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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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1- Family Friendly Review

Imagine the people of North Korea realizing that they outnumber their nation’s military in brute force and therefore they decide to overthrow the tyranny they’ve been under for all these decades.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1: Family Friendly Daddy Blog

Consider the unavoidable violence that would occur as the people would sacrifice their bodies as weapons against the armed military forces of the government. Think about how the landscape would be covered with the charred remains of the thousands fought for the cause of dethroning their oppressor.

It would be a grim picture.

I have just described the mood and feel of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, but the setting is not North Korea, it is a future version of America.

The reason I used North Korea as the example is because I feel the newest Hunger Games installment is a realistic glimpse of what really could happen if any oppressed nation turned own their government.

It all goes back to this concept: The people of a nation are only controlled by their government if they allow themselves to be.

And this is one of the many reasons I love The Hunger Games: The Libertarian theme is undeniable.

Amazingly, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 contains no profanity whatsoever; not even what I call a “1950’s cuss word” like “crap” or even something harmless like “dang it”. Nothing.

Unless I missed one… but I’ve always had a talent for hearing profanity in movies, and I can tell you, I didn’t hear even one questionable or potentially offensive word in this movie.

Likewise, it contains no sexual content or nudity whatsoever; as is typical with the Hunger Games movies.

Yes, Hollywood can indeed make an excellent movie without sex or profanity! Who knew?

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1- Family Friendly Review

As for violence, that’s another thing. Though blood is fairly minimal, this is a war movie more than anything.

There are mass deaths and public executions in which the camera pans away just in time before the moment of fatal impact is given.

And as I mentioned earlier, the landscape itself is an open graveyard.

What could have made this movie even darker is if any children were shown being killed. However, it is explained that most children had already died in “an epidemic.”

Therefore, the people who sacrifice their lives as human weapons are all older teens and adults; other than when a hospital is bombed by the Capitol, in which hundreds of injured and dying are instantly wiped out. However, only the bombing of the building from the outside is shown.

With that being said, this movie is for a mature audience. Could a 10 year-old watch this movie?

Ask yourself this: At what age would you be okay with your child watching an edited for TV version of Braveheart or Saving Private Ryan?

This isn’t a kids’ movie. It’s an intelligent, mature film that serves as a political thriller/war movie.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is not a family friendly movie, despite the complete lack of profanity and sexual content.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

However, it’s the best movie I’ve seen all year. It’s the kind of movie that is completely worthy of seeing in the theatre.

I believe the message in this movie validates the necessary amount of violence; because ultimately, it gives opportunity for a hero of hope to lead the people to salvation.

Flawless movie, but not intended or suitable for younger viewers. It’s rated PG-13 for a reason.

Thanks for reading my family friendly review of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. Come back any time!

Guardians Of The Galaxy: Family Friendly Movie Review By Nick Shell

There is no question that Guardians Of The Galaxy is an excellent, successful movie… not to mention hilarious! But the question I’ve already been asked is this: What age is appropriate for a child to see it?

Guardians Of The Galaxy: Family Friendly Review By Nick Shell

Like what I said in my recent review of X-Men: Days Of Futures Past, the movie follows a certain formula which ensures a PG-13 rating for an action/comedy; which is much more profitable than R, and completely more profitable than PG.

Therefore, the movie contains constant violence and on screen deaths; however, virtually no blood.

As far as profanity, again like X-Men: Days Of Futures Past, they casually use pretty much every word in the book once, except for “the f-word” or “g.d.” or references to female genitalia. The main character also “shoots a bird,” uncensored; unlike in the preview.

Regarding nudity, just like X-Men: Days Of Futures Past, there is a brief shot of a man’s bare butt. But female nudity is not a problem whatsoever.

Rocket-Raccoon-Groot-Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-Character-Poster

I assumed that for a science fiction comedy, there would probably be reoccurring shots of scantily clad female aliens, but unless you’re really making a point to scan the background shots of crowds of people, you won’t find that in this movie.

That’s especially opposed to X-Men: Days Of Futures Past, which contained constant coverage of Jennifer Lawrence in a very form-fitting, yet non-explicit, skin suit.

As expected, Guardians Of The Galaxy contains a steady amount of “boy humor.” There is also an ongoing reference to the main character (Peter Quill, played by Chris Pratt) being a playboy with female aliens across the universe, yet nothing explicit is ever mentioned.

So over all, I would project that the youngest safe age for a child to see this movie would be around eleven years old; 6thgrade, which is how old I was when I saw Jurassic Park in the theatre back in 1993.

Russian guardians-of-the-galaxy_international-poster

I want to close by pointing out that Guardians Of The Galaxy is a very well done movie. It’s nostalgic, action-packed, and contains a great script and plot.

Think of it as the underdog version of X-Men: Days Of Futures Past. Unlike the X-Men, the Guardians of the Galaxy were not brought together as an all-star team.

It’s more like they ended together, not even liking each other for most of the movie.

However, they recognize they are all “losers,” all having lost something important in their lives; like their families and homes. That’s what brings them together.

Something else I particularly appreciate about the movie is that it has a perfect and happy ending, yet creatively leaves the door open to make a trilogy of the movie.

Thanks for reading my review today. You’re welcome back anytime!

*Click on “movie reviews” below to see other movies I’ve featured!

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

Movie Guy, at Your Service: The Social Network (Plus, Which Actors are Jewish)

Why this movie guy proclaims it to be “Movie of the Year”.

I am extremely picky when it comes to movies.  Extremely. Very seldom do I finish seeing a movie and say, “There’s nothing they could have done to make that any better.  It was perfect.”  But that’s what I said to my wife as I left the cinema on Saturday afternoon after seeing The Social Network.

For a person who hasn’t seen The Social Network yet, and especially for a person who hasn’t even seen a preview for it either, it would be easy to think of it as Facebook: The Movie, some light-hearted movie about how facebook got started.  Fortunately, the movie’s title doesn’t contain the word “facebook” in it.  “The Social Network” is the best possible title because the film retraces all of the random people it took to invent, expand, sustain, and make a confirmed success out of the website.

I always assumed that Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg himself was the responsible for it all.  Played by Jesse Eisenberg, facebook creator Zuckerberg comes across as an obsessed college student with Aspergers (he’s just extremely intelligent, instead), so consumed with his website idea that despite making facebook about socializing with people, that his last concern in the world is actually having real friends.

It’s interesting to see how Zuckerberg journeys through the entire movie, constantly finding ways to improve facebook, plowing through real-life friends along the way, collecting and adding their ideas to his growing snowball of a website.  I had no idea that Napster creator Sean Parker, cleverly portrayed by Justin Timberlake, at one time played an important part in it all.

A key factor in The Social Network‘s success is its dark and sophisticated tone. It’s not just Trent Reznor’s musical contributions going on in the background.  I can confidently state that the movie can’t be described as “fun” or “trendy”.  It’s not quirky in the ways that made Garden State a comedy as well as a drama.  The Social Network is simply just a drama, but an infectiously interesting one.  I was impressed how they could fit the coolness of an R-rated movie into the limitations of a PG-13 rating.

When the movie ended, I came to terms with the fact there was no real climax or truly resolvable plot… just like facebook.  In the movie, Zuckerberg compares facebook to fashion, in that it never ends.  The Social Network, from start to finish, is an ongoing, constantly evolving entity.  For me, the whole movie was a continual plot line and climax. This offbeat formula captures the idea of facebook so well.

For me to say that The Social Network is the movie of the year is to say that it’s better than Inception.  So just to be clear, for me, it was better than Inception. My guess is that most people who have seen both movies will disagree with me. But the cultural relevance, perfectly executed acting, and snappy pace of The Social Network kept my mind from ever wandering.  And in age where things like facebook only encourage ADHD behavior, a movie that can keep my attention for a solid two hours and one minute deserves a prize for that alone.

Ethnic Backgrounds of the Main Cast

The Real Mark Zuckerberg

 

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

Mixed Reviews

Being a movie critic would be a fun job, but it would be the epitome of the phrase “you can’t please everyone”. Reviewers of movies ultimately are bias to a certain degree. Professional critics base their judgments more on artistic values, along with production quality and script. Whereas when random Joe’s like me write up a review, it’s based more on the factors of likeability, “re-watchability”, characterization, and comedic elements.

And then there’s that intangible element of “offensiveness”, which transcends both my reviews and professional ones as well. A few months ago my friend Jake sent me a link to this article that referred to the concept of the “Christian disclaimer” that is commonly given by Christian movie reviewers. Here’s one I’ve heard several times: “The Wrestler is great movie, focusing on the depravity of man, loneliness, and not giving up on your dreams, but there is a lot of bad language and his girlfriend is a stripper so there are some scenes you may need to close your eyes and cover your ears.” What it comes down to is the ability to separate the counter-Christian content from what makes a good movie. And for many people, understandably, that’s not easy.
http://stufffchristianslike.blogspot.com/2009/05/543-throwing-out-disclaimers-before-you.html

In recent years I’ve had several people half-jokingly tell me that I only like movies with a lot of swearing and nudity. I do admit that R-rated movies typically have more depth to them and speak to me more than the typical PG-13 movie. Among my personal favorites are Trains, Planes, and Automobiles, Garden State, I Love You, Man (obviously), Fight Club, Vanilla Sky, Lost in Translation, and Pineapple Express. All of which are rated R and most of which contain some nudity.

My ability to separate what many Christians find offensive in R-rated movies comes from my inability to blacklist PG and PG-13 entertainment that goes against my spiritual beliefs to the same or worse degree, as I would feel I would be using a double standard to judge entertainment based on the obvious offenses versus the subtle offenses. Most of my favorite sitcoms, like Friends, have a constant occurrence of casual sex. I strongly disapprove of the way the writers and actors make it seem normal, guiltless, and… well, casual. And I strongly disapprove of the phrase “oh my God” that is constantly used in dialogue.

Part of me actually thinks it’s worse to be exposed to a daily stream of the more family friendly sitcoms which subconsciously tell us these things are okay as we overlook the “smaller stuff”. Because they are more easily accessible, less offensive, and such a staple of everyday American culture. They’re not as blatant as an intentionally crude R-rated movie by Judd Apatow. But I see the real threats to our spiritual lives being the quiet, common subtleties, not the obvious threats that we are already distancing ourselves from.

rated R