Making Children’s Movies Appeal to Adults Part Two: Double Meaning

Sometimes, the lines that make kids movies appealing to adults are not simply allusions like in part one – sometimes, they add meanings that aren’t necessarily kid-friendly. In fact, some of the double meaning, innuendo, and double entendre (to be redundant) that gets thrown in is downright dirty.

But don’t worry, it’s not explicit. In fact, the dirty comments in kids movies tend to be deliberately implicit. Meaning that if the kid understands them, it’s not the movie’s fault – that’s why the comments are hidden in double meaning in the first place.

Double Meaning

Whether it’s done through allusions, puns, or some other literary device, double meaning always adds layers of information. In this situation, it’s used to insert more adult topics and ideas into a kid-friendly movie by either 1. misdirection, 2. making the reference too obscure for kids to really understand, or 3. both.

The misdirection part is easy enough. Like the allusions mentioned yesterday, none of the double meanings are vital to the plot. Most of them are passing comments made while the focus is on the action a character is taking or on a different character entirely. Or the focus is redirected almost immediately.

Here are a few examples that rely on obscure meaning with a touch of misdirection:

  • “Well, you know how men are. They think ‘No’ means ‘Yes’ and ‘Get lost’ means ‘Take me, I’m yours.’ …Don’t worry, maybe Shorty here can explain it to ya.” — Megaera from Hercules
  • “That must be Lord Farquaad’s castle… Do you think he’s maybe compensating for something?” — Shrek from Shrek
  • “Well, waitress, it looks like we’re going to be here for a while, so we may as well get comfortable.” — Prince Naveen from The Princess & the Frog
  • In Toy Story 2, when Jess uses the toy car ramp to catapult herself up to open the door with some very impressive acrobatics, Buzz stares enthralled, and his wings snap open to their erect position.

All of these mean a lot more to an adult than to a kid. To a kid, the first one passes by really fast, so they maybe get the impression that the centaur didn’t listen. But the visual focus shifts almost immediately to Hercules and Pegasus’ confused expressions and then Phil’s anger at the second comment (hahaha! She called him “Shorty”!). For the second one, most kids think Shrek is referring to Farquaad being short (heh. another short joke). To adults, however, it’s not just his overall height that’s probably short (*snicker*).

And do I even need to explain the third and fourth ones? Like the others, they pass by pretty quickly, and the last one is a bit different because it’s purely visual. Kids have to be aware of certain things before they’ll really understand it. And that’s what the animators and writers are counting on – unless the children are extremely worldly, innuendo and double entendres tend to go right over their heads.

The misdirection and lack of emphasis are used to make it even less likely for kids to get the reference; therefore, the more attention is given to a comment with innuendo, the more obscure it is to keep the kids from getting it. Or the safer the adult meaning. If it’s ok for the kids to get the general idea of the comment, it’s safer to use it with more emphasis.

  • “Good afternoon. We’re gonna have a great jump today.” – – Squirt from Finding Nemo
  • “We’re on our honeymoon.” — Pacha “Bless you for coming out in public.” — Waitress from The Emperor’s New Groove
  • “Modern architecture. It’ll never last.” — Manfred from Ice Age
  • “Well, I think you’re stressed and that’s why you eat so much. I mean, it’s hard to get fat on a vegan diet.” — Sid the Sloth from Ice Age

None of those comments are aimed at kids, and most kids aren’t going to get the parachuting, architecture, or vegan references. Since most children aren’t good at sarcasm either, the honeymoon comment is liable to fly right by them. Adults, on the other hand, will catch them, and enjoy the kids movie much more as a result. Wouldn’t you?

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