The noughties’ kids enjoyed very different toys, cartoons, games and movies than today’s toddlers. While a great game of Magic the Gathering and a 20 minute episode of Pokemon might have kept schoolchildren wildly entertained in 1997, nowadays it’s all about the trippy Adventure Time and a few choice iPad games.
Nowhere is the generational zeitgeist more starkly obvious than in each generation’s kids’ movies. Liberated from the adult’s critical gaze when it comes to visual effects and subtle acting, kids’ movies can be a cringeworthy free-for-all. Pixar, Disney and DreamWorks know that pandering to the lowest common denominator of distracting childish entertainment doesn’t have to mean sacrificing quality.
But not all production studios are quite so discerning.
Lovable characters, quick and easy jokes, and a sprinkle of the surreal or magical are usually enough to keep a child’s attention. Quality, high production values and fantastic acting are not usually deemed quite so important. And so, unsurprisingly, revisiting our childhood favourites isn’t always a satisfying experience. Those movies that you once adored and re-watched endlessly are too often revealed for the superficial, campy fare they always were.
Sometimes these movies simply age badly, but more often the formerly-young viewers just can’t enjoy these movies through the eyes of an adult. The following 12 films, many of which were rediscovered by some very verbose redditors, are some of the worst offenders. Watched in the harsh light of 2015, these formerly-adored movies now appear to be absolutely terrible. The sad truth? They always were horrific, but you just didn’t see it before.
12. Kazaam, 1996
Kazaam evokes nostalgia, at least. But a rewatching quickly shows that, in 1996, it seemed much more awesome than it actually is. The film stars Shaquille O’Neal firstly. That was a serious plus for the kids of 1996, but it’s a point against the movie in 2015. He plays the role of a genie.
Genie Shaq comes out of a boombox – it really couldn’t get more dated – to grant three wishes to a youth named Max, and of course, things go awry. All of that was very exciting for 90s’ kids, but none of that passion translates to an adult viewership.
This movie, like many others on this list, has very little objective merit as movies go. It has a low score on movie rating sites including the tomatometer and IMDB, but the film’s awful cliches simply didn’t matter when it was first released to a rapturous response from the 90s’ youth.
11. Cats and Dogs, 2001
Millions of children have thought about their beloved cats and dogs having secret lives and plotting with one another. In this film, that imaginative spin on childhood pets comes alive.
The movie focuses on a kind of war between cats and dogs, with their owners being completely oblivious, of course. Any young person watching could easily imagine their pets in this movie, but it’s only that hefty dose of childlike imagination that’s can keep this movie going.
Kids who watched this movie when it was first released loved it for its slapstick comedy and its array of totally adorable animals, but rewatching it as an adult is sure to produce a different reaction. Anyone over the age of ten is guaranteed to find the under-developed caricatures and clunky production unwatchable – unless the nostalgia factor is enough to save it.
10. Agent Cody Banks, 2003
There is a lot about Agent Cody Banks that young people could relate to, which was the selling point of the movie. Cody Banks is a teenager with everyday passions and troubles, like skateboarding and yukky maths homework.
And, of course, he’s awkward around girls. Hundreds of films have characters just like him; he’s the archetypal, relatable male teenager. Yet, this overdone gimmick seemed to work judging by the many children who flocked to theatres to see this movie – and its sequel!
To watch it again as an adult, though, is simply torturous. Most will agree it’s simply awful, from unfunny jokes to a grating and predictable script, it’s one of those films that its formerly rapturous audiences now cringe at.
9. Land Before Time, 1988
The series has been going on since 1988 and is still being produced. Multiple generations have enjoyed watching the movies, and likely more will in the future.
The lovable dinosaurs just keep coming back. In the beginning, the series was filled with cute creatures and heartfelt moments, but now the Land Before Time people are clearly running out of ideas. Or maybe its charm has faded with time, as those who grew up with the series have done exactly that – they’ve grown up, and they’ve gotten over the series’ cloying cuteness.
There’s no doubt that viewing the movies through a child’s eyes is far more rewarding than as an adult. The series certainly has a je ne sais quoi that keeps it going and keeps kids engaged, but it’s lacking some crucial aspects like a good story line or complex characters that could allow this to satisfactorily translate to an adult audience.
8. Mary-Kate and Ashley Movies
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were incredibly popular in the 90s. Then, they began making movies as young teenagers and the children who loved them just adored these movies, too. Was it because of an engaging and unique story? Or only because they starred the pretty Olsen twins in adorable outfits? No surprise here – it was, definitively, the latter.
Olsen movies were churned out for years, landing consistently horrible ratings from every critic. The viewers who were too young to have their voices heard in the critical movie columns, however, were still compelling their parents to buy merchandise, DVDs and theatre tickets, making the Olsens ridiculously rich from their madcap movies.
New York Minute, Our Lips Are Sealed, Passport To Paris, Billboard Dad, are just a few of these titles that netted the Olsens huge revenue and sullied the good name of Film.
Tweens and younger children loved to watch the films and imagine themselves in the same situations, in the same parts of the world. Anyone older than 14 will undoubtedly find themselves overwhelmed with a desire to pull the Olsens off screen by the ends of their perfectly coiffed hair within 10 minutes of one of these singularly irritating movies.
7. Blank Check, 1994
There are a lot of problems with the film Blank Check that didn’t seem to register with the youth who were watching it. The protagonist, an 11 year old boy, is entirely relatable, and what he does with his money is equally relatable.
Any reasonable adult saw, and still sees, major annoyances and inconsistencies in everything that happens in the movie. For instance, Preston buys a house with all cash, gets a butler and makes a theme park… All for under a million dollars.
Obviously the film was not meant to be factual or believable, it was merely meant to be a funny story for children and tweens to enjoy. However, it’s sloppiness is unbearable to an older audience.
5. Live Action Scooby-Doo, 2002
What could be better than Scooby-Doo? A live action Scooby-Doo of course! This film was created to replicate the popular cartoon of the same name, with mixed results depending on the audience. Kids largely loved and appreciated it, while everyone else generally disliked it.
When the film was first released, many questioned why it was made in the first place. From the terrible special effects to the characters that seem suited only to the cartoon world, the live action Scooby-Doo has consistently been cited as one of the worst movies of the noughties.
But none of that mattered to the children watching it, which was the intended audience in the first place. It remains one of those movies that used to be great in the eyes of its youthful viewers, but is now laughable at best.
4. Labyrinth, 1986
Before special effects were used the way they are now, puppets were popular. The kids who grew up with the movie were unphased by the puppets though, or the surreal plot, or the goblins and other strange, even terrifying creatures.
For the young audience, the whole setup was magical and highly entertaining. David Bowie was cool and Jennifer Connelly was brave and smart – a real role model. But if you ask adults who used to love the movie if they still feel this way about the movie after rewatching it, the responses may be different.
Was it always so creepy? It’s another one of those films that is loved almost entirely for the nostalgia factor, but adults watching it now can’t help but wonder how the movie didn’t give them nightmares as children.
3. Super Mario Bros, 1993
When Mario was at its peak popularity, Nintendo wanted to capitalize on its fans. Creating a live action Super Mario movie may not have been the best move, though – or even the most lucrative one.
Still, fans went to see it merely because of it was Mario, and the Mario Bros were insanely popular (and still are!). Converting a video game franchise to real people, however, proved to be a challenge that this movie couldn’t surmount.
The result was a film that received almost unanimously horrible reviews, and was even cited as unwatchable – except, of course, for the many kids who didn’t see past the novelty of their favourite characters being realised on the big screen.
It is still considered one of the worst film adaptations of all time, and the novelty factor hasn’t saved this one from a terrible reputation.
2. SharkBoy and Lava Girl, 2005
Taylor Lautner starred in The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl before anyone knew his name. SharkBoy and LavaGirl appeared in glorious 3-D to a captivated child-dominated audience.
Their lava and shark powers were envied by young people everywhere. But those who were not so entranced by the characters, dialogue and effects could only cringe at the film. Likewise, those who look back at the movie they once loved in the light of adulthood will become disillusioned pretty quickly.
The reviews and ratings for the movie are dismal and include many references to the subpar plot, two dimensional characters and clunk special effects – all of which would have seemed great to the children watching it when the movie was first released. It’s one of those early 2000s movies that really tried to seem futuristic and edgy, but failed, and couldn’t stand the test of time.
1. The Master of Disguise, 2002
The Master of Disguise is one of the worst movies ever created, at least according to the ratings it has received. When it was first released, children went to see it, and probably felt quite mature doing so.
This was intended to be a comedy that all generations could enjoy, with humor that everyone could appreciate. However, things did not go according to plan. Adults mostly hated it due to its intensely juvenile jokes, characters and really whole script. Young adults hated it because they’d already outgrown the movie’s dated sense of humor.
So what does that leave? Children aged around 8-12. These were the ones who could really appreciate it, but of the small number who enjoyed the movie at the time, there are almost no enduring fans.
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