When you think of kid’s movies, you probably think of a few things. Simple plots, bright colours, probably bright and exciting characters. You probably don’t think of the jokes, and if you do, you probably think they have to be wholesome and appropriate for all ages. The thing is though, that’s just not true. Kid’s TV and movies contain references to all sorts of things, from drug use and alcoholism to prostitutes and swingers parties.
Not only that, but you’ve probably heard all these shocking jokes before, and looked confused while the parents and older siblings in the room giggled. So, in order to catch you up on what you’ve missed, we’re counting down the top 20 adult jokes hidden in kid’s movies, that you probably missed the first time around.
20. Shaggy’s favourite name
From the original cartoons to the upcoming reboot, there have been a lot of Scooby Doo iterations over the years, but one of them stands out as way more grown up than the others. Directed by Ryan Johnson, the Scooby Doo Movie was originally supposed to be a sex comedy aimed at adults, but the studio forced them to tone it down.
You can still see the original intent in the casting of people like Sarah Michelle Geller and Freddie Prinze Jr – who were mostly famous for horror flicks and teen comedies. You can also see it in the jokes: from Daphne joking about looking at herself naked, to Fred comforting Velma by saying “I’m a man of substance. Dorky chicks like you turn me on too”, to this exchange between Shaggy and Mary-Jane that’s got it’s tongue firmly planted in its cheek.
19. Cats and Dogs technically not swearing
A movie about talking cats and dogs plotting to destroy and save the world isn’t where you’d usually look for cutitng-edge comedy, and for the most part Cats and Dogs falls pretty flat. It’s the kind of movie that parents take their kids’ to to entertain them on rainy Tuesday mornings during half-term, while they spend the whole film trying not to fall asleep in their seats.
With that said, there is one joke designed to make the adults in the audience do a double-take. When one of the dogs gets shocked, he looks straight into the camera and exclaims “son of my mum!”, which is an obvious play on way less family-friendly phrase starting with “son of a..”, which includes the word for a female dog.
18. Unusual cooking advice in Ratatouille
Disney might be the overlord of children’s entertainment, but Disney Pixar movies in particular have never been afraid to push the boundaries. Ratatouille in particular has some pretty dry humour, with the food critic saying dully that if he doesn’t like something he refuses to swallow, and the agonisingly awkward flirting between Linguini and Colette.
However, the best moment is where Linguini is caught freaking out in the food cellar by Skinner, and comes up with the lame excuse that he’s just familiarising himself with the vegetables. Skinner quickly hits back that you can get too familiar with vegetables – in maybe the classiest allusion to using food inappropriately caught on film.
17. The Grinch’s grown-up party game
The Grinch is a family film based on a kid’s cartoon based on a kid’s book, so it’s not exactly where you’d expect double entendres. However, you can’t cast Jim Carrey in your movie and expect it to stay a fully wholesome affair for very long.
The movie is littered with adult references that flash by impossibly quickly, but one of the most overt winks is during the Christmas party, where the adults all put their keys in a bowl by the door. Just in case you’re not getting it: it’s implying it’s a swingers party, and all the couples are gonna pair up to go home.
16. Never try and beat a rabbit at maths
Zootopia is filled with allusions to grown-up topics, but it’s more about serious themes like racism, prejudice and the power of affirmative action. They do manage to sneak in the odd grown up joke though, since it would be impossible not to in a movie about animals trying to defy their nature.
It flashes by pretty quick, but when Judy Hopps is questioning Nick the Fox, she eventually puts him away for tax evasion after doing all the math in her head. She explains that this is because she’s “good at multiplying”, which of course has more than one meaning.
15. Madagascar’s creative cursing
The Madagascar franchise has kind of fallen out of popular favour these days, but it used to be impossible to escape. From the awful “afro circus” music to the constant renditions of I Like To Move It, Madagascar’s signature brand of loud and obvious humour was everywhere.
Not all the jokes were so overt though, and one of the only subtle jokes in the movie is also the best one. When Marty the zebra starts running away from his angry lion buddy, he panics and exclaims “sugar honey iced tea!” spelling out a word he’d probably be saying if it wasn’t for the rating of the film.
14. Harsh truths in the Rugrats movie
The Rugrats might be a show about kids and for kids, but that doesn’t mean that kid’s were behind writing it. Several episodes tackled real issues in straight-forward and non-patronising ways, mostly due to the writers who were working behind the scenes.
Of course, the writers weren’t above the odd dumb jokes, which is why we get a hilarious exchange between the babies about what parts of them are cut immediately following their birth.
13. Jerry’s alcoholism… kind of
Tom and Jerry is a family cartoon that started airing at the beginning of the 1940s, so it’s always had to be careful to appease the censors. With that said, the standards of what were acceptable for kid’s cartoons were way different back in the day, which is why the gratuitous violence and allusions to sex and romance are okay.
The last ever episode had eyebrows raised amongst even the most laidback crowd though, since it saw Tom losing his life to huge amounts of debt, and eventually trying to kill himself on some train tracks. Very dark, but one joke that might have gone over the kids’ heads is his descent into “alcoholism” is depicted by him downing bottle after bottle of full fat milk.
12. When your nickname’s not as cool as you thought
To call the Lego Movie franchise movies a joke a minute would be an incredible understatement, since the truth is they are more like one joke every few seconds. The sheer fast pace means they can sneak in jokes that most movies would never allow, since they go past so quickly you barely notice them.
Aside from the meta-references to Doctor Who and the jokes at the expense of Batman’s crippling loneliness, the best jokes come when he and Robin are first introduced. Robin explains that the kids call him Dick for short as a nickname but Bruce, barely even listening, says that kids can be cruel – making the audience certain that poor Robin is actually being mercilessly bullied without his knowledge.
11. The Muppets choke the chicken
The Muppets have been going since Jim Henson created them in the early sixties, and they’ve definitely had their edgier moments. Since Jim himself wanted them to be puppets for grown-ups, he included specials with names like Muppets Sex And Violence, and even encouraged sketches about things like nuclear war and masturbation.
These jokes were quickly scaled back into quick wink and smile moments, but some of these were hilariously effective too, such as when Gonzo threatens his attackers by saying “Stay back! Or I’ll choke this chicken!”. That’s another masturbation joke, just in case anybody is keeping score.
10. “Oh, so it’s a girl house!”
Monster House is an experimentation in early CGI gone wrong, with three kids who look more like play dough than people exploring an evil house that has come alive. They walk in through it’s giant mouth and see it’s tonsils hanging like a lampshade from the ceiling, leading one of them to exclaim “that must be the uvula!”.
That leads the dumbest of the trio to say “oh so it’s a girl house” – clearly mixing up the word uvula with the word vulva. That’s one anatomy lesson he should probably learn sooner rather than later.
9. Showing off your lucky tentacle
Finding Nemo might be full of dry jokes, mostly thanks to the voice actor for Marlin Albert Brooks, but it’s overall a pretty wholesome film. Aside from a few jokes equating sharks to drug addicts and spoofing AA meetings, even the more grown-up references are kept pretty PG.
That is, except for one jokes that’s so obscure you’d need a degree in marine biology to understand it. When Nemo gets insecure about his lucky fin, Pearl the octopus shows him her lucky tentacle, which is shorter than all the others. All male octopi have one short tentacle, and it’s the one that acts as genitalia, which means not only is Pearl actually a boy – but she’s a boy who decided to talk about her penis on the first day of school.
8. Buzz and Jessie’s awkward moment
Toy Story actually follows a pretty universal human struggle, which makes more sense when you realise they went with toys for a pretty arbitrary reason. CGI was in it’s early days and toy faces were supposed to look plastic and frozen, so it would make sense that the animation still didn’t look anywhere near convincingly human.
However, the pivot to toys did allow for some raunchy jokes that never could have worked if the characters were human. Such as when Buzz’s wings pop open after seeing Jessie open the door from the racetrack, in a clear parallel to another involuntary physical reaction that guys go through.
7. Jack Black’s poor choice of words
School of Rock might be a family film, but it’s one that kids have to be a certain age to understand. That means it can be pretty up front with it’s edgier aspects – such as the constant references to drugs, hangovers and even sleeping with groupies. With that said, the film does include one reference that not every kid is going to get.
In the scene where Jack Black is outed as an imposter and questioned about who he really is, he keeps babbling about how he’s touched the kids he’s taught, and how they’ve touched him in return. He means emotionally, but from the parents’ shocked faces it’s clear they haven’t taken it that way, giving this movie a super dark implication until he clears things up.
6. It’s a fishing rod with legs!
Toy Story’s sexual innuendos don’t end with Buzz being ‘turned on’ by Jessie, in fact you don’t even have to stray beyond the first movie in order to find another popular example. The villain of the movie Sid creates all kinds of mash-up toy monstrosities in his lab, such as a horrifying baby head with spider legs, but one of them is more inappropriate than even he probably knows.
The toy in question is a pair of bare Barbie legs clad in black stiletto heels, attached to either a toy fishing rod or the arm of a toy crane. Either way, the long rod has a hook on the end of it, making her – you guessed it – a hooker. The implications of that are wild, especially since all the toys have personalities that match their purpose.
5. Uncomfortable realisations in the Grinch
One out of every three jokes in The Grinch is one that will take on a whole new meaning when you’re grown up, whether it’s because of the secret innuendo or the realisation that Christmas really has becoming a consumerist hell scape. Most of them only get funnier when you understand them fully, even if they come from being middle-aged and disillusioned, but one of them just gets cripplingly sad.
We’re already getting sad backstory on how the Grinch was left to cry outside all night as a newborn, but then we get another cutaway to a couple’s baby falling out of the sky to greet them. It’s a beautiful and whimsical scene, until the husband remarks uncertainly that the baby looks just like his wife’s boss, making it clear that however babies get made in this universe, an affair was probably involved.
4. Breaking Baa’d
The city of Zootopia is one big spoof of human life, from the slow sloths at the DMV to the shady underground Mafia being run by shrews. It doesn’t shy away from showing us the dark side of the city either, with the seedy underbelly of bootleg CD sellers and shady onion sellers on full display.
With that said, one joke in the movie is way more overt and specific than any other, and that’s the references to Breaking Bad. Though the sheep are cooking up a sedative that turns animals savage, and not blue meth, they are called Jessie and Walter – and their lab set-up looks eerily familiar.
3. Greek myths are messed up
Hercules is another movie dedicated to spoofing human society through the guise of a whole other world, although this time that alternate reality is ancient Greece. Either way, there are parallels for everything from sporting endorsement deals to bootleg watch salesmen – want to buy a sundial?
However, the best joke is actually not a contemporary reference, but a joke about ancient Greece that most of the kid’s watching were sure to not get. The joke involves Hercules taking Meg on a date to the theatre, where they watch a retelling of the story of Oedipus – a man who kills his father and sleeps with his mother. Not great first date material, but Meg doesn’t seem to mind.
2. Puss In Boots’ “Catnip” problem
As a franchise, Shrek only exists because of it’s ability to subvert the fairytale tropes we love so much, while mercilessly mocking Disney in the process. However, when it’s not turning the magic mirror into a game show host or making jokes about the various unsavoury things that Lord Farquaad gets up to in his spare time, it’s spoofing Hollywood.
In particular, it’s spoofing the actions of A-List celebrities, who can be seen doing everything from going on car chases to being caught with hard drugs. Of course, they can’t show this exactly, so they show Puss In Boots being caught with “catnip”, which is of course supposed to be cocaine.
1. Mrs Doubtfire’s massively inappropriate rant
Mrs Doubtfire is one of the most beloved family films of all time, but that isn’t the same as saying it’s all sunshine and butterflies. The star Robin Williams loved to walk the line between what was acceptable and what wasn’t, and that especially applied to his work on kids movies.
With that said, only one joke really crosses the line into adult only territory, and it’s a huge rant that goes as follows:
Oh I’m sorry, am I being a little graphic? I’m sorry. Well, I hope you’re up for a little competition. She’s got a power tool in the bedroom, dear. It’s her own personal jackhammer. She could break sidewalk with that thing. She uses it and the lights dim, it’s like a prison movie. Amazed she hasn’t chipped her teeth.
That’s right, Mrs Doubtfire has an extended joke about a sex toy. You’re welcome.