Warner Brothers' Thumbelina: Things Only Adults Noticed In The Animated Film

Warner Brothers' Thumbelina is an animated classic, and one that most millennials remember well. The movie, which was written and directed by Don Bluth, is filled with jaunty musical numbers, talking animals, fairies, and magic, so it's no wonder it captured the hearts of so many kids when it hit theaters in 1994. The film is a tale about a young woman no bigger than a thumb who feels out of place because of her size. One night, a toad kidnaps her from her room. On her own, she learns more about the world and those in it, as she struggles to get home so she can marry her true love, a fairy prince.

But there's a lot of dialogue, details, and plot points that kids probably didn't notice or understand in the animated movie based on the Hans Christian Anderson story. The story deals with adult themes and frightening situations, as well as plenty of plot holes that probably went right over young viewers' heads. Here are some of the things in Thumbelina that only adults would notice.

Warner Brothers' Thumbelina is a terrifying movie

Even in just one of the opening songs of Warner Brothers' Thumbelina, Thumbelina almost dies multiple times. She's so light that a farm animal's breath sends her into a water trough, where she only is saved from drowning by a bull who, luckily, was there just in time. But then, she dances on the edge of that same trough and almost falls into the water again. The dangers don't end there. Just seconds later, she falls through a hole and onto a pile of hatching eggs. It's a good thing she landed in a nest because falling onto a harder surface after such a long drop could probably have been fatal. And finally, before the song is over, Thumbelina almost gets baked into a pie, but escapes just before being put in the oven.

All those dangerous things happen when she's safe at home. Later she gets kidnapped, almost drowns in a waterfall, and gets stuck in a snowstorm without shelter (or even a jacket).

The mother in Warner Brothers' Thumbelina has a sad storyline

Thumbelina's mother is described as a "lonely woman who longed to have a child to call her own." So, she goes to see a fairy, who gives her a seed to plant, and when a flower grows and blooms from the seed, Thumbelina pops up out of the flower.

Kids watching Warner Brothers' Thumbelina might see Thumbelina's mother as simply a woman who wanted a child, but adults watching can see how heart-wrenching her storyline is. In the beginning, she's seen watching over an empty cradle. Then, once Thumbelina is born, the tiny character sleeps in a walnut shell inside a cradle in a nursery. With the presence of these cradles, it appears that the animators wanted to suggest that the woman had lost a child or had just always wanted one but couldn't.

The mother's storyline gets even sadder when the child she waited for vanishes without a trace. Thumbelina's mother sings a song — a reprise of the movie's song "Soon" — that's all about heartbreak and the hope that Thumbelina is safe.

Mrs. Toad is actually a frog with mammary glands in Warner Brothers' Thumbelina

In Warner Brothers' Thumbelina, Mrs. Toad kidnaps Thumbelina in the night and takes her to her boat where she lives with her three sons, Mozo, Gringo, and Grundel. There, the toads sing a jaunty tune, encourage Thumbelina to join their showbiz family, and try to arrange her marriage to Grundel.

But these toads aren't actually toads at all. At least, they don't appear to be. Mrs. Toad and her family live on a boat on the water, which would be a good place for a frog to live, as they are mostly aquatic, but toads are known to live on land (via Live Science). The four characters' smooth skin looks more like the slimy skin that frogs have and not like the dry, bumpy skin of toads. So, it seems that these characters are actually meant to be frogs.

But then again, maybe these creatures aren't frogs either. Mrs. Toad is clearly shown to have breasts, and frogs, being amphibians, would certainly not have mammary glands.

Warner Brothers' Thumbelina is all about making choices in life

While Thumbelina eventually marries Prince Cornelius, Warner Brothers' Thumbelina doesn't follow a typical boy-meets-girl narrative. While Prince Cornelius plays a large role in the movie, the story doesn't revolve around Thumbelina's relationship with him.

In the film, Thumbelina is faced with many options for what path to go down in life. With Cornelius, she finds love, but, with Mrs. Toad and her son, she's given a chance to pursue fame. When Mr. Beetle takes her under his wing (pun intended), she could choose to enjoy a life of being celebrated for her beauty. Then, when she considers marrying Mr. Mole, she knows that, though she may not love him, at least she will be comfortable financially.

The movie is all about life choices and the paths a person can go down. The fact that Thumbelina is reunited with her love in the end may be beautiful, but the movie isn't necessarily about romance.

Warner Brothers' Thumbelina doesn't have typical villains

Warner Brothers' Thumbelina doesn't have the typical villains that are often found in animated movies. The antagonists in this film include the toad family, Mr. Beetle, and Mr. Mole, but none of these characters are the villains that viewers are probably used to finding in other fairytale-inspired movies. 

Mrs. Toad is the most villainous, as she's the only one to actually do something illegal when she kidnaps Thumbelina. However, it's unclear if she intended to keep Thumbelina captive. If Thumbelina didn't want to join the toads on the road, Mrs. Toad could have planned on returning Thumbelina to her home. After all, she doesn't seem particularly ruthless. Meanwhile, Mr. Beetle is guilty of some serious sexual harassment, but Thumbelina seems to be willing to perform at the Beetle Ball and appears happy until Mr. Beetle rejects her. Finally, Mr. Mole isn't as handsome as Prince Cornelius, but the only thing he does to Thumbelina is try to marry her.

These characters aren't evil, they're just selfish and don't act in Thumbelina's best interests. Perhaps this makes them less frightening characters for a movie, but they're more realistic villains.

Warner Brothers' Thumbelina spends a lot of time focusing on beauty

Perhaps one of the biggest themes in Warner Brothers' Thumbelina is the main character's physical beauty and her singing voice. Prince Cornelius first meets her because he hears her singing. Mrs. Toad kidnaps her because her son sees her (and hears her) and wants to marry her. The beetle makes her dance in his club because he thinks she's beautiful, and even Mr. Mole, who's blind, decides to marry her after hearing her sing.

None of Thumbelina's suitors seem to care about Thumbelina's personality, and, with the film's strong focus on attractiveness, one would think that the movie would address the skewed idea of physical beauty. But even when Jacquimo comforts Thumbelina after the beetles call her ugly, there is still importance placed on her looks. Thumbelina complains that Mr. Beetle says she's ugly, so Jacquimo asks if she loves Mr. Beetle. When she says no, Jacquimo says, "Then never mind the beetle. Good riddance to the beetle," and Thumbelina is comforted by the fact that Cornelius thinks she's beautiful. The thought puts Thumbelina in a better mood, but it's still shallow.

Mr. Mole's decor is terrifying in Thumbelina

While Mr. Mole in Warner Brothers' Thumbelina is probably not evil, per se, he does have a terrifying home. First of all, he lives underground, as a mole would do, but his home is dark and spooky, unlike Ms. Fieldmouse's underground home. The inscription over Mr. Mole's door reads, "What's mined is mine," which is not exactly as friendly as a welcome mat, and the random collection of unusual items makes the space look cold and sad. Then, when Mr. Mole shows Thumbelina more of his residence, viewers can see dead bugs pinned to the wall. This is certainly macabre, especially since we know some bugs to be Thumbelina's friends.

Finally, during Thumbelina and Mr. Mole's wedding, Thumbelina walks down the aisle to Mr. Mole on a sword. A sword! Not only is that dangerous, but it's also pretty threatening. No wonder Thumbelina ended up running away from the alter.

Jacquimo could have saved Thumbelina from the beginning of Warner Brothers' Thumbelina

For most of Warner Brothers' Thumbelina, little Thumbelina wants to get home, but she has a hard time finding her way there. So it's a good thing she's friends with a bird, Jacquimo, who can fly her home. Oh wait... he doesn't fly her home, and he doesn't even try to fly her anywhere until the very end of the movie when he finally takes her to the veil of the fairies.

Being flown home would have easily solved Thumbelina's problems, so it doesn't make sense why neither she nor Jacquimo had this idea.

When Thumbelina and Jacquimo meet, Thumbelina is trapped on a lily pad after the toad family leaves her behind. Instead of picking her up, Jacquimo helps her get off the lily pad by cutting the lily pad's stem. When the lily pad and Thumbelina head toward a waterfall, Jacquimo still doesn't think to pick her up. What gives?