Sunday, August 05, 2012

My Movie Rant

Today Harriet, her friend and I went to see Brave at the cinema.  It was scary.  Seriously scary.  At one point Harriet grabbed my arm to make sure I knew she needed comforting.  She was ok, she didn't want to leave, but it was *scary*.  There is no way I would have taken her to see it before now though.  Seeing a huge, mutated bear rip into people is scary, yes?  The rest of the film was really fun though.

I'm sick of watching preview for supposed 'children's movies' that are cut like a film clip, full of double entendres, adult concepts, and incredibly overstimulating.  I've told the story before about how when I took Harriet to see Arrietty, James thought he'd try his luck with taking Ted for his first cinema experience to see Happy Feet2 (seeing as Ted has a particular love and fascination for penguins).  They sat down, saw this preview and Ted started screaming hysterically.  James of course immediately left the cinema with him. Because that is just too full on.  On a big screen, those very short, sharp cuts and intense emotions are horrifically inappropriate.  I honestly don't understand how adults can make those films and think they're going to be great for children.  And I realise that three is very young to attend a cinema (it was only an experiment and there was no expectation that he would last beyond a few minutes really), and that the movies we're talking about are aimed at a higher age bracket, but Harriet was completely freaked out by it as well.  As was I.

Well what makes a good family film in our house, then?  A firm favourite here lately has been the latest Muppet Movie.  I had no idea it would be so awesome!  It's funny, sweet, lovely and with some terribly catchy songs like this:

I dare you to watch that and not feel happy.  "Life's a fillet of fish...uh yes it is".  Plus it uses the Gilmore Girls set which is a nod to my tv series watching whilst Harriet was a newborn.  Love it.

I also adored this short that was on before Brave:

It's beautiful.  That's all.  Apparently it is also already nominated for a 2012 Academy Award. 

Other movies we like to watch include March of the Penguins, Matilda, Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service (now if you're looking for a fantastic feminist film this is IT - all the main characters are female, they impart wisdom and caring, there are no scary parts, and I didn't realise any of this until James pointed it out to me - it just is within the context of the film), Mary Poppins (a bit too long for little ones though) and of course The Sound of Music (but be prepared for raised eyebrows when your five year old starts initiating play around Nazis).

The idea of children's movies being bearable for adults as well really only started to take hold with a vengeance after Toy Story.  And as fun as that may be at times, really, I'm old fashioned.  Let's leave children's movies for children.  I remember being so entranced with The Neverending Story at 12 that my dad took me to see it five times at the cinema.  Do you think he enjoyed that process?  Don't you think by the end of the second time he was clawing his eyes out until they bled and by the fourth time he was hunched and crying in the aisles?  But it wasn't made for him.  It was made for me. 

I would just like to clarify that James and I share a love of ultraviolence in our adult movies, so it's not like we're purists or prudes.  I just don't understand the need to introduce these concepts to children so early that they've 'seen it all' by the time they reach high school.  


Zoe said...

Marty and I were having this exact conversation during the last school holidays after I took the kids to see Bambi. Movies for kids these days are way too complicated and try to please ALL ages!! Bambi was simple...deer and friends frolic in forest, a couple of dramas (one big, sad one that is easily explained) and then more prancing around. BOTH 3 and 5 year old were happy the whole time.

Totally with you on The Muppets...I love that song and actually think it may have been sung today even though we saw the movie at least a month or more ago :)

jay said...

hear hear, i too am baffled as to why parents, people, the world think violence is ok for children to witness, it isn't it scares the absolute crap out of most of them and stores themselves as nightmares or 'irrational' fears and to others desensitizes them, which is just freaky. glad you loved the muppet movie, we havent seen it yet. The only movie we have watched with Ilo has been at home and is Big Easy Express, which is really just a music documentary, thanks for those tips though, great to have as 'safe' films, and i know i can trust you. By the way, i have the theme song to Neverending story, rattling in my brain now, thanks Cass.

casso said...

Oh Jay honestly, the Muppet Movie is just gorgeous - true to the lo-fi cause of The Muppets.

It's hard with Ted to have the same level of movie-free time that we did with Harriet because she really wants to engage with movies as a form of storytelling (and since we're quite sure she'd make a great screenwriter we want her to experience the medium within reason of course)and has the same waking hours as Ted. But the movies I've listed are really lovely - especially Kiki, seriously, your boys would LOVE it (as would you and Scott).

Zoe I just chatted to someone this morning about Bambi, her 3yo loved it and she was made of fun by a friend for not wanting to take her son to see Brave because it looked a little scary!!! Isn't that terrible?!

*ahem* Sorry about the theme song Jay! Definitely not a high point of the movie. Actually you know what, Poe might like Momo by Michael Ende read aloud, it's a beautiful book about people selling their 'spare' time to these grey men and then everyone rushes around and Momo is left wanting to relax and hang out but no-one 'has time' any more. Just gorgeous.

Lou said...

I'd planned to take Dex to see Brave last week until I watched the trailer and saw that bear! We saw The Hubble at the IMAX again instead. (3rd time now, got it all figured out - wait outside until the previews are finished!). I'll have to borrow your Kiki movie, sounds great.

The Muppets was the 1st cinema experience for both boys at 4 and 6, they found the mean character a bit scary but it was otherwise a success, phew! Loved it so much we bought the DVD, and downloaded the soundtrack. Dexter has been working out all the songs on the piano and the boys put on daily 'performances' of The Muppets which isn't at all mind numbingly boring!

Michelle said...

Harry is ten and we still don't let him watch a PG rated movie that we haven't watched first. I won't be showing him Brave until I've sat through it. Till has an almost strictly G rated diet. The all time FAVOURITE viewing in this house is Time Team!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We watched the latest Muppet movie - it was OK. My guys have never asked to watch it again.
A great website for movie reviews is We have found their reviews to be very "Christian" focused which can be a bit in your face if religion isn't a consideration, however their reviews are VERY detailed (and have NEVER let us down). PS Harry and Till LOVED Kiki, and Ponyo is a firm favourite. But there are many "Studio Ghibli" films that are years off from being shown to the little peeps in our house (Ben is the Japanese anime fan here).

casso said...

Oh your two are the first I've heard of that didn't love The Muppet Movie, Michelle. Brave was PG rated and there's no way I would have taken Harriet to it any earlier than right now (even a few months ago I would have erred on the side of caution). It was more acceptable for her for two reasons I guess - one, because she's very conscious of the artifice of film making (she talks about where cameras would be placed, what actors would say after a scene, etc.) and two, because it was animated (which feeds back into point one).

I'd imagine Harriet still watching PG with supervision at ten. I don't see any reason to move her on earlier. Studio Ghibli is definitely challenging (for example, Princess Mononoke is one movie James and I *love* but there is no way Harriet could watch that for a few years yet) but she enjoyed Spirited Away as long as we fast forwarded the part where the parents turn into pigs and Sen become invisible at the very start. She understood the concepts of the spirit world quite easily.

Essentially the idea of being an attentive and tuned in parent to the subtleties of your child's understanding, awareness and sensitivities just means you have to be more critical and selective of their viewing. It seems like such a no-brainer for me, but I'm constantly amazed by parents that just don't seem to care and let their four year olds watch Star Wars (for example). I just DON'T get it! WHY?!

Rant rant rant!

casso said...

Oh and James reads the parents reviews of movies on IMDB, which are apparently very detailed.

Jimbo said...'s parental guides are fairly detailed and give me enough info to choose whether it would be suitable or not. Brave was right on the edge for Harriet, I was about 90% sure she'd be able to handle it.

Michelle said...

I get a bit worked up about this issue - so I'm sorry if I came across a bit judgemental. As a school teacher I'm constantly bewildered, outraged (and saddened) by the content my students are exposed to at home! And not just movies - they watch inappropriate TV shows and play violent computer games too. So you and I can rant together!!!!!!!!!!! I seem to rant about a lot of why do parents feed their kids so much processed food.....or buy girls Barbies and Bratz dolls or boys action hero figures.....oops, potentially starting a rant about a WHOLE other topic now! Maybe we need a new blog...'Ranters united'? Just kidding!

jay said...

Michelle, I like the cut of your jib, I too LOVE to rant about all those things, they drive me crazy too. would definitely subscribe to that blog.

Anonymous said...

We just saw Brave too. It is scary - but amazing to see a movie based around the mother/daughter relationship with a strong female lead who doesn't rely on a love interest or being saved by a man.
My nearly 5 year old was slightly scared but not as much as (surprisingly) when she saw Matilda - she was scared of the principle and the chokey - and she has a wolf fear so The Neverending Story would be far too scary for her and yet she watches nearly all other 'children's films'. The Muppets is a family favourite in this house big time - we saw it twice at the cinema!!

In reference to inappropriate previews - last holidays hubby took our 6yr old to see Ice Age 4 - they started showing the wrong film and after several adult previews a parent went out to check what was going on..... ahem.

I understand that all children at some point are too young for the cinema, and you'll never know when a child is ready until you try - although I do agree that if they're not coping then taking them out is a good solution, the two year old's that were running up and down the aisle during Brave and the ones screaming were not enjoying it. The three year old in The Hunger Games could almost be considered child abuse. (please note that my children were not with me!)

Glad that you guys enjoyed Brave :)

casso said...

Michelle - Never fear, I don't worry about other people seeming judgmental, especially with the children. We do enough hard work making the choices that we do with the information available that I nearly always feel strongly we've made the right decision for us. So nothing said by others worries me, honestly. I'm too stubborn!

Sam - Have you ever heard the quote from Margaret Atwood? It's something along the lines that essentially, all stories are about wolves. It's very powerful - maybe your daughter is more in touch with the universal mythology than we are! :) That's terrible about the previews, but I'm at least glad someone actually got up and went to complain.

We re-watched The Muppets the other night after we realised Ted had to stay awake for another couple of hours and he was so tired he couldn't do anything except lie down with his eyes open. :) There were more bits in there that we fast forwarded than I initially remembered - anything with the developer in it and anything with Jack Black in it basically. Since those scenes only take up about ten minutes of the whole movie I guess I figured it was a pretty low percentage of the movie as a whole.