Kid-Friendly ’90s Action Movies That Went As Hard As R-Rated Movies

Voting Rules
Vote up the family flicks that kick serious butt.

The MPAA established the rating system to determine whether a movie is acceptable for specific age groups. PG-13 is considered somewhat family-friendly and appropriate for children over the age of 12, while R is restricted to anyone under the age of 17. For the most part, the system works, but throughout the 1990s, several movies were marketed to kids but were filled with a ton of violence.

The MPAA is strict about its ratings, and directors often must cut content to achieve a desired rating. Still, occasionally, something remains that leaves parents scratching their heads in wonder as they take their screaming child from the theater to their first counseling session of many. Most of the time, this is due to violent imagery, and these '90s movies have it and other frightening imagery in spades.

Take a look at the supposed kid-friendly ‘90s action movies that went as hard as R-rated movies. If you find one that left you with the impression that you probably shouldn’t have brought your underage children to it, be sure to give it an upvote to see which film rises to the top!

Photo: Columbia Pictures / DreamWorks Distribution / Sony Pictures Releasing

  • 1
    252 VOTES

    Jurassic Park is arguably the best movie ever made about dinosaurs. The film is directed by Steven Spielberg and is based on Michael Crichton's best-selling novel of the same name. It features some of the most impressive practical effects ever seen in a movie, thanks to the inimitable Stan Winston. Those special effects still hold up today, which is more than you can say for other films in the franchise.

    Overall, Jurassic Park is meant for families to enjoy, but at the end of the day, it's still a movie about a bunch of escaped dinos eating people. Several scenes, in particular, are frightening to children. These include the T-Rex breaking out of its enclosure, the velociraptors chasing the children in the kitchen, and the discovery of Samuel L. Jackson's detached arm in the power boot-up scene. According to Common Sense Media, JP is ok for children 12 and up, but parents should go on a case-by-case basis for their kids because several of the scenes, meant to be frightening, could be too much for young viewers.

    252 votes

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  • 2
    196 VOTES

    Decades after Universal Pictures last released a mummy-related film, the studio surprised the world with The Mummy in 1999. The movie is arguably Brenden Fraser's best action movie performance and launched a franchise. While the subsequent sequels weren't as good as the first, they are nonetheless enjoyable to watch. 

    The film centers around the accidental resurrection of the titular monster, who is given an interesting backstory through a flashback. When he returns to life, the Mummy is a disgusting, partly-desiccated, shambling corpse. Because it was released via a curse, it can rebuild its body into a more pleasing human form by taking bits from the men who inadvertently unleashed him on the world. While some children may find the Mummy frightening, others may take exception to the monster's penchant for ripping the eyes and tongue from a man's face. Granted, this happens off-screen, but it's nonetheless frightening for kids.

    As the Mummy makes his way through the men who released him, he removes various parts and incorporates them into his body. He then leaves them desiccated husks, which can't be the most pleasing thing for a kid to see on the silver screen. The Mummy received a PG-13 rating for violence, and Common Sense Media agrees with the rating, even going so far as to suggest it is appropriate for children 12 and up.

    196 votes

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  • 3
    177 VOTES

    Men in Black began a fantastic franchise when it debuted in 1997. The film stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as the titular MiB. They belong to a group of underground agents responsible for policing the Earth of rogue aliens, and they've been busy! The film focuses on the arrival of a bug, a giant cockroach-like creature that intends to destroy the Earth by capturing “the galaxy,” an energy source a cat wears on its collar.

    The film features a plethora of cartoonish cruelty, and for the most part, it's not something that kids will be too frightened of, which is by design. The aggression is toned down, there's no human blood, and a lot of the horrible stuff is only implied. That said, some children may take exception with an alien donning an Edgar suit, which continuously rots as the film progresses. The ending with the big, nasty bug might throw some nightmares into a few children's heads, but Common Sense Media thinks it's acceptable for children 12 and up.

    177 votes

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  • Independence Day is a Roland Emerich disaster film like no other. The SFX used in the movie don't rely on CGI and instead employ intricately-built models, which the filmmakers blew up in fiery explosions. Most of the practical effects stand up to today's standards, and it's truly an entertaining movie. Of course, several subplots and elements within the film are tough for some youngsters to handle despite the steps taken to make the mayhem a non-bloody affair.

    Of course, destroying the world's significant buildings and landmarks might frighten a young child, but most older kids revel in the effects. There is a scene when one of the doctors is taken over by an alien, and that's undoubtedly frightening for kids to watch. Additionally, as you should expect from such a film, there's plenty of destruction. Common Sense Media believes the PG-13 rating is age-appropriate, but some parents may disagree, especially regarding alien/human interactions.

    171 votes

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  • 5
    176 VOTES

    GoldenEye is the first James Bond film to feature Pierce Brosnan as the titular spy, and it's arguably his best in the franchise. The film was released six years after the previous title, so it was somewhat new to a generation of movie watchers. GoldenEye was rated PG-13 for various sequences of mayhem, and that's pretty much what you expect to find in a James Bond film. Of course, some of the demises were more graphic than others, especially at the end.

    It's fair to say that everything involving the expiration of Alan Cumming's character, Boris Grishenko, is cartoonish, but that doesn't make it any less scary for children. He's drenched in liquid nitrogen, which instantly freezes him to death. There are, of course, a ton of bad guys taken out by various firearms and explosions, and because Sean Bean plays the bad guy, you know he succumbed to a horrible demise. Common Sense Media says the film is appropriate for 13+, but parents might disagree…

    176 votes

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  • 6
    142 VOTES

    Twister is a summer blockbuster featuring Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton as tornado hunters. Their job is to confront tornadoes to study them, and the film begins with a frightening scene involving Hunt's character's father being sucked from a storm cellar to his demise by a twister, so it already gets off to a scary start for kids. There's not much direct aggression in the film, so don't expect to see a plethora of cadavers lying about in the aftermath of a bad storm.

    That said, one scene might make a few kids cringe. The film's villain, if you could call him that, chooses to chase a tornado along a perilous path. From afar, his truck is seen as it's lifted in the air, and before anyone can react, a ladder comes flying toward the vehicle. It slams into the windshield, killing him before the truck is slammed onto the ground in a fiery explosion. Common Sense Media believes the film is ok for 14+ but thinks the PG-13 rating is too lenient.

    142 votes

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