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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Movie Review for the Mindful Parent: 13 Going On 30

In this day and age, it's hard to know what is okay for your kids to watch, and what isn't. The problem mainly lies in the fact that each family varies as far as tastes, moral codes, and lifestyles. What is permissible in one household could be taboo in the next, and when you factor in the maturity level of individual children, it makes the rating system for TV and movies nearly ineffective. That's why I started cataloging the movies I watch. Not only do I look at things from a parental perspective, but I include detailed information that may be helpful in deciding whether a movie is appropriate for your child. It is my hope that this information will help others to make informed decisions the next time they are renting or buying a movie.

13 Going on 30 is a movie starring Jennifer Garner as an awkward teen who wishes she was older, beautiful, and making her way in the world. Much to her surprise (and horror), her wish comes true and she is transformed into her future self upon waking. This of course leads to new insights both for her and those around her, some odd moments, and the occasional faux pas in her new world. As she goes along, she starts to realize what has mattered all along is not so much what you can attain, but what you are and can become.

My opinion of the movie, pre-kids: Before children, I can honestly say that I didn't see too much wrong with this movie. I actually would have used the word "tame" if I had been asked to describe it's suitability for children. I liked this movie a lot, not just because of the concept (which was interesting) but because I find it to be funny with the sort of ending I like to see.

My opinion of the movie, post-kids: I cringed when the first line of the movie was the main character taking God's name in vain. Not a delightful start, and I cringed further still as the movie continued, talking about borderline adult themes and tossing in words like "orgasm" every so often. I still like the movie, still think it's worth watching, but also think that certain developmental milestones need to be passed before this movie is viewed by children. This movie is rated PG-13. I would say that this movie is probably alright for a 13-year-old, but in my personal opinion, I would try to wait at least until 14 or 15 to let my kids view this. I included some notes on the movie below to help out parents who are looking to screen out certain concepts and situations.

Swearing: There are about twelve instances of swearing in this movie, none of which is the dreaded F-Bomb.* Add that to the eight or so words that made me cringe a little to hear them (such as orgasm), and I'm getting around one cringe every five minutes. Depending on your child's maturity level, this can make for a very uncomfortable time. *Please note that there is an instance in the movie where the main character screams out for a "fluffy pillow". This sounds quite close to the f-word, but if you turn on the closed captioning you will see that she is indeed saying "fluffy".

God's Name in Vain: I put this one in a category on it's own because there were more instances of this than of swearing and taboo-ish words combined.

Issues of Note (These are for parents who have not discussed certain aspects of life with their children, and are not ready to broach these subjects yet.): Sexual references such as alluding to sex, alluding to premarital sex, and party games that are geared toward foreplay, i.e. Seven Minutes in Heaven. Talking about drugs, talking about drinking, and drinking on screen. Three minor references to sexual orientation and several on-screen moments where at least one person is in a state of undress before or after sexual activity.

Other (This is for anything else that I feel has the potential to become a discussion or a point of contention.): Bullying makes an appearance in this video, which includes name-calling, teasing, and using other people to get what you want. There is a large emphasis on the importance of having breasts and issues surrounding self-image at the beginning of the movie, which includes "bra-stuffing" scenes. There is also an aspect of "magic" in this film, as in the type that makes wishes come true.

I understand that not all of these issues are "hot-buttons" for some families, and for others, this type of information is just the sort of thing they look for when they are trying to grab a movie on a Friday night. My intent is not to tell any of you which issues you should screen out, but rather to highlight them to everyone so that each person can make an informed decision.

Questions, comments, suggestions? Let me know what you think in the comment area below, I love chatting with my readers!

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