There’s no shortage of entertainment for kids, but every once in a while there’s a children’s movie that has just a few too many elements directed at older viewers. Here are five PG films parents might want to take a closer look at before pushing play.
PG: scary action and images, thematic elements, some rude humor and language
The entire premise of this movie is pretty intense for some children, which just so happens to be the target audience.
The main character, Norman, has a special ability to see and talk to dead people. So when Norman learns of a centuries-old curse on his hometown, it’s up to him to save his family and neighbors.
From ghosts to zombies to the witch who cursed the town, there are plenty of disturbing images that could definitely be too much for young kids. Even though the movie is animated, the images and action on screen can actually be pretty scary.
Some other aspects of the movie that seem to be geared toward a more mature audience are the rapid fire of innuendos and onslaught of off-color jokes. For instance the word “fatty” painted on a kid’s locker, Norman’s sister carries around pictures of a shirtless boy and a bully threatens to punch a small boy.
While these were probably aimed above the heads of the kids watching, the fact that the kids are the ones saying the inappropriate things might be a bit concerning for parents.
Overall, the movie seems far more appropriate for older kids and teenagers. On Ok.com, “ParaNorman” is rated as appropriate for ages 10 and up.
PG: thematic elements, scary images, some language and suggestive humor
Another stop-action animated film that warrants a closer look is “Coraline.”
Based on the book by Neil Gaiman, “Coraline” is the story of a girl who enters a strange world that mirrors her own. The movie has a really intriguing plot, but it can be visually overwhelming for kids, and even some adults.
Here are just a few elements of the movie that are quite creepy for a crowd of kids.
A girl’s eyes are replaced with buttons, and while we only see the needle and thread, the effect is clear and frightening. A boy’s mouth is also sewed into the shape of a smile, even though he is obviously unhappy. The movie also includes strangulation, imprisonment and sexual images of an older woman.
Even though the message of the movie celebrates the importance and individuality of families, “Coraline” may be too much for younger audiences.
Ok.com rates “Coraline” appropriate for ages 11 and up.
"Puss in Boots"
PG: some adventure action and mild rude humor
“Puss in Boots” is a movie spin-off of the “Shrek” series, and stars Antonio Banderas as the voice of the famous fencing cat. Again, the issue with this movie for kids is not the plot, but instead the behavior of the characters, especially the dialogue.
There is always the argument that films produced for kids include humor to entertain adults, and those jokes simply “fly over the kids’ heads.”
That is probably true in most cases, however, it is pretty common to see kids laugh along with the jokes even if they don’t understand them. Who is to say that crude humor and sexual innuendos don’t influence children and the entertainment they view?
“Puss in Boots” is chock full of adult references, whether it’s sex, drugs or profanity. There are comparisons of catnip to marijuana, objectification of female characters and multiple sexual implications from many of the characters.
Whether kids pick up on each and every one of these jokes and references is debatable, but it also begs the question of why so many of these things are included in a movie meant for kids to enjoy?
Ok.com rates “Puss in Boots” as appropriate for ages 8 and up.
"Where the Wild Things Are"
PG: mild thematic elements, some adventure action and brief language
Many kids have grown up reading the story, “Where the Wild Things Are,” and making the beloved book into a movie delivers the story's adventures to an even bigger audience.
Transforming a story filled with monsters and a child running away from home into a movie for children can be difficult. There is a fine line between scary and funny that is hard to manipulate when making a movie. “Where the Wild Things Are” gives a pretty good attempt at managing that line, but the effect is just somewhat awkward.
Emotionally, this movie is intense and even frightening at times. Tackling the struggles of growing up and adolescent angst, “Where the Wild Things Are” exaggerates very real emotions of both parents and children, which can be overwhelming to say the least.
“Where the Wild Things Are” seems to have been made more for the adults who grew up reading the children’s book than for the actual children. Even so, the movie lacks enough dynamics to keep audiences of any age engaged until the end.
“Where the Wild Things Are” has been rated by Ok.com to be appropriate for ages 8 and up.
"The Odd Life of Timothy Green"
PG: mild thematic elements and brief language
“The Odd Life of Timothy Green” is about a wonderful little boy who inspires everyone he meets. It’s a beautiful story, but parents might want to consider some of the heavier themes that might be difficult for kids to process.
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Jim and Cindy Green are unable to conceive a child due to fertility issues. In an attempt to cope with this difficult issue, the couple collects all of the qualities they desire in a child and puts them in a box buried in the garden. Then, during a thunderstorm, Timothy appears on their doorstep and seems to be everything the Greens dreamed of.
This unconventional adoption could lead to some big questions for smaller children. Just as Timothy appears under unusual circumstances, his departure can also bring up some questions about the end of life.
On Ok.com, “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” is rated as appropriate for ages 8 and up.
Sarah Bringhurst is a recent graduate from Utah Valley University and currently interning with Ok.com. EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org