Silly rabbit, animation isn’t just for kids.
There remains a bit of a stigma around animated films in the western world, which is a shame, in all honesty. While a country like Japan has long ago realized that animation could be used to make great family films and great films aimed at older audiences, Hollywood hasn't seemed to have caught on. Animated films that aren't aimed at kids (or at least kid-friendly) seem rare from Western, English-speaking filmmakers.
Sure, studios like Pixar make fantastic films that kids and adults can enjoy in equal measure, but it's worth pointing out how some films go further and are aimed exclusively at adult audiences. Whether it's because they deal with mature themes or feature content that's not kid-friendly, they all demonstrate how animation can (and should) be utilized to make great films for older audiences.
Flee is a critically-acclaimed animated documentary that found success at the 2021 Oscars, earning a nomination for Best International Film, Best Animated Film, and Best Documentary. It tells the story of Amin, a refugee from Afghanistan who now lives in Denmark, focusing on the struggles he faced coming to terms with his sexuality and being a refugee.
It's a harrowing story, though thankfully, with some hope and humanity shining through to stop it from being too heavy. Still, it's very much a mature movie that deals with topics younger audiences likely wouldn't fully understand. However, it's eye-opening for older audiences who might be unaware of the plight of modern-day refugees and how difficult it can be to come out as gay in some corners of the world.
Anyone who assumes animated action movies are automatically less exciting than live-action action movies needs to give Redline a watch. It's an anime film with a pretty simple premise that's executed amazingly. In the future, car racing is done on an interplanetary scale and is much faster and way more dangerous than anything seen on Earth.
Amazingly, it was all done with hand-drawn animation, and the fluidity and detail are astonishing. It gives viewers the same visceral rush as Mad Max: Fury Road and is probably too loud and high-octane for most younger viewers.
Paprika was the last film directed by the late, great Satoshi Kon, and while Perfect Blue might be his best-known and most influential, Paprika is arguably his best. It tells a surreal and dazzling story about a machine that allows therapists to see their patients' dreams and a young woman's journey to recover it after it is stolen.
Paprika is a film that successfully utilizes animation to explore worlds and ideas that couldn't be realized in live-action. Over 15 years since its release, nothing really compares to it, even if Inceptionuses a similar concept to craft an exciting blockbuster. Paprika is complex, overwhelming, and sometimes very dark, but in the right ways, making for a true animated masterpiece.
The Wolf House is a disturbing and eerie animated horror film that, despite sometimes feeling like a super dark fairytale, is way too horrifying for children. A mix of stop-motion and hand-drawn images painted and animated on the walls of actual sets tells the story of a young woman on the run from a sinister cult that hides out in a strange house.
The presentation and feel of The Wolf House is really what makes it memorable and also really unsettling. It's the kind of horror film that's likely to unsettle most adults, making it one of the last movies you'd ever want to show a kid, animated or otherwise.
An autobiographical film about its director, an animated film, a psychological drama, and a powerful anti-war film rolled into one, Waltz With Bashir is unlike anything else there.
With a story about post-traumatic stress brought on by being a soldier, and the quest to uncover the truth about one's potential involvement in a horrific war crime, this film might be too much for many adults to watch. The animation is also stylistic but unnerving, and the film pulls no punches when it comes to showing the horrors, brutality, and dehumanizing aspects of warfare.
Grave of the Fireflies has a reputation that precedes it, being one of the most famous tearjerking films of all time, both animated and in general. It's a movie about two Japanese children trying to survive when their lives are turned upside down after a bombing during WW2 destroys their home and takes their mother's life.
It's a compelling and moving anti-war film that will likely move anyone who watches it and would surely upset and possibly traumatize anyone who sees it at too young an age. It holds up well for an animated film of its time and earns its reputation as one of the best Japanese movies of all time.
A minimalist, absurdly comedic, tragically sad character study that touches on continually huge themes as it goes on, It's Such a Beautiful Day is a masterful film that's unlike anything else that's ever been or ever will be.
To give much away would be criminal, as it's a sublime mix of simple animation and storytelling with lofty themes that will make most viewers feel just about every emotion under the sun. Its existentialism and adult themes will mean younger audiences won't appreciate what it's going for, making it an experimental yet accessible and achingly human film that's perfect for older audiences in the mood for something more than a little offbeat.
Mary and Max tells the story of two very different people who happen to be pen pals — one who lives in Australia and the other in New York City. Despite having little to do with each on the surface, their friendship spans many years, with the film's narrative broadly told through the letters they send back and forth to each other.
It's not hugely disturbing in terms of content, but the stop-motion animation can be a little unsettling, and the film deals with some confronting themes honestly. It's one movie that shows that characters being animated doesn't necessarily mean they're automatically harder to connect or relate to.
On August 1, 1966, a high-profile mass shooting took place at the University of Texas, one of the first of its kind due to the high number of casualties. Tower tells the story of what happened that day and how it impacted those who were attacked, using rotoscope animation to provide visuals that accompany the stories of the day's survivors.
It's a harrowing and tense documentary, and the animation works to visualize the day's events in a way that makes them feel more real. It's an incredibly gripping and memorable film, but due to the story and the subject matter, definitely not one that's suitable for younger viewers.
Charlie Kaufman is known for writing (and sometimes directing) challenging, sometimes depressing, but always interesting films that are nakedly honest about the human condition and the struggles of everyday life. In this regard, his first (and so far, only) foray into animation, Anomalisa, is no exception to the other films he's written or made.
Stop-motion animation is used to tell the story of a lonely man who falls for a woman while staying in a strange hotel, all the while experiencing the other areas of his life collapsing around him. It's a strange and sometimes even uncomfortable film that's not for everyone (and definitely not for kids, who'd probably be a bit bored more than anything), but it has a great deal to offer for those willing to give it a shot.
KEEP READING:Great Animated Films You've Probably Never Heard Of
Jeremy is an omnivore when it comes to movies. He’ll gladly watch and write about almost anything, from old Godzilla films to gangster flicks to samurai movies to classic musicals to the French New Wave to the MCU. When he’s not writing lists for Collider, he also likes to upload film reviews to his Letterboxd profile and Instagram account.
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Animated Films Aimed At Adults: 10 Movies That Prove Animation Isn't Just For Kids – Collider
Silly rabbit, animation isn’t just for kids.