Beautiful Documentary about Owen Suskind, who when he was 3 years old was diagnosed with Autism. Now at the age of 23 he is about to make a big change and move out from his parents. Through this heart warming, heart breaking, than heart warming again, piece of documentary magic we find out how The House of the Mouse helped him with his developmental challenges and how the true love of his Mother, Father, and big Brother has become a young man who any family would be proud to hold up on high.
I’m a great believer in the individual approach to our mental and physical health. What I mean by that is that what will kill you could make me stronger, and vice versa, I’ve spent the last 15 years in and out of hospitals with varying illnesses. One of these is Diabetes and the thing I’ve learned from the Health Professionals here in Ireland, well-meaning or not, is that they don’t know how to treat the individual. The injections and pills that work for one diabetic, don’t work for another, but heaven forbid that they admit that. This seems to be the case with Owen Suskind, who after being diagnosed with Autism found his way, with the help of one of the strongest families I’ve ever seen, to communicate to the World and form his developmental path. By watching Disney animated films, and learning all the wonderful things that Walt’s creations brought us, Owen became this amazing young man.
The direction that this film takes, blending fantastical original animation, with the classic Disney movies, cuts pieces from the movies that we all know, Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, and the rest of them, that show how Owen moves through life using the lessons that he’s learned from these films.
I’ll be honest and tell you I started crying like a two-year old about five minutes into the film and laughed and cried along the way. Owen and his amazing family walk toward the future that they can’t hide from with a grace and strength that you don’t see much in life. The family has surrounded Owen with the best team they can to get him ready for an independent life, or the most independent that he can hope for. There are a lot of people out there that will say that the Disney films are just trashy sweetness that is forced down our throats by a large corporation, and to those I will say this, stick it where the sun does not shine buddy. In the most polite way I can manage. Disney are a large corporation and all about the money, but if they didn’t make money then they would not still be creating films like Inside Out, Toy Story, and Moana. When you see how the change that Owen goes through with the help of the classic films you should change your mind about how you look at these films. The power they have, how the sidekicks from the animations mean more to Owen than the heroes, and his own imagination which takes these characters further, for that 23-year-old man they are another part of his family. Without the love that he has from his family and these magical films I don’t know if the world around Owen would be blessed as they are with his presence.
Life, Animated will open your eyes to the honesty and truth of Autism, the strength of one family, and the heartbreak of getting older. As Owen copes with the realities and new challenges of living in the new apartment on his own, we see how his Heroes are changing around him, his Mom, his Dad, and his Big Brother Walt, all of whom should be held high to the rest of the world as true humans. This documentary isn’t just compulsive viewing it is a necessity for everyone. Get out there and see this. Amazing and uplifting.
Director: Roger Ross Williams
Writer: Ron Suskind (based on the book by)
Stars: Jonathan Freeman, Gilbert Gottfried, Alan Rosenblatt