Big Hero 6
This is a cute kids’ movie that
my grandchildren will enjoy.
Truth is, I did, too.
Disney really knows how to do the
technical aspects of animation, including anime, but beyond that, they also
know how to inject humor and warmth into their stories, and just to keep it
from tipping over the silliness scale, a touch of the darker side.
Hiro Hamada (the voice of Ryan
Potter) is a really smart young teenager whose parents have died.
He lives with his older brother, Tadashi (Daniel
Henney) and their “Auntie,” who is raising them in her little apartment
above her baker/restaurant in San Fransokyo, which is, yes, a kind of
composite of American and Japanese elements.
We first meet Hiro when he is sandbagging in an
illegal robot fight----the future’s equivalent of illegal rooster fights,
where a group of rough-looking folk meet in some secret place to wager on
whose robot is going to destroy the other one, winner takes all.
Hero, like an old-style pool hustler or street
boxer, loses on purpose first (taking careful note of his opponent’s
strengths), and then, after betting big, displays a programming acumen not
envisioned by his hapless but now-enraged opponent.
Then he makes his quick getaway on Tadashi’s
motorcycle, home in time to pretend to Auntie that they were just hanging out
with some friends.
Auntie may be clueless, but
Tadashi is concerned that Hiro is wasting his big brain, and soon concocts a
plan to have Hiro drop by his college lab with him, where Tadashi is busy
building a robot named Baymax that will actually help people.
And his colleagues and cohorts are also busy with
their creative projects, led by their esteemed teacher, Professor Callaghan
(James Cromwell). As
Tadashi had planned, Hiro is suddenly fascinated, and completely turns his
life around: re-directing
his considerable creative talents to impress Professor Callaghan enough to
accept him into his famous technical school.
Hiro does indeed come up with a
very innovative project, involving rapidly-moving “microbots” that
instantly morph into any shape and configuration that the wearer of the
electronic headband can envision.
So brilliant, in fact, that the whole project is
stolen by some unknown dastardly villain, who sets a fire that causes Tadashi
to rush into the flames to try to save Professor Callaghan, but alas, they
both perish in the sudden explosion.
Hiro is absolutely devastated.
He’s so depressed that he doesn’t even want
to leave his bedroom. Auntie
tries valiantly to interest him in something----anything---to no avail.
Hiro’s been so introverted, and so dependent on
Tadashi for his lifeline to the rest of the world, that without Tadashi he’s
literally lost and alone.
Even Tadashi’s young friends at the Institute
can’t get through to Hiro (maybe because one of them looks and acts like he
came straight out of Scooby Do).
But at last, Baymax breaks through.
Baymax (Scott Adsit) is a balloon-like inflatable
robot who looks like the Pillsbury Doughboy, and talks like a gentle school
nurse. He’s programmed to help people with their physical health, including
the treatment of minor injuries, the reporting of elevated fluid levels,
through instant body scanning, and helpful suggestions about stress reduction.
Yes, some of it is ironic, like making fun of
your mother always telling you to floss your teeth and wear clean underwear.
But Baymax becomes precious to Hiro because of
the direct link to Tadashi, and because Baymax, with a little help from
Hiro’s re-programming, is the one who’s going to help find the bad guy who
caused Tadashi’s death.
So we are dealing with broken
families here. We
are taking very seriously the impact of loss and grieving.
But we are also emphasizing the importance of
utilizing your gifts, overcoming your obstacles, and finding friends for
support and encouragement.
Somehow it’s inspiring without indulging in
schmaltzy aphorisms. And
it’s funny without reverting to bathroom humor.
Hiro and his five self-proclaimed “nerd”
friends turn their high-tech quirks into superpowers, and become, at the end,
wait for it…………The Big Hero 6.
And very watchable for the adults who bring them.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen is the Parish
Associate, Woodhaven Presbyterian Church,