Yesterday my daughter came to me with a list of Disney Princess Movies she used to watch over and over when she was younger, and asked me to list my favorite princesses in the order I liked them. What my writer brain heard was, “Which heroines do I like the best and why?” When finished, we did the same for the men (the heroes).
It was a simple game we’ve played before, but then she took it further. “Let’s list the villains we like in order.” Now things were getting interesting. What makes a good villain?
Then she surprised me with wanting to list the sidekicks in order. Hmm…first we had to decide who the sidekicks were. Disney movies tend to have a bunch of them. For example in The Little Mermaid, Ariel has flounder, the seagull, and Sebastian the crab. This got us into a fun conversation about sidekick characters and mentor characters. After explaining what a mentor was, we decided that Flounder was Ariel’s friend-sidekick and Sebastian was her mentor-sidekick. In Cinderella, Jacques and Gus are Cinderella’s sidekicks while Fairy Godmother is her mentor.
This game was fun for a number of reasons. The writer in me enjoyed talking about what made good heroes, heroines, villains, and sidekicks. The mom in me enjoyed learning more about my daughter and why she liked certain characters over others.
I challenge you to play this game at home with your family. The catch is that you cannot simply list the characters. That’s too easy. You must discuss the reason WHY you chose one over another. You’ll learn more about each other, plus it’s a fun way to discuss something you love: characterization.
So who was my favorite Heroine? Well, there was a toss up between my two favorite heroines – Belle and Mulan. Belle from Beauty and the Beast is adventurous. She sacrifices herself to save her father (very heroic). She stands up to the beast (a pretty kick-butt thing to do). And she loves to read! Mulan is not a princess. She’s better. She’s the Hero of China. She pretends to be a man to save her elderly father from going to war (again heroic). She trains hard in the martial arts and fights the Huns (very kick-butt). She uses her wits to solve problems (smart heroines are awesome).
But there can only be one winner. I chose Belle because she loves books.
So who was last on my list? Snow White – a woman happy to cook and clean for seven men. Is she crazy? I can’t relate.
If you’d like to play this game in the comments section, these are the nine Disney “Princess” movies we used: Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Mulan, and Tangled.