Dads Secretly Take Their Sons to See PG-13 Rated Superhero Movies, Like Aquaman (But They Don’t Admit It On Social Media…)

At what age is it socially acceptable for a boy to go see a PG-13 rated superhero movie with his dad?

Follow up question:

At what age is it appropriate or okay for a boy to watch a PG-13 rated movie with his dad?

I think those are difficult questions to answer, and even dangerous to ask, because ultimately, each parent has their own standards on what they perceive as acceptable in raising their children.

And in an age where many people have traded in their fear of God for fear of a social media backlash thanks to ever-potential mob mentality of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, no one wants to have to defend their views to the 10% of the population who passionately disagreed in the comments section; and then have to follow-up with a token social media apology a few days later.

My theory is that many dads do take their sons to watch PG-13 rated superhero movies, they just don’t talk about it on social media because it may not be socially acceptable to broadcast it.

On certain issues, I am undeniably more conservative as a parent. But with other things, I am perhaps more liberal than people might expect.

I recognize that not all PG-13 rated movies are created equal. So to me, the movie rating is a bit arbitrary.

Fortunately, it’s as if there is now an unspoken rule that PG-13 rated superhero movies that have their own toy line have agreed to keep sexual content out of their movies. Instead, the PG-13 rating is earned from stylized action sequences; in other words, violence without blood.

There are also typically a handful of milder profanities thrown in these PG-13 rated superhero movies. Even though my 8 year-old son doesn’t hear his own parents cursing, I’m sure by now he’s learning the “bad words” from other kids at school.

Honestly, what bothers me more is my son hearing the casual use of “oh my God” in PG rated movies and kids’ sitcoms. To me, that phrase is breaking one of the Ten Commandments. Meanwhile, I’m supposed to be worried because my son hears an alternate word for butt or poop?

So as long as he knows which words he’s not allowed to say, as he gradually becomes aware of which words our society has given power of taboo, then I am not too concerned.

However, this is all simply my own parenting style.

This isn’t necessarily what the norm is. Maybe it is. I don’t know. Honestly, I’m not keeping up with what other parents are saying on the subject.

Or maybe they’re like me- they’re not admitting to taking their sons to see PG-13 rated movies; not because it’s inappropriate for the child, but that it’s inappropriate for the parent to admit it on social media?

But if it were socially acceptable for a dad to admit he took his 8 year-old son to see Aquaman this past weekend, I would use this opportunity that say that it was probably my son’s favorite superhero movie so far.

And knowing that he and I had quality time together this weekend doing something we both enjoyed- well, that makes me happy to be a dad.

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Disney’s Planes: Fire & Rescue- A Family Friendly Review

Today my wife and I took our son (age 3 years, 8 months) to his 2nd movie in a theatre: Disney’s Planes: Fire & Rescue.

Review Of Disney's Planes: Fire & Rescue

As expected, he loved it. Though, strangely, when I asked him what his favorite part was, he answered that it was when Dusty Crophopper crashes.

I personally definitely enjoyed this sequel more than the original.

Whereas the first Planes movie seemed more like the “plane version” of Cars, Planes: Fire & Rescue actually serves more as a spin-off of the first Planes movie.

I appreciate that Planes: Fire & Rescue picks up with the protagonist Dusty Crophopper moving on in his career. He leaves behind his career as a racer and decides to pursue obtaining his certfication to become a fire and rescue plane; in the majestic setting of the very fire-prone woodlands of northern California.

(As I learned from sitting through the movie’s ending credits, actual fire and rescue officials from Sacramento were consulted for the making of this movie.)

I felt the characters and the plot line in this sequel/spin-off were much interesting and original. It sort of reminds me of the difference between the two Captain America movies.

While the concept of death is not typically addressed in the Disney Cars/Planes universe, it definitely is in this movie.

They don’t shy away from that theme; as heroes of the fire and rescue team, they must be willing to sacrifice their lives for others. Death is not simply alluded to in Planes: Fire & Rescue, it’s very much a present concept throughout.

I believe that part of the reason it is rated PG instead of G is because of the undeniable theme of life and death; even though there are no shown “deaths” throughout the movie; they are only referenced.

Language and sexual content are not an issue. There are of course “vehicle-related” substitutes like “Chevy” being used as a curse word, for example.

Also, one scene features an “oil and gas bar” named Honkers, in which the sign contains the headlights of a car lit up, as to parody Hooters; though there are no “topless” waitresses, as suggested in the original Cars movie in which race fans “flashed” the race cars by turning on their headlights.

But obviously, only adults would even recognize those brief references. I can’t see any of those examples actually being perceived as offensive.

Review of Disney's Planes: Fire & Rescue

So in other words, Disney was clever enough to splice in a few subtle references to make sure that Planes: Fire & Rescue had just enough “oomph” to earn a PG rating.

By now, it should be common knowledge that PG rated kids’ movies make a lot more money than G-rated kids’ movies; likewise, PG-13 rated non-kids’ movies make a lot more money than PG rated non-kids’ movies.

(That explains why nearly every PG-13 rated movie contains its one token “f-word.” It ensures that more profitable PG-13 rating.)

In summary, our family loved seeing Disney’s Planes: Fire & Rescue on opening weekend. We had a great time! I seriously doubt your family will be disappointed either.

As you can see from the photo collage above, my son and I spent this morning building planes out of Legos in preparation for seeing the movie today. And of course, he had to take his two Planes toys with him to the theatre.

Thanks for reading my family friendly movie review of Disney’s Planes: Fire & Rescue. About a month from now, I plan to review the new (PG-13 rated) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.

Will it be suitable for my son? Let’s find out… next month.

2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie theatre

What Movie Rating Does Real Life Get? (G, PG, PG-13, R, or NC-17)

If your life was a movie, what would it be rated?

I recently watched a documentary questioning the secrecy and allusiveness of the MPAA movie rating system, called “This Film is Not Yet Rated”. While I’m not opposed to the American movie rating system because I see it as a decent way for parents to decide which movies are more suitable for their children, I also admit there is some humor in the way that movies are arbitrarily given ratings.

In general, more than one f-word grants an “R” rating. “Artistic or comic nudity” can land with “PG-13” or even “PG”, but if the nudity involves romantic or sexual content, then the movie will be an “R”. A panel of judges make a living off of making that call.

By now it’s pretty obvious that most studios want the majority of their films to be rated “PG-13” because more people will be able to see it. “PG” is for young kids and “R” weeds out the kids who are not smart enough to pay for one movie but walk into another.

The thing that most stood out to me from watching the documentary was this:

Compared to Europe, America has it backwards when it comes to sexuality and violence in movies. In Europe, sex scenes are portrayed in a more matter-of-fact/this-just-part-of-life manner. An absence of chiseled abs, large breasts, and steamy music. Not glamorized.

But when it comes to violence, Europe leaves a lot more to the imagination. They’re more offended by violence and less worried about sexual content.

In America, our movies are infiltrated by sex any time there’s a slight opportunity for it. But it’s so fake. Women have the sex drives of men. The atmosphere is perfect. The lighting is just right. And of course both participants have perfect bodies that could be (and often have been) featured partially nude on a health magazine cover. For me it’s just not believable.

Yet despite our obsession, compared to Europe, we’re much more offended by sex in movies. Culturally, America is a Christian nation. So we’re much more likely to be bothered or affected by heavy sexual content in a movie.

So we shy away from sex in movies, but indulge in violence. And not just grotesque stuff like the Saw movies.

We love war movies. We just do. Because there’s nothing more American than seeing the good guys kill the bad guys.

Like any James Bond movie for example. Loaded with countless murders by gunshots. Yet a lack of blood. Therefore, James Bond movies aren’t rated “R”, but “PG-13” instead.

The theory is that violent movies have this undertone that speak to teenage boys and young men: “Just imagine, if you fought in the U.S. military, you could be the one with the gun. Protecting our country. Killing and defeating the enemy.”

The regular presence of violence in American entertainment desensitizes us to it. The more we see it, the more we’re used to it. And it’s not really a moral issue to us.



While we may not be willing to be part of the firing squad that executes an American criminal convicted of murder and rape, our conscious doesn’t bother us as much about killing the enemy in a war who happened to be born in the wrong country with a dictator who is forcing him to fight against us. Yet he may have never killed or raped anyone. Until now, he could be just a another normal family man. But if he doesn’t fight for his corrupt political leader, his life will end anyway.

Both the sex and the violence are fake. We know this. But our conscience doesn’t really bother us about watching Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers (which neither really contain any sexual content).

I’ve noticed that Baptist preachers can mention Saving Private Ryan during a sermon to drive home a point and no one in the congregation thinks twice. We’ll overlook the vulgar language and bloody deaths in the name of war. Yes, it’s violent. But it’s war.

The point: Even Baptist preachers don’t mind violence, as long as it’s associated with war. I know this because I’ve been in the congregation enough to hear it. But if a movie was rated “R” for any other reason than war violence, it would be taboo for the preacher to admit he even saw the movie.

I get it. It makes sense.

America excuses violence. But has a tough time with the other stuff.

Now that I’ve established that America is okay with violence, I will quote Michael Tucker. He is the producer of the 2004 war documentary film, Gunner Palace, which shows the everyday lives of soldiers fighting in Iraq. This film is unique in that it received a “PG-13” rating, despite it’s 42 uses of the f-word and brutal violence and imagery. Tucker had to appeal the MPAA because of course they originally rated his film “R”:

“When a little girl was running down the road in South Vietnam, burnt by Napalm and she’s naked, is that PG? Is it PG-13? Is it R? You can’t rate reality.”

Great quote. I’ve seen the exact photograph he’s referring to. It’s awful. And I’ve seen even more hellish pictures from The Rape of Nanking during World War II, when Japan occupied China, raping all females and killing all men they could find in that city.

That can’t be rated. It’s so worse than “R”. Worse than NC-17. Yet those photographs can easily be found in Wikipedia or in any History section in a Borders or Barnes and Noble. It’s not fiction. It’s not art. It’s reality.

Michael Tucker is right: You can’t rate reality.


In the back of my mind I’ve always wondered what my life would be rated if it were a movie. The question is, how would my life not be rated “R”? Just considering an average workday. Even on a tame day, I know the language I hear around me would be rated “R”. As it definitely was in high school.

I guess I’ve always thought it’s ironic to hear a handful of f-words in a movie and know the movie is rated “R” because of the language itself. Hearing that language has become normal to me. Which of course defeats the whole idea of certain words being vulgar. When they’re common, they can’t truly be as vulgar as we let ourselves believe.

One of my biggest reasons not to use profanity is for that very reason. It just seems cliche to me. I can’t bring myself to do it.

Yet watching a movie than contains a few f-words is at least a little bit offensive and shocking. Why? Because it’s not in real life? Isn’t there a double standard somewhere in there?

Why, in real life, is it not a big deal to us?

Because it’s not real. Watching it happen to someone else in a movie makes it worse. It’s magnified. We pay closer attention. We’ll except it in real life, though.

It’s a funny thought.  To give a movie rating to real life.  Especially your own.

Related post by the same author:

Mixed Reviews  http://wp.me/pxqBU-2y

The Ball  http://wp.me/pxqBU-fv

And one more thing… Now that you’ve read my take on this, why not read my perspective on being a dad?  That’s right- parenting from a dad’s point of view.  I have been documenting my thoughts as a dad since the week we found out my wife was pregnant.  I formally invite you now to read my “dad blog” by clicking on the link below:

dad from day one