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Cloudy with a chance of dead mother
Cloudy with a chance of dead mother

Cloudy with a chance of dead mother

Spoilers ahead! Go away if you don’t want to know about the movie. Come back later.


We took the boys to see Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs on Sunday. That’s always been one of my favorite kid books, so I was really looking forward to see it. Despite the fact that the movie and the book are quite different, I loved the movie.


In the book, a grandpa tells his grandkids this fanciful tall-tale story, after a pancake breakfast. The kids are there, grandpa is there, mom is there. No dad. I never questioned it, just the dad wasn’t there.


In the movie, the mom is in the first scene, when Flint was a precocious child, desperate to be an inventor. She truly believed in him and gave him his first lab coat, so he could be a real inventor. I sobbed through this entire scene; it was so true to the life I’m living with A right now. Her words have come out of my mouth. And yes, he’s getting a lab coat for Christmas.

And then, once Flint was on his way to becoming an inventor, with the full confidence of his mother, the only person who truly believed in him…they killed her off. Oh no, you don’t actually see it, she’s just gone and referred to later.

Really? It was necessary to kill off the mother yet again? Let’s list:

  • Bambi: mother shot and killed
  • Dumbo: mother chained for protecting her child
  • Finding Nemo: mother eaten in the first 90 seconds of the movie
  • Beauty and the Beast: dead mother
  • The Lion King: mother cowed into subservience to Scar
  • The Little Mermaid: dead mother
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: dead mother, evil stepmother
  • Sleeping Beauty: dead mother
  • Cinderella: dead mother, evil stepmother

Are we seeing a pattern here? The Incredibles is the noticeable exception, and not surprisingly is my favorite animated movie. Bambi and Dumbo will never enter my house.

I am so sick of the dead mother cliche in animated movies. Sick of it. According to Animated Movie Law, I’m going to get A on track to his dreams and die off. Because that’s what happens in animated movies. It’s the Noble/Tragic Mother Figure. Why not…mom is now in a padded room because of her dedication to seeing her son thrive? Or mom ran off to the Riviera with the pool boy, only to send a birthday card and Christmas gift? Or…how about something truly different? How about mom survives and gets to see the fruits of her labors??? Is that really so much to ask?

Movie people, stop. Killing off a mother figure has to stop. It’s insulting to the ones raising the kids who want to see your movies. The Incredibles is my favorite animated movie not only because of a fun story line, but because there is a strong mother figure. One who puts her family first, insists on everyone working together, and sees it all through to the end. Make more movies like that, and I’m there.

But from here on out, if there is a dead or missing mom, I’m not going and I’m not taking my kids. Enough.


  1. karen (Forgiven and Loved)

    Ok, seriously? You’re just now figuring this out. Nearly every single movie out there (and ESPECIALLY the Disney movies) only have ONE parent. Ok, maybe there are two parents, but they are divorced.
    Pinocchio-no mom (assuming Gepetto is the “dad” and not just some guy with a toy fetish)
    Bolt–don’t think dad is ever mentioned
    Enchanted–the little girl lives with dad who is remarrying
    High School Musical–gabriella’s parents are divorced
    Santa Clause–parents divorced
    Princess Diaries–dead dad
    Jungle2Jungle–divorced parents
    Parent Trap–divorcing parents

    My dh, the writer, says it has to do something with character development. Extra people get in the way of creating a good character arc. 🙂 Crap. Hope I’m not messing up his character arc juju in this marriage. LOL!

  2. Cathy

    i’ve never heard of this book–ethan really wants to see the movie, though. wow–i hear you–that is ridiculous that hollywood keeps killing off moms–like kids can’t achieve their dreams without overcoming some massive obstacle like having a parent die.

  3. Theresa

    You’re right. I can think of a few more movies not mentioned here. Enough with the tragic loss of the mother already.

    Although I watch Dumbo and I cry like a baby when she cradles him in her trunk. Damn Disney.

  4. Is there something wrong in my head when, while I totally agree with the point of your post, the ONE thing I am fixated on is the thought : OMG! Jen would make an AWESOME animated character! ?



    But you totally would and, I can’t see you getting killed off. Killing something, perhaps, getting killed off, not so much.

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  6. cms8741

    Ah. The missing mother. Quintessential to a good Disney screenplay. The reason you see a lack of mother is that mothers generally would easily fix the story. It’s definitely a writing tool, like someone else mentioned.

    It works, so the writers keep using it over and over and over and over. Removing a mother is like the A theme in a Sonata. Pretty much gotta have it.

  7. My family and I were just talking about this and the movie the Land Before Time is another one…Dumbo and Bambi both had me sobbing as a kid. Do you have any idea how terrified i was my parents would die? I definitely agree with you. .

  8. Yes, the absent parents…not only in movies but books. Are any of your kids in high school? I write my standard letter to the school board complaining about the list of books my child is REQUIRED to read. Books and movies I wouldn’t let them read if I had it my way. Instead, I read the books ahead of time and pick out the not so objectionable ones. Or, my son and I talk about them after we’ve both read them.

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