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Eight Movies That Prove Disney Is Not Just For Kids

My wife and I signed up for "Disney Movie Club" this weekend. While browsing through the list of films, I was struck by how many "un-Disney" Disney films there are in the catalogue. You know, movies that you don't think of as fitting into the traditional Disney style. All great films though.

So, I decided to make a short list of films that you wouldn't think of as Disney films. Some of these are produced by Touchstone, which is basically Walt Disney Pictures under another name.

1. The Black Hole (1979)

This film still haunts me. Directed by Gary Nelson for it stars Maximilian Schell, Robert Forster, Joseph Bottoms, Yvette Mimieux, Anthony Perkins, and Ernest Borgnine, The main robot characters are voiced by Roddy McDowall and Slim Pickens. It was Disney's first straight science-fiction film about a research vessel that finds a mad scientist at the event horizon of a black hole. As the crew investigates it becomes clear the scientist has gone mad and his crew is a bunch of zombies. Besides having some shockingly violent scenes it has one of the strangest endings ever filmed. Kids wouldn't get it and most adults wouldn't either.

2. National Treasure (2004)

Directed by Jon Turteltaub the film stars Nicolas Cage, Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha, Sean Bean, Jon Voight, Harvey Keitel, and Christopher Plummer. Cage plays a treasure hunter who discovers a treasure map on the back of the Declaration of Independence. With it's wild action and Cage's mugging you'd never think of it as a traditional Disney film, but it's good. It even spawned a sequel. Both are better than the horrid Indiana Jones sequel Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

3. Alice in Wonderland (2010)

The story goes that Tim Burton used to work for Disney when he was starting out. His first animated short *Frankenweenie" was so freaky that Disney shelved it and he never made another project for them while he worked there. Decades later, Burton is one of the hottest director's ever. So, Disney hires him back to make a "sequel" to the 1957 animated film and makes an even more bizarre version of the original. While not insanely weird it's grown up protagonist and themes are mostly above little kids. Adults get a kick out of it though.

4. Surrogates (2009)

This movie about a world populated by human-controlled robots (called Surrogates) gets a bad rap, but I thought it was brilliant. It's based on a 2005–2006 comic book series and follows Willis' character having to leave the safety of his robot duplicate to track down a killer. Along the way he
discovered a terrifying secret about the Surrogates. Directed by Jonathan Mostow, it stars Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell, Rosamund Pike and Boris Kodjoe. Ving Rhames delivers a charismatic performance as the anti-surrogate religious leader Prophet, and James Cromwell delivers another superb scientist
performance as Dr. Lionel Canter the creator of the surrogates.

5. Armageddon (1998)

Directed by Michael Bay and released by Disney's Touchstone Pictures this movie follows Bruce Willis and a rag-tag group of deep-core drillers trying to blow up a gigantic asteroid on a collision course with Earth. Besides delivering a hilarious performance by Steve Buscemi it also gives a touching love story between Live Tyler and Ben Affleck. When my wife found it was a Disney movie she was shocked. With it's themes of death and destruction you'd never know by looking at it. Rockhound's antics with women don't help either.

6. The Prestige (2006)

Based on a 1995 novel, this film blew me away on so many levels. Aside from the incredible direction by Christopher Nolan, Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale deliver some of the top ten performances of their career. Whatever you do, don't give away the plot twists. They're all good and all mind-blowing. Not what you'd expect from the "mouse house".

7. The Village (2004)

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan this film about a group end-of-the-19th-century villagers living in fear of the creatures living in the woods was pretty much the nail in Shyamalan's career coffin. But, it did deliver a healthy dose of scares from "Those We Don't Speak Of". Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Bryce Dallas Howard, Adrien Brody, William Hurt and Sigourney Weaver it One of the tenth highest grossing PG-13 movie of 2004 and made over $200 million dollars. Worth watching at least once and definitely one you want to put the kids to bed before watching.

8. Splash (1984)

This fantasy film directed by Ron Howard starring Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah and John Candy was a super-sweet love story. A boy falls in the water and is saved by a mermaid. Years later she goes to New York looking for him. Candy plays a sex-crazed, but faithful friend. His jokes alone take it over the top, but don't forget Daryl Hannah's famous nude walk through Ellis Island. Not exactly "Little Mermaid".

That's it. My wife and I are excited about our choices coming in the mail soon and, since we only paid $1 for the first four in the movie club, I'll be reviewing some in the future.

What do you think of as a Disney film? Are there any you'd add to this list?
[Image Source: wikipedia]


  1. Wasn't Down and Out in Beverly Hills the first R rated Touchstone film, thus the first R rated Disney film?

  2. Alex, I do believe your right! Good call

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  3. " Both are better than the horrid Indiana Jones Crystal Skull sequel."

    Indy & The Crystal Skull is a great film. The National Treasures are garbage.

  4. Hate to be "that guy" who points out something that is basically irrelevant....but isn't it supposed to be, "house of mouse?" Not, "mouse house."

  5. Torrey, that's a good question. I know there's a Disney show called "House of Mouse", but I always assumed it was the mouse house. I'll Google it.

  6. Joe, thanks for weighing in. While its often subjective if one movie is better than another, both producer Spielberg and co-star LeBeouf didn't think it was very good. If you enjoy it, then more power to you. I think we can all agree 'Last Crusade' was a masterpiece.

  7. Do you also count anything from Miramax when it was owned by Disney? This is incredibly stupid. The Walt Disney Company is one of the largest media conglomerates in the world of course they don't strictly cater to children's entertainment. What it seems like you are doing is deliberately confusing the perception of a "Disney film" and anything from the Walt Disney Company's corporate structure.

  8. OK, you have surprised me. The Prestige and The Village? On the other hand National Treasure is totally Disney - all it needs are some songs...

    Ever see The Watcher In The Woods? It's a children's film but it's... more creepy than the average Disney flick.

  9. Hang on... there's a Crystal Skull sequel? "Indiana Jones And The Other Crystal Skull?" Excuse me, I'm getting back into my nuke-proof fridge now.

  10. I have heard of Watcher from the Mark Kermode podcast. Never seen it. Sounds pretty creepy. Something about trees?
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