5 Huge Children's Movies That Teach Kids Horrifying Lessons
Whether you're introducing your children to the wonderful world of film or merely trying to get them to shut the hell up for 90 minutes so you can do some laundry, there's a lot of good to be found in children's movies. Most try to teach a heartwarming life lesson, thereby saving you the hassle of actually doing some parenting. But if you look closely at a few, you'll discover that your kids could get better life advice from a drunken hobo.
The Lego Movie: Free Will Is An Illusion
The Lego Movie proved that shameless advertising can still be fun and whimsical, as long as you don't look too closely. Because if you do, you'll realize that it's depressingly existential. The main mini-figure, Emmet, is an ordinary guy (just like us!), who loves singing upbeat music that's secretly depressing (just like us!), and who learns that despite his mundanity, he's still important (just like us!), but in the end none of that matters because his entire life is being controlled by random forces, rendering all his decisions meaningless (just like ... fuck).
Everything is random! Everything is pointless, and soon you will die!
The movie tries to tell us that everyone is unique and special. We learn that Morgan Freelegoman's prophecy was made up and there was no special individual destined to stop the villainous Lord Business. Emmet's success in spite of that proves that everyone is talented and interesting and extraordinary ... but everyone's personality and actions are preordained by higher beings.
Remember, the entire Lego world we witness exists in Will Farrell's basement. How can everyone be talented and interesting when Ferrell and his kid decide what skill sets people get and what adventures they go on? How can everyone be extraordinary when they only have so much time to devote to each figure? Some characters will simply never achieve greatness, and there's not a damn thing they can do about it.
"This Bunny Suit Guy will make a great heart attack victim for the ambulance driver
mini-figure to learn that he can never save everyone."
That's a painful realization that most adults come to over the course of many years, but since part of raising children is trying to make their lives easier than you had it, why not teach it to your kids in about two hours?
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory: Your Parents Will Overlook Child Abuse If It's By A Celebrity
Tim Burton's Charlie And The Chocolate Factory serves as an allegory for how children are treated in the presence of a respected icon. While Johnny Depp denies it, there are clear parallels between his portrayal of Wonka and Michael Jackson. They're both wealthy, eccentric, and lonely. They both had weird hairdos and effeminate voices, were abused by their fathers, owned a massive property specifically designed to appeal to children, and made an army of deranged midgets do their bidding.
Now, aside from Charlie, the kids who get into Wonka's factory are little shits, but who can blame them? Kids are inherently annoying. Their parents should be the ones keeping them in line. Instead, they put the fame and fortune that would come with Wonka's prize above their offspring's own safety. From the moment Augustus Gloop is sucked away into a river of chocolate and nearly drowned, their first priority should be to get the hell out of Candy Dodge. But they all keep trudging along while their kids meet ironic fates. You can understand the kids not caring -- they're entranced, like they're in some kind of store that provides something kids are really into. A math store, maybe. But while a loving parent would no doubt sue and/or beat the shit out of a regular schmuck who turned their daughter into a giant blueberry, here they grin and bear it because of the potential reward. Even Grandpa Joe, who told Charlie not to sell his ticket because the experience would be worth more than money, is starstruck.
"Why yes, I would like this delicious bribe, thank you!"
And not to dampen your spirits further, kids, but it's not only your parents who will neglect you. While the media is normally all over sad stories about children, they don't really care if you've been horrifically scarred by a celebrity. We see the other children leave the factory, and while two are just covered in crap, Violet appears to have permanently become a Japanese horror monster ...
If you spin blue three times in Twister, she suddenly appears to eat your souls.
... and Mike Teavee is now a freakishly tall two-dimensional being.
"Well, 'Slenderman' is already taken ..."
A ton of people are waiting outside, and everyone seems pretty chill about the parade of traumatized freak shows walking out of a multi-millionaire's factory.
"So ... do you guys have any candy?"
The movie ends with Wonka suffering no punishment. He gets to enjoy dinner with Charlie and his family, who are now helping him run the factory. Either they somehow see zero issues with the man, or the giant piles of money they now sleep on help them get over it. Wonka has mentally and physically scarred four children and their parents, and is never brought to justice for it because his work is too beloved. Draw your own parallels.
The Sandlot: Romantically Manipulating Girls Works Out Great
What's not to love about The Sandlot's precocious gang of misfits who work together and overcome their fears to prove that something something baseball? The movie puts its kid heroes through all the standard coming-of-age trials, like standing up to your rivals, learning to take responsibility for your actions, and, uh, sexually harassing girls.
When the gang goes to the pool, Squints expresses his love for the lifeguard, Wendy. It's funny because she's a hot older girl and he's a total dweeb. How would they ever get together? He wears glasses, like a neeeeeeeeeerrrrrrd.
Obviously, his only option is to fake drowning so that Wendy will rescue him. Then, as she performs CPR, he brings her in for a kiss. That's not a delightful shenanigan; that's a pickup artist technique. And Wendy reacts accordingly by banning him from the pool in disgust ... and then flirting with him whenever he walks by, and eventually marrying him.
The wedding night was ... weird.
If you're thinking something along the lines of "Don't be so sensitive. Kids do stupid stuff like that all the time!" then we absolutely agree. But elsewhere, the movie shows the consequences to irresponsibility. The kids try chewing tobacco, and it immediately makes them puke all over a carnival ride. Hell, it's even implied that the kid who stole the tobacco ends up ruining his life with drugs. If we never hear from Wendy again after she throws the little creep out, then it's funny, and Squints learns a valuable lesson about not risking your life to trick a girl into making out with you. Instead, the lesson is that girls secretly love romantic coercion, even if they say no at the time. We hear the seventh is the Rohypnol Anniversary.
Spy Kids: It's Okay To Use Child Soldiers
In between making movies about vampires and making movies about Predators, Robert Rodriguez made four Spy Kids movies that are, in order: remarkable, enjoyable, forgettable, and terrible. You can hopefully guess the premise by the title. In the first movie, kids Carmen and Juni discover that their parents are super spies when they're adult-napped. Wackiness ensue as the kids, now targets themselves, use their parents' resources to rescue them ... and then get formally recruited into George Clooney's Organization of Super Spies for future missions.
Hey, you know who else used/uses children to complete missions for adults? Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army, the Khmer Rouge, and the goddamn Nazis, to name a few of many examples. It would be one thing if Carmen and Juni went on this zany adventure to protect themselves and rescue their parents, everyone had a good laugh about it, and then the kids went back to their normal routine of homework and video games. But they go on enough adventures to buy themselves one-way tickets to PTSD therapy.
"Do you have your emergency cyanide capsules?"
George Clooney sees no problem with asking pre-pubescent children to go on dangerous espionage missions. Hell, he forms an entire division of child spies and has them compete against each other. Sure, the kids are willing, but that shouldn't matter -- kids are also willing to subsist entirely on whipped cream and adopt pet lions, because kids don't know what's good for them. It's up to adults to be responsible, and every adult in Spy Kids fails so spectacularly that we kind of want to see a fifth movie about a CPS sting operation.
"Don't fight us! We're trying to save you from this hell!"
The second and third movies are basically Carmen and Juni repeatedly almost meeting their maker through contrived slapstick, and their parents always go along with it. Then, in the fourth movie, the now-older Carmen and Juni revitalize the child spy division and mentor a new pair of pipsqueak agents who have to save the world from annihilation despite not yet having mastered long division. The film ends with Carmen and Juni tasking the new kids to recruit more children to the cause, because war is all they've known, know, and will ever know. Sure, child soldiers tend to have numerous mental and physical health problems as adults ... but these ones get to work with a talking dog, so it averages out, right?
She's probably fine.
Matilda And Harry Potter: Getting Abused Will Eventually Sort Itself Out
Matilda is a beloved Roald Dahl story about a little girl who's neglected by her parents and abused by her principal, but eventually develops telekinetic powers, gets wacky revenge, and is adopted by her kindly teacher. Harry Potter is about exactly what you already know it's about. Don't get smart with us.
Why, here's Harry with Professor Dumbledore.
Both Harry and Matilda get shit upon for the entirety of their young lives, and they both do absolutely nothing about it. If we're teaching kids lessons with these movies, Matilda and Harry should have gone to the police, a neighbor, a teacher, a goddamn stranger on the street, anyone who would be willing to hear that Harry was being stuffed under a stairwell like a NordicTrack.
"Child protective services? Enough with your gibberish wizard sayings."
Sure, someone eventually rescues Harry, but he did nothing to make that happen. He just had to wait his suffering out until someone handed him magical powers. But what if he had been a muggle? Or, you know, a real person? No friendly giant would ride in on a motorcycle to rescue him. He'd keep suffering until he finally worked up the nerve to tell someone. Or worse, never tell someone and grow up to be an emotionally stunted man incapable of functioning in polite society.
Hell, in Matilda the abuse spans generations. Her teacher, Ms. Honey, was raised by her abusive aunt and Matilda's principal, Ms. Trunchbull. Ms. Honey didn't do a damn thing about the abuse -- she just moved out, lived an isolated life, and got a job working alongside the woman who, oh yeah, murdered her father. It's only though Matilda's sudden, unexpected, and completely unexplained telekinetic powers that Trunchbull's reign of terror is stopped. In both cases, the lesson is clear: Don't do anything about your horrible childhood, kids. Tough it out until something miraculous happens. Like the sweet release of death, perhaps.
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There's plenty of bad lessons Hollywood is trying to shove down our throats. Do your children a favor and don't show them the movies in 8 Dark Life Lessons Kids Learn From Pixar Films and 5 Awful Lessons Disney Teaches You About Relationships.
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