Dad Review: Disney’s Big Hero 6

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So, Saturday was my birthday.

I turned. . . Well, let’s just say it was a milestone birthday and leave it at that. I certainly plan to do so.

The thing of it is, I decided that I was going to celebrate by doing what I’d been doing for the last decade or so. I was going to go to what’s nominally called a kids’ movie and I was going to enjoy the heck out of myself. That last part was a bit of a guess, but I certainly had high hopes for Big Hero 6.

url_001.jpgDudes, those hopes were vindicated over and over and over again. This is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. I loved almost every single bit of it. I especially loved Feast, the short running before the movie.

It was a great way to spend a couple of hours. The fact that I got to spend it with my youngest, Hyper Lad, and his friend only made it better. With my wife, known to me as She Who Must Be Getting To The Plane On Time, returning from an out-of-town conference to be with me on my special day, it made for a really nice birthday. But on to the movie.

Being a Disney movie, our protagonist, known as Hiro, has lost his mother. Being based on a Marvel Comics property, our protagonist, Hiro, has lost his father. And, I guess, being a mash up of the two, Hiro also has to lose someone else very close to him. That was the one part of this movie I didn’t like. I’m getting really tired of movies for kids where the writers feel like one- or no-parent families are the default character set. I’d be astonished if we could have a good kids’ movie where both parents were alive. But that’s a rant for another column.

Hiro is a major-league big brain, but he’s wasting his talent as a hustler in illegal back-alley bot fights. Hiro lives with his older brother Tadashi and their Aunt Cass after the boys lost their parents in some unspecified manner years before. Tadashi, according to Hiro, goes to Nerd School and the younger brother wants no part of it. Until Hiro actually goes with Tadashi to the Nerd University to see Tadashi’s latest project, a huggable and inflatable bot named Baymax, who is designed as a healthcare associate and helper. Hiro also meets Tadashi’s friends, Wasabi, Go Go Tamogo, Honey Lemon and Fred, and sees just how his big brain would be challenged and he could learn more than he ever could on his own.

To be accepted to the highly competitive university, Hiro enters a tech contest to see if he has what it takes. And, boy, does he. Hiro comes up with the idea of microbots. Small devices, which, when linked together, are capable of just about anything. Even better, they’re all controlled with a neural link device he also invented and which can be worn around the user’s head.

Hiro blows away the competition and, after, he and his brother stroll along the campus. Tadashi tells Hiro how proud he is and how proud their parents would be. They’re interrupted by a major fire and explosion in the competition hall. They get there and learn that Tadashi’s mentor, Dr. Callaghan, still is inside. Without a second thought, Tadashi rushes in.
The building explodes. Dr. Callaghan, Tadashi and all of Hiro’s microbot tech are destroyed.

Hiro retreats into a directionless funk. Until the day he stubbs his toe, which activates Tadashi’s masterwork, the inflatable Baymax health bot. Through a series ofmisadventures, Baymax and Hiro find out that Hiro’s microbot tech has been stolen by a person unknown and is being used for bad things, man. Bad things. 

Hiro realizes he can’t get the man in black wearing a Kubuki mask on his own. So he recruits Tadashi’s friends, upgrades their tech at the same time he upgrades Baymax, and they set out to find the bad guy, get back Hiro’s tech and possibly get revenge for Tadashi’s death. 

As noted before, I loved this movie. It had humor (mostly in the form of the cuddly, not-very-fast Baymax and its reactions to the increasingly bizzare world around it), heart, and some relatively well-rounded characters. I’ll grant you, the plot itself wasn’t all that clever. Hyper Lad, his friend and I all guessed the identity of the Bad Guy in Black pretty much right away, but it was a really nice journey to get there.

The animation was, in a word, stunning. It brought to life the city of San Fransokyo in a way that I’d never have imagined.

bighero653fe6fcc28f47.jpgAs lagniappe, Disney included a short animation piece called Feast to run before the main feature. Feast follows Winston the Boston Terrier and his many meals with his unnamed owner. Winston is possibly the cutest Disney dog in a long time. And, if you’ve ever been around a Boston Terrier, you’ll know the actions, facial expressions and pure personality are not at all exaggerated. It’s a wonderful little feast for the eyes and ears.

All in all, I’d say this is a movie you should definitely take your kids to see during the Thanksgiving holiday. Both features are appropriate for anyone old enough to sit quietly through the movie. Seriously, if you’ve got kids, take them to see this movie. They’ll thank you for it.