MOVIE REVIEW: “Life, Animated” from an Autistic Moms POV

Life, Animated

As a parent raising a child on the Autism spectrum, this new documentary “Life, Animated” shows an uplifting and engaging perspective of the life of a regressive Autistic child and his love for Disney animated films.

Life, Animated centers on the Suskind family and their young son Owen, the film is based on Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind’s book, “Life, Animated” which revolves around  the life of his son Owen who becomes non-verbal at age 3 and the family struggles to secure a diagnosis while learning to communicate with Owen. Oscar-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams does a beautiful job chronicling the story of Owen, now a young man with autism, who has memorized a countless amount of Disney dialogue.

This version a bit different from the book, the film follows Owen now as an adult. You’ll find much of Ron’s story interwoven in this film, mostly in the beginning. This is Owen’s story and it picks up after graduation, on his journey towards independence. We see fragments throughout the film of actual footage of the Suskind’s home videos as well as Owen sharing his story. From being bullied at school to moments with his girlfriend Emily and the excitement of independent living and finding a job. Owen tells his story through his personal animations which allowed him to interpret reality, as he re-imagines himself as a hero in a tribe of sidekicks.

As a mom of a child on the spectrum, I could resonate with how Owen took to the films to find a way to communicate. My son did have a similar change at the age of 3 and now at 8 years old he is fully verbal and communicates but I too find that his affinities for particular cartoons helps him express his thoughts more clearly. This story is very inspiring for us as parents of a special needs individual. It’s a beautiful message of perseverance and not giving up on our children when faced with dark times.I love how the Suskind family would advocate for Owen without ceasing, in a life of special needs that’s tiresome for most on any given day it’s a reminder to not settle.  It’s beautiful to see Owen as the Hero of his own story rather that the sidekick. Owen will charm you and impress you. A must see for any special needs parent.

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