We have this great second-run theatre in our neighbourhood. It’s old and dingy, with perpetually sticky floors and $2.99 admission for all. I’m always expecting it to close down, because it’s rare to have more than a dozen people at any screening, but so far we’ve been lucky — because what a cheap and wonderful way to take kids to the movies.
That’s what we did on Friday, which was a P.A. day for Anna. We were going with friends and trying to decide between two movies that fit our schedule. Brave was one of them. We haven’t seen it yet, because I’ve heard from others that it’s a bit scary. The other option was The Odd Life of Timothy Green. My first instinct was that it would be too old for Anna, but after checking out some reviews, I agreed to give it a try.
I’m so glad I did. Anna loved it and I did, too (and yes, I teared up a few times). It was so nice to go to a movie with actual human beings in it, telling a sweet story we all could enjoy, with a valuable message about being proud of what makes us different, because that’s what also makes us special. Better yet, it was a good eye-opener that, at six, Anna is old enough that we can expand our movie horizons beyond the latest animated Disney offerings.
I’m not hyper-vigilant about many things in my parenting, but I’ve been pretty careful about what the girls watch — mostly because I’ve followed their lead. Anna is actually not that keen on a lot of the typical Disney princess movies. “Why do they always have to have bad guys and sad parts?” she asked me once. An excellent question. She rarely chooses to watch any of them for this reason. She gets nightmares, but also seems sensitive to the dramatic tension, if you want to call it that (she’ll even hide her eyes at the “tense” part of an episode of My Little Pony!). Avery loses interest quickly during most movies we watch at the theatre or at home, and will only half-watch them while playing on the floor.
I also don’t want the girls to grow up too fast. They still only watch TVO Kids. I’d like to hold off on TV with commercials as long as I can, and don’t want them watching shows about kids in high school or boyfriend/girlfriend relationships. (Though I guess the “princess” movies go there, but that’s a whole different post.) I don’t want them to watch movies with swearing or actors making out or things that they really don’t need to be thinking about (or asking me about) at this age. Call me a prude.
But Sean and I both love movies and are always eager to take the kids (we often have to rock-paper-scissors if Avery’s too young to go and one of us has to stay home), and it’s exciting that the girls are getting older and giving us a chance to see more movies. I just worry about the content once we get out of the rated-G realm. The media decides lots of things are appropriate for young children that I definitely don’t, and while it opens up the opportunity for discussion (especially when you are raising a very, very curious six-year-old), sometimes, I’d just like to watch a movie with my kids and not worry about explaining all the adult humour in it.
Anna used to be opposed to any movie that wasn’t animated, but luckily, she’s had a change of heart. Three that she’s absolutely loved are Madeline, the remake of The Parent Trap (Lindsay Lohan was adorable in this!) and Ramona and Beezus (we’ve read these books). We watched Annie a few weeks ago. She loved the story, but got frustrated with all the singing that got in the way of it. “Can’t they just get on with it?” Anna groaned. (And it did make me feel like an absolute prude to see what I watched as a kid, with the drunk Miss. Hannigan slapping kids and making a pass at Daddy Warbucks!) She definitely loves a good comedy.
What other movies exist that are entertaining to the six-year-old set, but won't make me uncomfortable? I’d love to hear your family’s faves!