If you're reading this article because you think I'm about to accuse kiddie flicks of hiding ribald material within their frames, I'm sorry to disappoint you. The angle I'm going for here is that of "animated features that are actually better for grown-ups than they are for kids," and I bring this point up for two reasons: 1. I love animation. 2. This week marks the arrival of my #1 favorite flick of 2009: Fantastic Mr. Fox. (Let your kids enjoy it, and then watch it with adults once the tots are tucked into bed. Trust me.) Plus, I firmly believe that young children will love any ol' animated flick. It's tough to be cinematically discerning when you're only 4.
So of course we'll start off with the Fox. Serious cinephiles are well aware that this flick comes from a man who makes films for grown-ups ... but to the average moviegoing mommy and daddy, who wouldn't know Wes Anderson from Wes Studi, this was just a cute-looking comedy done in that nifty old stop-motion animation style. (The flick didn't exactly destroy the box office, suffice to say.) But while children will undoubtedly dig the cute little creatures (I love how they dig!), it's the parents who will most enjoy the film's sly / sweet / sarcastic humor. Fantastic Mr. Fox does have a few "morals of the story" for the younger minds, but only an adult can appreciate a line like "I love you ... but I shouldn't have married you."