When we think of Disney movies, we often envision wholesome, family-friendly tales like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Lion King, and Frozen, which are filled with magic and enchantment. However, behind the scenes, Disney has also been involved in the production of several R-rated films that cater to a more mature audience. These movies, with their edgier content and adult themes, may come as a surprise to those familiar with Disney’s more iconic animated classics.
In this list, we delve into 15 R-rated movies that you probably didn’t know were made by Disney. From gripping thrillers to thought-provoking dramas, these films demonstrate Disney’s ability to diversify its cinematic portfolio and take creative risks outside its usual family-oriented fare. So, prepare to discover a whole new side of Disney as we explore these lesser-known, but no less captivating, R-rated gems from the House of Mouse.
15 Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986)
Down and Out in Beverly Hills is a 1986 comedy film directed by Paul Mazursky and stars Nick Nolte, Bette Midler, and Richard Dreyfuss. It follows the Whiteman family, wealthy residents of Beverly Hills, who take in a homeless man named Jerry. Jerry’s presence disrupts their perfect lives, leading to humorous clashes and personal growth.
The film uses satire to showcase the excesses of Beverly Hills, while exploring themes of materialism and the search for meaning. It highlights the family’s superficiality and their eventual rediscovery of genuine human connection. Down and Out in Beverly Hills received positive reviews for its sharp humor and engaging performances. The film, which was produced by Disney’s Touchstone Pictures Division, was so successful it led to a television series adaptation.
14 Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997)
The movie Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion is a 1997 comedy film directed by David Mirkin and was also produced by Touchstone Pictures. Best friends Romy and Michele, played by Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow, are dissatisfied with their lives and decide to reinvent themselves for their ten-year high school reunion. They fabricate successful careers and hilariously navigate the challenges of their charade. As they face their insecurities, they learn the value of authenticity and true friendship.
The film explores themes of self-acceptance, personal happiness, and the importance of being true to oneself. Known for its quirky humor and the dynamic chemistry between Sorvino and Kudrow, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion has become a beloved comedy celebrating individuality and the enduring power of genuine connections. And for fans of the film, rumors of a possible Romy and Michele sequel have been floating around.
13 The Princess (2022)
The Princess was released in 2022 directly on Hulu, which Disney owns, and was directed by Le-Van Kiet. It was a highly anticipated movie, featuring a varied cast and a modern twist on the classic fairytale. The film received generally positive reviews from both critics and audiences (per Rotten Tomatoes), with many praising its themes of empowerment and self-discovery, which have struck a chord with audiences, making it a standout film in the fairytale genre.
The film tells the story of a strong-willed princess who is abducted and imprisoned in a distant tower of her father’s castle when she refuses to marry the cruel sociopath. The princess must protect the kingdom from her jealous suitor, who is determined to usurp her father’s throne.
Overall, The Princess has been a hit with viewers and critics alike, offering a fresh and inclusive take on a beloved story. Whether you’re a fan of classic tales or looking for a modern twist, The Princess is a must-watch movie that’s sure to captivate and inspire.
12 Dead Presidents (1995)
Dead Presidents is a 1995 American crime thriller directed by Albert and Allen Hughes and produced by Disney-owned Hollywood Pictures. Set in the late-1960s and early-1970s, the film tells the story of Anthony Curtis (played by Larenz Tate), a young African-American man who, after returning from serving in the Vietnam War, struggles to reintegrate into society and faces financial hardships.
Inspired by his circumstances, Anthony and his friends devise a plan to rob an armored truck. As their ambitions lead them down a dangerous path, they must confront the consequences of their actions and the effects of the war on their lives. Dead Presidents explores themes of post-war trauma, racial inequality, and the desperation that can drive people to extreme measures. It combines elements of action, drama, and social commentary to create a gritty and thought-provoking film.
11 G. I. Jane (1997)
G.I. Jane is a 1997 military drama film directed by Ridley Scott and was also produced by Hollywood Pictures. The story revolves around Lieutenant Jordan O’Neil (played by Demi Moore), a determined and resilient woman who becomes the first woman candidate for the elite U.S. Navy SEALs program. Facing intense physical and mental challenges, O’Neil must prove herself in a male-dominated environment while battling prejudice and skepticism from her fellow trainees and superiors.
As she endures grueling training, O’Neil fights to shatter gender barriers and prove that women are just as capable as men in combat roles. The film explores themes of gender equality, perseverance, and the struggle for acceptance and respect. G.I. Jane showcases intense action sequences and Moore’s transformative performance, shedding light on the ongoing fight for gender inclusivity in the military.
10 Bridge of Spies (2015)
Bridge of Spies is a 2015 historical drama directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by Disney’s Touchstone Pictures. Set during the Cold War in the 1960s, the movie is based on true events and follows the story of James B. Donovan (played by Tom Hanks), an American lawyer tasked with negotiating the release of a captured American U-2 spy plane pilot, Francis Gary Powers (played by Austin Stowell), who was shot down over the Soviet Union.
Donovan finds himself caught in the midst of political tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union as he navigates a high-stakes negotiation to exchange prisoners on the Glienicke Bridge in Berlin. The film explores themes of diplomacy, loyalty, and the human cost of international conflicts. Bridge of Spies received critical acclaim for its compelling storytelling, strong performances, and attention to historical detail.
9 Lincoln (2012)
Lincoln is a 2012 historical drama film also directed by Spielberg and again produced by Disney’s Touchstone Pictures. The movie focuses on the final months of President Abraham Lincoln’s life and his efforts to pass the Thirteenth Amendment, which would abolish slavery in the United States. With an outstanding portrayal by Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln, the film delves into the complexities of politics and the challenges faced by Lincoln in rallying support for the amendment amidst a divided nation and a contentious Civil War.
It showcases the strategic maneuvers, intense debates, and personal sacrifices undertaken by Lincoln and his allies. Lincoln is a powerful exploration of leadership, morality, and the fight for equality. The film received critical acclaim, particularly for Day-Lewis’ performance, and was praised for its historical accuracy and compelling storytelling.
8 Pearl Harbor (2001)
The film Pearl Harbor is a 2001 war movie directed by Michael Bay coming from Disney’s Touchstone Pictures imprint. Set during World War II, the movie depicts the events leading up to and following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The story revolves around three friends: Rafe McCawley (played by Ben Affleck), Danny Walker (played by Josh Hartnett), and Evelyn Johnson (played by Kate Beckinsale).
The film intertwines their personal lives and romantic entanglements with the larger historical backdrop of the attack. As the characters face the devastating consequences of the attack, they find themselves torn between duty, love, and loyalty. Pearl Harbor combines action, romance, and historical drama, depicting the human cost and heroism in the face of one of the defining moments of World War II.
7 Ransom (1996)
Ransom is a 1996 suspense thriller directed by Ron Howard under the Touchstone Pictures production header from Disney. The film follows the story of Tom Mullen (played by Mel Gibson), a wealthy businessman whose son is kidnapped for ransom. Faced with a difficult choice, Mullen decides to turn the tables on the kidnappers and take matters into his own hands. He uses his resources and intelligence to set up a risky plan to retrieve his son while outsmarting both the criminals and law enforcement.
As the tension escalates, the film explores themes of parental love, desperation, and the lengths one is willing to go to protect their family. Ransom received positive reviews for its gripping plot, intense performances, and Howard’s skillful direction, making it a notable entry in the suspense thriller genre.
6 The Village (2004)
Coming from Disney’s Touchstone Pictures once again, The Village is a 2004 psychological thriller film directed by the legendary M. Night Shyamalan. Set in an isolated 19th-Century village, the story revolves around a close-knit community living in fear of mysterious creatures that inhabit the surrounding woods. The villagers believe that venturing into the woods is forbidden and dangerous.
However, when a young woman named Ivy (played by Bryce Dallas Howard) falls gravely ill, her determined lover, Lucius (played by Joaquin Phoenix), challenges the village’s rules and embarks on a perilous journey to seek medical help from the outside world. As secrets unravel and truths are revealed, the film explores themes of fear, deception, and the nature of human nature. The Village is known for its atmospheric setting, thought-provoking twists, and Shyamalan’s signature storytelling style.
5 Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)
Gone in 60 Seconds was released in 2000 and is an action thriller directed by Dominic Sena. It was produced by Touchstone Pictures and stars Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie, and Robert Duvall. The film is a remake of the 1974 movie of the same name. The story follows a skilled car thief named Randall “Memphis” Raines (Cage) who is forced out of retirement to save his younger brother’s life. To do so, he must assemble a team and steal fifty specific cars in one night. With a ticking clock and the pressure mounting, Raines and his crew face various obstacles and encounters with law enforcement.
The film combines high-speed car chases, adrenaline-pumping action, and moments of suspense as Raines races against time to complete the ultimate heist. Gone in 60 Seconds is known for its thrilling sequences, an ensemble cast including Angelina Jolie, and its celebration of automotive culture, making it a popular choice among action movie enthusiasts.
4 Signs (2002)
Disney’s Touchstone Pictures released Signs in 2002. The film is a science fiction thriller again directed by Shyamalan, which centers around the Hess family, led by former reverend Graham Hess (played by Mel Gibson), who discovers mysterious crop circles appearing in their cornfield. As the family grapples with these inexplicable occurrences, they begin to question their understanding of the world and the presence of extraterrestrial life.
With tension building, the film explores themes of faith, loss, and the power of belief. Shyamalan’s signature storytelling style creates an atmospheric and suspenseful experience, with moments of intense psychological and emotional impact. Signs has been praised for its thought-provoking narrative, solid performances, and Shyamalan’s ability to blend science fiction elements with human drama, making it a standout entry in the genre.
3 The Patriot (2000)
Another Mel Gibson film, The Patriot is a 2000 historical war drama directed by Roland Emmerich about a man who joins the American Revolution that was produced by Disney’s Touchstone Pictures. Set during the American Revolutionary War, the movie tells the story of Benjamin Martin (Gibson), a farmer turned reluctant hero who becomes a key figure in the fight for independence. As the war escalates, Martin’s personal tragedy fuels his determination to protect his family and join the Continental Army.
The film showcases the brutality of war, the sacrifices made by the colonists, and the clashes between British forces and American rebels. The Patriot combines action, drama, and a touch of romance while exploring themes of patriotism, freedom, and the cost of standing up for one’s beliefs. The film received praise for its epic scale, captivating performances, and its portrayal of the struggle for liberty in a tumultuous period of history.
2 Pretty Woman (1990)
Produced under Disney’s Touchstone Pictures banner, Pretty Woman is a 1990 romantic comedy directed by Garry Marshall. The film follows the story of Vivian Ward (played by Julia Roberts), a vivacious and street-smart sex worker, and Edward Lewis (played by Richard Gere), a wealthy businessman. When Edward hires Vivian to be his escort for social events, an unexpected connection forms between them, leading to a romantic relationship. As their worlds collide, the film explores themes of love, self-discovery, and the power of transformation.
Despite a bit of controversy surrounding the film’s premise, Pretty Woman originally captivated audiences with its charm, humor, and iconic moments, such as the shopping spree on Rodeo Drive. The film became a cultural phenomenon and solidified Roberts’ status as a leading actress. It remains a beloved classic, celebrated for its fairytale-like story and the irresistible chemistry between Roberts and Gere.
1 Armageddon (1998)
Again utilizing Touchstone Pictures, Disney released, Armageddon, a 1998 sci-fi disaster film, is another story from director Michael Bay. The movie depicts a global catastrophe as an enormous asteroid hurtles toward Earth, threatening to annihilate all life. A team of oil drillers, led by Harry Stamper (played by Bruce Willis), is recruited by NASA to embark on a dangerous mission to drill into the asteroid’s core and plant a nuclear bomb to destroy it. The film combines high-octane action, emotional moments, and elements of comedy as the team faces perilous challenges in space.
Armageddon explores themes of sacrifice, heroism, and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of impending doom. With its impressive visual effects, an ensemble cast including Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler, and a memorable soundtrack, the film became a box office success and remains a favorite among fans of thrilling disaster movies.