This nostalgic homage to sci-fi adventures has a moving intergenerational storyline, positive diverse representation, and two adorable sidekicks. Filmmakers Don Hall and Qi Nguyen focus on the family relationships between Ethan, his parents, and his grandfather. The environmentalist-friendly story offers plenty of laughs and fuzzy feels courtesy of Legend -- the family's big, lovable, three-legged dog, who's boisterous and befriends everyone -- and Splat, the blob-like, featureless being that Ethan discovers in the seemingly magical world. (Both will absolutely add to the delight of younger and dog-loving viewers.) Although the plot is mostly man-centered, the two main women characters, Meridian and Callisto, are hyper-capable, tough, and courageous. Union particularly stands out as Ethan's no-nonsense, supportive mom.
Strange World's visuals are vibrant and cotton candy-colored as the new world comes to life around the curious Avalonians. The world-building includes peril at every turn, but, aside from one somewhat humorous implied death, the danger is never too overwhelming. It's disappointing that there's been controversy over the fact that the film includes Ethan's crush on a boy (and his family's complete support of that fact), which is roughly equivalent to the cute date depicted in Inside Out. If anything, Disney deserves credit for promoting an inclusive story that isn't preachy or overwrought. Because this isn't a story about a teenager coming out or being gay -- it's a story about saving your home and repairing generational relationships.