On the first day Star Wars: The Force Awakens tickets were available for purchase, I opened up the Fandango app on my phone without even getting out of bed and started clicking away to find a theater and purchase tickets.
Then I remembered something: This film isn't rated yet. Can we all go?
So far, only one film in the entire franchise has ever been rated PG-13 (Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith), but I keep having this sinking feeling ... The Force Awakens may be the next. This may not be an issue for parents with older kids, but if you have a younger kid, this could be a Jabba the Hut-sized problem.
I am the parent to a six and a half year old. W has seen a few PG-13 films at home on DVD or streamed. We have always had the luxury of fast forwarding or pausing to explain, or stopping the film altogether. He has never seen a PG-13 movie in the theaters.
The only way I will ever truly be OK with him seeing a PG-13 movie at this age is if I go to see it first. I also think the fact that this is a Star Wars film, vs any other PG-13 film, matters.
He has wanted to see other PG-13 films. Oh, trust me, he has wanted to. He wanted to see Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America, The Amazing Spider Man and Jurassic World. And every time I would point to the rating prominently displayed on the film poster, and say, “Sorry, kid. You just aren’t old enough yet.”
Is it fun saying no to my son? Absolutely not. But all movies aren’t made for all ages.
Sometimes a family film may be out of scope for some kids. Just because a film is rated PG doesn’t mean it will work for all kids under the age of 13. I have been screening films in advance for my son for a while. I saw Maleficent at a press screening and later when W asked to go see it, I was able to talk to him about some of the elements of the film so he was prepared.
Recently W asked to go see the PG-rated Goosebumps and I was worried it might be too spooky for him. So I went to a showing in advance to find out. I don’t ever want to set W up for a film experience that is over his head. He’s got PLENTY of years down the road where he can load up on thrillers and action films.
I care about trying to keep up with what he can handle. He evolves faster than I probably give him credit for. I thought he might be too skittish to see Goosebumps once I shared with him some of the more frightening moments of the film. Instead he couldn’t wait to see it for himself. Several months ago he wouldn’t have been able to deal with anything that made him jump.
W has seen all six of the previous Star Wars films and he has seen them a billion times. That is barely an exaggeration. He taught himself how to operate our DVD player so that he could watch the episodes of Star Wars.
I remember getting ready to show him the first one (chronologically by release, of course). I told him the entire plot of the film as if it were a fairy tale. He talked through the entire movie - so many questions. Who was the bad guy? What just happened? I can still recall how W referred to a certain character as “Bath Vapors”...
After that first viewing I assumed there would be a lot to digest and discuss. Instead W turned to me and asked if we could immediately watch it again. And of course, we did.
Sharing a mutual love of Star Wars has been a complete joy for both of us and we have been thrilling about the release of the new film. I’m sure we are not the only ones who see this as an early Christmas gift experience.
But I need to be ready. This is why, for opening weekend, I purchased a ticket to The Force Awakens for myself on Friday morning, and tickets for the family the next day. Just in case.
And if the new Star Wars ends up being W’s first PG-13 movie, well what a great one to commemorate the experience!
Dresden Shumaker is a writer, advocate and appreciator of (butterless) movie popcorn. She chronicles her adventures in single parenting on CreatingMotherhood.