Yes, I was one of those parents who succumbed to the pleads of her 4-year-old boy and took him to watch the new Star Wars movie.
It is not the kid’s fault to have had such great desired to watch Episode VII without having watched any other of the episodes. Marketing got to him. Ever since summer, Disney has been shoving all kind of merchandise down little kids throats. From fruit gummies and mac and cheese, to clothes and toys (including preschool toys, I must add).
Star Wars mania was revived with great success. The mixture of parents nostalgia wanting to transmit this childhood passion to their children and the crazy advertisement available in every single store really got the excitement going.
Without truly understanding how, my preschooler knew all the main characters of the saga and could not wait to watch them in action.
So I gave in knowing that the rating of the movie was years ahead of any other movie that we have taken the kids to. PG-13 definitely warns you as a parent to be ready to answer lots of questions and be ready for excited little boys who would want their very own lightsabers to swing around in your living room (just don’t aim it at your sisters, I told my son). What it doesn’t prepare you fully for, is to explain why people would want to be a part of the dark side -consider this my gift to you and have your answer ready.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to give you any spoilers here, for that you can just surf the web. I’m just going to limit myself to write a review of how I felt the movie-going experience for my preschooler and I went.
We went to watch this film as a special mother-son type of activity around the holidays. I of course wanted to do something that he would really enjoy so I thought, why not? If the movie is too traumatizing for his age, we can always leave early. He was so happy eating his popcorn and his “dark side” nachos that he barely paid attention to some violent content presented in the previews (it’s in the Avengers trailer if you care to know).
The movie started and of course, it has some violence and injustice going on right from the get go. I mean, it’s a war movie, after all. But if you think about it, which Disney animation movie lacks injustice and some violence? I’m thinking of The Lion King, Gaston’s demise in Beauty and the Beast, the Evil Stepmother in Cinderella… you get my point. The truth is that my kid was way too excited following BB-8’s moves to really fixate himself with other parts of the story line (Phew!).
He loved Chewbacca, the droids, the ships and all the other fun creatures. I loved that there is a heroine who kicks booty and how they brought back some of the classic characters. All-in-all a great film with the expected violent scenes but nothing that would keep my child awake at night.
I did make sure to tell him that the movie was “for pretend” and all the tragic parts there are not real (there is one in particular very memorable but not in a good way). He liked me reassuring him that everyone was O.K. at the end of the film. I also think that due to his young age, many of the sophisticated aspects of the “evil” scenes, didn’t stick with him.
From my perspective as a mom and as someone who has enjoyed the saga, I have to say the film is very well done. It had it’s funny touches and great special effects. The story line is fresh and though, one may venture to predict certain aspects, it keeps you interested and longing for more. The ending is suspenseful and poetic. The new actors and actresses do a great job. To summarize, I really enjoyed it and would watch it again (maybe in 3-D next time?).
From my preschooler’s perspective: He really liked it, even though at times, he wanted to seat on my lap, especially during the action scenes. It was a little hard for him to follow all what was going on so he kept asking me who was who. It was a very long movie to seat through so make sure to seat close to the aisle. I had to take him to the bathroom twice and was so glad to have chosen seats that would allow me to leave the theater without bothering anyone.
I final point that I would like to make is that this movie is not preschool friendly. You have to make that decision on your own and based on how well you think your child can handle violence and sad scenes without affecting him or the way he would play with others.
Having a conversation before and after and answering some questions during our bathroom breaks work well for us. Emphasizing that we don’t fight other people with lightsabers -even the plastic ones- and that violence has no room during pretend play has kept my son out of trouble so far. He was happy and excited to watch the film and that worked for us, but if you ask me plainly, Star Wars Episode VII simply isn’t a movie for every little kid.