5 Kids Movie Pranks That Went Way Too FarLaura Donovan

Freshman year of high school, a police officer pounded on my door after midnight, waking my parents and sending my sleepover friends into a panic. For months, my best buddies and I had been tormenting a rude neighbor named Gabe during sleepovers at my house, and though we only intended to pull pranks on him until he came outside and yelled at us in his boxers, one night he decided to call the cops rather than tell us to shut up.

We didn’t just “ding dong ditch” Gabe, either. The three of us rubbed lotion all over his doorknob, did cartwheels on his lawn, stuck paper up his tailpipe, threw tennis balls on his garage door, and sang American Idol hits on his driveway. Though I still think he needed to lighten up as a person, my friends and I went way too far with “get back at Gabe”-driven sleepovers.

You could say we were just bored, no-good teenagers, and while that would be true, we didn’t come up with our mean-spirited ideas alone. We learned from the best pranksters in childhood films, many of which suggested it was OK to taunt adults if they were mean enough. I’m not blaming any movies for my childish behavior as a youth, but the younguns in these films definitely encouraged me to cause trouble. Here are some kids flick pranks that went way too far.

1. Harriet the Spy

Though this Nickelodeon classic inspired me to become a writer, it also made me want to spy on neighbors, and by spy on neighbors, I mean break into their homes. In second grade, I actually tried to sneak into a neighbor’s residence, and luckily she spotted me before I even made it to the front porch. When she found me in her garden, I said I wanted to get a closer look at her flowers, and before I knew it, we were having hot chocolate and cookies in the kitchen. I was bummed out that my mission had been a failure, but being caught breaking and entering would have been a lot harder to explain to my parents than simply wandering onto someone’s property to check out the daisies.

2. Home Alone

Do I even need to explain why Kevin McAllister is a total psychopath? As much as I love Home Alone (and I really love it), Kevin’s booby traps are truly horrifying and twisted. The things he does suggest he’d become a killer someday, and there’s no way the robbers could ever survive his homicidal pranks.

3. It Takes Two

I grew up on the Olsens, but one of the twins shoots a horse with a slingshot so Kirstie Alley can be saved by the chivalrous Steve Guttenberg. Nevermind the fact that this could end in death or serious injury for both the adults, but it also plays on silly stereotypes and paints the woman as a damsel in distress. Things get even crazier at the end of the movie, when Ashley’s character stomps on a heartbroken bride’s wedding dress. She’s already been rejected at the altar, and though we’re supposed to hate the lady, this is still a pretty uncool thing to do to someone.

4. Dennis the Menace

Little Dennis loves to drive elderly neighbor Mr. Wilson nuts. The old guy has a lot of patience, even though Dennis slingshots medicine into his throat in bed, causes him to slip and fall in his bathroom, drops a boat on his groin, chucks a burning marshmallow at his forehead, etc. No wonder John Hughes, who was behind Home Alone, also wrote this! The pranks are hysterical onscreen but could possibly kill the old guy in real life.

5. Matilda

The Trunchbull is a horrible human being and abusive principal, but that doesn’t make the closing scene of the movie any less disturbing. Matilda ultimately uses her magical powers to freak out the Trunchbull and lead her to believe the spirit of the man she murdered is haunting her in the classroom. Then the entire school throws food at the Trunchbull until she drives away as a disgraced, sobbing individual. Does she deserve it after mistreating innocents for so many years? Yes, but this is nothing to try in real life. Kid mutiny isn’t as fun as it might seem. It’s creepy.

What do you think about kids movie pranks? Share in the comments section.

Featured image via Blu-Ray.com

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  1. How silly, even when I was at the age of watching Matilda over and over (she understood my love for books) I knew it was just fiction. It sounds to me like perhaps you and your friends needed a reality check.

  2. I loved matilda. I identified with her growing up a smart kid, who loved books and people didn’t understand me. It actually gave me the confidence/patience I needed to get through the third grade. Yes, on occasion I went a little overboard but my teacher was EVIL. I always wanted to be Miss Honey. It’s actually part of what inspired me to become a teacher. I figure that the more good teachers there are in the school system, the less bad there are in the classrooms. The Trunchbull had the chokey. She made Gus eat that WHOLE cake which sounds nice during menses but if that was reality instead of just TV his stomach would have burst leading to a slow and painful death. She killed Magnus. I think Matilda was merciful. lol. Yeah, it was creepy but it was also mega-awesome.

  3. I love this post. I’m glad to hear I wasn’t the only one who pulled the whole Harriet the Spy spy on neighbors thing. I was 9 years old when the movie came out, and I remember taking my bike and a notebook around my neighborhood and writing down things about houses. Super creepy now that I think about it! The novelty wore off fast though!

    And the worst part about Matilda was the crazy stuff the Trunchbull did, not what she got done to her at the end! Spinning that girl by the pig tails…and that creepy spike chamber. WTF. haha

  4. They were harmless movies. I watched all of those movies when I was young, and loved them. I dreamed up pranks and even went through with a few of them. As long as you have parents or guardians that can teach you harmful situations from harmless ones, then you should be fine watching these. There are far worse things on TV nowadays to point the “blame” at if that’s what you’re looking to do… But in my opinion, its your early moral values and expectations from parental figures that influence your decisions on carrying out pranks and such:)

  5. This is a great post. It reminded me of all the crap that we used to pull as kids! But this is the second or third post I have read, that referred to Kevin McAllister’s booby traps as “pranks”…
    Now, he may not have gone into them with the intention of killing those guys (which is totally what would have happened, had those been played out like they would IRL…), but let’s not forget those two creeps were going into that house to rob them blind, even with a kid home. They only care that the parents are gone, they are still fully prepare to go rob that house. Cuz “ever since I laid eyes on that house I wanted it!”
    Totally get where you’re coming from, and he probably would have been a full on psycho, but those two dudes had it coming, and deserved way more than a normal childhood prank!