Friday, July 8, 2011


Guest blog post by Dave Taylor

I'm in an odd position as a professional film critic and single Dad; I really want to bring my kids with me to film screenings but believe that the experience of seeing a film in the theater is sufficiently intense that my 7 yo girl has still never been to the movies. Sure, she's watched a few on TV. Well, more than a few. But it wasn't until my other children were 10 or so that I brought them into a movie theater to watch a film.

It's the tip of a cultural myth that's just not true, even though I hear it from lots of parents. The myth is that our children are really adults stuck in a kid's body and that they should be able to enter into the adult world as soon as possible. That's why companies sell pre-teen lingerie and why girl's Halloween costumes for anyone over about five makes them look more like coeds looking to get lucky than kids hoping to score some extra candy.

I go to the cinema at least once a week, and some weeks I've been there four or more times. It's fun and I have no complaints, but what I will complain about are parents who are so excited about going a film that they're dying to see that they drag their kids along, even if it's inappropriate. And sometimes, very, very inappropriate.

I'm reminded of when I saw the incredibly intense film "Saving Private Ryan". Sitting a row ahead of me was a Dad and his ten year old son, who was scared out of his mind and sobbing. At one point the boy stood up and walked to the aisle and the father followed him and told him to sit down, because Dad really wanted to see the film. To this day I regret staying quiet, but what parent wants someone else to tell them they're making a stupid mistake?

This isn't an isolated incident, however. I constantly see children of every age at screenings for films that are PG-13 and R. When I'm watching a film and I'm cringing over the obscenities, crude comments, explicit violence and graphic sexual scenes, I can only imagine how hard it'd be for a child to know how to interpret and understand what's going on.

Turns out that the MPAA ratings are really a guideline and it's up to the theater to decide how far it wants to go in terms of enforcing the rating. A bunch of pre-teens trying to buy tickets for the latest R-rated comedy? Shouldn't be successful. Add an adult or guardian (or High School senior) and they can indeed get in to most screenings. Then again, I don't think it's the job of institutions to parent my children, but my own.

Which is why I am so constantly aghast at watching young children sitting in the theater, watching material that I wouldn't want my college-age children to see, let alone someone in third or fourth grade.

So I ask you, dear Mommy Ranting reader, please be thoughtful about what films are appropriate for your children before you bring them along. Do a bit of research, consider not what they can "survive" but what they'll enjoy and find entertaining. And if you're a single parent, gently ask your ex to respect your wishes in this regard too. After all, we can always sneak out to a matinee while they're in school, at a play date, or at camp, if we really, really want to see a particular film.


Dave Taylor is a daddy blogger and film critic at Dave On When he's not hanging out with his three kids or watching a film, he's also a popular tech writer and public speaker.

Thank you so much, Dave, for your thoughts on children and movies!
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