Everything I needed to know I learned watching School of Rock with my kids

school_rockThalia now rolls her eyes at the start of most every Disney style movie saying, “oh great…another movie where the mom is dead.” Which is when I knew it was time to move on from the likes of Belle and Ariel and Dora Saves the Princess.

I admit wholeheartedly that I’m really enjoying this stage where we can scan the ALL MOVIES category on the DVR, and not limit ourselves to JUST FOR KIDS which is mostly crap.

(Sorry, the Three Stooges remake is not JUST FOR KIDS. It’s FOR NO ONE. But they don’t have a category for that on Video On Demand, do they.)

We’re a movie family. We love writing, we love entertainment. And it’s been such a joy cuddling up on the couch together and introducing my kids to everything from Mizayaki films to that Kit Kittredge one; from Labryinth, to Star Wars to Miracle on 34th Street which they could finally make it through this Christmas. The original from 1947, by the way. In black and white, the way God intended it.

This weekend, we ventured into the world of School of Rock.

Who would thunk a Friday night alone with my kids, ordering in take-out and watching Jack Black rip his shirt off and stage dive to the floor would one day be my idea of a perfect night.

Ten years after I first saw the movie as a single young thang, turns out it’s an outstanding movie for teaching life lessons–and screenwriting technique. Sage wasn’t quite getting the premise of “character arc” (proof the educational system is in trouble; I mean, she is five already) so we talked about how each person started one way, and then grew and changed over the course of the movie.

That kid used to be afraid to speak up and now he doesn’t.

That girl thought no one liked her and then she found confidence.

That dad wouldn’t let his son play the instrument he wanted, then he realized it made his son really happy.

Summer did everything for grades and then at the end she just did the right thing for no grades.

The principal was really boring and then at the end she was fun.

Plus, I got a chance to introduce them to Stevie Nicks, and at the end we all got up and danced silly dances to the Donnas’ cover of  Kids in America while Sage sang most of the lyrics as the word “fart.”

Like I said, the perfect night.

I adore that they love fantasy films–something that seems more often reserved for boys for some reason. In fact, they’ve bonded with so many of the boys in their classes over Star Wars and especially Lord of the Rings, while virtually none of the girls have seen either, save for those with older brothers. Nate even made it through the entire Avatar animated series with them over the course of the year, which they adored beyond all measure, and now they make fun of me because I can’t bend earth and they can.

conquering the spider!

Thalia bending the LOTR Shelob Attacks LEGO set to her will.

The one fantasy series parents universally think to show their daughters is Harry Potter. And ironically, that’s one we haven’t seen yet. I am saving it because I really want them to read the books first.

So on the weekends lately, we scan the choices on Netflix or Amazon, I cross-check with Common Sense Media–helpful for reminding you that the kids curse a few times in Goonies–and we find something fun.

Speaking of Goonies, Thalia has also pointed out that every live action kids’ ensemble movie seems to have a fat boy in it, so that people can make jokes about him. She’s smart.

Just as I’m thinking about all this, I find a thread on Facebook from Catherine Connors, asking about taking 7 year-olds to see the Lord of the Ring movies (which my kids love watching with us at home) and other alternatives. A good, mostly non-judgy discussion ensued about what movies parents watch together with their kids as they hit grade school.

I was really taken with Jo Anna Guerra‘s point that if you skip PG-13 movies with younger kids, sometimes you lose some good teachable moments and life lessons that don’t appear in little kid movies. (Like why it’s not okay to make fun of someone’s weight?)  I’ve found that to be true, though I hadn’t really articulated it that way until now.

In fact, School of Rock gave me the opportunity to teach my daughters the most important life lesson of all: Never date a rock star.

“Ew, mom…that’s so gross,” Thalia said. “I would never do that anyway.”

I told her I’d have a contract drawn up in the morning for her to sign.

I’ll ask the same question here: which non-kiddie movies do you enjoy watching with your kids? Where do you set the limits?

{63 Comments}

63 thoughts on “Everything I needed to know I learned watching School of Rock with my kids”

  1. As much as my kids love Disney movies (mostly the recent ones), Brave scared the crap out of my middle 2 (6 and 4), one of whom LOVED TinTin, the other who watched the actual Transformers movie perfectly fine.

    Point is: You know your kids best.

    I know there are movies my kids can watch that other kids couldn’t and the other way around.

    Don’t get me started on all the eyebrow raising and finger wagging about me showing Quinlan the Twilight movies. “But hey, I made her read the books first,” I tell them.

    And quite honestly, I’d rather her pine after a hot, brooding vampire than some dipshit YouTube star with a bad hairdo.

    1. This. Emilia finds some Disney ‘kids’ movies terrifying (The Princess and the Frog, Snow White), but loved the Star Wars movies and the Narnia movies and The Avengers (which, let’s face it, is awesome.)

      And Liz’s and Jo Anna’s points about teachable moments in film are spot-on. One of the reasons I’d been thinking about sharing the LOTR movies with Emilia is because we’ve been having ongoing conversations about the question of good vs. evil (we are a FUN family) and I wanted to expose her to a more sophisticated treatment of the issue – the classic fairy tales upon which older Disney movies are based frame good and evil as very black and white, whereas a story like LOTR digs into deeper questions (would you still be good if you had a magic ring that allowed you to do anything you wanted without consequence?).

      Also, School of Rock is the BEST.
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      1. LOTR is PERFECT for good/evil conversations. In fact, they now go around saying “well some people are good and bad, like Smeagol.” I think that’s high concept stuff for young grade schoolers and I couldn’t have thought of a better example anywhere else. (Except politics, ha.)

        Meanwhile Snow White is DARK and wildy sexist. With lessons like “women clean up men’s homes” and “women are so jealous of other women that they want to kill them.” We’ll stick with School of Rock from now on.

    2. I’m laughing. My older two were like that when they were younger. Transformers? No problem. 101 Dalmatians and Sleeping Beauty? Too scary.

  2. We have very similar feelings (and taste) when it comes to movies. We usually try to screen them at least once prior to taking our 7yo daughter. We also cross check with common sense media and the GeekDad/GeekMom blogs over at wired.com. (Love their 10 Things Parents Should Know posts about films in theaters!)

    We decided a long time ago that ratings are just a jumping off point. We took her to see The Avengers and The Hobbit (after reading the book with hubs) this past year… After Pre-screening them and determining that she could handle it. (We do shield eyes and take strategically timed bathroom breaks occasionally.) Labyrinth was a fun movie to catch over holiday break as hubs and I both grew up with it.

    Interestingly, she hasn’t seen the Potter movies yet either, for the exact same reason! She needs to read the books first! 🙂

      1. I agree completely — my kids read the Potter books before they could see the movies. Very helpful, especially toward the last few when there’s so much more in the books than the movies.. and the kids noticed!

  3. My 2 girls love Ella Enchanted. They and my son love the Indiana Jones movies. We’ve watched all the recent super hero movies too. (Avengers, Thor, Capt. America, etc.) When they were younger (they are 8, 11, and 13 now), they loved old disney – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Bedknobs and Broomsticks. It is fun when you can start going to see some movies YOU want to see too!

    1. Ooh good! I think my 7yo would love Indiana Jones but my 5 yo will find it too intense.

      And they love Chitty Chitty Bang Bang even if it’s pretty darn weird at the end once you get to the wacky kingdom.

      1. I love Damon Lindelof’s love letter to Raiders of the Lost Ark, and how he fell in love with it when he was 8 years old. A good reminder for seeing something through a child’s perspective.
        http://herocomplex.latimes.com/2011/08/31/raiders-of-the-lost-ark-damon-lindelof-indiana-jones-love-letter-free-screening-lost-star-trek-harrison-ford/#/0

        We went to see the IMAX re-release earlier this year and my husband actually teared up during the face-melting scene at the end. I said, “Are you crying?” and he tearfully replied, “I just can’t wait to share this moment with Judah (our son..who is not even 1 yet).

  4. We love School of Rock, and I think my kids were about your kids ages when they first saw it. They are older now (16, 13, 10) but when they were younger, they loved The Princess Bride, Ever After, and Secondhand Lions. We also like The Blind Side (there were a few areas of concern in that one, but nothing that couldn’t be explained and learned from).
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    1. Secondhand Lions keeps coming up. I don’t remember it that well, so we’ll have to put it on the list. Thanks Shannon.

  5. Way to often I find that usual movies’ ratings are not reflective of what *I* think it is appropriate to my kids. Or my neighbour ‘s/friends kids. But then again, I’m of European descent and occasional curse word and maybe a naked part of body does not scare me one bit (and now I have to duck all the judgement about such “freedom”). But I’m also mindful that my older son is scared of some intense moments (How to train your dragon was intense for him at 8 years of age, but he made it). And just the other day my kids witnessed us, parents watching “The Big Bang theory”. And, of course, joined in. There were couple of moments where the jokes inferred some vague sexuality that is beyond their grasping point, and we lived though it – no questions from kids, they simply did not get it and did not laugh. They reacted to some slap-stick comedy parts, had trouble understanding the point of reference (since most of humour is derived from stupid prejudice about “geeks”) and overall found the episode so-so. Which exactly how they should feel about that. I’m actually happy that they did not get most of the humour, because they are young enough to NOT be aware of various prejudices. And movies are often safe way yo explore that before it hits them like a ton of bricks in real life. Again, based on your own understanding of your own kids.

    1. I agree, we all have our own limits. I don’t think we’ve seen anything with nekkid parts yet but they did wince at chase kissing at the end of the Nancy Drew movie. So…there’s my kids’ limits. Ha.

      1. I was just thinking the other day how all the boys in lower elementary grades cringe on hugging/kissing scenes but do not even blink on Star Wars lightsaber fight or people hurting themselves on AFV. The message that young boys get (apparently in general, as I’m very laid back with appropriate hugs and kisses) is that some violence is fine, but kissing is yikes? Aren’t we odd as a culture?

        1. My girls don’t like the kissing either.

          And they don’t see light saber fights as violence; they see as a way that a good guy defeats evil and defends his friends. I think that’s actually really healthy and normal. It’s not like they’re yelling “more blood! more blood!” Kids have seen good v bad for decades to varying degrees, going back to the Wizard of Oz, Little House on the Prairie (ooh, that Nellie Olsen!) and even the Nazis in the Sound of Music. I think it helps them sort through the world.

  6. We have lifted the majority of bans. As kids actually get close to 13… You realize, they are going to watch this stuff somewhere and better it be with us curled on the couch with popcorn and candy than with a friend where information may be misinterpreted.

    Feels right to us – some good entertainment for all of us and any questions or conversation feels safe.
    R
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  7. I was always into comedy, so my parents would watch comedies first to make sure that it was relatively okay before letting me see it. Or they’d fast-forward through certain parts that they deemed unacceptable. I didn’t know that there were naked breasts in Airplane! until I was an adult.

    And that’s the philosophy I’ll have with my kids. I think Disney movies are okay, but I think there’s such a wide realm of entertainment out there that has better lessons and more education that kids can and should be exposed to.
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  8. Our line in the entertainment sand is often vastly different than others. (More liberal, that is.) I would rather my kids take in potentially confusing or frightening stories with us present. Not so different from watching the news, reading books, or untangling family histories. Tough topics are everywhere; we can choose to ignore them (and confuse and frighten our kids further), or address them calmly and thoughtfully, together.
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    1. Funny, I don’t watch the news with my kids. They don’t need to hear about shooting and arson and murderers and Congress (ha) in real life.

      1. Political commentary here, mostly. But that goes to my point about being more liberal with my kids than most, and realizing this will lead others to be critical of my decisions.

        1. Oh we talk politics. The problem is the news is so alarmist and graphic I’d rather control the conversation. Especially since my youngest doesn’t know about Newtown yet and I’d rather her not find out in a gross “we need ratings” kind of way.

  9. we watch all sorts of movies with our kids- but we just make sure to watch them alone first! We know our kids, we know what will freak them out and honestly- THAT is my main concern. I don’t want them to be cowering under their covers afraid because of some movie. The themes of movies we can discuss, we can talk about good and evil and life lessons – and we have!

    My kids are now 10, 9 and 6 and we have watched Narnia and LOTR and Harry Potter- which we read all the books together as a family first of course- and a zillion other movies. If it has something we are concerned about – like the scary Orcs for example- we talk about it first. We told them “there are some seriously creepy scary monster guys in this movie- they are called Orcs blah blah blah- you guys remember that this is a movie and movies are NOT REAL and that these are guys with makeup on right?” And then after the movie we showed them a website where it showed how an actor got made into an Orc. Which was really cool.

    My youngest did not feel ready to watch the scary bits yet- and she knew that about herself – so she simply left the room for those parts. She and I went and played with her toys for awhile and came back when it was less scary. Problem solved.

    We haven’t watched the Hunger Games yet though. I told my sons that they could watch the movies once they read the books by themselves. I figure if they can manage to read the whole books on their own then they can watch the movies. They are a little intense! So far they’ve managed to read about 5 pages of the first book each 🙂
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    1. Love that idea with the Orcs! We do that too – we show them Johnny Depp (the hot version) next to Johnny Depp (the pirate version or the bad Willie Wonka version) and it definitely helps. We also had a discussion about green screen and how movies like LOTR are made.

      If they don’t grow up to work in Hollywood…

      (And no Hunger Games for mine yet. I think there’s a reality to that that’s different than Tolkien. Few more years.)

  10. Oh! Putting School of Rock on the list RIGHT NOW.

    My kid has watched lots of old screwball comedies – like Bringing Up Baby – and less old comedies like the Pink Panther movies, and What’s Up Doc. Last weekend, we watched the original Sabrina. She’s seen both The Producers and Blazing Saddles – they’re both wildly inappropriate but…um, they’re part of the canon, and we’ve talked about what’s inappropriate and why – thus far, she hasn’t sung Springtime for Hitler in school – that I know of. She loves loves loves Johnny Depp and all the Pirates/Caribbean movies, and loved Dark Shadows.
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  11. I’ve always been a bit lax with movies. Maybe it’s because my mom was with us. They’re full of teaching moments and a lot of times I find that my kids are already hearing about things they don’t understand BECAUSE it comes up when we watch a movie. Shrug. I know kids who are my girls ages who can only watch Disney. That’s their parents choice. But it’s not mine. I don’t let mine see anything if I haven’t seen it. However, we watch all the super hero/adventure movies as well as a ton of other stuff.

    Have you guys watched the Narnia movies? We read the books first, but the movies are pretty cool. (Although so far, they’ve only done three movies.) We’re on an 80’s movie kick right now. It’s fun to introduce all the movies I watched as a kid to my kids.

    Oh, on Harry Potter? The first time through, we read a book and then watched that movie. Kinda like a reward or something. Personally I think if your girls can watch LOTR (which all of mine adore) they are ready for Harry Potter.
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  12. I started a Friday Night Movie Night tradition with my kids when my husband was deployed the second time. It helped us a lot to have short term things to look forward to.

    You know what’s been wonderful for all of us to watch? Old silent comedies. I got to see dozens of movies in a Detroit Film Theater series called the Silent Clowns when I was a kid and was introduced to Charlie Chaplain and Buster Keaton and Harry Langdon and Harold Lloyd…. I loved them all and thought my kids might like them too. It takes a little bit of an adjustment to get into them the first few minutes, but they are so funny and so good, and it’s an added bonus for the kids to read the bits that come up from time to time. Modern Times had my kids just rolling, and Safety Last is just unbelievable with those stunts. Lots of opportunity for life lessons and talks about history and class and gender roles and technology. All good stuff.
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  13. My son is only 3 so we are still watching toy story and cars. We recently watched the Lorax which I actually found enjoyable. So that is our go to movie right now when we want to have a movie night with our son. When he is older I’m sure we will watch older movies. Not sure what age yet, I guess it just all depends on the kid.
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  14. I waited until my son was 9 (later than a lot of his friends) to let him watch PG-13 movies because he couldn’t handle any bad language he heard. My younger daughter doesn’t even notice the language. Now I find we can watch a lot of family and action movies together without a problem (I do use Common Sense Media to check them out too). What I find hard to believe is that people let their kids watch R movies, at least that’s the claim. I have to have boundaries. We’ve been enjoying watching the older flicks I watched as a kid. ET was the most recent.
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    1. And meanwhile they were smoking and cursing in the beginning of ET! It’s funny how things have changed since we were kids, eh?

  15. Common Sense Media is my go-to website for movies… very detailed (practically scene-by-scene) information on what happens in each movie, broken out into categories (sex, violence, language, themes, etc.). I find that helpful because the “areas of concern” can vary from family to family, and child to child.

    1. Totally agree Jinny! It really lets you make the decision for yourself, because, as Kristen said up top, you know your own child best. And obviously we all have different limits as far as language, nudity, or fight scenes.

  16. My boys stayed up the other night with me and watched “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”. They thought all those people were MAD and they were laughing and hooting and hollering at the end. It was so funny. This is a movie my parents shared with me when I was little and although you hear “stupid idiot” a few times, it’s hilarious and well, I just like old movies so…

    I had not thought to show them School of Rock but they would love it. And YAY, a movie I like too! 😉 I like the lessons you all got out of it. And yeah, Thalia IS smart!

    Also, my oldest has already read HP 1-5 and is on the 6th book and has seen the movies of the books he has read so far. He is 8 and he LOVES it all. Just depends on the kid, I think…
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  17. We had a great time taking our girls (now 17 and 13) to superhero movies over the last few years. Spiderman, Avengers, Batman, etc. have almost zero sex, no nudity, and they don’t even cuss. We also introduced them to Christopher Reeve as Superman through Netflix because it is a classic held near and dear to my husband’s heart. Adventrues in Babysitting was also a fun throwback.

    There are bad guys and girls, but also some very strong characters. They are violent but because they are also in costumes, etc. — it just didn’t scare the kids.

    You know your kids best – if they can handle watching Orcs devour one of their own, they can probably handle lots of other grown up movies. 🙂

    A warning though … My girls got interested in RomComs around middle school and we watched a ton – from Sleepless in Seattle to How to Lose a Guy in 10 days. We had some fun nights cuddled on the couch with popcorn – would not trade those for the world! Then one weekend I remembered the funny dance scene with Hugh Grant and the Christmas play from Love, Actually. Found it on Netflix and settled in. Then the NAKED PEOPLE were onscreen and my daughters were like UGH! MOM!

    oops – totally forgot about that storyline.

    Jen

  18. Oh how we’ve wrestled with this one. At three, my daughter was fascinated by Phantom of the Opera (the movie one with Gerard Butler) and The Corpse Bride. Not that she’s an overly morbid kid, but she was intrigued and I figured as long as I was there to answer any questions or turn it off if she seemed frightened that I was OK. Turns out most of what she loved about Phantom was the music…though I have to say, she also asked “why does Christine love Raoul and not the Phantom?” and putting that into age appropriate context was…fun.

    Recently she asked to watch ParaNorman and I was very hesitant. I watched it with her and, language aside, it had VERY complex issues. Explaining to her why a group of adults would have (albiet mistakenly) killed a young girl who they believed to be a witch was hard. Really hard. But it also taught her about learning not to judge people, especially those who are very different or considered “weird”. Both she and my 4 year old LOVE the movie. We ended up buying it for them. I still get questions about it and am glad that I watched it with her so I could field them. I think that’s the most important thing.
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    1. Funny my kids BEGGED to see Paranorman so we finally just watched it on cable. They adored it too! The lesson was awesome, you’re right. They liked realizing that the people they thought were bad weren’t actually bad at all. Same as in the Nancy Drew movie we just watched.

    2. We LOVED ParaNorman! And I especially loved the tons of opportunities to talk about issues that don’t always come up in Disney movies — like being an outsider, being strange, bullying by grownups, mob mentality (except for Beauty and the Beast), witch hunts, the psychological affects of abuse, trusting your gut, and compassion. It was just chockful of teachable moments for me. Er, us.
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  19. My husband and I use “driving words” (words I told her she can’t say until she’s old enough to drive) in front of her more than we’d like to admit, so language isn’t an issue for me as much as violence. I care more about violence than kissing, actually, which is why my girl hasn’t seen Star Wars yet. It’s not even so much that I think I can protect her from seeing guns but that she doesn’t like violence, either, so why go there? I very much want to watch LOTR with her because I’m an insane JRR Tolkien fan and have been since I was a kid, but again with the violence. I recently got the old animated The Hobbit from the library and she was good with it, so she said we could watch the real one and just stop it if it was too scary.

    She’s watched ET, The Goonies, We Bought a Zoo, all the old John Candy eighties movies, The Princess Bride (we read it first) and a bunch of old TV shows that are on Netflix. We cut cable almost a year ago, so we’re pretty much doomed to Netflix/Hulu/Amazon streaming. Her favorite thing to watch is job reality television — cupcake shows, real estate shows, stuff like that.

    I purposefully don’t let her watch the news purely because it’s depressing as hell. It make me cranky to hear about all the shootings and traffic pile-ups and stuff like that. Plus the middle East, it just never ends.

    We do Friday Night Movie Night pretty regularly, and I agree — it is a HUGE relief to move on from Kid Crap. I love this age!
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  20. So perfect that you bring this up… I really want to see Les Mis, but my husband refuses (his answer to my asking him to go with me was that he’d rather get stomped in the nuts, or something like that). I’m thinking of taking my 8-year-old, but also don’t wish to traumatize her. Thoughts from anyone who has seen it?

    1. I saw it. I loved it. You should go. I considered taking my 8 yr old also, and I’m glad I didn’t. I think I will wait for her to see it at home with me, but you decide. Here’s why I say that.

      First, sitting in the theater, it was really breath-taking…and I’m not sure if it’s because I saw it opening day and people were excited…but literally it felt like no one breathed in the whole theater for the first hour. It was intense. Also, *I* found it hard to watch Fantine get thrown out of her job, and then turn to cut her hair, have teeth pulled, and ultimately sell herself to support her daughter. More than anything, that part of the movie might be hard for her to see. Also, the battle scenes might be hard to watch. After the rebellion, all the dead bodies are lined up in the street in pools of blood. Not Tarantino bloody…but real enough. And finally, since there are probably 5 spoken words in the whole movie, you really have to listen to the lyrics…especially if you don’t know the music or know the storyline well…which is complicated. So, it might just end up being confusing. And since it’s in the theater, you can’t just hit pause and explain and keep going. I hope that helps. Enjoy it no matter what you decide.

  21. I love watching “real” movies with the kids. Max (age 7) and I had one of the best nights ever watching Die Hard. I warned him ahead of time that they say the F word about 4,000 times, and let him know that he was only allowed to watch the movie if he promised to remember that he wasn’t allowed to use that word himself. He promised, and he LOVED the movie. He’s also seen Iron Man 1 and 2 and loved those as well.
    Dylan (girl, age 11) has been more complicated. She absolutely loved Sixteen Candles, but when I tried to watch Dirty Dancing with her, she freaked out. As soon as we hit the first “dirty dancing”scene in the staff quarters, she changed the channel and informed me that it was inappropriate.
    Oh, and both kids absolutely adore Blues Brothers – our family favorite.
    Ditto everyone else on how pleased I am to have moved on from lame kids’ movies.
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  22. My kids are now 20, but when they were younger I was pretty hard core on “no PG-13 movies until you are 13. End of story.” A lot of their friends had access to “older” stuff with older siblings, and the easiest way for me to control what they saw was that rule. The friends all knew ‘If the twins are coming to the party, better get an appropriate movie.” They never complained. And we read – a lot. All the Harry Potter books together, the Hobbit together, dozens and dozens of books. As they got older, particularly in high school, I introduced them to “my” movies – Casablanca, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Buehler’s day off, Dirty Dancing, Footloose, Caddyshack, My Cousin Vinny. they LOVED Casablanca!! Yes you do have to know your kids. But I was appalled to be at Batman and see 5 year olds – that is a very violent, scary movie. Same with Hunger Games. And when the kids would say “Why can’t we do [or see] ___ if you can?” I would say, “you are like a cake baking or a paella. If you add the ingredients too fast or in the wrong order, you won’t turn out right. When you are ready, you can do [or see] that.” They accepted that. I do applaud those parents who “screen” the movies first! Because yes, you do know your own child.

  23. Common Sense Media has an app. So handy.

    Our son (6) is still a cartoon fan, but our daughter (10) has watched and loved Ella Enchanted, We Bought A Zoo, The Odd Life Of Timothy Green, the first Harry Potter, The Princess Bride (repeatedly, because it’s The Princess Bride) The Sound Of Music, and both kids watch Pawn Stars and Gold Rush with my husband.

    We aren’t big news watchers around here not because I don’t think the kids can handle it, but I agree that the news is overly alarmist frequently, and my daughter asks so many questions about what she sees/hears that I don’t get to watch really anyway. Very analytical, that one.

    I’ll add School Of Rock to the list of to-watch because we loved that movie! Good thinking, Liz.
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  24. I love this thread, and the FB it came off (thank, Catherine)!

    I also wholeheartedly second The Blind Side. That was one that really opened up some honest and difficult conversation in our family, especially for me when your kids turn to you and ask why YOU don’t take in that person on the street?

    And I wanted so much for my kids to see The Sixth Sense, but remembered how it truly scared the bejeezus out of me the first time I watched, so I told it to them in story form instead, which is not quite the same, I know, but they loved it, and I got the worm out of me.

    But Secondhand Lions and School of Rock, I completely forgot about, so we’re tackling those this weekend! Also, we recently watched Snow White and the Huntsman, which I thought was going to be very over the top, but turned out to be a pretty good rendition of the story, with just the right amount of eerie (no more than LOTR or Potter) and female power to satisfy my almost-ten-year-olds AND their mothers.
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    1. Thanks for the inspiration Jo Anna. And now, for The Blind Side – I don’t know it but looking into it.

  25. Love this topic because I find a lot of movies far too intense for our kids in the theater and perfectly fine on our smaller screen at home. Brave was one of those films. LOTR is another, but we are making our way through the books first, as God intended. (I find it really important to read the books first to foster our kids’ imaginations and then ask what they liked and what they would do differently.)
    Our kids have seen many comic book movies, the Christopher Reeve Superman is a favorite of my 4yo, while our 9yo likes Thor. I’m pretty ambivalent about movies, so my husband is usually on the hook to decide for the family. The one rule we do have is if they are afraid at a particular point, we make them see the thing through so that they know it turns out okay. We’ll fast forward if we have to, but they need that ending so their imaginations don’t screw with them at night. The Princess Bride illustrated that life lesson for us!

    1. Funny you mention that about the fear… we always tell the kids “the hero always has to overcome some hard challenge or bad thing so that he or she can come out a hero at the end. Does this seem like it might be the challenge?”

      Gah, I need to stop talking to my kids like a screenwriter, I know. My mom is better: she says “what was the problem in the story?” But either way they get it. And now that you mention it, they do always get past the fear.

      Worst case, I’ll say “come on! Do you think that a kids’ movie will have a sad ending?” That usually puts it to rest.

      We need to watch Superman now – thanks!

  26. My 8 yr old and I have been reading a 1/2 to a whole chapter a night of Harry Potter…for probably a year now. We are currently on book 4. After we finish a book, we watch the movie. At the end of this book, Goblet of Fire, a character dies…and it’s really the first time anyone has died. I was worried about it at first, but she knows it’s coming…she just doesn’t know who. I was hoping that might help. We’ll see if Cedric’s death is harder to handle in the book or movie.

    Love everyone’s comments. We also liked Princess Bride and my 8 yr old has seen Goonies (sick day home from school). I made her swear I would never hear any of the bad words come out of her mouth. The girls also really loved Ghostbusters and Home Alone. Ghostbusters only has one questionable scene where one of the guys has a dream about a girl ghost unbuckling his pants…but a quick fast forward jump with our remote, and I don’t think my kids even noticed.

    I loved Parent Trap as a kid, so I got them the new one. I may like it even more than the original, but it’s close. We also love Enchanted. They also think Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer is hysterical.

    I have tried to get my kids to watch older non-animated Disney like Flubber and Return to Witch Mountain…which I thought was the scariest movie in 1980…but watching now it cracks me up…and the 70’s clothes! Neither of my girls were all that interested.

    I do love that we don’t always have to watch animated stuff anymore…but the real turning point for me is board games. Now that my youngest can read, it’s opening up new worlds of scattergories, guesstures and apples 2 apples. Praise baby Jesus…no more Chutes and Ladders!

  27. Now that my kids are teens, I have been sharing the all important classics with them:

    The Blues Brothers
    Caddyshack
    Monty Python and the Holy Grail
    Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

    And I know it’s teaching them important lessons, because one day, when it started to pour outside, my son stood outside my home office window, soccer ball tucked under his arm, and declared in a Bill Murray-as-Carl accent, “I’d keep playing. I don’t think the heavy stuff’s gonna come down for quite a while.”

    Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
    Jen Singer recently posted..Lance Armstrong’s Lesson for Kids: Confess and Get Your Bike BackMy Profile

  28. I have a 16-year-old and a 12-year-old and that four year age gap made choosing family movies quite a challenge. Although my oldest stuck to PG movies until he was almost 13 our youngest has definitely been exposed to PG-13 and R movies already. But there is a big difference between Batman Begins and Kings Speech. We screen the movies first, of course, but we’ve decided that swearing isn’t nearly as bad as non-stop violence and gratuitous sex scenes. He’s already seen My Cousin Vinny and we just took him to see Argo. He loved The Help (talk about some good lessons) and Walk The Line (which he just saw). I guess it depends on the kid.
    Connie Lissner recently posted..Endless PossibilitiesMy Profile

  29. You got me excited about watching LOTR with my girl in a future. Honestly the movie was so boring to me and I fell asleep at Avatar (with 3D glasses and all) but I try to better myself everyday duh 🙂

  30. Our daughter is 4 1/2 now and we watch a variety of movies. We do still watch the favorites like Toy Story, Little Mermaid and Tinker Bell, but she is also into Iron Man (she loves anything that flies) and she also loves space movies like Star Wars (space and flying). We also like watching How to Train Your Dragon, the first Harry Potter (she will read the books too in a few more years), and many other fantasy and/or space films that her dad and I also like.
    Anna recently posted..How to Get Through the First Trimester of PregnancyMy Profile

  31. OMG I just learned something new! Thank you so much I have to check out Common Sense Media. My oldest is almost 6 (can I say oldest when I only have 2?) and he loves watching movies. We started introducing him to our old movies like the Goonies and Gremlins but you forget about the whole cursing thing until you are a parent. Great tool for those old movies that you can’t remember if they cursed or not. Hubby and I would just look at each other with “oops” written on our faces!

    BTW that sounded like an awesome night in!
    Jai recently posted..How to Watch Telenovelas OnlineMy Profile

  32. My son doesnt really like movies. We took him to the Muppets last year and he was having conniptions. He’s six. So movie and tv time is usually yet another episode of Mythbusters or Dirty Jobs from Netflix. Sometimes we really mix it up with World’s Toughest Fixes.

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