Monday, March 16, 2009

R-rated movies, kids, and common sense: advice from Poppy Buxom

Have you been following the press reports about people walking out on Watchmen? Apparently they're leaving in droves.

That's a pretty extreme response. I think I've only walked out on one movie--some arty piece of douchebaggery that I saw when I was an undergraduate. It opened with an animal--I think it was a badger--getting run over by a car. And it went downhill from there. I stuck it out for another ten minutes, then told my friends I'd meet them at the bar.

The thing is, unless it's truly repellent, most people are too curious, intellectual, or cheap to walk out of a movie. Or, like my friends, they want to find out whether there was any point to the badger-flattening.

Even when you hate it, staying for the whole movie is a shared experience. Maybe especially if you hate it. Because then you're united against a common enemy, and your group has survived a test of character and endurance. You've bonded. You're a band of brothers, and now you can go to a bar and rip apart the people responsible for that pile of cinematic sludge. The mockery, scorn, and vituperation my group of amateur film critics heaped on the badger-squashing movie would have impressed Jonathan Swift himself. At the very least, it would have landed us all a spot on the Mystery Science Theater 3000 team. So there's that.

At any rate, I know my movie-going limits. I know I'm going to be uncomfortable at an R-rated movie. It's going to have embarrassing sex scenes or creepy drug use or dead bodies getting stuffed into a wood chipper or John Travolta getting shot on the toilet. So I don't go. And I certainly don't bring my kids.

What kills me is the reports of people walking out of Watchmen because they made the mistake of bringing their five-year-olds. Idiots.

How do I know they're idiots? It's because once--just once--I subjected my innocent child to an R-rated movie.

OK, it was The Blues Brothers. And it was on DVD.

And I don't know if you've noticed, but the print on DVDs and CDs is getting really small and hard to read. So since parents aren't getting any younger, I suggest that the R ratings and Parental Advisory stickers need to be a LOT MORE OBVIOUS.

Anyway, back to The Blues Brothers. I saw it when it was originally released, and I knew there wasn't any sex, creepy drug use, or violence. I was sure my son would enjoy it. For one thing, it's filmed in Chicago. And it has a lot of classic musical performances. And come on--John Belushi!

But I forgot about the FUCKING language.

Belushi dropped about five thousand f-bombs in the first five minutes of the movie--so many that my son--not me, my son--checked the DVD cover and discovered it was rated R.

Well, I let him finish watching it. And not just because I'm lame, but because he'd already heard the worst of it. Also, I didn't think it would be responsible parenting to let him miss the scenes where they drive their car around a mall and crash into Daley plaza.

Well, this morning one thing led to another and I spent a few minutes watching Blues Brothers clips on Youtube.

And the weird thing is how normal all that crazy driving starts to look. Crash through a window and drive around a mall? Why not--as Belushi notes, there sure is a lot of space. As for driving through the window into the Daley center? Hey, it beats waiting in line at the Cook County Assessor's office. Drive up one side of a drawbridge while it's opening and fly over a dizzying space to the other side? OMFG! How fucking cool is that???? Wow! I really, really want to go out right now and drive around.

So I've come to a couple of important conclusions about R-rated movies--even as seemingly innocuous sex-and-violence free ones like The Blues Brothers.

Obviously, children shouldn't be allowed to watch movies like this.

And neither should their mothers.


  1. In middle school, I once made a passing remark to my dad that I thought it would be interesting to see "Elizabeth." Next time he was at Blockbuster, he grabbed the movie, and never thought to look at the rating. Or the description.

    Hands down, the most uncomfortable moment of my life was watching all of those sex scenes with my father in the same room. Check the ratings, people.

  2. When my son was little he was enthralled with firefighters - he never left the house without his yellow rainslicker & fire helmet on. Given the choice of going to the park or going to visit the fire station, he chose the fire station every time.

    So when we found the "Backdraft" video for sale at the movie store, we bought it for him. Yeah, Rated R. He was like 5.

    First, the language was nothing he didn't hear at home. Cussing has never been a big deal & still isn't (he's 15 now).

    Second - the sex scene on top of the fire truck? He never knew what was going on there.

    Third - the one gory scene, with the burned-up bodies in the morgue? That came late in the movie, and he was usually asleep by then. If he was watching during the day I just fast-forwarded over it. I told him what it was though. I said it was the bodies of the people from the fire and it was gross. What's the point in teaching your children fire safety if they don't understand the ultimate danger is DEATH?

    So I've been pretty lax about the ratings thing. Still, I would NEVER have taken him to a theater to see an R rated film before he was MUCH older. That's just wrong. And stupid.

  3. My favorite are the morons who bring the teeny babies to the movies. Riiiight. 'Cuz really, a 2 month old is totally going to sleep through all the noise and screaming of Children of Men. Oh, and here's a hint: When your precious little one you couldn't bear to leave at home *does* start screaming? Be nice to the rest of us and Gah!

    (Yes, I was a cruel-hearted bitch and asked them to leave after 10 minutes of listening to the kid scream. Not whimper, not cry, SCREAM. And for the record - I'd left my own 3 month old at home with a sitter. Last thing I want on my first night out without someone attached to my chest was to listen to another one screaming. And I was nursing. The kid screaming sure wasn't helping me be comfortable!)

    I love R-rated movies. I'm a Stephen King junky. I love to have the crap scared out of me. I can't wait until my kid is old enough to enjoy them with me. Hopefully he won't turn out to be a wuss like his father. :)

  4. It never ceases to amaze me how people will bring young kids to a decidedly adult movie. It's sick. I had an acquaintance once who let her 2-year-old watch The Terminator over and over and over. Hello?

  5. I was horrified once by the presence of children at a theater showing the movie "Ransom" with Mel Gibson & Rene Russo. It's a particularly terrible movie for a child; even if your kid is OK with language & sex (and why a kid should be OK with that is beyond me) the subject matter made it particularly nightmare-inducing for children. "I know! Let's go out and see a movie about a kid getting kidnapped and held in unspeakably awful conditions!"

    But I find I must be very choosy about movies myself. Ever since I made the mistake of seeing Face/Off (couldn't sleep for weeks) I avoid violent films. Actually, it's not that difficult, as I never do anything but screw around on the internet anymore.

  6. Get a sitter people!

    There are also several sites that will detail the ways that movies are unfriendly to kids, check those out before you buy movie tickets. Watchmen was reported to be almost NC17 if they'd done their research they would have figured that out.

  7. We let our son watch Blues Bros a few weeks back too. Forgot about the f word too.

    Worse was a friend of mine who let her children watch Dogma. There was a toilet scene that ruined toilet training for her son.

  8. Movies?! Like in a theatre?!

    My last one was before I had children...and my oldest is 5.

    Yeah, I'm a dork, whatever.

  9. Badger smashing?! Aiiiii! I CAN'T HEAR YOU I CAN'T HEAR YOU LALALALALA.

  10. I saw Watchmen last week together with a pair of idiot parents. Mom and Dad brought a little girl, maybe 7. She chatted a regular intervals and cried for awhile, but that seemed to be because they told her to be quiet. I'm pretty sure she is scarred for life especially by the back story on Rorschach. I don't even want my well-seasoned almost 17 year old son see it!

  11. Far be it from me to criticize someone else's parenting. I mean, admittedly, I'm not a parent. But I know that when I am, I'll be pretty strict about what my kid sees. And I will never confuse a public movie theatre with the privacy of my own living room.

    Parents of screamers, listen up. There's only room in that theatre for one shrieking baby, and that shrieking baby is going to be me.

  12. My dad is not allowed to go to the video store by himself. He picks movies for the most inane reasons- he loves basketball, so he picked up the un-rated version of Semi-Pro. He thinks Cuba Gooding Jr looks like him, so he got Shadowboxer. Now our family is a democracy and we can't rent movies unless we all vote on it- & mom has the right to veto.

    I don't like it when people drag their kids to adult movies. It's not just rated R stuff- what four year old wants to sit through The Secret Life of Bees?

    And I don't know what's worst- the old-fashioned parents who spank their children during the movie or the new-fangled spineless ones who "negotiate" with their five year old through the whole film. Why does he get rewarded with candy for kicking someone's seat- through the whole film?
    Makes *me* want to fall down kicking!

  13. What, you didn't like Fargo?

  14. My 11 year old FREAKS OUT about language in movies. Bursts into tears and runs from the room. And I'm talking about PG-13 movies, PG-13 language.

    I guess I should be thankful?

  15. I had a childhood incident with "Poltergeist" when I was seven that will soon be detailed in all its glory on my blog. Suffice to say, I slept with my parents for months and insisted on finding out how every special effect in the world was created. So, point taken.

  16. When I had my first baby, many years ago, I watched a lot of TV because if I'm stuck at home with a baby, I might as well watch what I want on TV. Then that baby turned into a toddler. I remember the moment when I was watching ER, my child looked at the TV and saw and axe sticking out of the chest of a patient and she was appropriately upset. I turned the TV to a PBS station, and it stayed there for the next ten years.

  17. The problem is with the term *common sense*. I always thought it should be *UNcommon* sense. Because it's more common these days to be stupid and not have any sense... so.. well.. yeah.

  18. Aparently there's a lot of full frontal male nudity. Belch.

  19. My husband commented on the same thing several years ago when the South Park movie came out.'s a cartoon...but COME ON people.

    I'll have to also admit that my mother took me to see Saturday Night Fever...she almost lost her Catholic cookies at the blow job scene. I was twelve, I didn't get it. Now? Remembering that is REALLY funny.

  20. I walked out of Grease II.

    We haven't done the R rated movies yet but we have done some Pg-13 ones. I run everything through It's worked for us, for the most part.

    I am. however, still waiting for Jane to drop the F bomb at school. Because you just know she will.


Gentle Readers:

For the time being, I've turned off comment moderation. Please don't spam; it's not nice.

xxx, Poppy.