When you think of a Disney movie, what does the audience for that kind of film look like? You'd more than likely expect to see a theatre full of children and families enjoying the animated adventures of some zany character or beautiful princess, right? If that truly is your strictest expectation from Disney, you are sadly misinformed.
What many seem to shamefully forget is that Walt Disney intended his parks and movies to be enjoyed by everyone, including adults. In fact, there are several Disney movies enjoyed more by adults than kids at times. There's more than nostalgia at work, have a look at these 10 Disney flicks that you'll love more when watching them as a grown-up.
10 The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Some of you are probably already rolling your eyes at this title, but hear us out. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is what we in the business like to call a comfort food movie. Like a certain silly old bear, this flick is warm, fuzzy, and just all-around sweet.
When the stress of the adult world gets us down, this movie is like slipping into a warm bath or covering up with a blanket and a cup of coffee. It takes us back to that child-like state of mind and lets us mellow out in the Hundred Acre Wood.
"If ye had the chance to change yer fate, would ye?" Ok, bad Scottish impressions aside, we have to talk about Pixar's Brave for giving us a totally different princess. Younger audiences will appreciate the magic and adventure, but adults will appreciate the attention to medieval Scottland and brilliant character development, especially Merida.
Merida is not just a princess, but a warrior who needs no prince to save her. She is not only capable of being worthy of ruling her father's kingdom, but her independent nature is definitely more explored than some of her peers. Let's see Belle or Jasmine try and pick up a weapon.
8 Monsters University
Let's get real for a minute, Monsters University might have been an animated film, but its true audience wasn't kids. It was the kids who saw the original Monsters Inc. who were college students at the time of release. How many kids are actually going relate to this kind of setting?
Seeing Mike and Sulley go through the familiar struggles of grueling classes, social pressure, and late-night study sessions definitely make them more relatable and identifiable with an older audience. Anyone who's been to college can recognize all the tropes and settings of MU's campus. Kids can enjoy it, but we know who it's really for.
7 Mary Poppins
If ever there was an example of a perfect family film, cream of the crop, tip of the top, it's Mary Poppins and there we stop. Kids and adults alike have been in love with Mary Poppins's magic charm since the sixties, but as we've grown up and matured, we've noticed a few things more poignant to adults than kids.
We see through Mr. Banks how getting too obsessed with work can hurt the ones we love. Through Bert, we see how the lowest on the social ladder can be the happiest man in town. But, most importantly, through the bird-woman, we're shown what one act of kindness can do.
6 A Goofy Movie
A Goofy Movie earns this spot not because it's a Disney movie with a message meant for adults, but a Disney movie with an adult message directed at kids. Don't let the cast and animated delivery fool you. It has all the comedic slapstick and humor of a Goofy cartoon, but there's more to it than that.
The thing about this flick is that our perspective changes as we grow older. At first, we identify with Max, wanting to be independent and have his own life. But then we share Goofy's desire in just wanting to be a part of it.
5 Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast is perhaps the epitome of the perfect Disney movie. Far off places, magic spells, a prince in disguise, yadda yadda yadda, you get the picture. It's definitely going to get a younger audience's attention, but it's underlying themes are what keep adults interested.
We could go on about how it's the prince that needs to be rescued and not the princess, the over-compensation of Gaston, the themes of gender politics, and so on. The film has been dissected and analyzed so much it teeters on cliche. That being said, the touching romance and the classy animation choices definitely speak to us more as adults. After all, it's a tale as old as time.
There will never be a day where we don't praise this animated masterpiece, but we can't have a list like this without mentioning Zootopia. The message the film presents is one that kids should learn, but adults should be reminded of it as well. We could go on about the racial/social allegory that Zootopia presents, but the message is pretty clear enough.
Yes, kids will be drawn to the animal characters and the cute moments, but behind the fur, it's actually the most adult film the studio has possibly ever made. Not only did Nick and Judy make us want to try everything as the theme song goes, but take a look at ourselves after the credits rolled.
With all the nostalgia for '80s culture nowadays, why hasn't this gem made a bigger comeback? Tron was a product of its time in every sense of the word. Younger members of the audience were easily enchanted by the then-revolutionary CGI style of the film, but the adults of then and now are drawn to its impressive lore and story.
Young viewers can enjoy the film, but the Programs Vs. MCP narrative might go over a few heads. The world of the Game Grid is incredibly rich and even has a philosophical/religious allegory present if you look in the right place. There's definitely a lot to unpack.
2 The Black Cauldron
If we had a nickel for every time this film reared its zombified head on one of our lists... The Black Cauldron has more than a colorful reputation amongst the Disney fandom. From being the darkest thing Disney has ever created to being the almost-R-Rated feature that could have killed the studio, it's not exactly the most kid-friendly outing.
That all being said, this film is perhaps one of the greatest cult-films Disney's put out in history. Why? Most fans are adults that love to see the darker side of the mouse. And few of the studio's work gets darker than this one.
If you adored this movie as a kid and watched it for more than"The Sorcerer's Apprentice," you are a very special breed. Even when it premiered in 1940, Fantasia was more of an art-house piece than it was a kids' film. It still got major acclaim for its music and visuals, but it was obviously for a more mature audience.
We're not saying it's not for kids, but how many of them actually pay attention to pieces like "Toccata En Fugue?" This was Walt Disney's adult feature, meant as an experimental form of filmmaking, not a fairytale. We still love it, but some kids might be put to sleep.