8 Talking Animal Movies That Are Definitely Not for Kids

Fritz the Cat

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By Sara Franks-Allen

In most cases, there’s nothing more appropriate for kids than an animated movie about talking animals. What could be safer when you need to keep the little ones occupied for a while so the adults can take a much deserved break? But not every film with puppy or bunny protagonists is really made with a younger audience in mind. Here are ten talking animal films that are really more for the adults in the room, ranging from family films with slightly more mature themes to the literally X-rated. (Warning: Some trailers are NSFW.)

8. Animal Farm (1954)

George Orwell’s 1945 allegorical novel is one of the granddaddies of talking animal stories for adults, so it makes sense that this animated adaptation is an early example of talking animal movies for grown ups. The C.I.A. actually funded the making of the film, hoping to win hearts and minds during the Cold War. Although Orwell’s bleak ending is changed to a more hopeful one showing the animals preparing for a second revolution against the tyrannical pigs, most of the movie remains faithful to the book’s farm that mirrors Russia from the 1917 revolution to Stalin’s reign. And Boxer still dies.

7. Fritz the Cat (1972)

The first animated feature ever to receive an “X” rating, Fritz the Cat is definitely not a movie for kids. The directionless Fritz seeks pleasure from drugs and sex while falling in with violent revolutionaries. Director Ralph Bakshi went on to create more animated films for mature audiences, including Wizards and Cool World. Though it clearly wasn’t for everyone and Fritz’s creator — legendary underground cartoonist R. Crumb — all but disowned it, Fritz found its audience as a midnight movie and made over $90 million worldwide.

6. Watership Down (1978)

Few films have suffered from the perception that animated movies about animals must be for children as much as this one. Untold numbers of parents have picked up what they believed to be a nice bunny movie for the kids, only to have the tots traumatized as they watch Fiver, Hazel, and Bigwig face life or death battles with humans, predators, and other rabbits. It’s a well crafted movie and faithful to the original book, but kids and particularly sensitive adults should sit this one out.

5. The Plague Dogs (1982)

If you stayed up nights crying over Watership Down, be glad that your parents never rented The Plague Dogs. Sharing both a director and an original book author with Watership Down, The Plague Dogs tells the story of two dogs who escape from an animal testing facility and search for a place where they can live out the rest of their days in peace. The published version of the book it’s based on has a happy ending for the dogs, but the film ends on an ambiguous note, more in line with the author’s original draft for the book.

4. Peace on Earth (1939)

At first blush, this 1939 MGM short might look like your standard cute animal Christmas cartoon. But the adorable animals’ town is built from discarded weapons and armor. The gut punch arrives when two little squirrel children ask their grandfather what “men” are and Gramps tells the story of how humanity destroyed itself in an endless series of wars. The animation style becomes startling realistic as the old squirrel relates the fate of the last two people on Earth, who perished while shooting at one another across the trenches. The idea that there will only be “peace on Earth” when humans aren’t around anymore is a pretty bold statement, especially right at the beginning of the second World War.

3. Pom Poko (1994)

The Japanese film Pom Poko (or Modern-Era Tanuki War Ponpoko) is best known as the movie where raccoons use their giant testicles to attack people. While that’s true (the characters are actually tanuki – a Japanese canine that resembles a raccoon), it’s not the whole story. Pom Poko is about the tanuki fighting to save their forest home from human development. Despite fantasy elements like the shapeshifting abilities of the tanuki, this isn’t a story with easy answers or a happy ending. It’s a hard yet hopeful look at what happens when traditional societies and modern progress clash.

2. Rock & Rule (1983)

Rock & Rule (also known as Ring of Power outside the U.S.) was the first feature film from Canadian animation studio Nelvana. The story draws heavily from Nelvana’s earlier TV special The Devil and Daniel Mouse. While the plot about a small town rock band trying to stop aging rock legend Mok Swagger from summoning a demon isn’t terribly adults only, the film includes scenes of drug use, some mild sexuality and profanity, and a rock heavy soundtrack (Iggy Pop, Cheap Trick) clearly designed to attract older teens. The film received almost no U.S. release thanks to a change in management at distributor MGM killing support for it. But it eventually gained a cult following thanks to late-night airings on various cable channels.

1. The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat 

The bizarre 1974 sequel to Fritz the Cat is like Cheech and Chong’s Nice Dreams if it starred a randy feline hanging out with Hitler. A depressed, now domesticated Fritz daydreams what his life could’ve been like in a series of vignettes involving everything from a dog version of Der Fuhrer to Fritz’s outer space adventures. Oh, and plenty of dated racial stereotypes and creepily amorous animals. Fun fact: Director Robert Taylor, who passed away in 2014, worked as an animator and storyboard artist on two decidedly more kid-friendly talking animal cartoons — Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Ducktales.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

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