Whether you often watch animated movies as an adult, or watched them when you were a kid, there's always that one film that altered your viewpoint or became an obsession for awhile. Mine was All Dogs Go To Heaven.
I didn't grow up with tv. My family got it in the early 90s. So, the first movies I saw were those that had been released on vhs some years before. We're talking mid-to-late 1980s animation. There was some good stuff there, let me tell you.
Before Hayao Miyazaki's wonderful, beautiful, emotionally moving films, there was Don Bluth and his layered, morally-charged, and often rather dark animated work. It blew children's minds (The Secret of N.I.M.H. anyone?) and kept them awake pondering life and death, loss, and good vs. evil. Evil carried greater weight in Bluth films, because evil was usually someone you knew who did things you couldn't understand and never imagined doing yourself. But they were people - or in many cases, dogs and mice - not monsters.
That brings me to All Dogs Go To Heaven, the movie that forever changed the way I looked at children's films. On the surface, this movie looks like a quirky story about singing, dancing dogs who adopt a sweet little orphan girl and become best friends. Really it's a story about a gambling, alcoholic stray who steals a little girl from his shady business partner and uses her to get revenge on said partner. There is quite a lot of boozing, gambling, and violence. That is SO not a story for kids!
I didn't hate All Dogs Go To Heaven, but it didn't make me comfortable. It was grittier and darker than any animated movie I'd seen before. That was probably why I ended up obsessing over it.
I loved the characters and the deeper plot in the story (Charlie's fall from grace and path to redemption) so much I created tons of fanart - a lot of it out of modeling clay. I acted out the story with my toys and even created new stories for them, following the canon of the movie (fanfiction in its earliest form).
Charlie's character type of the lovable scoundrel still fascinates me in movies and literature. I still seek out stories where there's at least one rascal with a tendency toward goodness. Seeing this movie when I was a kid not only affected me then, but still affects me now (and not just because I still cry when I watch it).
What animated movie changed your life?