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Film Mom: Taking a Two Year Old to the Movies: Can It Be Done?

I’m a huge believer in not bringing really young kids to a movie: they’re happier and we’re happier. But, the truth is, parents 1) want to take our kids to new experiences, 2) often have older children who want to see the movie and think 3) surely the baby will be FINE sitting still in a dark theater for two hours.  

My child, lovingly nicknamed “Baby Tas” (short for Tasmanian Devil), is a chip off the old movie-loving block. At home, he sat mesmerized through all the Toy Story movies, Monsters Inc., and thanks to HBO Family even 2000’s Road to El Dorado. So, when on the morning of Monsters University my husband suddenly “had to” attend a golf tournament for “business reasons,” I decided it was time to buckle down and make baby’s first movie happen.

My older kids had detailed itineraries of how the movie screening would go down, who would go to the concession stand, who would hold seats, who would chase Tas around the lobby before the movie started. As the movie started, I lured him into his seat with popcorn and thought, "This is working perfectly!" However, just as Mike and Sulley were preparing for scare games, Baby Tas stood up and started yelling “Home! Home!” and headed for the exit.  My quick-thinking 12 year old slipped some M&Ms into baby’s hand and, boom, crisis averted. We made it to the end of the film.

I surmised that candy is the key. Our next movie was Despicable Me 2. Unfortunately, the concessions guy didn’t understand discretion is necessary when purchasing M&M’s in front of a toddler and my mid-movie secret was revealed. But, even with all my sit-in-your-seat tools out in the open, we made it through the entire movie. I basked in my mothering brilliance, even if that brilliance involved sugary bribes.

With confidence, we went on to a screening of The Smurfs 2, which we saw at the end of a party thrown by Sony Pictures Animation. Perhaps it was the pre-movie ice cream and cupcakes. Perhaps the non-Smurf moments weren’t as engaging to a two year old. Either way, after 20 minutes, Baby Tas was out of the theater and tearing through the offices of Sony corporate.

This week, I decided Planes would be my final attempt. I would ration out the hidden treats. I would prove to the world (or at least the other media professionals in my screening) that my two year old can handle a movie! But, I didn’t count on one thing: breathtaking animation. Once those incredible fliers showed up on-screen, my little guy might as well have been wearing a white suit and black tie as he screamed “Da Plane! Da Plane!” Disney’s Planes were so BIG and so CLOSE and so, well, FRIENDLY that Baby Tas couldn’t be contained: with all the determination his three-foot body could muster, he ran for the front of the theater to try and touch… nay, HUG… Dusty, Skipper and even Ripslinger. He literally tried to climb up the screen.

I did learn something. The perfect place to see a movie with a two year old, at least my two year old, is at home. Or at least until Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 – a lot of maturing can happen in seven weeks!

 

Here are three movies to see with your family this weekend:

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. The second outing of a modern-day Perseus is a perfect tween movie: it reinforces what they’ve learned about mythology in school, the CGI is believable but not realistic, the female characters are strong and tough, and the guys and girls in the movie are all just friends – no romance!

Planes. Dusty Crophopper is the Little Engine That Could. He’s “not built” for racing around the world, but he believes he can. Dads will appreciate the ESPN approach to moviemaking and teachers will appreciate that the film is actually a lesson in geography.

Pacific Rim. For teens and tweens, Pacific Rim is the action film of the summer. The violence isn’t graphic, the language and romance is clean, and there’s no spectacle like watching giant robots fighting giant monsters on the big screen.

You know what parents and critics think about these movies, but what about kids? Find out at www.KidsPickFlicks.com where all kids are movie critics.

 

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