The only new wide releases this past weekend were rated R but on May 1, Cinemark Theaters will show a PG classic: The Graduate. Yep, the "Mrs. Robinson, are you trying to seduce me?" flick received the rating that parents today read as “okay for 8-year-olds.” Of course PG-13 didn’t exist in 1967, but today’s sex comedies almost universally receive an R. It seems hard to believe, but movies are more responsible these days.
To realize this, simply rewatch a movie from your childhood. When the 1982 Kenny Rogers PG-rated “family film” Six Pack aired on TCM, my fond memories led me to share it with my tween, only to realize those kids could teach sailors some new words. In 1984 Footloose also received a PG, in which cool kids smoke cigarettes and pot, drink alcohol, swear, have sex and stand on top of moving trucks on the highway. And what child of the ‘80s doesn’t want to share some John Hughes with their progeny? Brace yourself: the PG-rated Sixteen Candles includes nudity, 14- and 15-year-olds talking nonstop about having sex, and implied date rape shown in an acceptable, even comic light. No wonder Gen X’ers were so angsty.
Today, movies are by far more responsible. For instance, modern-day teen comedies rarely show the couple having sex – in fact, Easy A was all about how Emma Stone’s character got a bad reputation for having sex when, in fact, she wasn't. The sexual content from the novel Warm Bodies was completely eliminated in the movie adaptation; the zombie romance has cursing but it’s nothing compared to the foul language used by teens in ‘80s and ‘90s movies. And when Footloose was remade in 2011, the dangerous stunts took place in a safer setting and Ariel is no longer promiscuous; rather, she’s pressured into having sex with her older boyfriend. Teens smoking and drinking are so rarely shown in PG and PG-13 films that it’s startling when those vices make an appearance.
Swearing, smoking, drinking, sex and drugs are all greatly subdued in mainstream millennium movies – heck, even boozy womanizer Tony Stark rarely has a swig and has settled down with Pepper Potts. Now, if only Hollywood would take the same approach to violence.
The Graduate may not an excellent choice for the family, but here are three movies to see with the kids:
42. Jackie Robinson’s breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball wasn’t by chance and it certainly wasn’t easy. The racist language is frequent and intense, but if your kid can put it into context, 42 is the must-see movie of the year.
The Croods. Family values haven’t changed much since the beginning of humanity – dads are overprotective and daughters want to explore the world and the boys who inhabit it.
Oz the Great and Powerful. We live in a world where kids feel the pressure to be more outstanding than their peers. Oz’ message that it’s more important to be a good person than a great one is a moral youth needs to hear more often.
When kids write movie reviews, they utilize the writing skills they learn in school while developing critical and independent thinking. After the movie, visit KidsPickFlicks.com – where your kid can be a movie critic!