Children's movies have the ability to let us escape to imagined worlds full of enchanted characters, distracting us all from the craphole that is reality. Unfortunately, all of those movies were actually made in said craphole -- meaning that when you strip away the layers and layers of special effects, what you're left with is often surprisingly off-putting.

We've pointed out that Hollywood blockbusters look hilarious without the CGI, but when you limit that exercise to kids' movies, the results suddenly go from "whimsical backstage tomfoolery" to "mescaline nightmare." For instance:

Space Jam -- Michael Jordan Gets Groped By Green Ninjas

Only in the '90s could the film adaptation of a sneaker commercial featuring 50-year-old cartoon characters and a career non-actor somehow become one of the most beloved children's movies of the decade. Yes, Space Jam captured the imagination of every kid who was kind of into basketball, but secretly wished it was played by grotesque humanoid monsters.

Space Jam
Warner Bros.
Look at that thing. Hideous.

Behind the scenes, though, things were decidedly less magical than you'd think. Instead of a cartoon wonderland populated by iconic characters, Michael Jordan spent most of his time on a soundstage, wrangling with green nightmare people.

MJ and Bugs Bunny green screen
Warner Bros.
The meaning of his expression changes from "Can you believe this wackiness?" to "Call the police" from one photo to the next.

Jordan had to imagine he was interacting with Bugs and Daffy while contending with a sea of masked stagehands getting all up in his business like drunken frat boys. Without the cartoon graphics, this is a movie about Jordan being stalked by festive St. Patrick's Day body condoms.

Michael Jordan Space Jam green screen
Warner Bros.
This is from the famous scene where Jordan dribbles as four pairs of floating eyes follow him.

So, perhaps we should all re-evaluate Michael Jordan's thespianic abilities. After all, how well would you do trying to stay in character while dealing with this BS? These actors also seemed to get surprisingly handsy with Jordan -- either because the scene called for it, or they were hoping to one day tell their grandkids about the time they groped a sports legend while dressed in an off-brand Ninja Turtles costume.

For some mysterious reason, there doesn't appear to be any footage of Jordan and these green people from another dimension beyond this tiny, 1996-internet-sized clip, but perhaps that's all our fragile reality can handle.

If the resolution was higher, this would count as a snuff film.

Harry Potter -- Hagrid Was Occasionally A Dead-Eyed Puppet

One of the most beloved characters in all of the Harry Potter saga is Hagrid, the half-giant who first brings Harry to Hogwarts. You'll remember him as the one who looks like Jerry Garcia having a severe allergic reaction to a pair of stilettos.

Hagrid, Harry, Ron, and Hermione
Warner Bros.
And for being unable to pronounce "you're" correctly.

Unfortunately, Hagrid's actor Robbie Coltrane isn't an actual giant. This means that shots of him towering above his co-stars were mainly accomplished by forced perspective, or green screen effects -- but for some scenes, such as crowd shots, they simply found the tallest guy they could, put him in a giant suit, and shoved a dead-eyed animatronic puppet head on top.

Puppet hagrid
Warner Bros.
Hagrid behind the scenes
Warner Bros.
Hagrid has been through the wringer.

With the puppet head removed, Hagrid transforms into David Byrne at a Renaissance Faire.

Warner Bros.

And speaking of Talking Heads ... Now that the series has wrapped, Hagrid's disembodied, chattering cranium is on display at the Harry Potter studio tour, primed to traumatize a new generation of children. If Disneyland ever decides that Alan Moore should be a character in the Haunted Mansion, it would probably look something like this:

Warner Bros.
Note: This is not a GIF. If it starts moving, burn your computer and salt its ashes.

Even the CGI characters, such as the house elves, had real-life stand-ins. For the last few films they used real actors in leotards ... but back in the second movie, Dobby had a puppet stand-in, who was uncomfortably naked and sculpted with lidless eyes for some unknown reason.

Dobby and Harry
Warner Bros.
Scary Dobby puppet
Warner Bros.
Sadly, "no-nudity" clauses weren't one of the elf rights Hermione fought for.

The Jungle Book -- The Behind-The-Scenes Videos Could Be A Horror Movie

We have visited this well before, but it was more than our minds could process in one article. Lately, Disney has been conserving valuable energy that otherwise would have been wasted thinking up original stories by recycling their library of classic hand-drawn cartoons into new live-action features -- and by "live-action," we mean there's one real boy and a whole bunch of computer-generated malarkey. Meaning that lovable pals Mowgli and Baloo ...

Mowgli and Baloo
Walt Disney Pictures

... actually looked like this in real life:

Jungle Book behind the scenes
Walt Disney Pictures
Cookie Monster just wasn't getting the roles he wanted until he tore his eyes out.

That fun-loving singing bear looks suspiciously like a teamster in a leotard. And apparently, when they weren't just slapping some googly eyes on the knuckles of extras, they made the poor kid playing Mowgli pretend he was having the time of his life while running around with disembodied animal heads.

Jungle book behind the scenes
Walt Disney Pictures
"The booze helps."

Other times, he had to crowd-surf among a sea of faceless ghouls -- which, to be fair, is more or less the norm for crowd-surfing.

Mowgli crowd-surfing
Walt Disney Pictures
We can only hope there was less inappropriate groping.

And then there's this scene where ... well, it's not clear what's going on, but it's probably how every Jim Henson Company Christmas party ended.

Mowgli bouncing
Walt Disney Pictures
Countless Fraggles were euthanized for less than this.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit -- Robots, Unnecessary Costumes, And Half-Naked Women

With the exception of the "burning pig flesh that's been grafted onto your face" deleted scene, Who Framed Roger Rabbit was quite thoughtfully made. A film noir co-starring iconic cartoon characters, Roger Rabbit became an instant classic, and gave hope to everyone who assumed a sense of humor wasn't enough to win the heart of a glamorous nightclub singer.

Roger Rabbit
Walt Disney Pictures
Or a bald detective.

So how did they accomplish having animated characters mingle with human beings? Well, for the shots where the Toons were required to hold objects, they would use small robots as stand-ins and then animate over them -- making the behind-the-scenes footage look like a movie about robots learning how to drink whiskey and commit murder.

Who framed roger rabbit behind the scenes
Walt Disney Pictures
Who framed roger rabbit behind the scenes
Walt Disney Pictures
"Couldn't we just give it, like, a piece of wood?" "No. It has to be a real gun. And loaded."

But tiny miscreant robots weren't the strangest thing happening on the set of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. You see, Charles Fleischer, the actor who provided the voice for Roger Rabbit, delivered his lines live, off-camera. This is a fairly common thing to do, but Fleischer took the additional, thoroughly unnecessary step of dressing up like Roger Rabbit. You may recognize this as benefiting no one, and being completely insane.

Charles Fleischer as Roger Rabbit
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures
"Take as many pictures as you can, I'm sure this won't look like a kaleidoscope of horror in years to come."

And to make sure the male actors were failing to meet Jessica Rabbit's eyeline in all the (in)correct ways, a scantily clad stand-in was used, somehow wearing even less clothing than Jessica herself. Man, a David Lynch set would be a less of a balls-out crazy place to bring your kids for a visit.

Jessica Rabbit behind the scenes
Walt Disney Pictures
We've always suspected it, but now we are certain this movie was never intended for children.

Paddington -- On Set, Paddington Was An Adult Woman And A Severed Head

Paddington is the adorably British bear charming enough to spawn a series of children's books and cartoons, but apparently not enough to deserve a name other than that of the filthy train station in which he was found loitering.

Paddington in Paddington
"I've slept in piss!"

In the recent live-action Paddington film, the titular character is computer generated and voiced by Ben Whishaw, after Colin Firth left the production (presumably because no kid wants to see a movie where their mom is attracted to a talking bear). To help guide the human actors on set, they had a stand-in for Paddington -- an understandably irritated-looking adult woman in a Paddington costume, complete with bear hands for absolutely no reason.

Paddington stand in
"We're paying you for now, but don't forget we could just put that jacket on a shopping cart at any time."

They also had an animatronic Paddington ... but since animatronics aren't cheap, they just made a head on a stick, looking for all the world like a ghoulish trophy designed to warn other storybook mascots of the dangers of overreaching.

Paddington head
Due to a weird glitch, it kept shouting "HELL IS HERE" while disconnected.

There is a scene in the film where Paddington affectionately licks one of the kids in his adopted family, presumably in the way that bears do when they're trying to moisten flesh enough to rip it straight off of the bone. To accomplish this, the filmmakers had some guy lean in with a paintbrush and drag it across the child's face:

Paddington licking comparison
Wh.. why is Paddington naked?

Pete's Dragon -- Befriending A Dragon Looks Awful Without Animation

Because Disney is now firmly in the business of dusting off its old properties and re-filming them for a new generation (see above), and the success of dragon-related properties such as Game Of Thrones and absolutely nothing else ever, they decided to revisit Pete's Dragon, the story of a child slave and his imaginary-but-possibly-real dragon. While the original featured a cartoon dragon, the new one boasts a furry CGI creation as Pete's fire-breathing BFF.

Pete and his dragon
Walt Disney Pictures
The child, however, remains a slave, because we all belong to Disney.

In real life, though, the dragon was a giant leering sock puppet, with the same unnerving rictus grin that's been frozen on Tom Cruise for the past two and a half decades.

Pete's Dragon behind the scenes
Walt Disney Pictures
Pete's Dragon behind the scenes
Walt Disney Pictures
This one's only a mid-ranking Scientologist, though.

For other shots, they utilized an oversized inflatable dinosaur, which is honestly more delightful than the dragon that appears in the finished film.

Pete's Dragon behind the scenes
Walt Disney Pictures
Pete's dragon behind the scenes
Walt Disney Pictures
Serious question -- does anyone know where we can buy this thing?

Then again, all of this is still more tasteful than the original Pete's Dragon, which created the illusion of Pete riding the dragon by attaching the kid to a long stick held by a grip running around in circles.

Pete's Dragon
Walt Disney Pictures
Pete's Dragon comparison
Walt Disney Pictures
"Don't worry -- if the child gets hurt, we'll buy a new one."

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles -- The Pre-CGI Turtles Looked Like Deformed Cyberpunk Nazis

Shoving a group of actors into rubber heatstroke costumes full of whirring animatronics (and, eventually, their own sweat and urine) was presumably off the table for the most recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie reboot. So instead, the filmmakers opted to go the CGI route, allowing them to more accurately portray the heroes in a half-shell as roided-out Voldemorts who assembled their outfits from a dentist's prize box.

Paramount Pictures
The one in the middle barely even looks like a turtle.

The performers behind these atrocities were actually on set, sporting turtle-shaped motion-capture suits -- and bizarrely, giant dish-washing gloves and what looks disturbingly like Nazi armbands. This was either to differentiate the characters, or as a subtle reference to Megan Fox's feelings towards Michael Bay.

TMNT behind the scenes
Paramount Pictures

Anyone who walked past the film set probably assumed it was a new Tron movie inexplicably featuring giant beetles.

The turtles motion suits
Paramount Pictures
That might have actually been a better film.

The dignity went from "slim" to "nonexistent" when the crew had to toss raincoats on the performers to protect the delicate equipment they're being forced to wear to face the universal derision of grown men who liked a cartoon that came out thirty years ago.

TMNT motion capture rain jackets
Paramount Pictures
The change people threw at them actually doubled the film's gross.

Scooby-Doo -- The Making Of The Movie Looked Like An Animal Snuff Film

Scooby-Doo is the classic cartoon about a gang of meddlesome teens who travel the country harassing senior citizens for the crime of dressing up like monsters to steal money and/or real estate from people. Which is probably an actual crime.

Since no popular property is safe from being dragged kicking and screaming into the realm of feature films, Scooby-Doo was naturally made into a live-action movie. Of course, rather than deal with the pain-in-the-ass of an actual dog like those Marmaduke and Underdog movies, Scooby-Doo was (in what has emerged as a disturbing trend) just a puppet dog head mounted on a stick. This casts a whole new light on his relationship with Shaggy.

Scooby head and Shaggy
Warner Bros.
Scooby head and Shaggy
Warner Bros.
"I- I'm sorry, Scoob. It's the hunger. It never stops."

But that's just the beginning of the insanity that was this movie shoot. On some shots, they apparently used a little person wearing a dog costume on wheels. Out of context, this looks like the world's worst attempt to sneak your friend onto an airplane without a ticket.

Scooby doo actor
Warner Bros.
Alternatively, it's ALF after an unfortunate sexual maneuver with a fellow Melmacian.

Then there's the scene where Scooby dresses like a human woman (we haven't seen the movie in a while, but we assume it was so he could get closer to his kids after a bitter divorce). This scene is insane enough in the finished film, but the making-of looks like a serial killer's diary entry:

Scooby Doo dress up behind the scenes
Warner Bros.

JM co-hosts the podcast Rewatchability which can also be found on iTunes.

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