94 voters

Children's Movies That Only Adults Like

October 20, 2020 653 votes 94 voters 1.8k views14 items

List RulesVote up the family-friendly movies that are more for the parents than the kids.

For parents, there's a tricky balance to strike on movie nights where you have to entertain the little ones and try to find kids' movies that adults enjoy, too. While there's a good library of family-friendly movies that entertain adults, there are some movies that have been deemed kids' movies that only adults seem to like. These are the films grown-ups put on when all their kids want to do is rewatch Cars 2.

When a director sets out to make a film for kids and only adults end up liking it, that might seem like sort of a failure. There are plenty of ways this can happen, though. Not every filmmaker is as attuned to what a younger audience wants to watch. Sometimes a children's film is too scary, contains more adult innuendo than jokes for the kids, or is just a little boring. These movies all made this list for different reasons, so check them out, and upvote the ones you think adults and kids disagree on the most. 

  • The Witches is a "children's" movie based on a Roald Dahl novel featuring a group of demonic witches who want to "eliminate every single child in England." Children who were forced to watch this film were treated to a genuinely horrific sequence of body horror in which a terrified kid is transformed (painfully) into a mouse. Even more horrifying is the witches' master plan, which is to take their mouse transformation potion and use it on every child in England. The way the protagonists of the movie win is equally as horrific as the witches' own plan. The children manage to turn the witches into mice and then stomp on them.

    If that isn't enough nightmare fuel, you should watch the witches' transformation for yourself. The scene in question features a human-looking woman peeling off her face to reveal her grotesque witch form. It's horrific.

    • Actors: Rowan Atkinson, Anjelica Huston, Brenda Blethyn, Jim Carter, Bill Paterson
    • Released: 1990
    • Directed by: Nicolas Roeg
    Mostly for adults?
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  • Jim Henson may be best known for his work on The Muppets, Sesame Street, and other all-ages entertainment, but as shown through The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, the pupeteer wasn't afraid of getting weird.

    In the case of Labyrinth. many theatergoers were upset that they went to the movies expecting Jim Henson of The Muppets and suddenly got this darker side of the artist they thought they knew. The film was much creepier than typical children's movies of the time, and the creators paid the price for it at the box office. Only later in its life did the the trippy fairy tale become something of a cult hit when older audiences revisited it.

    • Actors: Jennifer Connelly, David Bowie, Frank Oz, Brian Henson, Kevin Clash
    • Released: 1986
    • Directed by: Jim Henson
    Mostly for adults?
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  • The Nightmare Before Christmas is a truly morbid and dark film. The dreary aesthetic alone is enough to keep kids sleeping with a light on for a while, and that's before you get to the film's mature subject matter. The problem Jack Skellington faces in The Nightmare Before Christmas just isn't something a child can relate to. In the movie, Jack Skellington has grown tired of his mundane life and desperately wants a change of pace. How is a mid-life crisis something a child can relate to?

    While the ghost dog Zero is undeniably cute, the ghoulish designs for the rest of the characters were definitely designed with older audiences in mind. The amount of The Nightmare Before Christmas merch at your local Hot Topic should give you a better idea as to which demographic the film ended up being a hit with. 

    • Actors: Paul Reubens, Catherine O'Hara, Danny Elfman, Greg Proops, Glenn Shadix
    • Released: 1993
    • Directed by: Henry Selick
    Mostly for adults?
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  • Fantastic Mr. Fox was directed by critical darling Wes Anderson and is more popular in film school curricula than kindergarten classrooms. In an article written at the time of the film's release, Wired said your kids will like the movie only "if they like wry, post-modernist humor (the kind that, you know, doesn't really make the audience laugh)."

    That doesn't really sound like any kids we've ever met.

    • Actors: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson
    • Released: 2009
    • Directed by: Wes Anderson
    Mostly for adults?
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