Tag Archive: appropriate age for viewing


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.

Just Who Can Hang With Harry?


Family Movie Night

Harry, Ron and Hermione in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, picture from IMDb.com

In case you have not been pay attention, next week is the opening of the latest Harry Potter movie as we move towards the end of the wizarding world saga.

Next Friday, or late Thursday night I assume, people who have followed this series will be standing in line waiting for the second to last movie. Finally we will be able to watch on the screen what we have tried to imagine in our feeble minds.

So the only thing left to do is have a Harry Potter

Marathon!!!!!!

But wait — what about appropriate viewing ages? Good point and thanks for asking because not all Harry Potter movies are for all ages of the family members.  So let’s explore each movie for best viewing ages.

 

Hermione, Harry and Ron in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Picture from IMDb.com

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

In this movie we meet Harry and his friends, Hermione and Ron. We also see the beginnings of a great rivalry. Then there is Professor Snape whose dislike of Harry has everything to do with his father.

This introduction into the series is good for all members of the family. There are scary moments and scary creatures but those scenes are handled in a friendly manner that  makes them less scary.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Here Harry will learn one of his talents that is not popular with his school fellows. With the Chamber of Secrets opened, it is a race to save Hogwarts from a threat that could destroy the student population.

What is scary is a series of events leading to discover who opened the door to the chamber. This movie is still appropriate for early grade school students with some fun scenes dealing with magical creatures.

Gary Oldman as Sirius Black in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, IMDb com

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

A highly dangerous prisoner from the wizard’s prison has escaped and he may be coming for Harry. While third year students can go to Hogsmeade, the only completely wizarding village in Great Britain, Harry could not get permission from Uncle Vernon.

This movie shows the series starting on a path of darkness, with fear becoming a part of the norm. It is a film that is best suited for pre-teen kids and up as there are themes that need greater maturity to understand, such as long-held hatred and a need for revenge.

 

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

 

I believe this chapter of the story is the last one that is suitable for anyone under the age of 13. There is a constant mood of fear as Harry competes in a contest to find the ultimate magical champion. We meet students from other schools as well as some very scary creatures. What Harry and Cedric face at the end of the movie can be terrifying to younger viewers under the age of ten.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Lord Voldemort, Picture from IMDb.com

These last two movies are best for the teens, especially those who have been reading the series all along. The fear level is intense in both movies as Lord Voldomort is back and ready to rule the world. The action scenes are potent and lives will be lost, people we have grown very attached. I do not recommend these two movies or the one coming out to younger viewers because I do not believe their maturity level can handle the fear, the sadness, the manic need to do something against the tide of evil.

Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, picture from IMDb.com

If I am wrong, please let me know and I will include your opinion in next week’s column.

Let the world know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a note below.  Become my friend on Facebook.