15 Kids Films That Definitely Aren’t For Kids

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As children grow and develop their taste in art, movies can be the perfect gateway to a better understanding of the world around them. Movies are subconscious dream beats designed to help communicate the soul of humanity to anyone, regardless of creed or character. Through the power of the moving image, we can learn more about ourselves than we could ever believe. 

Children will inevitably encounter various adventures in moviegoing that may challenge their innocent perceptions of the world. Today, we’re here to count down a list of children’s films that may or may not have been appropriate for children. While all of these films were, in theory, made for children, they all contain some elements that may only be suitable for the most mature and adventurous kids. A spoiler warning is needed for some of the films that lie ahead.

1. Rango (2007)

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Gore Verbinski’s first foray into the world of animation, fresh off the success of the Pirates of the Caribbean films, sees him reuniting with Johnny Depp in this tale of the titular lizard as he gets dumped in the desert by his owners and winds up in the town of Dirt. Rango becomes the town sheriff in a loose remake of the classic Roman Polanski film Chinatown. Expect scenes of violence and intensity and references to classic Hollywood filmmaking, which may be too much for young children.

2. Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Indie darling Spike Jonze’s adaptation of the classic 1963 children’s book by Maurice Sendak updates the book for a contemporary world, making the film about a little boy who retreats to the land of the ‘wild things’ as he grows more and more distant from his single mother. It is a harrowing and deeply felt venture into children’s filmmaking by one of our greatest working filmmakers.

3. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Mel Stuart’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s novel—this will not be the last Dahl adaptation on this list—follows a group of children as they are invited to explore the chocolate factory of our eponymous chocolatier. While one may remember this film as being filled to the brim with whimsy and innocent fun, many remain scarred by the boat tunnel sequence, which features depictions of animals being killed, people being covered in snakes, and the burning fires of hell itself. It’s not an ideal watch for some little tykes!

4. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox.

Wes Anderson’s first attempt at making an animated film—he, too, will appear again on this list—is an adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel of the same name. The film follows the exploits of the titular Mr. Fox as he steals and con his way into various fruits of fortune. A gorgeous blast, the film’s humor may be too mature and dry for most youngsters. 

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5. Gremlins (1984)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Joe Dante’s creature feature—produced by no other than Steven Spielberg—is a fondly remembered childhood classic. However, revisits would reveal a violent and frightening tale of monsters running amok during a small town’s Christmas celebration. Maybe wait until the little ones are older to crack into this classic horror comedy.

6. Isle of Dogs (2018)

Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Wes Anderson’s second foray into the world of children’s cinema revolves around a young boy named Atari, who must hunt for his missing dog, Spots, after the mayor of the fictional Japanese city of Megasaki banishes all dogs to Trash Island after a breakout of canine influenza. The dark humor and the mature subject make this film best left for older teens and adults. 

7. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.

Robert Zemeckis’s homage to classic cartoons of the 1940s and the film noirs released around the same time is a brash and bold tale about a private detective who must go down a rabbit hole of conspiracy and vice to uncover the murderer of a cartoon studio executive. Like the noirs of the era, the film contains many scenes of seedy characters and lustful femme fatales, making this ride through the golden age of animation more suited for older kids. 

8. Transformers (2007)

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Michael Bay’s adrenaline-fueled update on the Hasbro action figures sees the director adding his authorial flourishes to the fold, giving his audience copious amounts of violence, jokes about sex and bodily fluids, as well as gratuitous ogling of the female form. For those hoping for a kid-friendly outing with the Autobots, may this author suggest Bumblebee or Transformers: Rise of the Beasts.

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9. Monster House (2006)

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures.

Gil Kenan’s animated film, about a group of teenagers who have to stop a house from devouring the entire population of their hometown, is a fun-filled fright fest aimed at the most hardened of kids. Though the cutesy animation may persuade a parent to show this to their kids, the various scenes of a house eating people and the general dark tone lead this one to be on the harder-edged side of the spectrum.

10. Watership Down (1978)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Martin Rosen’s adaptation of Richard Adams’ novel of the same name follows a group of rabbits as they traverse their day-to-day lives. Though most of this talky animated film may bore children, the scenes of violence against rabbits make this one a tough sit for even the most cynical child. It’s a classic animation that may be too mature for some kids.

11. Princess Mononoke (1997)

Photo Credit: Studio Ghibli.

Hayao Miyazaki’s animated epic follows a struggle between the gods as humans ravage the natural world. This frightening and, at times, extremely violent film makes this masterpiece prime viewing for older teens and adults. If you’re looking for a more kid-friendly Studio Ghibli film, check out Ponyo or My Neighbor Totoro.

12. The Dark Crystal (1984)

Photo Credit: Universal Studios.

Frank Oz and Jim Henson used the Muppet Show cache in this dark and bizarre fable about an ancient war between two dying races and the two people who can help restore a world ravaged by chaos. Dense with lore, this intense fantasy adventure may be a little too heady – and frightening, for that matter – for most kids.

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13. The Peanut Butter Solution (1985) 

Photo Credit: Les Productions La Fête Inc.

This Canadian children’s film has perhaps one of the strangest plots of any film ever made! This film follows Michael, a boy who encounters a group of ghosts after school. One day, he is infected with a disease called “The Fright.” This disease causes Michael to lose all of his hair, with the ghosts telling him that the only way to grow his hair back is by spreading peanut butter all over his head. This doesn’t even scratch the surface of the events in this bizarre film, which will likely frighten any child who comes into contact with it. 

14. Sixteen Candles (1984)

Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox.

John Hughes’ classic teen rom-com follows Samantha’s quest to attract boys’ attention as she slowly approaches her sixteenth birthday. While the tone may undoubtedly speak to the experience of modern teens, many of the film’s racial stereotypes and questionable sexual politics make this one a complicated watch for kids today. 

15. The Witches (1990)

Photo Credit: Lorimar Film Entertainment.

Nicolas Roeg, director of classic thrillers such as Don’t Look Now and Bad Timing, lends his unique sense for the genre to this mean-spirited Roald Dahl adaptation. The film, which follows a young boy and his grandmother trying to stop England’s child population from being turned into mice, is a nasty little romp featuring scenes of children being turned into mice and witches turning into hideous ghouls. It’s a great film, but only for the bravest of kids.

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