Kids' movies are not always as clean as they seem. Sometimes, there are inappropriate moments buried inside them for adults who happen to be watching. A lot of the time, these jokes work really well. Alternatively, they can totally bomb, even for the adults they're intended for. Sneaky kids' movie moments aren't always great, even when the movies happen to have star-studded casts — and it seems to be a delicate line for these kids' movie makers to walk between giving something for the adults to watch while providing entertainment for their children, too.
These inappropriate moments can also take many different forms. Sometimes, the moments are sexual. Other times, they're dark in a way you wouldn't expect from a kids' movie. They're surprising and often unsettling. Whatever way you feel about them, however, most kids' movies will have at least one moment that will make you think, "wait a minute ..." Here are 20 of the most inappropriate moments in kids' movies.
In general, Frozen is a fairly sophisticated kids' movie. That's not to say that it doesn't have silly things in it, but the movie is fairly emotionally complex. Still, even Frozen couldn't resist making an easy joke about whether or not a person's foot size matters.
Of course, that joke isn't really about feet. It's about something else entirely, and it's one of the few moments in the film where there's a moment designed solely for adults. The joke flies entirely over the heads of kids watching the movie, who just think that Kristof and Anna are having a totally normal conversation.
Cars is a movie about talking cars, which makes it the most "for kids" movie ever made. Still, even that movie couldn't resist slipping in a few jokes for the adults who had taken their kids to see the movie. One of the most adult moments comes early in the film when Lightning McQueen is still on top of the world, and two groupies flash their headlights at him after a race.
This is an obvious reference to the way some groupies of real-life rock stars flash their private parts at them to get their attention. It's a joke that already feels pretty dated and probably wasn't all that funny in the first place.
Shrek is the most frequent offender on this list. The movie is designed as a riff on fairytales, and it engages with its premise with gleeful abandon. One of the most subtle and most hilarious jokes is in the villain's name. Lord Farquaad may sound like a pompous but otherwise fairly normal name. If you say it five times fast, though, you may realize that it sounds a lot like another, slightly more profane phrase. If you missed this one when you were a kid, you were probably like every other kid you knew. The joke was explicitly for adults.
This one is truly wild. Back in the day, animators were allowed to be a little crazier than they are today. On the home video version of The Rescuers, there is a single frame where you can see a topless woman in one of the windows as the rat heroes are flying by.
This is not so much a subtle allusion or adult joke as an outright terrible moment. Many parents probably even noticed, and it's likely that some of their children did, too. The story behind that image and how it got there must be a truly memorable one.
On their faces, the mutilated toys that Sid plays with in Toy Story are meant to be pretty terrifying. They scare Woody and Buzz after all. Although that image is definitely scary enough, there's actually an adult joke hidden in one of those toys.
Specifically, the joke is about the toy which appears to be a pair of doll legs attached to a toy fishing pole. What do you get when you add those two things together? A hooker. Whether that's what Sid intended to make or not, it's almost certainly what Pixar wanted adult audiences to take away from the image.
It's debatable whether this detail is actually in the film or not, but if you listen closely after Prince Ali arrives on Jasmine's balcony in Aladdin, it sounds like you can hear Aladdin say, "good teenagers, take off your clothes." Now, it's possible that what he actually says is "good kitty, take off and go," as he's dealing with Jasmine's tiger.
While that's not impossible, there are many people who firmly believe that the actual line is more revealing than it should be. Most Disney movies have one dirty joke like this. This may be the one buried in Aladdin.
Yet another small moment from Shrek that feels totally inappropriate for kids comes when, early on in the film, we see the three bears locked in cages. As if that wasn't messed up enough, later on, we see that Farquaad has a bearskin rug in his house, before seeing Papa Bear consoling his child.
The horrifying implication here is that Farquaad has had Mama Bear skinned and added to his decorations. Not what you want to see from any kids' movie.
If you don't get how strange and disturbing it is that there's a sushi place in Shark Tale, let me remind you that the film is about a talking fish. So, when the proprietor of the sushi place complains that no one is coming in to eat at his restaurant, he's wondering why none of his fellow fish are interested in committing cannibalism.
That one quick joke is actually the most disturbing thing about the whole film. It'd be like if there was a casual reference to a place that made great people burgers in a Seth Rogen comedy. For the rest of the movie, that's definitely the only thing you'll be thinking about.
Duloc doesn't seem like the kind of place that is actually as perfect as the song makes it seem. In the welcome song that Shrek and Donkey hear when they first arrive in Duloc, there's a line that seems like it's set up for some profanity, even if that profanity is never actually uttered.
"Please keep off of the grass, wipe your shoes, wipe your … face." The line even has a pause written in so adults can connect the dots without being particularly quick-witted themselves. It's a lowest common denominator joke, but it is fairly funny if you let it be.
It may seem silly, but a lot of the plot of Cars revolves around car racing, and specifically, the Piston Cup. That's the cup awarded to the best racer at the end of each season, and it's a prize that Lightning discovers the town's old man Doc won several times when he used to race.
When Lightning explains Doc's history to Mater, something gets a little lost in translation. "He did what in his cup?" Mater says. He heard a slightly different phrase, one with a meaning that is both more profane and more inappropriate than the one that Lightning intended.
As far as emotional complexity goes, Inside Out is about as good as it gets in kids' movies. After all, it's a story explicitly about emotions. When the main character Riley and her family move to San Francisco, Riley is understandably nervous about the move. She's so nervous, in fact, that Fear starts to take over, and when he does, he becomes convinced that he's heard a bear.
When Mindy Kaling's Disgust tells him that there are no bears in San Francisco, she doesn't know how wrong she is. There may not be any bears of the animal variety in San Francisco, but there's another kind of Bear in the city that there are plenty of.
By some accounts, Shrek 2 is actually a better film than the first. Whatever you think about the two films, both are definitely chock-full of pop culture references. For kids, though, none may have been less clear than Knights, the show's rip-off of Cops , which shows a knight finding a bag of catnip on Puss in Boots.
That catnip was clearly a stand-in for drugs, but most kids in the audience wouldn't understand that. Only the adults would have been savvy enough to see what the movie was doing, and how admittedly clever it was to do it.
You may not remember Aladdin and The King of Thieves, but the sequel to Aladdin actually holds up better than you might think. The movie features plenty of great material from Robin Williams' Genie, including one that probably should have been cut.
During an earthquake, Genie mentions that he "thought the earth wasn’t supposed to move until the honeymoon." The joke is pretty clearly a reference to the act of consummating a marriage, although in this case it also applies.
Even as a child, you might understand why the soldiers interrupting Mulan during her bath may lead her to blow her cover. After all, she is pretending to be a male soldier. What you probably don't realize at the time is exactly how terrifying it must be to be naked in a lake surrounded by men.
What makes the scene even worse is that, as it progresses, Mulan becomes surrounded by more and more fully naked men. It's an uncomfortable situation for her to be in, and it's one that only gets worse when you watch the movie as an adult.
There's a genius joke in Hocus Pocus that almost makes the whole movie worthwhile on its own. When the witches at the center of the movie come across a bus driver, they explain that they desire children. The bus driver's reply is priceless. "It may take a couple of tries, but that shouldn't be a problem," he says.
It's a suggestion of sex in a movie that is largely innocent otherwise. The joke is also a great example of how a movie that isn't for adults can make adult elements work without ruining things for children. It's a delicate balance that this joke strikes perfectly.
The Potato Heads are truly one of the best parts of the Toy Story series. In Toy Story 3, they get the chance to shine. When Lotso Huggin' Bear robs Mrs. Potato Head of her mouth, Mr. Potato Head is honest about what he will and won't stand for. "No one takes my wife's mouth but me!" he declares.
This is a pretty explicit reference to oral sex tucked in the middle of the movie. It's not particularly subtle, but then again, neither is the Potato Head family. The joke is perfect for them for that very reason, and it works well for the adults who get it.
Bee Movie is a strange artifact of the 2000s. The movie follows a bee who isn't content to make a living with honey alone and decides to sue for the right to stop pollinating. In one scene, as he bemoans his decision with the human he's befriended, he wonders whether the two of them should make a suicide pact.
It's an off-color joke that would feel particularly dark in almost any movie, but it feels especially confusing in a movie that's ostensibly for kids. No one wants to have to explain to their kids what a suicide pact is. In fact, most people could go their whole lives not knowing.
If you don't know what a lemon party is, you might just want to skip to the next item on this list. For those of you still reading, Lemon Party was a shock website in the 2000s that featured three old people having sex. In the children's movie Cars 2, they decided it would be appropriate to make a joke about cars throwing a lemon party. As it turns out, that wasn't the best move, and it only helped contribute to Cars 2's reputation as the worst movie Pixar ever put out by a pretty wide margin.
Osmosis Jones is an underrated movie about a white blood cell who is trying to save the body he's living in from a terrible disease. The movie is, in general, quite amusing, but this joke is honestly one of the film's very best. In a brief scene, we see a statue of a sperm cell with the caption "Our Founder" underneath it. In that very adult moment, every person in the audience who's been through puberty gets it, while the rest just watches it totally oblivious. As always, the egg gets overlooked for its crucial contribution.
For a brief moment in Ratatouille, it seems like Linguini, the film's main human character, seems like he's going to admit that a rat has been doing all of his cooking for him. At that moment, he explains that he's been getting help from "a tiny little..." before pausing. For the briefest of seconds, it seems like he's going to explain that his penis has been helping. Colette, the woman he's confessing to, even glimpses down. Eventually, he explains that it's a tiny little chef who's been helping him. It's a subtle, smart way to keep adult audiences engaged, even as the moment could fly totally over the head of younger viewers.