Disney is one of the few brands in the world that caters not to a strictly adult audience, but kids and their families. No surprise, this was the biggest move the company could have possibly made. That all being said, that doesn’t mean Disney produces films for younger viewers alone.
As much as Disney markets itself to kids and families, there are more than enough movies and media for adults to enjoy. It might even surprise some viewers just how many films are directed solely at a grownup audience. After all, as Walt once said, “Growing old is inevitable. Growing up is optional.”
Aside from Mickey as The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, there really isn’t much for kids here. If the Toccata and Fugue sequence doesn’t put them to sleep, Night on Bald Mountain will give them nightmares for sure.
With that in mind, it’s still surprising to recognize how many adult viewers adore it. It was Walt’s experimental passion project, and while it wasn’t financially a smash, the animation and artistic presentation were highly lauded.
Originally, the short film was going to be a part of the Fantasia experience but was unfortunately lost and incomplete. However, the studio was able to restore and complete this once-forgotten collaboration between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali.
The plot is anybody’s guess, but the visuals and music that accompany it make it look like a living Dali painting. While the famous surrealist might be responsible for the style, the hand of Walt is keenly felt in its animation and movement.
8 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
In all fairness, there’s no reason younger viewers wouldn’t enjoy this film based on Jules Verne’s undersea adventure. However, they might not be able to understand some of the more intricate elements of the plot.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is one of the most interesting and underrated sci-fi films in history, let alone those done by Disney. This is mostly thanks to the script and impressive, incredibly mature production. Quite the feat for something produced by Walt himself.
Don’t let the cute leading lady mislead, Purl is surprisingly one of the most adult-oriented animated projects done by Pixar.
Office settings and gender politics aren’t exactly the most kid-discussed subjects, but Purl uses them both to craft both a thought-provoking message and even some unusually adult humor for the studio. How many Pixar projects make blatantly risque jokes? Honestly, it makes many fans wonder how Pixar would do with an adult animated series.
6 Infinity War and Endgame
How many kids were absolutely traumatized at the end of Infinity War, watching all their beloved heroes turn to ash? Although the MCU is a franchise beloved by viewers of all ages, these two movies might have been difficult for younger audience members to watch.
In all honesty, do kids really care about the relationships, mental anguish, and ethical reflections of the beings of the multiverse? No, but everyone loves to see heroes smack villains around, and that’s what matters.
There are certain exceptions to the rule on this one, every drama club kid has to be familiar with Hamilton these days, but this feature was almost 100% meant for adults.
The historical musical drama concerning the ten-dollar-founding-father is an absolute thrill to watch, though its lyrics and certain situations might not be the most kid-friendly. There’s a bleeped out verse for a reason. Even so, it’s still nice to see something on Disney’s platform made mainly for a grownup audience.
While there is nothing blatantly adult-only about Tron, but unless they’re truly into the more higher-thinking branches of the sci-fi genre, there won’t be many that get sucked into this virtual world.
As stuck in the ’80s as the film might be, it still offers quite a deep and impressive narrative that fans still have a penchant for today. It’s a product of its time, but to say it isn’t enjoyed would be an outright lie.
3 Frank and Ollie
Heartwarming is just one of the words one would use to describe this film. Not many kids are into documentaries, but many adults will certainly be tuned in to this incredible story of animation, artistry, and friendship.
The film concerns the lives and relationships of Disney animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, two of Walt Disney’s original team. It’s astounding learning just how much the two worked on together, and a must-watch for fans of Disney history.
2 Saving Mr. Banks
Ever want to see Walt Disney drink, smoke, and swear? That certainly sounds like the behavior of a childhood icon. Joking aside, this film tells the tale about the making of Disney’s most famous feature and his conflicting collaboration with the author, P.L. Travers.
Although the narrative is slightly embellished, it is amazing how true the filmmakers did stick to the source material. Tom Hanks gives a brilliant performance as Walt Disney and isn’t afraid to show a slightly shady side.
1 The Straight Story
David Lynch and Disney are not two elements that one would ever think of going together, and yet here they are with The Straight Story. The film is a dramatization of the real-life account of Alvin straight, a 73-year-old World War II veteran who rode his lawnmower across Wisconsin to make amends with his dying brother.
The film itself is an acquired taste, no matter the age of the audience, but fans of the director’s work will certainly appreciate the slow burn.