Kid movies are made too simple. The audience they’re catering to doesn’t nitpick, it cares little for complex storylines, and for the most part they’re easy to please. But in the midst of constructing plotlines made for your adolescent self, there are always going to be some holes. Maybe it’s weirdly constructed time travel, or the haphazard use of magic on a terrifying scale. It can be any number of factors that you didn’t consider until your favorite movie from the mid-90s showed up on Netflix and you made the bold decision to see if it still held up.
It’s always easy to nitpick at movies, but it’s especially fun when you consider the fact that you’ve likely seen many of these multiple times without stopping to think about some of the greater consequences of each.
1. Beauty and the Beast (1991)
There are some pretty fundamental issues with Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. First off, consider the curse levied upon the house of the Beast himself. The story goes that a prince arrogantly turned away an old lady at the door of his castle, causing her to curse the prince and everything in his household. He became the Beast we all know, and everyone who happened to be in the vicinity was transformed into a walking, talking object.
What we don’t look at is that, if the timeline of the movie is to believed, the prince is 11 years old at the time of the curse. What likely happened was that a kid answered the door and, listening to the advice of pretty much every parent in history, didn’t allow a stranger to enter his home. It hardly seems like grounds for punishing him as well as the dozens of innocent bystanders who were unjustly transformed into an assortment of plates, brooms, chairs, and kitchenwares. What if you got stuck with being an armless, faceless broom while the butler gets to be a walking, talking, singing clock that gets to function normally?
2. All Dogs Go To Heaven (1989)
On the surface, All Dogs Go To Heaven is a tale of redemption, funny talking animals, musical interludes, and adorable children. Our main character is a German Shepherd named Charlie, who spends a better part of the movie trying to earn a favorable place in the afterlife while taking care of his affairs down on Earth, meeting an orphan he pals around with and befriends over the course of the movie. Seems simple enough.
The greater plot points though are pretty terrifying. The movie begins with Charlie’s trusted friend and confidante getting him drunk, and then murdering him with a car. Charlie then shows up in heaven, steals from an angel, and then goes back down to Earth to exact his revenge over his killer, all the while tricking an orphan into helping him. Charlie dies again and spends time down in dog Hell, but is finally allowed back into Heaven, all while the main characters seem to act generally nonplussed about the existence of an animal afterlife. Imagine showing this to a child today knowing that it paints a fairly terrifying portrait of life after death, and then call your parents and ask them why you were allowed to watch this movie.
3. Honey I Shrunk the Kids (1989)
Here’s where things get even more difficult to swallow. Rick Moranis plays an inventor who just built his very own shrink ray. Sadly all it seems to be able to do is make apples explode, as he faces the ridicule of both his family and friends in the wake of his failure. While he’s gone, his kids wander into the attic where the now-functional shrink ray is being kept, are reduced to a ¼-inch tall, and then accidentally thrown away outside the house.
The reasons these kids could be taken by child services are endless. This is a father who decided the best place to keep an expensive and potentially dangerous piece of technology with a habit for blowing things up was in an unlocked room in his own home, pointed at the entrance. His carelessness put children’s lives at risk, with the climax occurring when Moranis almost eats one of his children in a bowl of Cheerios. Needless to say, nearly cannibalizing your child isn’t exactly “Dad of the Year” material.
4. The Brave Little Toaster (1987)
Who doesn’t love heroic cartoons on an epic journey? The Brave Little Toaster tracks a group of appliances looking to find their owner, as they encounter and overcome any obstacle that comes their way. It’s a truly heartwarming tale of self-discovery and teary-eyed reunions. But it’s also a story detailing a bizarre reality that none of us would ever want to live in.
Toaster and his friends spend a better part of the movie searching for their recently departed owner Rob that they lovingly dub “Master.” Excepting the fact that this is a world where sentient appliances seem to be a part of a pseudo-cult worshipping a single human, there’s plenty to unravel here. At one point toward the end, an evil magnetic junkyard crane picks up Rob and drops him on a conveyer belt to be crushed (don’t worry kids, Toaster saves the day). This of course begs the question: What makes some appliances evil and others good? Is there a risk of buying a car hellbent on its own malicious agenda? It’s a world where virtually any man-made machine has the potential to be a self-aware robot: First step toasters, next it’s SkyNet.
5. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is widely regarded as one of the greatest movies ever made, and for good reason. It was created in a day and age where copyrights and licenses for iconic characters weren’t so jealously guarded, making it so Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny could show up in the same movie without anyone getting their pants sued off. In doing so, it depicted a world where immortal toons co-exist peacefully with humans, but are segregated off in Toon Town, only leaving to star in their respective movies and TV shows.
The movie spends a fair amount of time detailing how, with a couple notable exceptions, toons can’t be killed, and are just as resilient as they are on TV. While our main character Bob Hoskins walks around with a flask that you probably didn’t notice as a kid, Roger Rabbit is framed for a murder he didn’t commit so that our villain can exact a genocide over all of toon-kind. For a film aimed at kids, it covered some fairly heavy material in its apt parallel to the classic Polanksi flick Chinatown. When you consider the implications of a virtually immortal underclass of mentally unstable cartoons, it’s hard not be a little scared of the Roger Rabbit universe.