My oldest son is 4 ½ years old and had never been to a movie. I know. Deprived. I had staved off taking him (despite friends suggesting movie dates in the past) because I wanted the first movie experience to be unforgettable (admittedly more for me than him) and I wanted to be able to take his younger brother too.
Lightning McQueen and Mater have been favourites in our house for the past few years and the boys often pick Cars when it is movie time. Honestly, I enjoy the movie too and lately Disney flicks are the only “films” that I am watching. I like the message that McQueen, Mater and the rest of the Colorado Springs crew relay about friendship, sportsmanship and accountability. So when I heard the sequel, aptly titled Cars 2, was coming to a theatre near us, I decided that this would be the perfect first movie experience.
When am I going to learn that when expectations are high they have a L-O-N-G way to fall?
It wasn’t all bad.
The boys were amazed by sheer size of the building and the crowds of people – and we were only in the parking lot.
After severing my right arm and handing it over to the cashier shelling out $27 for three kiddie popcorn combos and $10 for ONE child’s admission ticket (I had a gift certificate for me and the cashier told me that my three year old was really two today), I was full of excitement even though my wallet was empty.
The boys were enjoying the experience and I was enjoying watching their reactions to the newness of everything, including the majestic screen and the “flippy” seats. Once we had adjusted to the darkness the three of us were eager to enjoy the movie.
The movie starts off with a bang, quite literally. Finn McCool (new to the cast of characters) is analogous to 007 as he scales an ocean liner and spies on the motley crew of “lemons” hatching their plan to destroy bio-fuel and kill celebrity racecars like Lightning McQueen.
The plan is carried out and the movie is heavily peppered with guns, explosions, bombs, and “kill ‘ems”.
Sadly, the sub-plot is not much better. McQueen is vying for the World Grand Prix title and his country-bumpkin buddy Mater is an embarrassment to him. Feeling dejected, Mater strays from the Colorado Springs gang and through a series of blunders winds up working as a spy.
Maybe because a story of international espionage goes over most young kids’ heads the makers felt a need to insert shoot-em up scenes to keep the meandering attention spans of the audience. However, as much as the main plot is riddled with physical violence the sub-plot is laden with hurtful words specifically, “idiot”, which are repeated over and over.
I was so disappointed. This was nothing like the Cars we know and love.
I spend so much time in our every day life trying to negate the violent play and images that seem to creep up with positive messages and re-direction. I didn’t need Lightning McQueen, a quasi-role model effectively erasing all of that in ninety minutes.
My boys are at a crossroads. No longer do the singsong voices and cuddly cartoons of Treehouse appeal to them. But the alternatives seem to be too grown-up for them.
I understand that they are still young and that I can’t be their censor forever, but in the meantime I want to preserve their innocence a little while longer.
I would love some suggestions for family-friendly movies that are suitable for 4-6 year olds. Curious George, the Muppets, Elmo, etc. are all favourites but I need to expand the digital library.
photo credits: www.washingtonpost.com and http://www.familyfriendlyfrugality.com
The Bee Movie was cute and entertaining for both my 4 and 7 year old. Shark Tale I think was another that was enjoyable, as well as Open Season. What about the Toy Story movies? They are great!
Sorry to hear that Cars 2 was such a bust – I haven’t taken the kids to see it yet and maybe we’ll just pass.
Brock hates going to the movies, so I might as well make it a good one if I’m going to force him to go.
Thanks for your suggestions! We all love the Toy Story movies and are often among the first picked when it’s a movie night. I will have to look into the others you suggested.
I have a feeling that my kids are more the at-home movie watchers. They like lounging on the couches and eat popcorn from their special bowls.
Can’t say that I blame them. I would prefer to watch a movie at home over the theatre pretty much every time.
How are your kids already 4 and 7!?!?! Man, I feel old.
Ugh. It’s so frustrating when a franchise fails you! Thanks for the warning about Cars 2.
When am i just going to follow my mother’s warning about expectations? Seriously, THAT could be a post!
Ponyo was a great movie. Tina Fey was one of the voices. Both my boys loved watching it.
Agreed. Cars 2 stinks. Which is too bad – the first one really was captivating (for adults and kids alike!) Our family’s new favourite movie is Rio – it is awesome. Great music, great visuals and a cute story that all ends well. Would totally recommend it! Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is also pretty cute and has some nice messages….
I heard that you have to explain the intricacies of the OPEC situation to your kids for them to fully comprehend the plot. I have no suggestions because the second my son switched to Teletoons from Treehouse (he was 6 or 7), he immediately started calling things “lame”. Now that he’s 8, he really enjoys Gilligan’s Island, which is fun for both of us to watch. My daughter is almost 4 and watches is obsessed with Cars. I’ve been telling her that the new movie posters are just to celebrate McQueen’s birthday. #lame
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It’s funny because we took our 3 year old boy to see the movie and he didn’t even notice the guns. He was focused on Mater and McQueen winning the race!
Some movie theaters in our area show $1 children’s films on Wednesdays. It helps save on the bill and we don’t feel as bad when we have to take 20 potty trips during the film! 🙂
I love this $1 children’s films! I need to see if our area has something similar. Thanks for sharing.
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