Sausage Party hits theaters today, and while it’s a cartoon filled with adorable talking food items, it’s definitely not for kids. Rated R by the MPAA for “strong crude sexual content, pervasive language, and drug use,” it’s the sort of film you’d expect from the guys behind raunchy, NSFW comedies like This Is the End.
In honor of Sausage Party, we decided to look back at other animated movies that you absolutely shouldn’t let your kids see. Assuming you’re not a kid, you’re more than welcome to enjoy them on your own. In fact, we encourage you to do so. Animated movies for grown-ups give us the best of both worlds — freewheeling and imaginative, yet provocative and at times downright disgusting.
Fritz the Cat (1972)
In a world filled with inoffensive mainstream animation aimed at the whole family, painter and film director Ralph Bakshi wanted to make cartoons that spoke bluntly about contemporary issues. And his first film — rated X — remains his most famous and controversial. A satire of the counterculture, Fritz the Cat starred the titular feline (who had been created by underground cartoonist Robert Crumb) as he embarks on a sex-and-drugs odyssey. (Crumb hated the film.) Imagine if Easy Rider was populated with animated critters. Frank talk about racism and unabashed nudity — including orgies in hot tubs — make Fritz the Cat shocking almost 45 years after its debut. (Available on Amazon Video.)
Heavy Metal (1981)
Based on stories from the Heavy Metal comic-book magazine, this omnibus film moved from sci-fi to fantasy to comedy to film noir, offering young guys in the audience an opportunity to see plenty of naked women no matter the story being told. Sporting a soundtrack that includes Cheap Trick, Blue Öyster Cult and Sammy Hagar — and a voice cast that features John Candy, Eugene Levy and Harold Ramis — Heavy Metal is a fascinating time-capsule piece, which is another way of saying it’s not particularly great. But as a portrait of the uncensored, retrograde male id, the movie does foreshadow the darker elements of the fanboy culture that now dominates the entertainment industry. (Available on Amazon Video.)
Ghost in the Shell (1995)
Anime often deals with mature themes, and some of the genre’s strongest films — like the apocalyptic Akira — are among the best animated movies ever made. But Ghost in the Shell is our pick because of how it transcends titillation to deliver a moving essay on dehumanization in the modern world. A cyborg cop named Motoko Kusanagi tracks down hackers in the movie’s not-too-distant future, and although director Mamoru Oshii often presents her nude (or barely dressed), it keeps with the film’s overall question: What parts of ourselves actually belong to us? Full of paranoia and film noir atmosphere, Ghost in the Shell is soon to receive a live-action remake starring Scarlett Johansson, a casting decision that has angered many. (Available on Amazon Video.)
South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999)
By the time Trey Parker and Matt Stone made their big-screen South Park, most viewers were familiar enough with the TV show to know that it wasn’t suitable for young eyes (or brains). Even then, though, Bigger, Longer & Uncut was legitimately audacious: a full-on musical that pushed the edge of how much bad language you could fit into a comedy and not be slammed with an NC-17 rating. (Parker and Stone screened the film for the MPAA ratings board six times before finally getting their R.) But this uproarious comedy isn’t just a salute to swearing — it’s a bristling satire of our prudish culture, as well as a doubling-down on the show’s most gleefully offensive, button-pushing elements. As a result, Bigger, Longer & Uncut is both hopelessly juvenile and a work of art, its very existence a strong argument against censorship. Stephen Sondheim was a huge fan, “Blame Canada” got an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song, and the movie paved the way for Parker and Stone’s insanely successful Broadway debut, The Book of Mormon. (Available on Amazon Video.)
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters (2007)
As its title suggests, Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters isn’t so much a movie as it is an arch deconstruction of filmic conventions — interspersed with scenes of robots having sex with televisions and characters losing body parts, of course. It’s also kind of an origin story — we learn how Meatwad, Frylock and Master Shake became buds — although caring about plot in a movie like this is utterly beside the point. What matters is the absurdity — the “Can’t you take a joke?” weirdness that’s probably always best enjoyed while stoned. Even if Colon Movie Film for Theaters’ episodic nature is a bit hit-or-miss, its anarchic opening, which parodies old-school theater ads, is well worth your time. (Available on Amazon Video.)