Most parents allow themselves certain fibs to tell their children: Yes, sweetheart, there is a Santa Claus. Your 14-year-old dog Rusty is enjoying his golden years, scampering around a farm. Animated movies were made just for you.
That last lie is in heavy rotation this summer with the release of “Inside Out,” a blockbuster that’s for the ages and works for all ages. Children may leave the film, which takes place inside a little girl’s evolving brain, pining for a toy replica of Bing Bong the elephant-cat, while their folks will wonder why their college psychology classes weren’t nearly this thought-provoking.
But “Inside Out” isn’t the first animated movie to talk to grown-ups on a whole other level. Here are 10 classics (including the new Pixar film) well worth re-watching after putting the young’n’s to bed.
“Inside Out” (2015)
Why kids think it’s for them: The journey by Joy and Sadness across the cranium plays out like a Disney World ride — but without the long lines.
Why it’s really for grown-ups: The overall theme — all emotions are vital, even the scary ones — could easily be a lost chapter from a Sigmund Freud journal.
Adult language: “Crying helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems.” – Sadness
“The Iron Giant” (1999)
Why kids think it’s for them: Who wouldn’t want to hang out with the Transformers’ lovable granddaddy?
Why it’s really for grown-ups: This story about fear and paranoia in the 1950s reminds us that the Cold War can still give us the chills.
Adult language: “It’s bad to kill. Guns kill. And you don’t have to be a gun. You are what you choose to be. You choose. Choose.” – Robot guardian Hogarth Hughes
“Fantastic Mr. Fox” (2009)
Why kids think it’s for them: Silky smooth Mr. Fox, voiced by silky smooth George Clooney, is the perfect precursor to Holden Caulfield.
Why it’s really for grown-ups: Director Wes Anderson (“The Royal Tenenbaums,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel”) shows that quirky families feel right at home in cartoon country.
Adult language: “I think I have this thing where everybody has to think I’m the greatest … and if they aren’t completely knocked out and dazzled and slightly intimidated by me, I don’t feel good about myself.” – Mr. Fox
“Chicken Run” (2000)
Why kids think it’s for them: Birds of a feather flock together when parents try to tighten the screws.
Why it’s really for grown-ups: Voice contributor Mel Gibson’s words from “Braveheart” — “They make take our lives, but they will never take our freedom” — ring just as true down on the farm.
Adult language: “They’re chickens, you dolt. Apart from you, they’re the most stupid creatures on this planet. They don’t plot, they don’t scheme, and they are not organized.” – Oppressive human Mrs. Tweedy
“Toy Story 3” (2010)
Why kids think it’s for them: Barbie dolls and Mr. Potato Heads are a lot more fun after dark.
Why it’s really for grown-ups: It doesn’t take a high school diploma to figure out this is really about holding back the tears while shuttling your teenagers off to college.
Adult language: “You’re a piece of plastic; you were made to be thrown away.” – The two-faced Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear
“Who Framed Roger Rabbit” (1988)
Why kids think it’s for them: Gee, Mom and Dad’s cartoon buddies are just as goofy as SpongeBob SquarePants.
Why it’s really for grown-ups: If Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse can get along, Israel and Palestine can’t be far behind.
Adult language: “I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way.” – Jessica Rabbit
“Kiki’s Delivery Service” (1989)
Why kids think it’s for them: The original version may be in Japanese, but a teenage girl’s ability to fly and cast spells is a draw with no language barriers.
Why it’s really for grown-ups: Introspection can ruin the best of flights.
Adult language: “If I lose my magic, that means I’ve lost absolutely everything.” – Kiki
“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” (1966)
Why kids think it’s for them: Getting apples during trick-or-treating is still better than receiving a bag full of rocks.
Why it’s really for grown-ups: Belief in the return of the Chosen One is more important than an actual resurrection.
Adult language: “There are three things that I’ve learned to never discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin.” – Linus Van Pelt
“The Lion King” (1994)
Why kids think it’s for them: Sex, death and family aren’t as scary as they first appear.
Why it’s really for grown-ups: Sex, death and family aren’t as scary as they first appear.
Adult language: “I’m only brave when I have to be. Being brave doesn’t mean you go looking for trouble.” – Mufasa
“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (1964)
Why kids think it’s for them: Nothing, but nothing, is going to stop Santa from delivering that Red Ryder BB Gun.
Why it’s really for grown-ups: A reminder to anyone who’s been bullied at school or at work that it’s going to get better.
Adult language: “Don’t let this big blowhard scare you anymore; just walk right past him.” – Hermey, the elf who dreams of becoming a dentist