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Family Friendly Movie Guide

A Mom's Take On 'The Hunger Games': Is It Too Violent For Your Kids?

By: Tara McNamara on March 20, 2012 at 6:03PM Comments (12)

Is there such a thing as “good violence?” If so, The Hunger Games just might apply.

One might not think so considering the film’s disturbing premise:  two dozen kids 12-18 are picked at random to fight to the death in a government-mandated reality TV show.  And, indeed, they do.
 
As much as director Gary Ross tries to mask straightforward murder with shaky-cam cinematography and quick cuts, the audience does witness some brutality. In fact, the handheld camera approach intensifies the violence by making the audience feel they’re “In the Game” itself. Jennifer Lawrence, who plays the film’s heroine, is such an adept actress that kids watching will identify with Katniss Everdeen’s plight, which makes the violence seem all the more personal.  
 
So what could be "good" about depicting children killing children? For starters, the violence isn’t glorified in any way. In fact, The Hunger Games actually sensitizes the audience to feel that murder is indeed horrific – something glossed over in most movies.  Katniss is skilled, smart and strong inside and out – but she never becomes Rambo. 
 
Better yet, Katniss is the anti-Bella, the weak protagonist of the Twilight films who treats her family and herself with disregard in pursuit of a boy. Katniss Everdeen is self-sufficient, courageous, confident, and values family so intensely she realizes her own survival is integral to their well-being. Katniss is substance over style.
 
Some scenes in The Hunger Games may be shocking, but they’re also thought-provoking. That’s an excellent quality in entertainment for teens whose brains are engaging in critical thought – but I believe it’s too much for a preteen to process. The Hunger Games is a gripping, well-made piece of cinema that will satisfy fans of the book and provide a springboard for conversation – but under no circumstances should a kid under 12 see this film.
 
Planning to see Hunger Games on your own, but need a movie for elementary school-age children too? Check these out:
 
The Lorax: Dr. Seuss’ classic environmental story encourages activism with an issue more suitable to younger children: save the trees.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. Here’s a less scarring way children can enjoy the work of Josh Hutcherson, who also stars in The Hunger Games. The adventure brings to life the works of Jules Verne and other literary greats in fun, eye-popping 3D.
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Secret World of Arrietty. Adapted from another children’s book, “The Borrowers,” Arrietty depicts what it’s like to be small in a big world, something every little kid can relate to.
 
 
 
 
 
To read what kids think about The Hunger Games, go to www.KidsPickFlicks.com, where all kids are movie critics.
 
 

Comments (12)Leave a Comment

  • Mar 23rd 2012 9:38AM

    lfmarko  said...

    I saw it last night and it was very good, but not too violent

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  • Mar 22nd 2012 6:35PM

    Fearless4Him  said...

    Must we always bash the Twilight Saga? I understand some of the issues raised about it, but honestly in Hunger Games, the only similarity is the love triangle. It has been said time and time again that the love triangle is (obviously) not the driving force of this trilogy, so why the constant comparison to Twilight?! I am so worried that this will turn in to a "Team Gale" vs. "Team Peeta" thing. If it does, then maybe we can start comparing it to Twilight but for now, let's let both the trilogies stand on their own!

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  • Mar 21st 2012 7:28PM

    hungergames55  said...

    the hunger games is a just right moive for kids because we live in a world with violence and it just goes to show that in a corrupet goverment anything goes so the moive is a great moive to see so what if theres some blood, people are getting killed any way everyday so whats the differnce. thats why me and my mom are going to see it

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  • Mar 21st 2012 3:05PM

    marybg123  said...

    hey

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  • Mar 21st 2012 3:04PM

    marybg123  said...

    I honestly disagree because the movie is showing violence that is also in our society. i am a huge fan of the book and i am going with my friend and her mom and i think it will be totally aproppiate for us

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  • Mar 21st 2012 10:19AM

     said...

    The Hunger Games, a series with a violent storyline, is at a middle school reading level and is on many of their reading lists. When promoting the film, marketers worried about how to advertise the film without glorifying violence, and keeping it age-appropriate for the target audience. Their strategy was to withhold any trailers with scenes from the games, keeping it PG-13 and allowed for a marketing scheme to go see the movie to see the games. I think the movie will be entertaining yet challenging, leaving the audience with some food for thought. Deborah Yim Tulane University Freeman School of Business

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  • Mar 21st 2012 8:26AM

     said...

    I completely disagree with your assessment of Bella. It sounds like you never read the Twilight novels. In the first book she risks her life against a vicious vampire in order to save her mother. In what way is that treating her family with disregard? After that she does her best to protect her father from the knowledge that could kill him about the vampires even sending him out so she alone would be at home when the vampire Victoria was to come looking for her. She does also save Edward from the evil vampire royalty. Finally on Breaking Dawn she does everything to protect her daughter. She fights for her and for her family as she becomes the strongest vampire. Bella is not weak.

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  • Mar 21st 2012 6:42AM

    fmiranda521  said...

    It's a commentary on how immune we are to violence in our society. I think it's a good learning experience while being entertaining at the same time. It doesn't trivialize violence.

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  • Mar 31st 2012 11:43AM

     said...

    @fmiranda521 What do you mean, by how immune we are to violence in our society? I don't understand your comment, can you explain?

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  • Mar 21st 2012 3:15AM

     said...

    love the way you describe\be bella

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  • Mar 20th 2012 9:47PM

    leslie.meyrovich  said...

    We live in an incredibly violent society. The hunger games is clearly questioning that very violence. I think children enjoying these books or movies will see just that.

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  • Mar 20th 2012 7:40PM

    jess crush  said...

    well i dont care how violemt it is i am still going to take my 12 year old brother to see it

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