Committed to the unseen, a memory played out in this dream like scene: A Star Wars sheet on my living room floor soothes like oceans’ pour. Every wrinkle is the ebb that my fourth grade fingers smoothed out to let comfort flow. The heat outside extinguished by the ceiling fan breeze from our Cudahy home. My surrogate sun, the TV was the only source of warmth as the Capri Sun and Cheetos filled my belly. I would lose myself in this moment of joy, adjust the meaning of what was real to be the fifth Ninja Turtle: Pablo (Picasso), or Snake Eyes’ other brother Little Shadow. One part dream, three parts life, the world was fantastic for every moment after that; playing along towards Act Four, off TV, off the living room floor, into perpetual curiosity.

I remember on really hot days, my mom would always pull out my brother’s old Star Wars bed sheet and she would lay it out for me and my siblings to just relax and cool off after a hard day at school. She’d have the sheet sprawled out on our living room floor, covering more than half of our shaggy brown carpet. There would be snacks and a cold pouch of juice ready for us as we got home and tore off our backpacks and school uniforms to just chill and watch all of the great afternoon cartoons lined up for that day. And though we loved the sheet and snacks, I think the real treat were the cartoons; and as of late, I’ve been thinking a lot about cartoons. Mainly because I’ve been watching them like crazy with my daughter, but also because I loved being in that moment and it’s rare I watch something that makes me go back to that place…until now. I recently saw two trailers for two animated movies coming out this year that rushed me back to that scene in my mind. I had that transcendent sense of joy totally rush back into my eyes and it made me feel the coolness of our Cudahy house. At that moment, they became the backdrop for those dreams, those memories. Cartoons have kept me committed to curiosity, a gift I hope to instill in my kids too.

The Little Prince

“You are going to make a wonderful grown up!” are words no kid ever wants to hear. Yet, this is where we begin our great adventure. Though the story of The Little Prince has been told for quite some time now and in many different ways, I don’t think I have ever seen it in such a way as this. The original story was first published in 1943. Written and illustrated by French writer/poet Antoine de Saint-Exupery. This children’s book for adults, is a cautionary tale about growing up and losing those “childhood certainties” and mysticism that makes every passing moment a grand exploit. In it, our narrator, an airplane pilot, crashes and becomes stranded in the Sahara Desert. As he goes over his current dilemma a little boy appears. As the two exchange stories, they become friends, and together learn to value what is truly important in life: the things in life that are only visible to the heart, the things we are responsible for, the unique people, places and things we love. And I think, above all, that is what intrigued me so much about this story and the upcoming movie: that is, it’s a reminder to never let go of that childhood curiosity as well as the willingness to keep searching and getting back to that which you love. This movie will be released on March 18, 2016 and you can be sure I will be there on opening night, Star Wars sheet and all.

Kubo and the Two Strings

Like a story pulled directly from my childhood dreams, this looks awesome and charmingly familiar. Brought to us by Laika Entertainment, LLC, an American stop-motion studio that has made movies such as Coraline, Paranorman and the Box Trolls, this latest adventure follows Kubo and his magical guitar. The basic plot: “Kubo lives a quiet, normal life in a small shoreside village until a spirit from the past turns his life upside down by re-igniting an age-old vendetta. This causes all sorts of havoc as gods and monsters chase Kubo who, in order to survive, must locate a magical suit of armor once worn by his late father, a legendary Samurai warrior.” –IMDB

But, there is so much more going on here. Like the Little Prince, this movie does an awesome job at evoking one’s childhood wonder and pairs it beautifully with the literal animated magic involved with producing a stop-motion movie. This is magic personified. The trailer alone is visual poetry set to a reworked Beatles classic in traditional Japanese sounds: “While my Guitar Gently Weeps” has an ancient quality to it. As if it had been used before to retell the extraordinary events unfolding on screen for ages. The sound and picture together are broad in scope, equal only to the magnitude of our imagination. And even still, I’m sure, we will sit in quite wonder as we experience the full scale of what is in store for us with the actual movie. Its emotion and creativity will spill over the confines of our comprehension. I cannot wait for it to open in a theater near me. Our quest begins August 19, 2016….Little Shadow will be there.

Take a minute, just take a breath, and remember a time when you allowed yourself moments of innocent awe. Remember when cartoons were your one true escape from everything as you simply dreamed while being awake. This might not be for everyone, but it is for the dreamers, the wisher, the liar, the hope-er, the prayer-er, a magic bean buyer…for all the pretenders, come in, and commit to curiosity.