My husband and nine-year-old son had the opportunity to watch an early screening of Real Steel, courtesy of DreamWorks.
“Real Steel” is an action drama about a former boxer (Hugh Jackman) who, against all odds, gets one last shot at a comeback when he teams up with his estranged son (Dakota Goyo) to build and train the perfect contender for the new high-tech sport of robot boxing.
Knowing that our son (the eldest child) was a little more sensitive to violence than our four-year-old daughter (who, unlike him, grew up watching movies for a more mature audience), we decided to prepare him beforehand by watching the movie trailers on YouTube and answering questions. "That looks AWESOME!" our son shouted in the comforts of our well lit home in broad daylight. "I can't wait to see it!" We discussed how the movie was fiction and answered all his questions ranging from who writes the story to how CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) works. On the night of the early screening I kissed both my husband and son before they left for the movie, "Have a nice father-son date!"
Minutes later I received a frantic phone call.
"HE. WON'T. STEP. INSIDE. THE. MOVIE. THEATRE."
"What do you mean?"
"He saw the movie posters outside of the theatre and realized it was dark inside. He refuses to go."
"Put him on the phone."
"Jay. Honey. My love. Mommy and Daddy would never ever make you do anything you really didn't want to do. But we know you will enjoy this movie. Just like you enjoyed Star Wars, Harry Potter and The Transformers. Mommy and Daddy read about the movie and together we decided it was something you can watch."
"But.... sniffle, sniffle. But, it's rated PG-13."
"All the old movies we watch at home should be rated PG-13 but in the old days that rating didn't exist."
"Really? But... I wish you were here, Mom."
"Real Steel is a movie about a daddy and his son building robots that box. You've seen worst."
"Yes. I promise that if you don't like it..."
"Okay. Bye, Mom!"
Just like that, he was off the phone and on his way into the movie theatre with his dad. Needless to say my husband and son came home with smiles planted across their faces. Their very first father-son movie date to see an action packed flick, that my husband said reminded him of Rocky, was a huge success.
Since watching the movie they've had many more discussions that have come up. One night after religion class my son approached his father, "Hey, Dad. That movie we saw really reminds me of the David and Goliath story my teacher just read to us. David was the underdog, just like Atom in the movie." That connection made my heart smile. "Hey, Dad. We should build something together, like a tree house in our back yard from all the scrap metal we find, just like in the movie." That connection made my husband's heart swell. I have not seen the movie myself but from what I've heard from the two boys I love the most is that the father-son underdog theme makes this movie "SO AWESOME" (my nine-year-old's words).
There's no right answer to "What age is appropriate for a PG-13 movie?" - only you know your child well enough to decide. I'm certain that the first movie I watched in a movie theatre with my father ("E.T" - 1982 - PG) would be rated a PG-13 today (the PG-13 rating was introduced in 1984) just for the profanity alone. I was only six!
What was the first movie you watched, in a movie theatre with your parents? I am curious. One person will win an awesome super-retro Real Steel teeshirt, stickers and temporary tattoos . The retro "Real Steel" tee-shirt is pretty cool. One entry per email until 10-13-11 when chosen by random.org.