal doses.

4 Disney fan clubs out of 5

From The Life Animated Generation

By: Sean Ramsdell
I'm an autistic Disney fan and I like this film.

Finally a positive portrayal of autism and animation. I was also one of the lucky ones:awesome family (grew up with two older sisters), love of Disney and non-Disney cartoons, etc.

Only problems are the sex talk (understand why he would struggle over this as I prefer to be single myself and no, don't suggest Disney porn!) and I feel that I'm more higher-functioning than Owen (no offense).

As for sidekicks: Nick Wilde from Zootopia, Kronk from The Emporer's New Groove, Baymax from Big Hero 6 (new school Disney and deadpan minimalist extraordinaire), Vinny from Atlantis:The Lost Empire and BEN from Treasure Planet (Owen got Lucky Jack from Home on the Range)

And my villain would be named Fuzzbutcher (grown up version of Fuzzbutch as I also suffered from OCD).

Also, read the book too.

From The Life Animated Generation

By: cmomman1988
I'm an autistic Disney fan and I like this film.

Finally a positive portrayal of autism and animation. I was also one of the lucky ones:awesome family (grew up with two older sisters), love of Disney and non-Disney cartoons, etc.

Only problems are the sex talk (understand why he would struggle over this as I prefer to be single myself and no, don't suggest Disney porn!) and I feel that I'm more higher-functioning than Owen (no offense).

As for sidekicks: Nick Wilde from Zootopia, Kronk from The Emporer's New Groove, Baymax from Big Hero 6 (new school Disney and deadpan minimalist extraordinaire), Vinny from Atlantis:The Lost Empire and BEN from Treasure Planet (Owen got Lucky Jack from Home on the Range)

And my villain would be named Fuzzbutcher (grown up version of Fuzzbutch as I also suffered from OCD).

Also, read the book too.

Where the sidekicks rules...

By: Reno Rangan
This is life and it is animated. We all grew up watching animations believed they are real. They are our first friends and also the first step to understand between the real and unreal. So what happens if you have never got as far as to know they are simply the fictional characters. This film is not about that, but there's a reason to I bring that up in here.

This film is about a boy named Owen Suskind, who developed autism at the age of 3. Since then the journey of his life has been very hard, especially for his family who had tried to understand and find a solution for it. But until at one stage of his childhood, after years of observation, they have found a way to connect with their lost son in his own world as the way he desired to meet/accept them at last.

It was not the permanent cure they have been looking for, but it enabled an access to what so far we had struggled to make that kind of progress. All we common people know is that autistic people are sensitive, but genius or mastered in one particular thing they love the most. There's a pattern, and we have to jump in onto it to clear the way to bring both the worlds together. This had been done in the past, so in the present, but this film gives a new perspective to learn new methods.

This is not some medical achievement, but the desperate Owen's family found a way. That's a lovely family, they never gave up on him. His big brother as well, trying to teach the grownup's form of love was honest and realistic. Beyond that, his plan for their future together, which eventually one day would come. I know that some of the scenes were recreated from the Owen's life, just for this documentary film. Particularly, I was impressed by the romance parts which reminded me 'Gabrielle'. But hearbreaking at certain satge.

?I created a story about sidekicks searching for a hero in my head, and I called it 'The Land of the Lost Sidekicks'.?

I don't know who did the animation for this, but I loved it all. They used them to narrate the tale very beautifully. There are many fans in the world who love the sidekicks from their favourite films/animations. Even sometimes, I love them more than the film's heroes. If you do as well, try this, but this film is not about them and they were mostly the blurred animation version. Or you can say, except the film clips, the remaining original animations were simple sketch and acceptable quality.

In reality, I don't know the whole life story of Owen, but according to this film, what I learnt, I truly admire his father Ron. He's lucky to have such a father. This film was based on the book he wrote of the same name. And the whole family's effort given a new life to Owen. This film is nominated for the Oscars in the Best Documentary Feature list. But I'm not sure it'll win. Anyway a big thanks to the filmmakers to bring this up.

I know Disney is aware of this film since they allowed their contents to use in it. They can make a feature film out of it, a neat biopic. That would be a great honour for such a big fan of their works. But I'm particularly interested in the Owen's vision about his 'The Land of the Lost Sidekicks'. It's nothing less than the Marvel's 'The Avengers', but for the kids and for the fans of Disney's 2D animations like me from the pre 2000.

This film is not under-appreciated, but under-recognised as of now. So I hope you put this into your watch list. It is a good family film, a message in it. We're surrounded by all kinds of people, so it does not matter if the film is not for us, at least you will learn something out of it. That's the any documentary film's notion, as always. You might have seen films about autism like 'Rain Man' to 'I Am Sam' to many more and this one is real as most of them are. Definitely worth giving it a try.

8/10

Where the sidekicks rules...

By: Reno-Rangan
This is life and it is animated. We all grew up watching animations believed they are real. They are our first friends and also the first step to understand between the real and unreal. So what happens if you have never got as far as to know they are simply the fictional characters. This film is not about that, but there's a reason to I bring that up in here.

This film is about a boy named Owen Suskind, who developed autism at the age of 3. Since then the journey of his life has been very hard, especially for his family who had tried to understand and find a solution for it. But until at one stage of his childhood, after years of observation, they have found a way to connect with their lost son in his own world as the way he desired to meet/accept them at last.

It was not the permanent cure they have been looking for, but it enabled an access to what so far we had struggled to make that kind of progress. All we common people know is that autistic people are sensitive, but genius or mastered in one particular thing they love the most. There's a pattern, and we have to jump in onto it to clear the way to bring both the worlds together. This had been done in the past, so in the present, but this film gives a new perspective to learn new methods.

This is not some medical achievement, but the desperate Owen's family found a way. That's a lovely family, they never gave up on him. His big brother as well, trying to teach the grownup's form of love was honest and realistic. Beyond that, his plan for their future together, which eventually one day would come. I know that some of the scenes were recreated from the Owen's life, just for this documentary film. Particularly, I was impressed by the romance parts which reminded me 'Gabrielle'. But hearbreaking at certain satge.

?I created a story about sidekicks searching for a hero in my head, and I called it 'The Land of the Lost Sidekicks'.?

I don't know who did the animation for this, but I loved it all. They used them to narrate the tale very beautifully. There are many fans in the world who love the sidekicks from their favourite films/animations. Even sometimes, I love them more than the film's heroes. If you do as well, try this, but this film is not about them and they were mostly the blurred animation version. Or you can say, except the film clips, the remaining original animations were simple sketch and acceptable quality.

In reality, I don't know the whole life story of Owen, but according to this film, what I learnt, I truly admire his father Ron. He's lucky to have such a father. This film was based on the book he wrote of the same name. And the whole family's effort given a new life to Owen. This film is nominated for the Oscars in the Best Documentary Feature list. But I'm not sure it'll win. Anyway a big thanks to the filmmakers to bring this up.

I know Disney is aware of this film since they allowed their contents to use in it. They can make a feature film out of it, a neat biopic. That would be a great honour for such a big fan of their works. But I'm particularly interested in the Owen's vision about his 'The Land of the Lost Sidekicks'. It's nothing less than the Marvel's 'The Avengers', but for the kids and for the fans of Disney's 2D animations like me from the pre 2000.

This film is not under-appreciated, but under-recognised as of now. So I hope you put this into your watch list. It is a good family film, a message in it. We're surrounded by all kinds of people, so it does not matter if the film is not for us, at least you will learn something out of it. That's the any documentary film's notion, as always. You might have seen films about autism like 'Rain Man' to 'I Am Sam' to many more and this one is real as most of them are. Definitely worth giving it a try.

8/10

One of the most "moving" movies I've ever seen

By: wildman0228-1
This is truly one of the best movies ever. I am not much of a documentary person, but was interested in the subject of autism, and I love Disney, so thought I would check it out. WOW! This movie takes you on a journey. It is about courage and heart. It is hard for me to talk or even write about without tearing up and getting emotional. All I can say is that if you are even mildly interested...just watch it and be even more enlightened about this magical journey we are all on called life. My congrats to the all of the filmmakers and to the wonderful Suskind Family. I'll be rooting for you on Sunday 2/26 for the Oscar.

One of the most "moving" movies I've ever seen

By: Charles Wild
This is truly one of the best movies ever. I am not much of a documentary person, but was interested in the subject of autism, and I love Disney, so thought I would check it out. WOW! This movie takes you on a journey. It is about courage and heart. It is hard for me to talk or even write about without tearing up and getting emotional. All I can say is that if you are even mildly interested...just watch it and be even more enlightened about this magical journey we are all on called life. My congrats to the all of the filmmakers and to the wonderful Suskind Family. I'll be rooting for you on Sunday 2/26 for the Oscar.

So glad I watched this

By: adiadv1
One of the best documentaries I've seen. I had a clue what what was going on in my brother's mind, but this made it so much more relatable. As if we really know what goes on in anyone else's mind, because we're all so completely unique. Every person is shaped by their experiences, and what this family did when nature struck their child an unexpected blow is inspirational. What Owen did for himself leaves me beyond words. "Who decides what a meaningful life is?" Best line ever. As if any of us are "normal" or "better," just because we don't have a noticeable or diagnosed "defect." I think my brother is hands down one of the best people I've ever known.?

Really beautifully told

By: Red_Identity
A film with the premise that this has and with that specific story and subjects in front of the camera was always going to be very emotional. The key is not to make a film like this overly emotional, overly contrived, and overly manipulative. I don't think the film is. It earns its sentiment and it's able to sensitively look at these people without actually exploiting them. It's quite a special story, not one that many documentary filmmakers would be telling, but one that really brings a lot of issues into perspective. It's fascinating and definitely recommended for audiences not very familiar with autism. It may break your heart but it's also very uplifting.

a very powerful use of art to words

By: esthercross
I love how art can be used as a tool to capture real life stories and I always love a story that affirms the important role films play in our lives and 'Life Animated' achieves this so brilliantly. I felt incredibly effected by Owens story at may points a little teary! This is testament to how well the journey is retold. The documentary creators, family and Owen gave me as an outsider an emotional insight into to a condition I'd never connected with or fully understood before. The animation sections within the film were breath taking and beautifully illustrated. The flow of the various mediums were well created as home videos would flow into animation that would flow into present day filming and I think it is this careful sequencing which makes the story so poignant to receive.

A Masterpiece!!!!!

By: gmworswick
Never wrote a review on here before, never felt compelled to....until now!! Life Animated is just mind blowing, i cried, i laughed the whole time. If you've had no exposure to Autism this is a must, even if you have, i promise you that you will come away from this film having learnt a great deal. Owen Suskind is the kind of human we should all aspire to be, although his condition makes it difficult for him to perceive 'reality' i don't think i've ever seen anyone who actually has more perspective on life than Owen. It's a stunning piece of motion picture and pulls and tugs on all of your emotions. I've come away with a greater insight into the condition, i have a cousin with extreme autism and it will help me and enable to communicate with him at a more understandable level for him. Please watch this movie, it's a must.

Just Your Voice

By: ferguson-6
Greetings again from the darkness. The magic of Disney takes on a whole new meaning for Ron and Cornelia Suskind, and their son Owen. Academy Award winning director Roger Ross Williams brings us the engaging story inspired by Ron's best-selling book "Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes and Autism".

Ron, a well-respected journalist and writer, states ... at age 3, our son Owen "disappeared". Garbled talking and uneven walking took over their previously "normal" young son, and the doctor diagnosed "pervasive development disorder". When the word "autism" was spoken, Ron and Cornelia realized their lives, and Owen's, would never be the same.

Director Williams does an excellent job blending home movies, interviews and animation to give us a sense of what this family went through ? and what an emotional wonder it was one evening when they realized that Owen was actually repeating the line "Just your voice" while watching The Little Mermaid. This led to "the first conversation we've ever had" as dad used an Aladdin puppet to talk with Owen.

It turns out that Owen had memorized ALL of the dialogue from that Disney classic, as well as all of the other Disney animated movies. What unfolds for the family is an ability to communicate through these movies, and with therapy, move Owen into a more mainstream lifestyle ? speaking, reading, and writing. We get a peek at the professional therapy, as well as Owen leading his Disney club.

Much of the movie is structured to lead towards Owens independence at age 23 ? a job and his own condo (in an assisted-living building). It's interesting to hear the therapist discuss how the exaggerated features and emotions of the animated characters make it easier for Owen to interpret and understand – the stories and characters stay the same providing a sense of security and sameness for him.

Owen's emotional range is on display with Emily (his first girlfriend) and his brother Walter (yep, can't make this stuff up). It's clear he understands the downside of independence (unpredictable life vs. scripted movies) while still leaning on his videos for the feel-good moments.

All parents have big dreams for what their kids might accomplish in life, but few parents are as thrilled and emotional as Ron and Cornelia when their son moves into his own place, and is later a featured speaker at a conference in France. Autism provides tremendous challenges for families and individuals, and if somehow animated Disney movies can provide life lessons and a forum for communication, then we should share in this family's rejoicing. As they say ? whatever works!

Just Your Voice

By: David Ferguson
Greetings again from the darkness. The magic of Disney takes on a whole new meaning for Ron and Cornelia Suskind, and their son Owen. Academy Award winning director Roger Ross Williams brings us the engaging story inspired by Ron's best-selling book "Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes and Autism".

Ron, a well-respected journalist and writer, states ... at age 3, our son Owen "disappeared". Garbled talking and uneven walking took over their previously "normal" young son, and the doctor diagnosed "pervasive development disorder". When the word "autism" was spoken, Ron and Cornelia realized their lives, and Owen's, would never be the same.

Director Williams does an excellent job blending home movies, interviews and animation to give us a sense of what this family went through ? and what an emotional wonder it was one evening when they realized that Owen was actually repeating the line "Just your voice" while watching The Little Mermaid. This led to "the first conversation we've ever had" as dad used an Aladdin puppet to talk with Owen.

It turns out that Owen had memorized ALL of the dialogue from that Disney classic, as well as all of the other Disney animated movies. What unfolds for the family is an ability to communicate through these movies, and with therapy, move Owen into a more mainstream lifestyle ? speaking, reading, and writing. We get a peek at the professional therapy, as well as Owen leading his Disney club.

Much of the movie is structured to lead towards Owens independence at age 23 ? a job and his own condo (in an assisted-living building). It's interesting to hear the therapist discuss how the exaggerated features and emotions of the animated characters make it easier for Owen to interpret and understand – the stories and characters stay the same providing a sense of security and sameness for him.

Owen's emotional range is on display with Emily (his first girlfriend) and his brother Walter (yep, can't make this stuff up). It's clear he understands the downside of independence (unpredictable life vs. scripted movies) while still leaning on his videos for the feel-good moments.

All parents have big dreams for what their kids might accomplish in life, but few parents are as thrilled and emotional as Ron and Cornelia when their son moves into his own place, and is later a featured speaker at a conference in France. Autism provides tremendous challenges for families and individuals, and if somehow animated Disney movies can provide life lessons and a forum for communication, then we should share in this family's rejoicing. As they say ? whatever works!

WOW Amazing

By: sfdphd
I just saw this film at the SF Film Festival.

This film gives you an up close and personal experience of having someone in your family develop autism at a young age after seeming to be fine for their first few years of life. They have home movies that show him playing normally and interacting with the family. Then you see the changes in him and see what it's like to take a child to doctors and try to figure out what's wrong and how to help him.

This would be a heart wrenching tale except that this child develops an interest in Disney movies and the parents finally realize that these films are a way to connect with him. His life is entirely changed by that recognition and over time you see him at age 23 able to be an independent young adult.

The animation in the film is wonderful. The young man becomes a storyteller too, inspired by the Disney stories. This is a different kind of Disney film but I predict it will last for eternity alongside all the other Disney classics.

Kudos to all involved!

Struggling with ??autism?, hope is found in ??Disney? animated films in 'Life, Animated'

By: cinemacy
Director Roger Ross Williams shed light on the African evangelical invasion in 'God Loves Uganda'. Openly admitting he needed to do something a little more light-hearted for his next film, his latest documentary, 'Life, Animated', is an entirely different project.

At the age of 3, Owen Suskind completely shut off from the world and became unable to communicate. His parents soon discovered that he had autism and may never be able to speak again, heartbroken at the thought of how the relationship with their son they had dreamed of may never fully exist. After trying many tactics with professional help, suddenly Owen became able to communicate through Disney animated movies. The exaggerated character movements and expressions became a tool for Owen to learn his language skills and be able to communicate his emotions. Through the trials of growing up, Owen used scenes and moments from Disney movies, such as 'Aladdin', 'The Jungle Book', and 'The Little Mermaid' to gain an understanding of how to express himself in situations he will experience. It's a touching and at times comedic success story.

Now at the age of 23, Owen is an incredible human being and a banner example of someone who has gone far beyond what people expect from a person with a severe disability. While the film does take a little long to get the momentum going, Owen's story quickly becomes extremely compelling. What makes his story so interesting is that as a 23-year-old he is going through a lot of the same situations that anyone experiences: finishing school, moving away from home, relationships, etc. How he goes about it is entirely different, and takes a few more steps, but the general trajectory is entirely universal.

The Disney element of the story serves as a gateway for us to gain a better understanding of autism and those affected by it, similar to how Disney has helped Owen to understand the rest of the world. The filmmakers follow Owen through numerous obstacles he faces in life which serve as the primary source of drama. Fortunately, he is such an engaging and charismatic protagonist that his life events are heart-warming and at times hilarious as well. The film successfully widens the understanding of an often mysterious mental state that so many people are affected by. Occasionally, top-tier documentaries can forgo the need to deliver a major message or inspire societal change in exchange for telling us a great human story, and giving us a broader understanding of the human condition: 'Life, Animated' is such a film.

For more, visit: www.cinemacy.com