Family Movies News

Crossing the Line: Marijuana in PG-13 Movies

Whenever tensions rise between parent and child, what mom hasn’t lit up a joint with her kid to smooth things over? When teaching your child how to meet new friends, what dad doesn’t encourage the bond that comes from sharing a doobie? Okay, all joking aside, hitting a bong may not be the new Chutes and Ladders just yet, but two summer movies so far send a subconscious message to teens that smoking pot is part of life as an adult.

Marijuana depicted as a tool to strengthen relationships isn’t a new idea (see: Cheech, Chong) but it is usually rare in the PG-13 world. Already, though, this summer’s Dark Shadows depicted Johnny Depp’s sexy vampire Barnabas Collins forging a friendship with a group of hippies by sharing a joint. This Friday’s People Like Us features a scene where the strained relationship between a mother (Michelle Pfeiffer) and her son (Chris Pine) is healed as the two smoke the family’s late patriarch’s medicinal marijuana together – a brand called "Peace Frog," which sounds like a Sesame Street character.

I don’t blame these movies for introducing kids to drug use; however, I do admonish the MPAA for giving pot its blessing. The ratings board does fully understand that kids under 17 are highly influenced by behavior they see in the movies, in fact, that’s the only reason for the existence of ratings. The regulators decided several years ago that smoking, except for purposes of historical accuracy, is on par with sex and violence. So, how is glamorizing illegal drug acceptable for teens?

Three films better suited for kids:

Brave. Princess Merida learns responsibility after her selfish decision threatens her family and her kingdom. Finally, a parent’s response to “It’s not my fault!” May be too scary for kids under 5.  




 Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted. Alex the Lion is a showman and watching him and the rest of the Bronx Zoo trying to return home from Africa is pure popcorn entertainment and, just like Alex, a real crowd pleaser.




 The Avengers. The super superhero movie is still showing in theaters. There’s a reason. It’s time to assemble your family to find out what the buzz is about.




To see what kids think about these movies, go to, where all kids are movie critics.

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