I had the privilege of picking granddaughter Aubrey up from school today and enjoying her company for a while. This bright kindergartener is always hungry after a full day of school, so off we went to Golden Corral, so Aubrey could eat all the shrimp that she wanted. I sat across from her today so I could watch her expressive face as we talked. As we were finishing our meal, she suddenly asked, with a hint of concern in her voice, if the movie Big Hero 6 was still playing at the theater. We had talked about seeing it but had not made it to the theater during its run. I saw the disappointment on her little face as I told her that it was no longer at the theater. However, when I told her the movie was now on DVD, she brightened and said, “I have an idea! Let’s go get it and watch it together.”
And like that, my journey for the day shifted. I had picked up the Best Picture nominated film The Theory of Everything, with the intention of watching it this evening. Looking at Aubrey’s sweet and earnest face, with the scattering of freckles across her nose, I knew there was nothing I’d rather do than watch this animated movie with her. We made a quick stop on the way home to purchase the DVD of Big Hero 6, so Aubrey could take it home with her to share with Joey and Oliver later. We settled ourselves in the spare bedroom, with a few toys joining us in the first viewing of this Disney movie.
Just as I snapped this pic at Golden Corral, the young woman at the table next to us announced to her family that she was expecting a baby! Priceless expression.
Big Hero 6 features the voices of Scott Adsit, Ryan Potter, Daniel Henney, TJ Miller, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans Jr., Genesis Rodriguez, Alan Tudyk and James Cromwell. It was directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams and the film is based on Marvel comic characters. The animated action adventure is rated PG for action and peril, and themes about loss, and has a run time of 1 hour and 42 minutes.
Set in the futuristic city of San Fransokyo, Hiro (Potter) is a brilliant young teenager headed for trouble. His interest in robotics has led him to illegal games called battling bots. Desiring to see Hiro put his mind and talents to better use, his older brother, Tadashi (Henney) introduces his younger brother to San Fransokyo’s Institute of Technology, and his group of nerdy friends, Gogo Tomago (Chung), Wasabi (Wayans), Fred (Miller), Honey Lemon (Rodriguez), and the director of the school, Professor Callaghan (Cromwell). Each of Tadashi’s friends has a cutting edge technology project they are working on. Tadashi then introduces Hiro to his own project, an over-sized inflatable nurse robot named Baymax (Adsit). The gentle robot is programmed to respond to a sound of distress, such as “Ow” by scanning the patient and offering a variety of suggestions and treatments. When the patient states that he is satisfied with the treatment, Baymax shuts down, compressing into a storage box. Hiro is impressed.
In fact, Hiro is so captivated by the Institute that he is willing to forego illegal gaming to pursue acceptance into the technology program. His only requirement…wow Professor Callaghan with an original example of what he is capable of creating. Hiro creates micro-bots, thousands of tiny robots that are controlled by a neural transmitter, making them capable of doing whatever the wearer is thinking. Hiro’s bots not only earn him a place in the Institute, they also bring the unwanted attention of unethical technology guru, Allister Krei (Tudyk). The brothers and their geeky friends head out to celebrate the night’s success, but Hiro’s excitement is short lived. Moments after leaving the Institute, the building catches fire, with Hiro’s micro-bots and Professor Callaghan inside. Tadashi runs inside to rescue the professor, just as an explosion destroys the building.
Hiro finds his life altered in that moment. Tadashi is gone. The brothers lost their parents years ago. Hiro’s last family member is his aunt, who is raising him. He loses interest in going to the Institute, shutting himself away in his room. When he accidently stubs his toe, he is shocked to discover Baymax survived the fire and was stored in the room he shared with his brother. Baymax responds to Hiro’s distress, both physically and emotionally, and an unlikely friendship begins between the troubled boy and the robot his brother created. It’s not long before the duo discover that the micro-bots also survived and that the fire was deliberately set. A villainous man is now controlling the bots, and he seems intent on getting rid of Hiro and his companion, Baymax. With the help of his friends from the institute, for whom Hiro creates superhero costumes and weapons, and modifications to the programming of Baymax, the group, dubbed Big Hero 6, tracks down the villain and uncovers the secret that fuels his evil intentions.
Aubrey and I enjoyed this movie so much. There was sadness over the loss of Tadashi. The central theme of the story is loss, on several different levels, and the ways it affects each person. The movie highlights good ways to handle loss and grief, and the depth of despair and rage a person can fall into because of that loss. Baymax was a joy to watch. His gentle, simple views of life were inspiring and also humorous. Aubrey and I laughed and laughed over the scene where the puffy inflated robot is stuck in a window and in order to get through, says, “Pardon me while I release air.” Of course the resulting sounds are hilarious. And learning to fist bump, Baymax can never quite get the final sound right, which made us giggle. Aubrey acted that scene out several times. We learned about love and sacrifice, family and friends, and taking a higher view of life that includes helping others.
Aubrey and I took a break during the movie, walking in my neighborhood and talking about loss. She was only two years old when the tornado wiped out most of my neighborhood. But she remembers. As we walked, we talked about the loss of houses, the loss of trees, the loss of life. We stood together, looking at sidewalks that used to approach houses that now dead end in vacant lots. She asked questions about that day, about why my house remained when most around mine were destroyed. And she asked for the first time if I’d write down my memories of the event and give it to her to keep. As we headed home, she connected our discussion on loss back to the movie. She concluded that heaven was not a bad place for Tadashi to be.
I am very glad we got to watch Big Hero 6 together, and that we shared a walk and had a deep conversation that was remarkable for a six year old. I can watch The Theory of Everything another evening. What an amazing journey presented itself today and I am grateful we followed that path. Thank you, Aubrey, for your great idea.