Don't worry, they don't get it.
Earlier today I was watching "The Adventures of Ichabod Crane and Mr. Toad" when something struck me funny. In one part of the Ichabod Crane portion of the movie, there is a song that tells a few things about him.
Bing Crosby Who's the town's ladies' man?
Chorus Gets around like nobody can?
Bing Crosby Has to be none other than
Together Ichabod, Ichabod Crane
Now as a kid, we don't pay attention to everything that is being said in the song. I immediately began to laugh because of the adult humor that's added in there. My sisters had previously mentioned this and I thought they were joking but sure enough the song in the movie tells about how Ichabod gets around. I sat back and thought about other cartoons and children's movies in general that I grew up watching. Were there others out there that included adult humor that I didn't get as a kid? Of course there was!
The first one that came to mind was Disney's Pinocchio. The portion of the cartoon I want to reference is where the boys are hauled off to the island. All of these punk kids are taken to a place where they are given all kinds of food and at one point Pinocchio and his friend are smoking cigars and drinking beer. The horrifying part of all this is when they turn into donkey's. As a kid you don't understand why they are turning into donkey's except for maybe the fact that they have misbehaved. Watching it as an adult you put two and two together and realize that turning into a donkey references the animals other name; Jackass. This is Disney's way of humoring adults and passing the message that if you misbehave, smoke cigars, and drink beer you're being a Jackass. The same goes for old Looney Tunes episodes because there would be times where characters would do something stupid and they would morph into a sucker and it would be labeled as such. There were also parts where a character would turn into a donkey and labeled, "Jackass". It's really funny if you think about it.
Cartoons seem to be laced with adult humor in order to keep parents content while sitting through entertainment targeted at their children. Another cartoon that comes to mind is Spongebob Squarepants. I can't say that I have actually watched a full episode but a few years ago I was up late channel surfing. I stopped on Nickelodeon and there was an episode of Spongebob on. I left it on as background while I typed up a paper. I wasn't paying too much attention to it but I looked up in time to catch some adult humor. I don't remember what built up to the punchline but Spongebob says,
"Patrick! You're genius is showing!"
Patrick, the dim-witted starfish friend, pulls on his shorts and looks down toward his crotch. I laughed at first and then realized why my wife didn't want our son watching it. He was around four at the time and I know he would have never gotten the joke but I was surprised. And don't get me wrong here. I'm all about adult humor and I have a great sense of humor, but the scene caught me off guard.
Another movie that cracks me up as an adult is Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory. I loved this movie growing up and I still do but the humor is so much better as an adult. Gene Wilder, who plays Willy Wonka, is excellent in this film. The way he pulls off his sarcasm is priceless. As a kid the jokes fall flat because you don't get them. When a kid does something they were told not to do and Wonka throws out sarcasm one can only appreciate it as an adult. Think about all the scenes in the movie or watch it again for that matter. You will pay much more attention to the dialog and the adult humor within. One scene that makes me laugh out loud is where everyone is trying to find the tickets and there is a scientist who is introducing a super computer to some suits in a lab. The computer has the ability to tell them where the golden tickets are but this computer doesn't want to help cheat in any way.
The end of the clip is awesome because as an adult you know exactly what the scientist is telling the computer it can do with a life-time supply of chocolate. I mean, the look on his face tells it all. It's stuff like this that cracks me up over and over. I missed so much as a kid when I was watching these movies and cartoons. There are two parts to every kid friendly movie/cartoon. There's the fantasy that relates to children and then there's the portions soaked in adult humor. I may have to re-watch everything from my childhood for the hidden grown up humor. There has to be a lot more out there that I have not seen yet. If you can think of any let me know. I'm always up for a good laugh. Cheers!