I don’t normally consider myself a prude. But even still, there’s not much worse than being in a crowded movie theater with your little kids… and having something really inappropriate pop up on the screen.
Last year, I took my kids to see Coraline… a movie I was just as excited to see as the kids.
My favorite movie review site Rotten Tomatoes had given the movie an 89% fresh rating, which is awesome for a kid’s movie.
And the movie didn’t disappoint, it was wonderful… but then a scene came up, when Coraline was in her alter-world, that gave me a bit of a shock. Coraline’s two older neighbor women came onto the stage wearing next to nothing. I’m talkin, one had mostly bare breasts… with pasties only.
There I was, sitting with my then 8 and 7 year old kids. What should I do? Cover their eyes? I don’t have three hands. Tell them to close their eyes? Not worry about it? Was this really a big deal?
I decided on the spot not to make it a big deal. It’s just breasts after all. With any luck, they wouldn’t even notice…
And when we got out of the theater after the movie, I asked the kids what they thought of the movie. They liked this part or that… (sigh of relief) no mention of breasts. “It was great.” was the consensus… See, they didn’t even notice.
We got home, just as Dad walked in from work. “How was Coraline guys?” he says. Ben was the first to pipe up. “It was really good, Coraline has this other mother who seems really nice but she turns into a really mean witch…. and there was this old lady who showed her big, fat breasts! Dad, they were ginormous!”
Huh. I guess they did notice after all.
Don’t get me wrong, I still loved Coraline… It was amazingly well done, clever and even thought-provoking. I still might have taken the kids to the movie, had I known… but I would rather have known what was coming before hand. That way I could have talked about it with the kids… or at the very least thought about how I wanted to handle it. In the end, it was the surprise I didn’t like.
So after the movie I looked around and found Common Sense Media. It’s a wonderful resource for parents deciding what media is right for their kids. The site provides reviews on everything media related from movies, video games, books, websites, and music.
I love that it tells me exactly what to expect… take Coraline, for instance, it says, “Nothing directly sexual, but the two very buxom elderly actresses wear barely-there costumes for their performance (one in a reference to Botticelli’s famous Birth of Venus painting).”
At least that would have given me enough of a heads up.
Common Sense Media also lets me know what age child they recommend the movie for, what product placement you’ll see, and what the themes of the movie are. It also has parent reviews/age recommendations. All really good stuff to know.
Does it mean I will follow their age recommendations to the letter? No. I have a pretty good idea what my kids can and can’t handle. But it’s been a valuable tool for me ever since I found it. Because let’s face, ratings don’t tell the whole story. With the whole story, I can decide.
In the end, what works and does not for our families is a very personal decision. But making an informed decision is very nice indeed.