Life, Animated: Owen the Hero, Going the Distance

“Life, Animated” follows Owen Suskind and his family as they navigate their way through life and autism. With no real communication, the family discovered Owen’s love of classic Disney films was the key to unlocking his entire world. The film is inspiring, uplifting and relatable. Owen’s coming of age touches upon milestones we’ve all grappled with – graduating, growing up, finding our way in the “real” world and even heartbreak. So much of how Owen expresses himself is incredibly pure and honest, “Mom, why is life so full of unfair pain and tragedy?” We’ve all been there, but likely very few of us have been able to express it so concisely in adulthood.

After years of non-speech, Owen and his family are gradually able to begin communicating using the Disney films Owen has memorized. The reciting of lines progresses into linking certain scenes to expressing real life emotions.Bullied at school, he likens it to the character of Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, watching the world pass him by exiled in his bell tower. He learns to read by memorizing the credits. These films act as the gateway to Owen’s further development of communication, reading and writing skills.

Owen is a hero to root for, warm, endearing, talented and really just a funny and clever guy. It’s no wonder he was invited to Paris to address an international autism conference. This movie is really a love story at its core. The love the Suskinds have is proof of the strength derived from being surrounded by people who believe in, uplift and love unconditionally.

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