10 Beloved Kids Movies That Are SUPER Inappropriate On Rewatch

Summary

  • Classic children’s movies often have darker themes and elements that may go over young viewers’ heads but are more apparent to adults upon rewatching.
  • Films like “Coraline,” “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” and “Labyrinth” have mature subtext, terrifying antagonists, and tragic themes that may not be suitable for the youngest kids.
  • Rewatching childhood classics can reveal surprising hidden depths and make light-hearted adventures seem more complex and even tragic.


Children’s movies are a beloved genre, live-action and animated alike, but sometimes filmmakers include a few too many elements for the parents that push the film over the line into being inappropriate. This doesn’t mean the film is wholly unsuitable for young eyes, but it might be best for the littlest kids to wait a few years before watching one of these classics. These films don’t just have a couple of risqué jokes, but overtly mature subtext and terrifying antagonists that will keep any viewer up at night.

When returning to a classic family-friendly film from childhood, it can be shocking to discover how much goes over a child’s head and how adult the themes can get. Besides sexual innuendos and horror movie elements, there are sometimes tragic and emotionally taxing themes that are even more apparent when watching as an adult. Children often understand more than adults realize and can pick up on the subtleties incorporated in even the most innocent films.

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10 Coraline (2009)

Directed by Henry Selick

Coraline

Release Date
February 6, 2009

Director
Henry Selick

Cast
Robert Bailey Jr , Dakota Fanning , John Hodgman , Keith David , Teri Hatcher

Rating
PG

Runtime
100 minutes

Writers
Henry Selick

Budget
$60 million

Studio(s)
Focus Features

Distributor(s)
Focus Features

Based on Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name, Coraline doesn’t shy away from the darker aspect of childhood, dealing with themes of loneliness and isolation in addition to the terrifying visuals. When Coraline (Dakota Fanning) moves to a new house, she feels ignored by her parents and lost in her new environment. When she stumbles upon a portal to another world, it seems like a dream come true, but it turns into a nightmare. The residents of the Other World are some of the most intense and vicious villains in any children’s movie. Though Coraline escapes in the end it’s not without going through more than any child should.

9 Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory (1971)

Directed by Mel Stuart

Cast of parents and children on the steps in the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Release Date
June 30, 1971

Director
Mel Stuart

Cast
Jack Albertson , gene wilder , Peter Ostrum , Denise Nickerson , Julie Dawn Cole

Rating
G

Runtime
100 minutes

Budget
$3 million

Studio(s)
Paramount Pictures

Distributor(s)
Paramount Pictures

Gene Wilder might still be considered the definitive Willy Wonka, but the classic 1971 adaptation of the children’s story is not as sweet as it seems on the outside. Wonka spends the entirety of the film essentially weeding out the children to find one that lives up to his expectations with little regard for their physical well-being. Additionally, the notorious boat ride scene has frequently drawn comparisons to an acid trip with its psychedelic visuals and the eerie song that Wonka sings throughout the ride. It’s one of the most famous and most unsettling parts of the film.

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8 Labyrinth (1986)

Directed by Jim Henson

Labyrinth David Bowie as Jareth Throne Room

Labyrinth

Release Date
June 27, 1986

Rating
PG

Runtime
101 minutes

Writers
Terry Jones

Budget
$25 million

Studio(s)
Warner Bros. Pictures

Distributor(s)
Warner Bros. Pictures , Columbia Pictures , Sony

Starring David Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King, Labyrinth leans too heavily into stylization and fails to provide any morals or lessons for the children watching. After Jareth kidnaps the baby brother of Sarah (Jennifer Connelly), she must solve a terrifying labyrinth to save him from being turned into a goblin. Having the stakes of a movie be the death of an infant is a bold move for any film, children’s or not, and the young Sarah is frequently put into life-threatening situations as she solves the labyrinth.

Perhaps even more unsettling than the danger is Jareth and Sarah’s relationship. Jareth, who is much older than Sarah, reveals that his true goal is for her to love him, and the predatory overtones can be difficult to stomach. His desire for a relationship with this teenage girl is more than implied, and though Sarah escapes victorious, it’s unlikely that such a film would be made for kids today.

7 Bee Movie (2007)

Directed by Simon J. Smith & Steve Hickner

Barry and Vanessa in Bee Movie

Bee Movie is a well-known animated comedy film that delves into a fictional world where bees can talk, and they’re tired of making all the world’s honey. Though there are plenty of innocuous and family-friendly plot lines in the movie, the relationship between Barry (Jerry Seinfeld) the bee and Vanessa (Renée Zellweger) the human is not only improbable but pushes the edge of impropriety. Barry’s desire for Vanessa is explicitly stated, and many innuendos are used to communicate the way he feels about her. Jokes using the reproductive organs of flowers are frequent devices that leave little to the imagination.

6 The Mask (1994)

Directed by Charles Russell

Jim Carrey as the Mask dances during the Cuban Pete dance number in The Mask

The Mask

Release Date
July 29, 1994

Director
Chuck Russell

Rating
PG-13

Runtime
101 minutes

Writers
Mike Werb

Budget
$23 million

Studio(s)
New Line Cinema

Distributor(s)
New Line Cinema , Warner Bros. Pictures

Ultimately, The Mask is about learning to accept oneself and gaining confidence, but in between those valuable lessons are lots of sexual jokes made at the expense of the women in the film. Specifically, Cameron Diaz, who plays Tina, the love interest of the protagonist Stanley (Jim Carrey). Most of the jokes are relatively harmless, but there are lots of them, coupled with lots of swearing and enough violence to be scary. The message that to be confident, a person must be a womanizer is not something that children should learn from films.

5 Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)

Directed by Chris Columbus

Mrs. Doubtfire

Release Date
November 24, 1993

Director
Chris Columbus

Rating
PG-13

Runtime
125 minutes

Writers
Leslie Dixon , Randi Mayem Singer

Budget
$25 million

Studio(s)
20th Century

Distributor(s)
20th Century

Tricking a spouse is always wrong, even if it is for the benefit of the kids, and delivers many hilarious moments. In Mrs. Doubtfire, it’s Robin William’s improv and performance that makes the film but they are also the reason there’s an R-rated cut of Mrs. Doubtfire that wasn’t released to the public. Williams is usually the one delivering lines with sexual references, and making less than suitable hand gestures at other characters in the movie. Additionally, the film does deal with serious topics of divorce and familial drama, which can be a tough subject for some children.

4 Gremlins (1984)

Directed by Joe Dante

A gremlin stands near a fountain in Gremlins

Gremlins

Release Date
June 8, 1984

Director
Joe Dante

Cast
Phoebe Cates , Corey Feldman , Zach Galligan , Hoyt Axton , Polly Holliday , Howie Mandel

Rating
PG

Runtime
106 minutes

Writers
Chris Columbus

Budget
$11 million

Studio(s)
Warner Bros. , Amblin Entertainment

Distributor(s)
Warner Bros. Pictures

Franchise(s)
Gremlins

Everything that can go wrong, does go wrong in the ’80s classic Gremlins. What audiences sometimes don’t remember about the iconic film is how violent and terrifying the titular gremlins get. The villainous creatures kill, torture, and kidnap the humans in the movie, putting them in very real and horrifying danger. Due to this, the only way to stop these otherworldly monsters is to kill them, a position that few children’s films put their protagonists in. All the death, destruction, and mayhem lead to a very different viewing of the film later in life.

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3 Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Jessica Rabbit in a night club from Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Release Date
June 22, 1988

Director
Robert Zemeckis

Cast
Amy Irving , Christopher Lloyd , Charles Fleischer , Bob Hoskins , Kathleen Turner

Rating
PG

Runtime
104 minutes

Writers
Peter S. Seaman , Jeffrey Price

Budget
$70 million

Studio(s)
Warner Bros. Pictures

Distributor(s)
Warner Bros. Pictures

Though it holds up in quality, Who Framed Roger Rabbit is so overtly sexual and violent that it calls into question whether it should be considered a film for kids at all. Jessica Rabbit (Kathleen Turner) is supposed to be provocative, and this is the fuel for many of the more explicit references in the movie, but her character design alone is a warning that kids should wait to watch the movie. Additionally, even the cartoon brutality that the toons and humans face feels all too real. The chemical Dip that Judge Doom (Christopher Llyod) uses against the toons is reminiscent of terrifying chemical attacks.

2 Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)

Directed by Ken Hughes

An image of Dick Van Dyke looking serious in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

The fairytale romp starring Dick Van Dyke and Sally Ann Howes, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, holds an equal amount of escapist fantasy and caution for any child watching. In the imaginary land of Vulgaria, Caractacus Potts (Van Dyke) and his children face constant danger along with Truly Scrumptious (Howes), including the terrifying Child Catcher (Robert Helpmann). Easily one of the most slimy and unseemly of villains, the Child Catcher snatches up any child he sees, a horrifying prospect for an audience of youngsters. Although even the children in the film know Potts’ story isn’t real, it doesn’t change how visceral the perils are.

1 The Black Cauldron (1985)

Directed by Ted Berman & Richard Rich

The Black Cauldron was not one of Disney’s major successes for many reasons. Though some come down to the budgetary restrictions and re-used animated sequences that the film employs, another is the darkness of both the source material and the resulting film. Based on The Chronicles of Prydain series, the central villain of the story, the Horned King (John Hurt), is depicted as a skeleton with horns and lurks in the shadows of the film with sinister intentions. Additionally, the hero of the film, Taran (Grant Bardsley), has a journey full of adult themes that are a distinct departure from Disney’s lighter work.