When I was a kid, all family-friendly movies came with a G rating. The G stood for “good” or “golly-gosh” or “grandmothers approve.” PG meant an actor said the word “damn” and at least one actress showed her belly button. An R rating meant Dustin Hoffman said some word beginning with the letter “F” and an actress wore a sheer top.
Nowadays, almost no movie comes with a G rating, and PG ratings give parents little information on whether a particular movie is appropriate for any one child.
If you ask me, it’s time for a whole new MPAA rating system. Here are a few new ratings that parents might find more useful than the current alphabet soup.
How many times has Disney killed off a parent within the first 15 minutes of a kids’ movie? Mothers especially get sacrificed to the fairy-tale gods. The new ML rating lets parents know that the mom (or, as a consolation, the dad) will survive the film up to the closing credits.
In other words, you will not have a 4-year-old child crawling into your bed every night for three months asking creepy questions like “Are you going to die soon? When will you die? Will I get to see your skeleton when you die?”
The soundtrack and Foley effects in this movie go up to 11. Bring ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones.
This movie comes with an app, an Xbox game, a junior novelization, a character lunchbox, a t-shirt, Halloween costume, sheet set and comforter and, of course, light-up sneakers. If you just finished decorating your kid’s bedroom with “Big Hero 6” wall appliques, you might want to wait for this new movie to hit Redbox. That will give you a month or two before your child once again redirects your consumer spending.
This movie’s soundtrack may launch the next “Let It Go” or, worse, the next “Under the Sea.” Yeah, you may think songs from “The Little Mermaid” are peppy and adorable. But the next time you meet an adult who parented a preschooler in 1990, I dare you to start singing “The seaweed is always greener, in somebody else’s lake….” The parent will slap your lips off your face before crumpling to a fetal position and sobbing at the memory of steel drums.
BBT—Bird and Bees Talk
If your child still believes that babies are delivered by white birds or that a Very Special Angel made Mommy’s tummy grow bigger, then certain scenarios and language in this movie may prompt questions you aren’t ready for. Caveat: If you child rides a public school bus, then he’s already had an ersatz Sex Ed talk from the fifth graders and knows that Mommy and Daddy aren’t “playing WrestleMania” behind the locked bedroom door.
© Comedy Central
At least one character in this movie is a descendent of Bart Simpson, Eric Cartman or Beavis and/or Butthead. If the character has an annoying catchphrase (see: Nelson Muntz’s “Ha ha!”), your child will repeat it ad infinitum. If the character does something stupid—e.g. rides his bike off the house roof and into the swimming pool—your child will try it. Any fart jokes will be repeated 5,000 times on the ride home.
Nothing festers in a child’s imagination like a creepy puppet. During Spielberg’s film about a beloved alien, my 8-year-old son was seriously freaked out by the E.T. puppet, especially the scene where E.T.’s pale, lifeless puppet-body is lying on the bank of the creek.
Talking dolls, walking clowns and every single Thunderbirds show—like witnessing the zombie apocalypse, kids react to puppets with an innate, primal fear of “things that are moving but aren’t supposed to move.”
NTON—Not Tatum O’Neal
The 2005 version of Bad News Bears is a remake; Walter Matthau is the foul-mouthed Coach Buttermaker you’re looking for. Jaden Smith kicks butt, but nothing beats Ralph Macchio’s Karate Kid. Lindsay Lohan is commendable in the updated Freaky Friday, but every kid should be given the chance to crush on Jodi Foster’s 1970s tomboy.
One reminder: The kids’ movies of our youth all come with today’s PG-13 rating (at least), so review your favorites. Did you remember the part in Bad News Bears where Tanner shouts “take your apology and your trophy and shove ’em straight up your ass!”
Add TW—Tanner Warning—to the list.