The 10 Best Animated Movies for (Traumatizing) Kids


Life is a relentless parade of horrors. Adults try to shield the kiddies from that fact, but every year animated film studios work hard to make sure the real world comes crashing in on little Timmy years ahead of schedule.

Want proof? How about...

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

The plot:
Holy fuck, Batman! Two of the caped crusader's most fiendish foes are on the loose in Gotham City! Can Batman use his gadgets and wits to defeat the dastardly duo of the Joker and the Phantasm, and stop them from carrying out their vendettas?

Why it scarred us:
It turns out he can't. The two villains successfully pull off a series of mafia hits until the film has a higher body count than Reservoir Dogs. Worse still, both villains escape unharmed at the end of the film, while Batman is pumped full of bullets by the cops for his troubles.

Oh, and did we mention that Bruce Wayne has a nervous breakdown at his parents' grave?

How it could have been worse:
Phantasm is a surprisingly sophisticated work for a kid's cartoon, within the beautiful animation and classic noir trappings. The story deftly deals with complex themes such as love, revenge and betrayal, in a way that is accessible to children without pandering to them ...

... at least not until the Joker fights Batman on a jet pack.

The Incredibles

The plot:
In Brad Bird's 2004 Pixar film, the Not-Fantastic Four battle the Not-Doctor Doom in an adaptation that' more faithful to the comics than the actual Fantastic Four movie.

Why it scarred us:
We're putting aside the fact that the "society is oppressing the supermen" message reads like an Ayn Rand bedtime story. Instead, watch the scene where adorable lil' Dash outruns the big scary men who are trying to kill him. Notice anything? That' right, the prepubescent boy is killing Syndrome's henchmen. And, laughing while he does it.

Above: Adorable child (Not shown: murder)

Oh, that adorable little scamp! What crazy manslaughter-related misadventure has Dash gotten into this time? Also, the villain' list of dead superheroes provides kids with the valuable moral that "if you use your talents to do the right thing, you will die." Now, we're not for the dumbing down of American entertainment, but when your film' funniest moment is a montage of death scenes (where Edna demonstrates the danger of capes) you might want to reconsider marketing your film to children.

How it could have been worse:
Aside from Rand, much of the movie' script borrows ideas (such as the idea of outlawing superheroes and the reason why capes are impractical) from Alan Moore's classic graphic novel Watchmen. If the writers had gone all the way with this homage, the story might contain horrifying scenes such as the destruction of New York, a superhero going insane and murdering criminals, and worst of all ... Richard Nixon serving four terms as president.

Song of the South

The plot:
In this charming story from legendary filmmaker Walt Disney, Uncle Remus, an elderly black servant, teaches a child valuable life lessons with the help of his magic talking animal friends, making him, quite literally, a "Magic Negro."

Why it scarred us:
The juxtaposition of Walt Disney's trademark idealism with the harsh reality of the South during reconstruction is a little jarring. For a man who has been forced to do menial labor in excruciating conditions for his entire life, Uncle Remus seems downright jolly.

How it could have been worse:
If children were allowed to see it. About four people complained about the film's content, so Disney responded by repeatedly apologizing, burying the film in the vault and probably burning the original negatives while personally taking responsibility for slavery.

Even though the film seems doomed to languish in the Ol' Briar Patch, Disney still keeps Walt's legacy alive by using the likenesses of its beloved characters on clothing, toys, theme park rides, costumes, overpriced figurines, McDonald's Happy Meal toys, plush dolls, bookends, keychain designs, erotic toys, small caliber weapons ...

Transformers: The Movie

The plot:
No, not the Michael Bay movie. The animated one from 1986. Yes, it still featured huge robots punching the crap out of each other.

Why it scarred us:
Optimus Prime-favorite toy, idol of millions, surrogate father to a generation of latchkey kids-is mercilessly slaughtered by his arch nemesis in the most brutal instance of toy-related violence since we put our sister's Barbies in the microwave.

It doesn't help much that the creators, much like everyone else in the '80s, were on the cheapest hallucinogenic substances they could find. From 500-foot-tall robots turning into portable cassette players, to Optimus' vanishing truck trailer, this film just might disregard physics enough to drive MC Escher incurably insane.

Also, a bunch of other Transformers die or something, but come on. Optimus dies.

How it could have been worse:
Deep in our hearts, we knew that Optimus wasn't dead. If a short, fat robot like R2-D2 can survive a direct hit from a ship-destroying laser cannon, then a tough guy like Optimus can pull himself together. Much like Jesus, Prime would return from his tomb in time to save us all (note the parallels between Optimus' transformations and the Catholic belief in transubstantiation. Or, not.)

No, in a universe where robots can always be bolted back together, you only need to worry if a human character dies. But what kind of idiot would make a Transformers movie and fill it with useless human characters?

The Lion King

The plot:
This classic Disney animated film tells the story of a young, lion prince's quest to rule the pride lands. Thrown in is a meerkat and a warthog performing a catchy song about the importance of apathy.

Why it scarred us:
It's pretty much Hamlet. Seriously. A young prince' uncle murders his father and steals his rightful place as king, inspiring the young leader to vow revenge.

Sure, there are differences. The "something rotten in the state of Denmark" was actually a flatulent warthog, for instance. But, one seriously must wonder how the pitch meeting for this one went.

"It' Hamlet, but with lions, songs by Sir Elton John and fart jokes."


How it could have been worse:
The film ends somewhat differently than its source material. SPOILERS: In a radical and unpredictable departure that no one could have seen coming, the adorable lead animal defeats the villain, gets the girl, reclaims his throne and lives happily ever after.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

The plot:
Police detective Eddie Valiant must protect a falsely accused rabbit from a corrupt legal system in this noir thriller. Think of it as Chinatown but with more Mickey Mouse and less incest.

Why it scarred us:
Sudden puberty onset syndrome.

What? Don't look at us like that. Most movie stars are so airbrushed nowadays that there' not much difference between Jessica Alba and Jessica Rabbit anyway.

So anyway, this film features Jessica teasing, seducing and posing up a storm in a way that Snow White only did when the cameras weren't rolling. If your nephew watches this movie, you may want to check him for facial hair afterwards.

How it could have been worse:
Ask Japan. The weird pen-and-ink boob fetish has been taken to its logical conclusion in that land where even real, live porn actresses can't compete unless they dress up like Sailor Moon.


The plot:
The talented animators at Pixar Studios bring us the latest installment in their epic "things-that-don't-really-talk-talking" series. This one tells the heartwarming story of a desert wasteland populated entirely by cars (no, not Los Angeles).

Why it scarred us:
Where are the humans? WHERE ARE THE HUMANS?!

Did global warming finally do us in, ironically leaving only the instruments of our destruction behind? Did they give birth to Skynet? If there aren't any humans, then who makes the cars? Are there little assembly lines where cars manufacture other cars? Do they reproduce sexually? If a car is manufactured from used parts, is that cannibalism?

Call us paranoid, but when we see sentient machines roaming a barren Mad Max-style landscape, the healthy fear of technology we gained from '80s B-movies kicks into high gear.

How it could have been worse:
They could have delved into the logistical workings of a car society. What is the geopolitical landscape of the car world? Are there car wars? We assume that there are military vehicles, too. Are they in a constant state of combat? Does the Orwellian car government manufacture conflicts to give the tanks a sense of purpose? What is the history of car warfare? In the car World War II, was Daimler the Allied forces? Were Fords and Volkswagens the Nazis? What about current events in the car Middle East? Are there car "car bombs?" What are the dynamics of the car caste system? Do rich and powerful Mercedes control the government? Are disenfranchised cars left in disaster areas to fend for themselves because George "BMW" Bush doesn't care about cars with spinning rims?

Also, how do they talk? I mean, they're cars for god's sake. You'd think an editor would catch that.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

The plot:
In this Disney animated musical, the kind-hearted Hunchback Quasimodo rescues the beautiful gypsy Esmeralda with the help of his singing gargoyle friends. But, can a Hunchback win the heart of a gorgeous princess?

Why it scarred us:
No, no he can't. The gallant, blonde, muscular, hero gets the girl instead of the deformed Quasimodo.

Never mind the fact that Quasimodo saved your life on multiple occasions. Never mind that you're this decent man's last hope for finding affection. No, let's all fall for the pretty one. Well, you know what? There's more to life than looks! Maybe you'll realize that when you have to take care of your unemployed husband, while I make a killing on Wall Street using the knowledge I gained from those math books you laughed at me about! WELL, WE'LL SEE WHO'S LAUGHING THEN, WON'T WE LIZ? WE'LL ALL SEE THEN!

Also, there's the small matter of the villain singing a song about how he intends to rape and murder the female lead.

How it could have been worse:
They could have kept the novel's ending, in which Esmeralda dies, and Quasimodo chooses to be buried alive in her tomb so that they can be together.

Though at least he got the girl in that one.

Watership Down

The plot:
Look at the bunny! Who's a cute little bunny? Who's a ...


Why it scarred us:


How it could have been worse:

Let's just move on to the next one, shall we?

Pom Poko

The plot:
A family of raccoons, forced from their home by evil construction workers, take a stand to reclaim their homeland ...

Why it scarred us:
... using their magical raccoon testicles.





How it could have been worse:
Although us narrow-minded Westerners may have issues about our kids watching racoons bludgeon construction workers with their massive genitals, this kind of thing is pretty much par for the course in Japan. "Tankui" as the anatomically-improbable monsters are known, are traditional Japanese folklore creatures. In fact, we wouldn't be surprised to hear that the Japanese version of Davy Crockett wears a coonskin cap made entirely of scrotum.

Come on, it's Japanese. What did you expect? It's probably from the fine people who brought us such abominations as catgirl fetishes, tentacle rape and the transformers. This type of film would never be distributed by a major film company in the United States.

Oh, wait. It was distributed in the United States by the Walt Disney Pictures.

You see, Disney, in their ongoing quest to release other talented filmmakers' movies so that they don't have to make their own, signed a very generous distribution deal with Studio Ghibli, a popular Japanese animation studio. As part of the deal, Disney agreed to release all of the studio's upcoming films uncut, unedited, and, evidently, unneutered.

Although, we have to applaud Disney for going ahead with this deal. Attatching your family-friendly name to something that you haven't even seen is the kind of decision that requires huge ... amounts of courage.

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