Sunday, October 09, 2022

Disney On Ice and The Path to True Happiness

The path to contentment is simple, yet it takes a lifetime to master. First, know your goal and stay focused on it. It's easy to get distracted by shiny objects that will lead you astray. Next, when you attain your goal, be satisfied with it. Again, there will be an endless supply of temptations insisting you need *more* to be truly happy.

The last place I expected to see this lesson played out was by 2½ half year old E in the lobby of the Disney on Ice show: Frozen & Encanto. Genius, however, knows no age or circumstance.

When we walked into the arena hosting the show there were countless vendors selling, literally, shiny objects. E was undeterred. He's a fan of Elsa and so wasn't moved by much of the schlock. When he saw an Elsa action figure he was smitten: that one he indicated. And we were glad to buy it for him.

We then walked to our seats, with E happy and unconcerned with the other vendors hawking light up swords and cotton candy. E had Elsa and he was happy. Adorably, he held her the entire show.

The show was held at the GMU Eagle Bank Arena, which isn't exactly a small venue. We had the cheapest seats which were fairly high up, but we still had a clear view the ice and all the action.

When we attended a similar Disney on Ice show nearly 8 years ago to the day, the show was entirely about Frozen. The fact that kids are still flocking to see Frozen is impressive, though the choice to dedicate half the show to Encanto was a wise one. I doubt any purists in the audience that were hoping to see a minor scene played out on ice. Abbreviating two movies, featuring just the highlights, was the way to go.

Shira and I appreciated the skating and showmanship, which included various jumps, trick and aerial acrobatics. They even included fire, so that was fun.

E thoroughly enjoyed the show; spending most of it enraptured by the performers.

After the show, we hit up nearby Woody's Ice Cream for a post show treat. Shira went in and ordered for us: she got E a single scoop and myself a banana split. I'm not sure if Woody's is always this generous, but she came out with what seemed like a pint of ice cream for E and massive to-go container of banana split for myself. It was like I had won the ice cream lottery.

What a day it had been: a great show, excellent ice cream and a profound lesson in happiness. What more could one ask for?

Friday, October 07, 2022

Review: Encanto

We're excited to be taking our friends' little one, E, to see Disney on Ice's Frozen & Encanto! While we're familiar with movie Frozen, we had yet to watch Encanto. It was time. A $3.99 Amazon Prime rental later, we were officially up to speed on the movie.

When the movie finished I turned to Shira confused: what had we just watched? Sure, the music was catchy. And to Disney's credit, the diversity of characters was delightful. But what was the point?

As I rolled the movie around in my head, I was impressed that Disney gave me so much to think about. It seems the film wants to wrestle with the challenge of feeling gift-less when you're surrounded by people who are anything but. I wasn't expecting this topic, but it's a worthy one and I applaud Disney for taking it on.

I like how the film kept true to its message by not bestowing a magical ability to the main character, Mirabel. Had it done so, it would have undercut the very theme that it was highlighting: people's gifts come in many forms. While your siblings or classmates may have a clear talent, that doesn't mean that you won't discover yours in time. And even more importantly, we are all more than one bright-shining ability.

Even more unexpectedly, the movie focuses on the flip side of Mirabel's problem: the challenges that come with having a well defined gift. This aspect of the plot brought to mind the first time I heard Kelsea Ballerini's song Homecoming Queen.

Really, I thought, as the song started to play: now I need to feel sorry for the homecoming queen? As someone as far from high school royalty as possible, it struck me as odd to write a song about a kid in school who seemed to have it the most together. By the end of the song I realized just how thoughtless I had been and how meaningful Kelsea's song was. Gifts are great, but as Encanto and Homecoming Queen show, they come with burdens.

While Enancto has catchy songs and takes place in a magical land, the themes it deals with are quite relatable. For the kid who has a math-wiz brother and gymnast star sister and struggles to see how he is special, Encanto provides a fascinating perspective. Your gifts may take longer to discover or may be different than your siblings, but they are no less important. And while you're at it, cut your siblings some slack, as they'll need it too.

In this respect, Encanto brought to mind another kid's film: Inside Out. In the most disarming and kid friendly way possible, Inside Out explains how messy our feelings can be, and how normal the process of having them is. Like Encanto, these are powerful lessons delivered in an entertaining and accessible package.

We all struggle with figuring out our place in the world and how we're special. And being reminded that we're more than our gifts, or lack there of, is a powerful lesson worth repeating. Well played Disney.