The Guardian off in the United Kingdom makes assertions about newer animated features:
Blame Matt Groening and the four-fingered residents of Springfield. Until December 1989, when the first full-length episode of The Simpsons was aired, the dream of an entertainment that could appeal equally to kids and their parents was just that: a dream. Kids' movies, for so long dominated by Disney, were made for kids, with little effort wasted on entertaining those who took the kids ...
Now, however, too many kids' film-makers spend too much time worrying about their adult audience, and make movies that pass the kids by. We remember the successes - the likes of Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Shrek and The Incredibles - and forget the many failures, such as 2004's Shark Tale, which required a working knowledge of mafia movies to negotiate the sub-plots, something surely beyond pre-teen punters.
But even the successes get misremembered. When Pixar's Toy Story was released in 1995, it was hailed as an entertainment for all, with its Randy Newman score and its glistening new style of computer animation. In truth, though, Toy Story was not the kind of innuendo-laden gag-fest that now passes for kids' movie-making
I pretty much take issue with Mr. Hann's core premise: Animated features used to be for kids, now they're aimed at adults.
Crapola. The original klatch of Disney features (Snow White through Bambi) was aimed at general audiences (that's kids, grandparents, and every demographic in between, in case you're living in a shack outside Beaumont.) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs grossed a record $8,000,000 in 1938. That was double the gross of The Adventures of Robin Hood, the sixth highest grosser of the year that, although only number six, generated profits with which the Brothers Warner were delighted.
Friends and neighbors, you don't pull down record numbers like Snow White did if you're appealing to "the kiddie trade." It's only with skewed hindsight that oh-so-smart newspaper columnists gin up fantasy theories about "child friendly" cartoon features that never were. The truth is, animated feature producers of the thirties and forties were fighting for the entire movie-going public, just like every other movie-maker.
Nothing, and I mean nothing, has changed. Modern animated features have traveled in lock-step with their live-action cousins. You think that modern animated features are more smart-alecky and potty mouthed in 2008? Well, so are live-action films (remember all the swearing in 1930s gangster pictures? All the groping sex in 1940s comedies? Neither do I.)
Films, both live-action and animated, are mirrors of the times in which they're made. No self-respecting film producer would make a multi-million dollar feature that presumed to cut off large segments of the movie-going public, it'd be career suicide. The drill, first and always, is to make flicks that everybody wants to see. Certainly movie-makers often fail in that mission, but the goal is to be inclusive, the better to make heavy coin.
But maybe Mr. Hann is too close to the trees to view that rather obvious forest.