How Disney Lightens the Mood in a Sticky Situation
June 12, 2015

Disney and Pixar films often highlight comedic relief. From classics of decades past to more recent films like Frozen and Big Hero 6, Disney rarely skimps in the humor department.

Why? Because, as Uncle Albert said in Mary Poppins, “[We] love to laugh!”

Humor relieves and heals, and sometimes it portrays complicated concepts in a simple yet profound way. Here are some great ways Disney used comedy to lighten a troubling mood.

Frozen – Olaf

Olaf is the warmest snowman you’ll ever meet-and possibly one of the best comic relief characters Disney created. From blissfully ignorant statements about the joys of summer to funny insights on tough situations, Olaf steals our hearts and a little bit of the show.

When the “kiss Hans” plan fails, Anna doubts her ability to understand true love. Olaf shows us that a little well-placed humor can lighten a dark mood.

Anna [next to the fireplace]: Olaf! You’re melting!

Olaf [dripping onto the floor]: Some people are worth melting for.

The snowman proves that genuine humor comforts the soul.

Finding Nemo – Dory

Pixar uses a beautiful but not-so-bright blue tang fish as the highway for audience “facepalm” moments. But what bonds Dory to us, though, is her sweet innocence and desire to help.

Dory: Hey, what’s wrong?

Marlin: What’s wrong? While they’re busy doing their little impressions, I’m miles from home with a fish who can’t even remember her name.

Dory: Boy, I bet that’s frustrating.

Marlin: Meanwhile, my son is missing.

Dory: Your son Chico?

Marlin: Nemo.

Dory: Right. Got it.

Marlin: But it doesn’t matter, because no one in this entire ocean is going to help me.

Dory: Well, I’m helping you.

In an obvious yet ironic statement, Dory gives pause to Marlin’s frantic vents of desperation. And while the clown fish may not have felt like she helped much at the time, the scene shows that sometimes all we need is someone to listen.

In a separate scene, Dory also uses humor (perhaps unbeknownst to her) by taking Marlin a bit too literally.

Marlin: I promised I’d never let anything happen to him.

Dory: Hmm. That’s a funny thing to promise.

Marlin: What?

Dory: Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.

While we laugh at Dory’s straightforward response, we should also appreciate the depth of her statement. Dory’s humor shows us the deeper meanings in our motives and consequences of our actions.

Mulan – Mushu

Mulan-a great film about honor, trust, and consequence-packs in fabulous one liners and puns. When a “travelsize” dragon and a cricket help Mulan fight the Huns, the centuries-old story takes on an interesting new twist.

In a terrifying action sequence, the dragon Mushu sees the Huns emerge from an avalanche. Fear and shock settles in.

Mushu: Did you see those Huns? They popped out of the snow, like daisies!

Though horrified at what this dangerous realization means for Mulan’s people, the dragon compares vicious warriors and daisies. Leave it to witty Mushu to loosen our grips on our armrests-a little.

Big Hero 6 – Fred

While Big Hero 6 features a lot of drama, action, and emotion, the film also gives plenty of humor to keep us smiling.

Fred (an eccentric but laid-back friend of Hiro’s) demonstrates the mustering power of being goofy instead of being scared.

GoGo: A lunatic in a mask . . . just tried to KILL us.

Fred: How cool is that?! I mean, it’s scary, obviously, but how cool!

With his exuberant comedy, Fred gives us the see-through facts and an optimistic perspective on almost dying.
From danger to depression, Disney shows real problems that characters need to face. Thank goodness for laughs that lighten the mood.

And thanks Disney, for showing the value in humor during tough times to teach us, strengthen us, and help us feel a little better about life.

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