Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

I was prepared to send a different column this week. But then we went to the drive-in theatre in Gibson City and watched The Hunger Games.

I had not read the book beforehand although my daughter did. She loved it  and is now clamoring for the rest of the series.

Before we went, I admit I wondered if this PG-13 movie was appropriate for my 7-year-old. The storyline is about a reality game in which the participants have to kill each other in order to win. Twenty-four participants, one girl and one boy, are chosen from 12 districts of the country and must fight to the death.

Poster Image from IMDb.com

The game is televised so that the whole country can watch if their tributes make it. We follow Katniss and Peeta from District 12, the poorest region, as they are chosen and make their way to the Capitol to become participants.

That’s right, 24 young people must kill each other in order to win. It is brutal although not gory.  I was surprised at how the filmmakers were able to keep down the blood while never letting up on the tension.

We had turned the back of the minivan towards the screen, removed the back seat and faced it towards the screen. This allowed the kids to sit in the large back area and the middle seat stayed in place.

During intermission, I knew that we should not have gone to this movie with our youngest. It was too intense for him. He responded by moving around a lot in the minivan, at times hiding behind that middle seat.

He told us it was not too much. Our oldest wondered how this movie differed from so many others that dealt with killing. He is right, action pictures do get into high body counts. And that includes the comic book movies we love that have endless minions being killed off.

To me, this movie is different from those other action movies. The faces of the dead are not adult minions but children. And some of these children are young, age 12, who must fight against 18-year-olds.

Image by DHarder

As I watched this movie, I thought about the short story, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, and the bookThe Lord of The Flies by William Golding. I remembered other reviews that compared parts of this movie to The Last of the Mohicans. Another movie that came to mind was an independent flick from about ten years back called Series 7: The Contenders, about a reality game show in which the willing participants killed each other.

How young of a child should see this movie? Personally, I think those 12 and older are the target audience. My 10-year-old daughter handled it fine although if she had been less mature I would have had second thoughts.

In the end, I felt that The Hunger Games was well-made and tells a compelling story with a heroine that you can support. The questions it asks about power and control, distribution of wealth and resources are ones we need to continue, and how we treat the people of our nation are ones we need to continue processing. But it is emotionally intense and will live on in your thoughts for days after leaving the theater.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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