Top 10 Cameos in Kids Movies Only Adults Will Understand

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Top 10 Cameos in Kids Movies Only Adults Will Understand

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Beca Dalimonte
We better you never noticed these celebrity cameos when you were young! For this list, we'll be looking at the most notable appearances by actors, characters, and creators in family films that'll get grown-ups' attention, but will likely fly over children's heads. Our countdown includes “The Incredibles”, “Shark Tale”, “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie”, and more!
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Top 10 Cameos in Kids Movies Only Adults Will Understand


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Cameos in Kids Movies Only Adults Will Understand.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most notable appearances by actors, characters, and creators in family films that’ll get grown-ups’ attention, but will likely fly over children’s heads.

What’s your favorite cameo in a children’s movie or TV show? Let us know in the comments!

#10: The Nun from “The Devils”

“Space Jam: A New Legacy” (2021)
“Space Jam 2” had always been advertised as a major crossover event, but fans could have never anticipated just how many properties would be involved. And many were surprised by some of the mature references, especially considering the fact that Pepé Le Pew had been removed from the film. There were notable nods to “Game of Thrones” and background appearances by characters from the equally adult Kubrick film “A Clockwork Orange.” The most shocking cameo, however, was also one of the most obscure. In one crowd shot, eagle-eyed fans noticed the inclusion of a nun reminiscent of the ones in the X-rated horror film “The Devils.” It’s pretty safe to say that this reference will go over every kid’s head - as well as some adults’!

#9: Frank Thomas & Ollie Johnston

“The Incredibles” (2004)
Disney fans may be familiar with the “Nine Old Men.” But we can’t expect the little ones to know about them. They were a core group of animators who worked to create some of the company’s earliest, and most famous, cartoon films. Two of them were close friends Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, who brought some of the studio’s most iconic characters to our screens. Pixar’s “The Incredibles” includes an appearance by the duo, portraying them in the film’s style and giving them some very fitting lines. “The Iron Giant,” which shares a director with “The Incredibles,” features a similar homage, with Thomas even being referred to by name. Once you’re old enough to understand these tributes, it’s hard not to feel touched by them.

#8: Jeremy Piven

“Cars” (2006)
On the surface, “Cars” is a kids movie about, well, cars. But there’s a lot for adults in there, and we’re not just talking about the risqué jokes. Lightning McQueen is a big deal on the racetrack. And with a tiebreaker race for the Piston Cup on the horizon, he only expects his fame to rise. Of course, every hotshot celebrity needs a good agent. Who better to fulfill that role than “Entourage”’s resident talent agent, Ari Gold? Although the character isn’t named Ari in “Cars,” he’s voiced by the same actor, Jeremy Piven. He also calls himself McQueen’s “mishpocheh,” a word meaning family in Yiddish. Richard Petty makes an appearance in the film as well, calling to mind his real life NASCAR career.

#7: Katie Couric

“Shark Tale” (2004)
In 2016, “Zootopia” added a fun international easter egg to their film. Depending on which country you watched in, different species acted as news co-anchors. They were also voiced by reporters recognizable to that place’s residents. Over a decade earlier, “Shark Tale” used a similar tactic, featuring specific newscasters as its key reporter’s voice. Australian viewers heard a fish voiced by journalist Tracy Grimshaw, UK viewers by Fiona Phillips, and Americans by Katie Couric. The character is even seemingly named after Couric, with an underwater spin - Katie “Current.” It’s unlikely kids will have watched enough news to recognize the fish’s origins, but parents should get a kick out of the appearance by the famous journalist.

#6: Emily Blunt

“The Muppets” (2011)
“A Quiet Place” star Emily Blunt initially made a name for herself in the industry with the 2006 film “The Devil Wears Prada.” There, she played second fiddle to Anne Hathaway’s Andy, as both women vied for the attention of their demanding boss, Miranda Priestly. The pair worked for a major fashion magazine, with Blunt’s character, Emily Charlton, longing to attend Paris Fashion Week. In “The Muppets,” a similarly styled Blunt has finally made it to Paris, but is now working under the equally self-important Miss Piggy at Vogue. The character isn’t named, and “The Devil Wears Prada” is never directly referenced. But it should be clear to any adult familiar with Blunt that the role acts as a clever nod to her earlier work.

#5: Donald Trump

“Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” (1992)
This cameo has really changed in tone over time. When “Home Alone 2” was released in 1992, Donald Trump was simply a rich businessman and media personality. He appeared on sitcoms like “The Jeffersons,” and would later become the host of the business-based competition show “The Apprentice.” Nowadays, he’s better known for his incredibly controversial tenure as the 45th President of the United States. His “Home Alone 2” part was once a lighthearted cameo for adults, akin to Paris Hilton’s appearance in “The Cat in the Hat.” Though his screen time is limited to a quick scene where he gives Kevin directions, it now carries a certain weight. Now, it may be the very reason certain parents avoid revisiting this family classic with their kids.

#4: Danny Trejo

“Spy Kids” franchise (2001-)
Director Robert Rodriguez and actor Danny Trejo are frequent collaborative partners, with Trejo acting in several of Rodriguez’s biggest films. They notably brought us “From Dusk till Dawn'' in 1996. But they’re not bound by genre, also working together on Rodriguez’s family film, “Spy Kids.” In the latter franchise, Trejo plays the young protagonists’ uncle, who goes by the name of “Machete.” Rodriguez’s R-rated action film of the same name sees him bringing the same part to life once more. Of course, “Spy Kids” actually precedes “Machete” by almost a decade. In other words, this entry was initially technically a reference in an adult film that only kids would understand.

#3: David Hasselhoff

“The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie” (2004)
Mitch Buchannon came to the rescue of a myriad of beachgoers in “Baywatch,” diligently fulfilling his lifeguarding duty. This melodramatic series made a big splash in popular culture at the time of its release. So who better than David Hasselhoff, who memorably played Buchannon on the show, to save a stranded SpongeBob and Patrick on the beach? He did exactly that, coming to their aid in 2004’s “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie.” It’s highly unlikely any kids in the audience had seen “Baywatch.” Still, they went all out to make adults chuckle with the referential cameo. Hasselhoff even runs to the two cartoon pals in slow motion in the trademark “Baywatch” style.

#2: Dan Aykroyd as Ray Stantz

“Casper” (1995)
Ray Stantz has no trouble fighting ghosts in the 1984 film “Ghostbusters.” But he can’t quite channel that same energy toward the malicious specters in “Casper.” Indeed, he bolts out of the haunted home, leaving Carrigan and Paul to their own devices. In addition to this direct reference, “Casper” also features a short and unnerving appearance from actor Clint Eastwood. This tradition of oddball cameos continues “Casper Meets Wendy,” as actor Casper Van Dien fittingly references his role in the satirical “Starship Troopers.” That’s certainly an entertaining way to send parents on a trip down memory lane.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Will Forte, “The Lego Movie” (2014)
He Plays Abe Lincoln in Both This Film & the Adult Animation Series ”Clone High”

Ice Cube, “The Book of Life” (2014)
He References His Song ”It Was a Good Day” as the Candle Maker

Keanu Reeves & Snoop Dogg, “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run” (2020)
The Actor & Rapper Make This Film Endlessly Entertaining for the Adults

Lynda Carter, “Sky High” (2005)
She Makes a Quip Referencing Her “Wonder Woman” Role

#1: John Waters

“Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip” (2015)
If you haven’t had a chance to see “The Road Chip” yet, this may feel like an elaborate prank. But we assure you it is all 100% real! In this 2015 family film, Alvin is sat next to John Waters on a plane, who judges the chipmunk for noisily eating his food. Although the filmmaker is simply credited as a passenger, it’s hinted that he’s actually playing himself when Alvin responds to his criticism. Yes, you heard correctly! Alvin of “Alvin and the Chipmunks” has apparently seen Waters’ NC-17 exploitation film, “Pink Flamingos.” We can only hope that the kids watching at home have not.
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