Five days ago I took my sister's adorable kids (ages 4 and 6) to see Horton Hears a Who. What I am about to say may already be patently obvious to some of you, but I do not watch many (read: any) movies aimed at children so it is new to me.

While I can't say I enjoyed the film – and let's be honest, I'm not the target audience – I was amazed at how much of the humor was over the heads of children and aimed squarely at parents. I know this has been a trend since the mid-90s (approximately beginning with Toy Story) as a simple matter of economics: if the parents don't want to kill themselves for the duration of the film they will be more likely to bring the kids to see it. Fair enough. Parents everywhere are thankful.

This really started me thinking about how bad it must have been for parents when we (anyone born before 1980) were really young. Horton was full of actors I like doing things like talking in a Henry Kissinger accent…and I still found the experience much less than enthralling to sit through. But I have no illusions – it could have been so much worse. I shudder to think back to some of the horseshit my dad took my sister and I to see when I was 4 (Care Bears the Movie and so on). In hindsight it's a certifiable miracle that our parents were not shooting heroin in the parking lot to survive it. While I am in no way willing to rent the movies in order to empirically verify this, I don't suspect there was much that would entertain parents in films like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2.

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  1. Nick Says:

    You mean, besides Vanilla Ice freestyling about ninja turtles?

  2. Liz Says:

    There is also the idea of "children's" movies that have a huge adult fanbase– Harry Potter, The Last Mimsy, Stardust, The Golden Compass, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Tim Burton's animated films, etc.

  3. Peggy Says:

    Like Nickelodeon's good older cartoons–Rugrats, Ah! Real Monsters, etc. I actually watched "Enchanted" last night (without benefit of the excuse of small children, even) and wished it had had significantly more of that.

    As a small person, I also really liked stuff like Dragnet and Get Smart! and The Dick Van Dyke show, which I didn't really *understand* per se, but I at least could tell I wasn't being talked down to. I wish more children's stuff wouldn't assume that children are idiots, because the more they learn to deal with adult stuff at 30% comprehension, the more likely they are to take on challenging stuff even as they increase their abilities/comprehension. (Hmm, this clearly has nothing to do with why I make high school freshmen read Beowulf…)

    My parents also liked to have us watch stuff like The Three Amigos, The Blues Brothers, etc that was sort of childish but not "for children." That way they cut down on their heroin consumption.

  4. Mike Says:

    Mario Brothers on Ice, from the 80s, with Mr Belvedere as Bowser.

    If I have children, "______ on Ice" is going to be taken off their list of things I'm willing to take them to. Sorry.

  5. j Says:

    Never sully the exalted name of Ninja Turtles 2 again! It enchanted a generation of children with the mysterious secrets of The Ooze.

    However, if you must, you may slander the vile anticlimax that is Ninja Turtles 3.

  6. Christina Says:

    I have TMNT I, II and III. The Boy loves them. And gods help me, all the Power Rangers incarnations.

    Take my word for it, freebasing heroin wouldn't help.