I Would Love to be Able to Take My Kindergartner to the Movies
Shazam! Fury of the Gods is out, and people are saying it’s a great movie for kids. It literally has kids in it! Plus unicorns and kittens and sentient pens and Darla, the most adorable superhero ever. I’ve seen Shazam 2, and I think it’s a great movie that a lot of kids will love, but there’s something missing from the discussion here.
I wish there were more movies in theaters right now for young kids. I mean like little littles, like the age group where they write their names using huge, heart-meltingly cute backwards letters. I wish I could take my kindergartener to the movies more often.
We got so close to a movie she could actually enjoy when I took her to see Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. That movie is a lot of fun, and it sparked a crush on Goldilocks that I never suspected I would have, but by the third act, my five-year-old was squirming in her seat. There wasn’t anything objectionable in the movie—the plot was just a little too long and complicated for my nugget to handle.
If it seems like there aren’t many kids’ movies in theaters these days, you’re not imagining it: the G-rating, which used to signal that films could be enjoyed by all audiences of all ages, has largely been eliminated. In 2019, for instance, The Hollywood Reporter reported that only two G-rated movies came out that entire year, both of them from Disney. Marketers reportedly determined that G-rated films alienated older kids, so filmmakers adjusted the content of their movies accordingly.
And what about PG films? I searched both Moviefone and Fandango for kids’ movies, and managed to break both websites’ brains. They both included PG-13 results in the searches, leading to suggestions that I take my five-year-old to see John Wick 4, Scream 6, Creed III, and Fast X. First off, my kindergartener can’t see Fast X, because I’d have to sit her down to watch the previous nine Fast and the Furious movies so she would understand what was going on, and she has too much homework already. (Yeah, they give kindergarteners homework these days.) Secondly, we’re talking about someone who’s afraid to go to the bathroom if we don’t turn the light on for her, so I promise you she wouldn’t enjoy two hours of Ghostface.
If anyone out there is imagining being trapped in a theater with a sticky rugrat, watching 90 minutes of Teletubbies, rest assured that kids’ stories can be just as enjoyable as movies for adults. See, for example, Bluey and Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. Just because something is geared towards kids’ sensibilities and attention spans doesn’t mean it has to be mind-numbingly trite, and it’s a shame that more studios aren’t taking advantage of the teeny person demographic. Super Mario Bros. is hitting theaters next month, and Disney and Pixar films are always great, but I wish we weren’t relying on a tiny handful of studios to make stuff we can take our kids to see.
Of course, the lack of kids’ films ties into a whole host of other issues with going to the movies, like rising ticket prices and increasingly onerous theater experiences. As a parent, I’m feeling this loss keenly. I loved going to the movies when I was little, and it was so easy for my parents to stuff us in the car and haul us to the nearest theater if we all got bored on a Saturday. I’m sorry I subjected them to stuff like the Care Bears movie, but I’m glad they had the option—and I wish my littlest one could experience the same magic I did at her age.
(featured image: Warner Bros.)
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