Do families watch programs together anymore? Is there such a thing as family movie night?
I know 3-year-olds with tablets, 5-year-olds with iPads, 7-year-olds with cellphones and a nine-year-old who watched “Squid Games” by himself. Yes, we’re in a different time. Yes, living through a Pandemic has led many families to turn to screen time to save their sanity. It no longer surprises me when a child asks if they can see the photo I’ve taken of them on my phone but when they want to edit it and post it to their social media?! Life is certainly changing.
There are two movies streaming that I’d recommend for family viewing. Not for kids to be plopped in front of…but to be watched together and discussed. “Turning Red” is the latest Pixar film on Disney+ and though it’s animated and looks like a film aimed at little girls, it covers some mature themes. One 5-year-old took a red magic marker to her white panda after watching the movie by herself.
The other, “The Adam Project”, may look like a Sci-Fi action film for teens but with Ryan Reynolds starring, you know the language is going to be “salty”. Plus, there are some frank discussions about parenting and loss that would be best seen with a parent or an adult.
Common Sense Media is a great resource for adults who care about the media their kids consume. Often there are films that may seem appropriate from a trailer but are targeted to an older audience or might be traumatic for a more sensitive child. They recommended “Turning Red” for kids 10+ (Pixar coming-of-age tale explores puberty and parent issues) and “The Adam Project” for teens 14+ (Stylized violence, language in emotional time-travel tale).
The most important thing to consider is how your particular child responds to certain themes. You know if little Timmy is going to wake up with nightmares if there’s supernatural elements or sweet Jennifer will bully her younger sibling after too many action movies. Watching a film together lets you gauge your kids reactions and know when it’s appropriate to pause a scene for discussion or when to turn it off.
Pixar Studios, “Turning Red” (Disney+, Director Domee Shi, 1 hour 40 min) is a light-hearted animated film told from a nerdy 13-yr-old overachiever’s perspective. Younger children will likely miss the references to puberty: both the start of menstruation and awakening sexual desire. Some great discussions can be had about bullying, trying to “fit in” at school, and family expectations. There’s also realistic scenes of how social media and stereotypes can be harmful in revealing your true nature.
Netflix’s, “The Adam Project” (Shawn Levy, 1 hr 46 min) is surprisingly tender in many of the parent/child interactions. Yes, there’s the wisecracks and inappropriate behavior from the Ryan Reynold’s character, but he learns crucial lessons about his parent’s relationship and his own misconceptions. There may be spaceships and gadgets and Catherine Keener as an evil Tech CEO…but the real story is family love. It’s a movie about sacrifice and hubris and that’s a lot to package in a family film.
There’s so much content out there and so many movies streaming that are violent, misogynistic and/or sexually explicit. Take the time to find a movie to enjoy with your children or your teens. Maybe you’ll find some fun lines to quote and find that the hour and a half (if you’re lucky) has been a great bonding time.
Drinks With Films Ratings
“Turning Red” — 2 cups of tea sipped while avoiding family questions at the dinner table (out of 5)
“The Adam Project” — 2 ½ beers sipped while a pre-teen tries to sneak a sip (out of 5)