While it doesn't usually fall under this trope, A Clockwork Orangefell under this trope. By Regis Philbin, who was babysitting Kelly Ripa's children on air. Wholesome family entertainment!
The Addams Family and Addams Family Values pretty much exist to push the boundaries of this - The family are all about the occult, the grotesque and the horrific, but it's implied to be fine so long as nothing graphic happens on camera. Plus the plots are quite complicated, tending to revolve around financial fraud. IMDB still considers it a family movie.
Airplane! is rated PG despite containing multiple suicides, a character sniffing glue, and full frontal nudity.
It was released in 1980, predating the PG-13 rating. In fact, newer releases of the film have bumped the film up to PG-13. Also qualifies as a case of Values Dissonance.
Speaking of the 2010 version of Alice in Wonderland, that one was made by Disney, and was a lot Darker and Edgier than the typical Disney film. While there was mostly only talk of death and violence, that talk didn't seem to describe typical Disney Deaths (while the one actual death in the movie, Alice slaying the Jabberwock, didn't fit that Trope at all), and there was no mistaking the main character's risque look, now that she was an adult. (Unlike most adaptations of the book, her clothes did not grow and shrink when she did, forcing her and her allies - and in one case, the Red Queen - to improvise with makeshift clothing.) Not only was the Red Queen far more sadistic than most Disney villains, the punishment she was given by the White Queen at the end (who's supposed to be the benign ruler) seemed rather cruel. There was even a scene between the Knave of Hearts and Alice which likely came the closest to a man forcing himself upon a woman that the rating could allow.
The Austin Powers films, despite being filled to the brim with sexual innuendo and whose second film has the word shag right in the title, seems to suffer from this greatly. Not only that, the third movie actually won an award for Favorite Movie at the 2003 Kids' Choice Awards.
TIME reviewer Richard Corliss used Austin Powers as a starting point on an essay about the PG-13 rating. He even states at a certain point: "parents strongly cautioned means kids desperately wanted".
Back to School looks like a funny family comedy about an old man who goes back to college. It isn't rated PG-13 for nothing.
Apparently, an R rating wasn't enough for some parents to understand that the Billy Bob Thornton comedy Bad Santa was not for kids. Hey, it's about Santa Claus, so it's for kids, right? So review quotes were added to the TV ads that prominently displayed the words, "ADULTS ONLY". In Ireland, it was responsible for the IFCO creating a new 16s rating as the 15s rating is the equivalent of PG-13.
In the UK, Beetlejuice has a "15+ " rating for that very reason.
In some cuts of the movie, Beetlejuice has a Precision F-Strike... accompanied by grabbing his groin.
Beetlejuice: Hey, buddy! Nice fuckin' model! 'crotch-grab, accompanied by "honk-honk"'.
Beowulf, yet another movie marketed as another summer action-y film, apparently terrified children taken to see it.
Child's Play is a movie about a six-year-old and his doll, which comes to life. Nothing could be more innocent, right? WRONG!
Cloverfield may look like another Godzilla, but it isn't for kids, unless they like blood sucking parasites whose bite eventually causes the victim to explode, subplots about unfaithfulness, wreckage evocative of 9/11, a woman impaled on a metal spike, the monster eating Hud the cameraman, and all of New York being bombed, with no survivors.
Back in the 80's, scads of parents took their 8 year olds to see The Dark Crystal, because hey, Jim Henson films are for kids, right? In fact this and (to some extent) Labyrinth were intended for a notably older audience. The problem may have been due in part to drastically misleading advertisements, but that didn't protect kids from images of characters being strapped down and slowly, painfully drained of their souls.
Drop Dead Fred seems to be harmless, a movie about a woman reunited with her imaginary friend from childhood. Many people remember watching this as kids. However, there's a lot of blatant adult (PG-13) humor, including sex jokes, and a cruel character is nicknamed "Mega-bitch."
Tarsem Singh's The Fall is often compared with The Princess Bride. It's true that both are celebrations of storytelling and fantasy epics... but only one of them has a suicidally-depressed storyteller manipulating a child far too young to understand, or the story-within-a-story ending with the gruesome deaths of the adventurers.
Felidae is an animated film about cute little cats solving a mystery, right? Yes, and along the way we see graphic disembowelment (in one case involving a pregnant female), a cat with her head torn clean off, sex scenes, alcoholism, cursing, truly horrific animal abuse (involving a cat's skin getting burned off with acid), a suicide cult, a highly disturbing nightmare sequence involving rotting, screaming cat corpses being used as puppets, and at one point, full-frontal human nudity (female AND male). That's an impressive list for a film about animated CATS. Dear. God.
Forrest Gump seems to have stuck in many people's minds as the wholesome, patriotic tale of an "idiot" with a heart of gold, which has led to its being shown on family-movie channels at around eight p.m. This overlooks, oh let's see:
The early scene where young Forrest overhears his mother sleeping with the principal of his school to guarantee him admission (although, to be fair, that scene tends to leave most kids confused than frightened).
Jenny's entire life: drugs, groping by an audience member during a nude stage performance, drugs, stint as a Playboy centerfold, drugs, physically abusive boyfriend, drugs, contemplation of suicide, drugs, and eventual untimely death (possibly from AIDS).
Lieutenant Dan's raving depression. Even when Dan gets better, there's a scene that can result in the creeps. When the lieutenant finally lets go of his anger on the shrimping boat and thanks Forrest for saving his life, he dives backward over the side of the boat and goes for a swim toward the horizon. As Forrest's accompanying narration makes it clear that the lieutenant is at peace now, and the way the shot is framed, make it look as if Dan is about to drown himself (the relieved grin on his face reminds more of the Stepford Smiler than anything else).
The use of various racist and ableist slurs.
The many references to high-profile assassinations.
The fact that it looks at American history in a distinctly cynical and satirical, if ultimately optimistic, light - not that there's anything wrong with that, but Mr. Smith Goes to Washington it ain't.
All in all, even censored for TV, not easily accessible or indeed appropriate for little kids.
Don't be fooled by the fact Fun Size is made by Nickelodeon, is marketed by Airheads candy and stars Victoria Justice; it's not rated PG-13 for nothing. It's doused with a lot of inappropriate humor (i.e.: a giant automated chicken that humps the main character's car) and some profanity.
Most people think of the original Ghostbusters film as a family movie, and why shouldn't they? There was numerous merchandise targeted towards children, it spawned off the popular cartoon, it's been shown on the Disney Channel several times, and even been released on home video as part of Columbia/TriStar's family collection. But the truth is, the film was mainly targeted for adults. There's blatant sexual references and language throughout the entire film, particularly one brief scene during the montage that played during the theme song that actually went so far as to feature a ghost giving Ray a blow job.
The original 1954 version of Godzilla, Gojira. Unlike the later films of the 1960s-70s, this one is very dark. You get to see people vaporized before your very eyes; a women holding her children assuring them "we will be with daddy soon" (it is assumed they are killed a moment later); people suffering in hospitals with radiation sickness and burns; and a love triangle that ends in a suicide. You know... for kids!
If you can get your hands on a subtitled version, without Raymond Burr, which is to say, the version that was released in Japan, it is very dark an depressing. If you happen to know that the fake rubber suit the actor playing Gojira wears doesn't read as "cheap" so much as "stylized," to Japanese audiences, then the monster becomes scary. It makes more sense when you realize that the fire, the burning sets, and the radiation victim make-up are very real; the producers probably could have made an FX-y, stop-motion monster if they wanted. It's a horrifying movie. Oh, yeah, most of the people who worked on it actually lived through the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
And the immediate inspiration for the film was the horrors suffered by the crew of a fishing boat that got hit by fallout from a US hydrogen bomb test that went rather better than it was supposed to. This is nasty work all around.
The Good Son starred adorable little Macaulay Culkin, known and loved by children at the time for his Home Alone series. But this particular R-rated film had him playing a serial killer who fell to his death, while screaming rather like he did in Home Alone. Sweet dreams, kiddos!
Jack the Giant Slayer is based on a fairy tale, so it must be okay for young children, right? Dead wrong. Discretion shots aside, there are some pretty brutal (and often highly original) on-screen deaths.
At least one Family Home Entertainment release, Journey into the Beyond, has explicit blood and violence. Worth mentioning because the distributor is clearly Family Home Entertainment, and not its adult-oriented sister companies U.S.A. Home Video (later International Video Entertainment), Monterey Home Video, Thriller Video, Magnum Entertainment, Tenth Avenue Video, Wizard Video, or Caballero Control Corporation Home Video. And just so parents get the message, it clearly states on the front that it's not for anyone under the age of 18.
Jurassic Park and its sequels. "This dinosaur movie is so cool, look there's a T. rex and... HE'S EATING PEOPLE! MOMMY! I'M SCAAAARREEED!" Nonetheless, it was still pretty heavily marketed towards kids, with plenty of toys, coloring books, video games, etc. for kids. It was a funny sort of defictionalization of the Jurassic Park merchandise from the park.
The movie poster for Kids had teens in bright four-color filters laughing, smiling, and otherwise posing in a way that suggested nothing more dangerous than any other movie for late preteens from The Nineties. Never Trust a Trailer, indeed. This was probably intentional - the movie really was for late preteens, because Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped and its anvil falls distinctly into that group. And the MPAA was all set to give Kids an NC-17 rating, but Miramax (already part of Disney) decided to release the film unrated instead.
Love Actually seems like a nice little family Christmas movie that could be fun to take the kids to. But then there's the subplot with two stand-ins for a porn movie (complete with nudity) and an implied five-some with four American girls and one British guy. And the F-words. Again, rated 15 in the UK for a reason.
It also has several restrained but emotionally intense scenes about a superficially happily-married father of elementary-school aged children whose wife finds he's having an affair with another woman. Just the thing for Christmas with the kids!
Maleficent has merchandise aimed at children, but contains violence, frightening imagery, and a use of the word "imbusel" by one of the fairies. Also, most of the trailers before the movie are for movies not meant for kids.
While Malena is off-limits to children in other countries (for instance it has an R rating in America and it's a 15 film in Britain), in its home country of Italy it has a "T" rating - see here - which means it's a family movie ("T" is the equivalent of a G rating in Italy). That's right, a film with Monica Bellucci providing copious amounts of Fanservice, the underage main character fantasising about her even while he's having sex with a prostitute (in one of several scenes cut for its American and British release) and Malena getting savagely beaten by the women of her town is a family movie.
The original book ran into the same problem. Author John Grogan eventually had to release a more kid-friendly version, eliminating the sexual content and moments of marital strife, even though Marley's death remained part of the story.
Some people will not listen. A grandmother was informed upwards of 4 times it Marley not a kid's movie. She took a ten, an eight, and a thirteen year-old to see it. She came out very dissatisfied.
Of course it doesn't help that they later released a straight to video prequel called "Marley & Me: The Puppy Years" where Marley is an adorable talking puppy with adorable talking puppy friends. Any kid who sees that and decides they want to see the original is in for a hard lesson about how Hollywood works.
The Australian-made film, Mary and Max. Apparently if it's clay-mation it's for kids, despite the fact that the film deals with several dark themes including neglect, suicide, depression and anxiety. Though overtones of humour are frequent, not exactly kid appropriate.
The animation style is very cartoony and cute, and one of the protagonists is a child, which doesn't help.
There's also a bit of full-frontal nudity of the overweight/obese Max in an Imagine Spot.
Mean Creek, despite the young cast, it's clearly not intended for a young audience in mind as is obvious by the R-rating, frequent profanity and in general un-family friendly behavior. Despite all this, reports are that it managed to get shown in quite a few high school and even religion classes.
Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders. Just sticking a cute magician into a story about a man who sets fire to his cat and becomes his wife's son, and a monkey possessed by Satan who murders all in his path does NOT make it a kids' film. This is more the fault of the executives making the film than that of parents or video-store owners, though: The second half of the movie is actually a re-edited version of an older horror movie from the same director called The Devil's Gift. He cut out some of the more intense horror sequences, such as the original ending where the monkey kills the entire family and spliced in new footage of Merlin in an attempt to make it a family-friendly film. Total fail.
Played with in the corresponding episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, where Mike and the bots read other books supposedly related to the film. All of them have titles like "Santa's Workshop of Shimmering Delights", but are horrific Gorn fests — except for the lighthearted "Dr. Blood's Orgy of Gore". The riffing itself makes jokes about this too: "Remember to believe in magic... or I'll kill you."
MouseHunt contains a cute little mouse, but there are some curse words, a person who dies from choking on a bug, another whose corpse is thrown into the sewer, a reference to sex, and A LOT of black comedy! What makes this worse is that The Hub, a family channel, aired this movie! And even better is the reviews on the VHS box that say it's fun "for the whole family".
Hey, A Million Ways to Die in the West is a comedy about cowboys! All little boys love westerns, right? Like Natural Born Killers above, the title's a dead giveaway. And if that doesn't convince you, it's made by the same team behind the aforementioned Ted. And if you do for some reason take your kids to see this movie, be prepared for the constant sex jokes, prostitutes, bodily fluids, sheep penis close-ups, people crapping in hats, and people riding horses drunk.
Natural Born Killers has a character named Mr. Rabbit, so it's for kids, right? WRONG! The title is a big giveaway, though.
Believe it or not, Night of the Living Dead qualified when it was first released. Thanks to 3D and other movie gimmicks like those created by William Castle, B-movies were popular among children in the 50s and 60s. So, naturally, kids went to see this flick expecting fun-house thrills and instead saw the undead messily devouring human flesh (for starters). Roger Ebert's first review described children watching the movie, silently crying in genuine fear. Ebert stressed that parents really shouldn't allow their kids to go see a movie called NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.
9. Despite the dark tone of the advertisements, some of which explicitly state it's not for kids, many parents took their kids to see it. Most were in tears by the middle of the film. And to top it off, the official trailers heavily alluded to the deaths of several characters, one of whom dies screaming in terror right before having his soul sucked out. Yet parents still took their kids to see it and then complained about the dark material. Insert facepalm here.
"Once Upon A Girl" is animated in the style of the family friendly Hanna-Barbera cartoons, but it is absolutely not appropriate for children in any way, it is a collection of fairy tale parodies in which each segment ends with the characters having sex, with plenty of nudity and foul language scattered throughout.
Outbreak may look like a nice family-friendly movie about a man moving to a new town who gets a monkey for a research project...until it scratches him. It just gets bad from there. Like Natural Born Killers, the title is a dead giveaway that it's not for kids, plus, it has an R-Rated Opening.
The controversy is addressed in The Simpsons episode "Homer and Ned's Hail Mary Pass". Ned Flanders, disgusted by the family-unfriendly content of many Hollywood movies (he's particularly disgusted about that series of films about "a liberal European wizard school"), decides to make his own films based on Bible stories. Problem is, since Ned is a fundamentalist, he goes out of his way to make his films as faithful as possible to their source (and, sometimes, even exaggerates how horrific some of the stories were). This results in Marge standing up during one of his screenings and screaming in horror and frustration because she can't stand to see any more gore, and when Ned and Homer mount a Super Bowl halftime show dramatizing the Noah's Ark story but ending it at the point where the world is flooded and most of humanity is dead, it's disastrously received. For example, there's a nice Stereotype Flip as a suburban mother complains that she's trying to raise her children as secular-progressives and is consistently foiled because "those slick Hollywood types" keep injecting religious subject matter into their films.
When The Daily Show covered the hype and controversy about the movie, this was spoofed with a shell-shocked correspondent admitting he had taken his little son to see it, not knowing how violent it was, and unable to explain to his child why Jesus was being treated so badly beyond "Because he loves everybody?" The reasoning from parents who took their kids was that it didn't matter how violent it was, precisely because it's about Jesus and they needed to understand what Jesus went through on their behalf. Many parents took their kids to see it multiple times. One can only imagine what the kids thought...
Revenge Of The Red Baron is a comedic horror movie about an evil toy who hunts down a family. Despite its cornball humor, there's quite a few violent scenes and is rated PG-13. So, having a DVD cover like this is really misleading.
The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty: It's a film about a man who daydreams to help him get out of his everyday problems, so it must be for kids, right? Wrong! It contains some swearing, drinking, sex jokes, a building catching on fire, a fight with a shark that might scare little kids, a volcano exploding, and the main character going to Afghanistan and getting arrested for it. The film wound up with a PG rating, and little kids still see it, despite all these bad things.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Due to flashy visuals, pee jokes, and videogame references, IMDB users passed it off as a "kiddie" movie. Need we remind you that this is a movie that has sexual references (although mild), several homosexual scenes/references, Scott accidentally saying that he wants to give Knives a golden shower, Scott being impaled by the seventh ex (yes, he comes back with a 1-Up, and there's no blood, but still!), and one of the exes dying from having an orgasm.
The Simpsons Movie, similarly to its series, was also assumed to be for all ages. It was even rated U in Malaysia and Japan despite the language, violence, and nudity; this, combined with the vast amounts of more teen-adult humor filling the movie, was apparently shrugged off as subtle adult humor.
Jonah Hill's The Sitter, seems like a modern day version of Adventures in Babysitting right? WRONG! Although to be fair, the latter wasn't exactly kid-friendly either with foul language and sexual humors. Yet, it was still shown on Disney Channel back in the day, and it once aired on Nickelodeon in 2011 after a SpongeBob SquarePants marathon.
Someone on the Malaysian censorship board decided to grant Snakes on a Plane the U Rating (Universal rating, meaning that it is suitable for everyone, even babies), apparently because the title of the movie sounds like it's a clean family comedy outing. It was eventually reclassified as a 18+ movie, but not before a horde of angry parents wrote in to the local press complaining. The Censor? He's most likely out of a job.
Snow White & the Huntsman: Oh look, another adaption of a fairy tale Disney made by the producer of 2010's Alice in Wonderland! First of all, this movie was not made by Disney, and second, it's PG-13, due to some violence.
Spaceballs has a PG rating on the DVD cover and was shown on the Disney Channel for a while, despite the sex references ("That was my virgin alarm! It's programmed to go off before YOU DO!"), constant bad language ("I knew it, I'm surrounded by assholes!" "We aint found shit!") and occasional fantastically racist remarks ("Funny! She doesn't look Druish [Jewish]!").
Stardust is a modern fairy tale full of adventure, wonder, magic, murder, treason, and sexual innuendos. Not to mention that plot and cultural references would be definitely over the head of an average 12-year-old.
Tank Girl. Had a scene implying that the title character had sex with a mutated kangaroo, one in which a little girl was dropped into a pipe to slowly drown, and some horror in which the Big Bad drained the water out of one of his mooks and drank it.
Of course, nobody who was remotely familiar with the source material would have imagined that the film would be family-friendly.
An IMDB trivia entry for Team America: World Police says it all: "Despite almost getting an NC-17 Rating in the States, the film was promoted as a 'kids and family' movie in several European countries, and rated fit for all accordingly." Probably because just as in America animation is automatically for kids, in Europe puppets must be automatically for kids.
Ted seems like a family movie about a teddy bear and a man who have lived together for 20 years by the nice man who brought us Family Guy, doesn't it? No! It's rated R! Just so they would know, Universal made a standee for the film that featured the eponymous bear holding up the R rating and what it's rated R for.
To give you a hint as to why the movie deserves an "R"-rating, the eponymous teddy bear's personality basically was perverted and addicted to drugs, as well as being very lewd and a slacker, and in a manner similar toFamily Guy, at least one promotional spot has Ted barfing all over a tile for the Walk of Fame. Ted's also voiced by Seth MacFarlane, the aforementioned creator of Family Guy.
But with all of those inappropriate things, it didn't stop teens from seeing this film with their parents! Check this out!
It doesn't help that the film was rated 11 in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.
It was rated 16 in Brazil... and yet a deputy who brought his 11-year old son to watch it was outraged and decided to ask the Ministry of Justice to ban it on the grounds that is morally offensive. The Internet didn't take this stupidity lightly, and he changed to only upping the rating to 18. The results: the Ministry deferred his request, and the movie topped the box office.
And one teacher showed this movie as well as two other R rated films to elementary school students.
Although most DVD artworks of the film Threads make it clear it's dark, don't be fooled by the fact that it has a PG rating in America. IT'S NOT FOR KIDS.
Victor/Victoria is a musical comedy. It's rated PG and it stars Julie Andrews. Great movie to show your grandkids, right? Not unless you enjoy explaining jokes about homosexuality and crossdressing. It helps that it came out two years before PG-13 was invented.
Disney also would later produce a handful of original Roger Rabbit shorts that were shown prior to movies released under their main title like Honey I Shrunk the Kids.
In the original novel, Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, Roger is brutally machine-gunned to death near the beginning of the novel. The rest of the novel investigates his grisly death.
In the UK, a number of parents apparently took young children to see The Woman in Black because it starred Daniel Radcliffe and it was rated 12A, so it couldn't be that bad. The resulting protests over the film's terrifying nature and Downer Ending led the BBFC to change its rules about horror to pay more attention to a film's mood and plot, as opposed to simply going by the level of graphic violence and gore.
Series, Genres & Misc
In his book The Best Old Movies for Families, critic Ty Burr complains that many other PG-13 rated films are regarded as family fare thanks to intentional Misaimed Marketing, which means parents happily take toddlers to films like Van Helsing without a second thought...
Granted, for Sweeney Todd, some parents may remember the much less gory stage version. Most performances keep the child molestation, rape, suicide and cannibalism puns—while they aren't graphically shown, it can still be unsettling to hear it described.
Depending on the direction and whether they're modeling on the original Broadway run or the rival, the stage version can be extremely gory for a stage play.
There are many little kids who are fans of Rocky Horror, but there is a ton of sex and several scary scenes, including two scenes involving four deaths. It's sequel, Shock Treatment, although it is rated PG, contains more cursing and suggestive language than in Rocky Horror.
Also Kidz Bop had an edited version of the Time Warp from The Rocky Horror Picture Show on one of their CDs. However, some lyrics were changed. For example, "But it's the pelvic thrust...that really drives you insa-yay-yay-yay-yane!" became "But it's the way you shake it...that really drives you insa-yay-yay-yay-yane!"
And a British website specializing in children's toys listed figurines from the movie in the same section as toys from preschool shows such as Rainbow and The Magic Adventures Of Mumfie.
Speaking of musicals, take the 2000 adaptation of Loves Labours Lost. It may be a silly 1930's-esque musical about 3 men and a king trying to not be with women, but the rule of "No Women" is soon broken, and due to this, some sexual jokes are in the movie, including one sexy musical number with people in masks. Plus, the ending has very disturbing images of World War 2 like burning buildings and concentration camps. Despite this, it got a PG rating in America and a U rating in the UK.
Les MisÚrables, ANY adaptation, including animated versions such as Shoujo Cosette (one of the more Bowdlerised versions). That has many cute moments, but it kills off all characters canonically (except two, and the way they "get better" sucks). Parents should notice the story includes prostitution, extreme poverty, massacres, kids killed off, teens killed off, suicide, and other not-for-children things. The one exception is the French 1992 version, which lacks each and everyone of the above mentioned reasons it could not be for kids.
Little Shop of Horrors is a bunch of fun! Your kids will love the songs, and in the end Seymour and Audrey have a happy ending, right? They're sure to love the Depraved Dentist, the protagonist chopping a dead man up and feeding him to a laughing plant, watching a man get chomped and swallowed whole by a plant and the female lead almost getting swallowed herself!
It's like that in North America, too. There are children's toys and Fruit Roll-Ups themed after The Dark Knight (wouldn't be surprised if the stuff you mentioned is also sold here). There were even The Dark Knight happy meal toys!
There have been The Dark Knight Rises action figures for kids that must be at least five or six years old. You know, The Dark Knight Rises? That delightfully family-friendly movie outing featuring such delights as a graphic blood transfusionin the opening scenes, multiple shootings, one resulting in a hospitalisation, Bruce Wayne having his back brokenandwith the appropriate sound effects, several other people having bones crushed and necks broken by Bane, including one who has his skull crushed, and of course, realistically-presented bombings up the ass - and that's not spoilered because YOU SEE IT IN THE BLOODY TRAILER. It's PG-13/12A FOR A REASON!
And in a case of Completely Missing the Point, after the July 20, 2012 mass shooting at a midnight showing of this movie in Aurora, Colorado that left 58 injured and 12 dead, there were people on several forums who were pouncing at the fact that articles were stating that some of these victims were under 10 years old, and were like, "What were these parents doing bringing their young kids who are less than 10 years to a midnight showing of a very violent movie?!"
Kick-Ass got complaints from misinformed parents thinking it was a fun superhero movie despite the R rating it received. And you know, the bloody title. Amusing because some theaters even censor the title of the movie on the ticket stub.
R.I.P.D. left children shaking in fear outside of the theater. This wasn't bad parenting - their parents supposedly took them to the film just because it was based off a comic book. Even worse is that it was advertised on channels aimed at kids like Cartoon Network when it came out.
There is some merchandising. One imagines a little kid walking around with a Doctor Manhattan or a Rorschach lunchbox.
In fact, Debbie Schlussel wrote an entire column bashing Watchmen as another example of marketing extreme content to children. When she was called out on this, and told that the film was not intended for children, she replied by saying that the existence of merchandise based on this film proved her write, apparently not understanding that the filmmakers and merchandisers are completely separate groups and that the filmmakers likely were forced to include a merchandising agreement in their contract, despite the film being rated R. For that matter, numerous films, comics, video games and other things very clearly not marketed to children still have merchandising, such as the Alien franchise, the porn-comic Morbis Gravis, etc.
On a similar note, some DVD covers of the Watchmen movie don't censor Doctor Manhattan's privates. You can't really tell he's naked since he looks so inhuman and sort of like a Ken doll, but he's still naked.
Mark Millar has also said this is why none of the studios were interested in Kick-Ass, which ultimately ended up as an indie production.
Howard the Duck got a kid-friendly PG rating despite a few scenes of naked or semi-naked women, but apparently it was okay since they were ducks.
Despite having the same age rating as most other superhero films, an argument can be made that X-Men: Days of Future Past goes so far with some of the deaths in the Bad Future to the point that it should have received a higher age rating. The opening scene especially is rather disturbing and highly non-child-friendly.
A lot of old classic cinema films get mistaken for this perhaps unintentionally to introduce children to the most popular cinema that existed from an early age. A lot of people just can't seem to understand that while The Hays Code made films more "wholesome," it did not always make them more soothing for kids. Indeed, the Code was less stringent with horror films than with any other genre. The aforementioned Best Old Movies for Families book directly addresses this, and except for Hello, Dolly!, the films below are described in detail so parents know what they're really about going in so they'll know if they want their kids to tackle it now or later.
It's a Wonderful Life, as inspirational as it is as a holiday film, still has a man trying to kill himself.
West Side Story, featuring a good ol' gang stabbin', attempted gang rape, and the blatant racism of the cops and the Jets.
Hello, Dolly! The fact that it got a G-rating in America makes this example even worse.
King Kong. The effects might have aged, but the dinosaurs and giant ape are still scary as hell.
The Red Shoes 1948. It's based on a fairy tale! And ballet! High culture! Never mind the ballet-within-a-film is avant-garde expressionist horror where (just like the story) the heroine dances herself to death in the red shoes, and that's before the real-world framing story ends with the heroine, torn between her love for her husband and her love for ballet, who commits suicide by leaping off a balcony in front of a train.
Hairspray is somewhat family friendly with its pro-acceptance message, which has led people to pick up other John Waters films thinking they were similar. This has led to Waters getting massive amounts of hate mail despite his reputation as "The Sultan of Sleeze." In one case, a woman made the news when she called 911 after putting on Pink Flamingos for her kids.
In Being John Malkovich, John Cusack plays a puppeteer who puts on a rather racy puppet show in public, and a clueless dad mistakenly lets his young daughter watch it. This does not end well.
In Dunston Checks In, the kid's dad turns on the TV to calm him down and says, "Ah, a nice old black and white movie. You'll be out in no time". Meanwhile, Kong has escaped and is about to abduct the heroine, sending the kid straight into nightmare land.