One of the most common winning formulas for animated kids' movies is when you take an animal normally known for one trait and have his dream be to do the opposite of that. Like an ant who wants to be an individual (Antz, A Bug's Life), or a fat lazy animal who wants to do martial arts (Kung Fu Panda), or a filthy rodent who wants to cook haute cuisine (Ratatouille).
I had a couple of false starts along this vein -- a cat who wants to work hard in a reliable 9-5 factory shift, a fish who wants to go into space, an elephant who wants to forget his horrific upbringing -- but I think I've finally struck gold with Victor the Proactive Vulture, a vulture who is tired of the passive ways of his species and bravely pursues his dream of killing his own prey.
All the other vultures are like, "Come on, Victor, this is the way it's always been. Why go out there and risk your neck, your nasty, leathery neck, when we can wait for our meal to just fall over? You're crazy! It's too dangerous!" and Victor is like, "No, man, I'm going to make my own destiny!" and he stabs the shit out of some hiker.
Kids are going to dig it.
Prudence Dressup goes to Las Vegas to fulfill her dream of being a dancer and runs up against the city's culture of sleaze and loose morals. Her act, which involves starting out in a leotard and putting on more and more clothes until she is completely covered, as a modest woman should be, turns out to be a hard sell.
When one unscrupulous director asks her to show her ankles at an audition, she walks straight out and goes home to her parents, who told her so the whole time.
I think it would be too much to show her actually getting cooties, but every moment she spends around boys, kids will be kept on the edge of their seats in fear that she could get them at any time.
Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream consistently tops "Most Depressing Movie" lists all over the Internet, which makes it ideal to adapt into wholesome family entertainment for bright-eyed youngsters.
I think it's important to keep the strong anti-drug message while removing things kids shouldn't see, like drug use, or the consequences of drug use. Mostly it'll be a series of musical set pieces where the kids dance and sing about what they want to be when they grow up (a fireman, a doctor, a bird), and then at the very end of the movie you have Morgan Freeman say, "And they never became any of those things because drugs. Stay off drugs, kids."
I mean really, in my expert opinion, just telling people moral lessons is way more effective than showing them.
One thing we can take away from the younger generation's love of anime is that apparently kids like things that don't make any sense. Like take the whole Macross saga or whatever that got chopped up into Robotech and I think maybe got remade again or something, which is all confusing enough already. The one plot element most of the versions (remakes?) seem to have in common is that people pilot giant robots to fight giants from space and then at one point a pop singer starts singing and the whole fleet can hear her for some reason and then this makes them win.
Macross Episode 27 via An Eye For Things
Why would you show this to kids who are used to watching The Smurfs or He-Man or something? Is it funny to confuse 10-year-olds?
I mean, I liked Robotech when I was a kid, but to this day I can't explain why, nor who the Robotech Masters were or what they wanted, or why singing wins fights. Maybe I'm just slow. I did think the main villain of Star Wars was named "Dark Vader." But the point is that kids love things they don't understand, like anime. And what is understood by fewer people than a David Lynch movie?
Take Eraserhead, one of his most confusing movies, and pair it with the most extreme tropes of anime, by which I mean put a guy with an eraser for a head in a schoolgirl uniform, and I think this is something kids will be dragging their parents to see all across the country.