Disney’s Underrated Adventure: Strange World Review


The Clade family looks on at their new and strange surroundings. Photo courtesy of Disney+

Lillian Crane, Photographer

This review discusses light spoilers for the movie.


Strange World is Walt Disney Animation Studios’ most recent film, which hit theaters on November 23rd. The adventure follows the Clade family as they set out to save their life-sustaining crops.


The movie centers around the relationships of three generations of the Clades. Searcher Clade (Jake Gyllenhaal) had a falling out with his father Jaeger (Dennis Quaid) when they disagreed on what was best in regards to advancing the quality of life for their home. Ethan (Jaboukie Young-White) is the youngest Clade who is still discovering who he wants to be and how he wants to help. This plot takes another look into complex family dynamics, which is great to see in the spotlight once again.


Strange World does a great job with racial and cultural representation. This film introduces the interracial relationship between Searcher and Meridian (Gabrielle Union), and their goofiness is a joy to see. Their son Ethan is a biracial teen who is openly gay, and unlike other LGBTQ+ characters Disney has had in movies, Ethan’s identity is important to his character, and mentions of his crush are spread throughout the movie. The dorky and heartwarming approach humanizes and normalizes LGBTQ+ experiences. Disabled representation also appears with the family’s three-legged dog, Legend, and it’s lovely to see Disney open the door to representing the disabled community.


The visuals throughout the movie are absolutely gorgeous. The world they live in is colorful and intricate in its design and does an excellent job to captivate its audience. There is also an allegory in the movie about protecting the environment, and the visuals add to this in how the world works throughout the story. The animation team also plays around with more than one art style, which made the beginning of the movie very entertaining to watch. It’s always great when we get to see some variety in art style in animated movies these days since most of them are primarily in a 3-D style. 


Unfortunately, this movie didn’t do well at the box office, making only $61 million when the movie cost $180 million to make. This movie deserved more love than it got and it’s sad to know that marketing played a big role in this. Many people on TikTok mentioned not seeing any ads for the movie and had no idea it existed. It definitely wasn’t advertised as strongly as past movies from the studio and there are several theories swirling around as to why, but no facts on the matter. 


There has also been some backlash for this movie over Ethan’s identity. Some people have expressed concern and disapproval that LGBTQ+ content was shown in a children’s movie and that it was inappropriate. The movie shows Ethan’s crush just as any crush we’ve seen before. We see him get nervous and embarrassed when around this crush, and there’s a scene where he gets some advice from his grandfather. I personally feel like it’s shown in a very healthy way since as embarrassed as Ethan is by his family, he knows they have his back, which is an important dynamic to share with families.

Strange World is now streaming on Disney+. If you have time on your hands, I would definitely recommend giving this underrated movie the attention it deserves.