The class of 2013 has big plans; read all about it and see lists of local grads in this section.
A summer movie primer for parents
“But, Mom, everyone else is seeing it.”
I’m not sure what my kids have been expecting all these years when they throw down this opening-night-at-the-movies gauntlet. “Why sweetheart, what in the world was I thinking? You know how much I’ve always wanted to be like all the other parents. Of course, you can see the movie.”
As a mom who’s raised two generations of teenagers, I’ve been studying movies and reading reviews for 40 years, so I know too much and care too much to let my kids see just anything.
This isn’t a rant against Hollywood. I love movies and always have — from the first time I plunked down my 50 cents at the State Theater in Falls Church to see “Rio Bravo” — to last month when I shelled out $11 per ticket at the palatial suburban cineplex to see “The Hunger Games.”
In the intervening years, though, more than the price of a ticket went through the roof. Remember when movies like “Ben Hur” and “The Sound of Music” won Academy Awards? Now you’re more likely to find winners like “Mystic River” and “The Departed” than occasional friendly fare like “The Artist.”
And movies, contrary to the tired old argument, do more than just reflect the culture. They shape it, which is why business titans spend hundreds of millions of dollars to imprint names from Reese’s Pieces to Coke on our entertainment-saturated consciousness.
It is a no-brainer that kids exposed to coarseness, foul language, impurity and despair are vulnerable to shedding the morality with which they’ve been raised. And why would parents of teens and tweens be willing to sabotage the work they’ve done for years to build their children’s character?
So, yes, I really do care what my kids see. And since Hollywood has continued to push the envelope, and since the MPAA ratings just don’t cut it with me (there are some noble R-rated movies out there — “The Mission,” “Glory” — and many more PG-13s that are downright disgusting), I have to do my homework.
And so when I get the ol’ Everyone Else refrain, I drag my kids to the computer, click on a trusted site for a review and start reading it aloud, putting my money on the embarrassment factor.
If you struggle with the Everyone Else’s, you can try this too. It has a way of wrapping up the movie debate pronto.
Here are my favorite sites:
Catholic News Service — catholicnews.com/movies.htm (in conjunction with the former U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops film site — helpful Catholic rating system)
Common Sense Media — commonsensemedia.org (family-friendly reviews and ratings for movies, TV shows, and books)
ScreenIt! — screenit.com (morally neutral, very detailed reviews)
Plugged In — pluggedinonline.com (an evangelical site for parents of teens with lots of movie savvy)
What is the Curtis family looking forward to this summer?
“Brave” (PG) — While Pixar may have stumbled with Cars 2, fans are hoping they’ll have their groove back with this summer’s offering about a girl and her bow (sound familiar?). Set in the mysterious Scottish highlands, “Brave” promises to be the archetypal coming-of-age tale with a new twist: The hero is a girl with masses of red hair and attitude galore. Instead of a prince, the emphasis is on family. Now playing.
“The Amazing Spider-Man” (PG-13) — Following Spider-Man 1, 2 and 3, the franchise now will reveal the origins of the web-swinging hero. This look backward worked well for “Batman,” adding psychological insights that enriched the series, so I’m looking forward to more about Peter Parker. Now playing.
“Dark Knight Rises” (PG-13) — While not fare for the whole family, the older kids — along with their dad and I — are looking forward to another teaming up of director Christopher Nolan and actor Christian Bale — now with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Gary Oldman. Can Batman — now considered an enemy — restore the trust of Gotham? Opens July 20.
“The Odd Life of Timothy Green” (PG) — An intriguing concept from Disney: A couple struggling with infertility turn their imaginations loose one night about the child they wish they could have, burying their notes in a box in their backyard. A son is born to them — but not in the usual way and with gifts beyond the usual. Opens Aug. 25.
Curtis, who blogs at mommylife.net, is a mother of 12 and author from Lovettsville.