Wondering what you’ll be doing Boxing Day this year? Let me answer that question with another one – have you got boys? Then you’ll probably be joining me in the queue for Big Hero 6. Twenty minutes into the preview and I could already hear them in my head endlessly repeating Baymax’s “Fur-ry …baby!”
Back-track a little … fill in the plot holes…
Big Hero 6 is a Disney fantasy set in the mish-mash city of San Frantokyo where the Golden Gate Bridge has Mandarin merlons and the streets are lined with cherry trees as well as trams. Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter) is a fourteen-year-old tech genius who is inspired by his brother Tadashi’s work in robotics. But when his brother is killed in an explosion he becomes depressed and withdrawn. However one day, literally kicking around his brother’s old room, he activates Tadashi’s last creation, an inflatable carer called Baymax (Scott Adsit). Hiro decides to adapt Baymax so this pudgy robot can help him track down and destroy the shadowy figure he believes is responsible for his brother’s death. But Baymax ends up serving more of his original healing purpose as he helps the boy come to terms with his tragic loss.
Big Hero 6 is rocket-powered fun with a payload of cool characters and quotable laughs. In some respects its familiar territory for kids movies – a young boy whose inventiveness is the key to him becoming far more than anybody suspects. A robotic version of How To Train Your Dragon springs to mind. However in a couple of respects it’s fresh territory for Disney. Hiro and Tadashi are distinctly Eurasian characters from a household strongly influenced by their Asian background. More importantly though, at least from a Christian point of view, is Big Hero 6’s attempt to help little children deal with death.
This film comes straight from the stable that provided us with Wreck It Ralph, a commendable film that taught kids to value characters who struggle with disabilities, better known in its story as ‘glitches’. Big Hero 6 is just as well intentioned and moving when it deals with Hiro’s loss. It begins by acknowledging the reality of our hero’s pain and the additional hurt that can come from glib responses:
Hiro: “People keep saying Tadashi’s not really gone… as long as we remember him. It still hurts. “
I’m glad that a film has finally taken to task this particular piece of nonsensical ‘common sense’. Death is painful exactly because our loved ones are no longer there. Pretending otherwise just minimizes real suffering. However, rather than look for an answer beyond death, Big Hero 6 advises Hiro to look back to the friends he still has. It’s helpful but only a temporary solution. After all, those friends will one day leave us too if we don’t leave them first.
The answer to death is certainly to be found in relationship, but not the human ones Big Hero 6 suggests. It’s worth reminding our kids even as they’re enjoying the fun that the only relationship the grave can’t touch is our one with Jesus. And if our family and friends also have a relationship with the one man who has conquered death, we can look beyond our sadness to the happy day we’ll see them again.
Release Date: December 26, 2014