The Movie Ratings Parents Really Need

As the parent of a kindergarten-aged geekling, I’m having to learn how to navigate the minefield of pop culture that is the PG-13 movie. If either my spouse or I have a chance to see it before we show it to our daughter, that’s great! We can go into the experience knowing what to expect and which parts might have the potential to be a little scary.

What’s really tricky, though, is when we’d like to see the movie in the theater as a family. For some movies, it’s been pretty easy—Star Wars: The Last Jedi was a no-brainer. For Wonder Woman, we hoped that any potentially scary bits would be made worth it by the chance for our kidlet to see her hero on the big screen. Some movies have required a bit of a delicate Google dive, as we’ve tried to see exactly why a movie was rated PG-13 instead of PG while still trying to remain relatively unspoiled. Such was the case with Spider-Man: Homecoming, for which we were ultimately able to figure out that the age-inappropriate content would sail over her head like Spider-Man web-slinging his way through the city.

Determining whether content is appropriate for your child is ultimately the job of the parent, but that doesn’t mean I can’t wish that it was a bit more transparent or wide ranging in coverage. Sometimes, you just need a little bit more information. For this reason, I propose a new system of movie-rating content explanations—ones that actually give more information about a movie’s content beyond the generic rating standards of language, violence, nudity, drug use and adult situations.

  • Too Intense for Bathroom Breaks: If your kid has a small bladder or has been hogging the shared beverage, it will be difficult to make it out of the theater for a restroom run, provided they let you know at all.
  • Annoying Catchphrase Your Kid Will Repeat: Taking your child to this movie will introduce them to a catchphrase that you’ll find hilarious one time and they’ll find hilarious one thousand times.
  • Awesome Role Model: The movie contains at least one amazing character who will serve as a great role model for your kid.
  • Excessive Merchandising Push: Be prepared to have your kid see (and ask for) movie-related swag everywhere you go in the near future.
  • Fails the Bechdel Test: Self-explanatory—the movie fails the Bechdel Test.
  • Questionable History: This movie fabricates facts about history and presents them as truth, requiring the need for fact checking once you get home.
  • Super Catchy Songs: You’ll all love the movie soundtrack so much that you’ll spend the near future bopping along as a family.
  • Will Be Reenacted by Your Kid for the Next Three Weeks: Your kid will find this movie so exciting that it will be the springboard for most imaginative play for the near future.
  • Will Likely Inspire Future Career Aspirations: In watching the events of this movie, your kidlet will have an epiphany about something that would be really fun to do when they get older.

Which ones would you add to the list?

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