movies

Can I Take My Kid to Ghostbusters? A Parents’ Guide

Ghostbusters 2016 Parent's Guide

The original 1984 Ghostbusters is one of my favorite movies of all time. So I was pretty excited to hear that an all-female reboot was happening, and I knew that I would be there opening night. Since both of my kids (Nate, 16 and Kitty, 9) loved the original we went as a family.

Kitty isn’t easily freaked out. She loves action and adventure movies and counts Terminator 2 as one of her favorites. She’s seen the original Ghostbusters on multiple occasions – this new Ghostbusters was too scary for her. Even teenager Nate found it to be a bit anxiety-provoking. Here’s why:

-The ghosts are different. While most of the 1984 ghosts were relatively cartoony and seemed to delight in malicious mischief, the 2016 ghosts were scary and wanted to kill.
– Special effects have come a long way in 32 years. While the practical effects in the original were cool, they have not aged well. That’s not super scary for a kid in 2016. While the ghosts in the new movie were made to match the feel of the original, they were scarier just because they looked more “realistic”
-There were a lot of jump scares. They were pretty easy to see coming, so we were able to brace ourselves, but there were a lot.
-We saw it in 3D. It made some of the gags pretty cool, but being in a dark theater with 3D made it that much more intense.

This movie is rated PG-13, and I think that’s a pretty good guideline. it’s not gory and the horror is definitely tempered by humor -but it will scare younger kids and even sensitive older ones. It’s unlikely that your kid is going to be traumatized by the movie; Kitty didn’t have nightmares and is planning on being a Ghostbuster for Halloween, but it made for some intense moments in the theater. I think that viewing it at home in the day on a smaller screen once it comes to home video is going to be much easier for many kids.

Some other things to look out for:

-There is some swearing (including damn, shit, and bitches)
-There a few sly references to the internet controversy surrounding rebooting the franchise with women.
-There is a character that is terribly stupid. It’s pretty funny, and none of it is mean, but he is really, really over-the-top stupid.

My review? I liked it. I wanted to love it, but I liked it. It seems to rely heavily on the ad-libbing of the stars, which made a lot of the jokes one-liners that could have been in any movie. That made it feel a little disjointed to me. It lacked the charm of the original, and I think much of that had to do with the huge level of fan-service cameos and in-jokes. I loved all of the actors in the film, Kate McKinnon really stole the show as the super-quirky Holtzmann, and Melissa McCarthy proved once again that she’s a great action-comedy star. I wish the whole team had been scientists, or they at least hadn’t thrown the immensely talented Leslie Jones into the same role that Ernie Hudson filled as “blue-collar minority who joins the team for some reason”. Some of the fan service stuff was totally hokey and took me out of the film, but some of the gags were appreciated. I loved seeing a team of women Ghostbusters, and I was so excited that Kit got to see it, too – though I wished I would have waited to show her at home.

An In-Depth Look at Why You Shouldn’t Bring Your Kid to Deadpool

deadpool

Immediately after seeing Deadpool, I tweeted this:

“But my kid is mature” I can hear you say, “My kid has seen Deadpool in the comics and in the ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ cartoon! We know he’s sassy! My kid can handle it!”

Look, I feel you, really I do. I started Parenting Geekly years ago because I had this exact conversation in a comic book store. I wanted a place where parents like us could go to find out from another geeky parent if the violence and sometimes adult situations in a comic book movie would be okay for kids like ours.  I have reviewed a bunch of superhero movies, and I almost never (possibly ever) have said that you can’t take your kids, as long as you are willing to have honest and sometimes hard conversations afterwards.

THIS TIME I AM TELLING YOU NO.  I don’t care how much mature stuff your kid has seen, if your child is younger than mid-teens, this movie IS NOT APPROPRIATE.  First of all, it’s the first superhero movie in recent memory to be rated R, and it is a hard R.  In some ways, this is really positive. The movie studios are finally figuring out what comic nerds have known for years; that comic books aren’t just for kids. While Blade and The Punisher have had modest R-rated success, Deadpool’s amazing box-office showing has proven that adult comic book movies don’t have be dark and gritty to be successful, they can be funny.

But let’s get back to why you, Geeky Parent, have come here; to learn the nitty gritty of why bringing your Precious Little Snowflake to Deadpool is a bad idea:

I know the F-bomb isn’t going to bother your kid, it’s not going to bother mine either. I know that many of you have allowed your kids to watch movies with more violence than the average parent, I have,too!  (Kitty loves Terminator 2). And don’t even get me started on the average parents’ objection to sex in movies. If two adults are shown having a consensual relationship, sex in a movie is not an automatic deal breaker for me.  I’m actually pretty liberal with what I allow my kids to watch.

That being said, there is no way in hell I will let Kitty see this movie at age nine.

Here are some of the reasons why:

  • Gore: There is nothing “cartoony” about the violence in this movie. This is not stylized, comic-book gore. It’s hyper realistic. We’re talking weird chunks of flesh and brains and guts splooshing out. Viscous body fluids. Mangled, broken bones with gut-wrenching sound effects, graphic decapitations with heads literally rolling. There’s torture, there’s disfigurement, there’s SO MUCH BLOOD.
  • Sex: On the mild end of this spectrum, there is a scene that takes place in a strip club that features full frontal nudity, there’s brief male full-frontal nudity and  there’s a masturbation scene. On the more extreme side, there is a montage that shows Wade and Vanessa’s entire relationship progression through their sexual exploits. It’s graphic. They have sex in multiple positions, they talk crassly about it. He performs oral sex on her (with accessories), she has sex with him using a strap-on. None of this is subtle, it is very clear what particular sex acts they are performing.*
  • Adult jokes: Nothing is off-limits here.  There are dick jokes, rape jokes, child molestation jokes – one character flat out says she was molested by her uncles, there is no double entendre to hide behind, these jokes will not fly over your kid’s head.

If this hasn’t convinced you not to take your kid to this movie, nothing will and good luck to you.

I did take Nate. who is almost 16 and it was fine.  I would say this is a hard, hard R. If your teen hasn’t been sheltered from the internet and is comfortable with very adult themes, ages ~16 and up are fine.

*For young adults and grownups, I actually love that they show such a sex-positive relationship. I just don’t need my little kid to see it.

Can I Take My 6 Year Old to Tomorrowland

Nate and I saw Tomorrowland last week, and left pleasantly surprised.  While it was kind of a generic kids’ sci-fi flick, the acting was top-notch and the message (though completely obtuse) was sweet.

tomorrowland

But can you take your younger kids?  The movie’s family-friendly nature was kind of marred by a high body count. While none of the deaths were gory (the robots in the movie instantly vaporized their targets) there was a lot of fighting, and a lot of death, including the sad death of a significant character (and Nate would like to me point out that there was disproportionate amount of French people deaths).  Robots shot at and killed police officers, and several Robots were decapitated.  There was a lot of hand-to-hand fighting, and the main characters are constantly in peril.

There was a bit of bad language, mostly of the hell and damn variety, and a couple of incomplete “Son of a…!”.   No drug use, there was no sex, there a bit of teenage rebellion, and some unsafe behaviors that led to the protagonist briefly getting locked up in a jail cell.

I would say that this movie is probably for the average kid age 10 and up, younger if they are not super-sensitive.