It’s a two for one special this week, with a twist. The movie I thought would be family friendly was, well a big fail. Great movie, but if you’re watching with your (immature) pre-teen kids, you’re going to be cringing and mildly regretting your decision quite a few times. And the second, well despite it’s older classification and initial disapproval from the movie overlord of the house (aka mum), it passed the family friendly test with flying colours and the kids have even watched it again since then.
So the first movie was “Bend It Like Beckham” (skip to summary). We had a friend’s son stay with us one evening and as the guest he got the choice of the movie, much to the disgust of my two daughters. You can imagine how thrilled they were when he announced that he’d like to watch a soccer movie. Besides not even knowing what soccer was, there were hoots and hollers of “that’s rubbish” and “that’s not fair” and “why does he get to pick?”, etc, etc.
After a quick scan of the memory banks I decided that the most “girl” friendly soccer movie I knew of was “Bend It Like Beckham”. With it’s two strong female lead characters and a healthy amount of soccer action, it should prove to be a hit with both the boy that chose it and the girls that were vehemently opposing it. And after a quick Google of Australian censorship site, it was a goer with the theoretically family friendly “PG” rating. A quick plot summary is as follows:
Jess Bhamra (Parminder Nagra), the daughter of a strict Indian couple (Anupam Kher, Shaheen Khan) in London, is not permitted to play organized soccer, even though she is 18. When Jess is playing for fun one day, her impressive skills are seen by Jules Paxton (Keira Knightley), who then convinces Jess to play for her semi-pro team. Jess uses elaborate excuses to hide her matches from her family while also dealing with her romantic feelings for her coach, Joe.
I have to say I liked this movie and I thought that for the most part, it was appropriate for our girls (aged 7 & 8 by the way) and the lad staying with us, who is also aged 8. It definitely delivered the soccer action that the boy craved and it delivered the strong female lead characters determined to carve out their place in male dominated sport that I wanted the girls to be exposed to.
Among the good things this movie provided, it also gave them a considerable amount of sexual innuendo to ponder over and some lighter swearing. The sexual innuendo comes via general banter between characters and their is a player/coach love triangle, but it also lightly touches on the topic of homosexuality too. If you have a really inquisitive child, be prepared for some potentially confronting questions. In saying that, we do have a very inquisitive 8 year old and this wasn’t mentioned again after it was seen, so perhaps it doesn’t go deep enough to tweak their interest?
The swearing was the most prevalent issue for me. We don’t swear all that often, so it really stuck out to us. It’s not terrible mind you, but having chosen the movie based on its PG rating, we were surprised to hear the words “piss”, “shit” and “bollocks”, among others. It was a little amusing in the end because our girls, who have taken to fining us $1 whenever we swear, started fining us each time a character swore for showing them the movie. How entrepreneurial of them!
The second movie of the weekend was “Maleficent” (skip to summary). If you haven’t seen it or heard of it, it’s the re-telling of the Sleeping Beauty fairytale from the evil witch’s perspective. Mum was dead against the girls seeing this one. The trailer is loaded with action scenes containing the rather evil looking witch Maleficent, dragons, sword fights, fire and brimstone and it paints quite a dark picture of what you could expect to see in this movie. Add to this the “M” rating and we were all lead to believe this movie was off limits by order of Mum.
So I’m not quite sure how it happened, but against my better Dad judgement the girls and I sat down (without their mum) and watched just the first 3 minutes of the movie and we were hooked; we just had to watch it and hatched a plan to convince mum to allow it. In a nutshell, we must have been pretty persuasive because we sat down to watch the remaining 2hrs of the movie later that day, with mum present and let’s just say it has a happy ending (even for me, which is surprising given the major parenting infraction). The plot summary is as follows:
As a beautiful young woman of pure heart, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) has an idyllic life in a forest kingdom. When an invading army threatens the land, Maleficent rises up to become its fiercest protector. However, a terrible betrayal hardens her heart and twists her into a creature bent on revenge. She engages in an epic battle with the invading king’s successor, then curses his newborn daughter, Aurora — realising only later that the child holds the key to peace in the kingdom.
There is violence in this movie, there is no denying that, but I didn’t think it was all that extreme. There is a war scene at the start with some sword fighting, catapults flinging stuff about, mythical creatures, etc, and there is a final showdown at the end, complete with a fire breathing dragon, but it’s not overly gory. In saying that, kids deal with these visions in different ways, so if you have a child who could be affected by these kinds of scenes, perhaps this movie isn’t for you. My two weren’t bothered by it at all and even Mum, who really isn’t into this type of movie, was riveted to the screen to see what happened next.
Was this a good movie? Yes, the whole family really enjoyed it.
Was it family friendly? Yes. And no. There was some questionable content. The swearing is actually pretty easy to deal with; we don’t swear (often) and kids aren’t allowed to swear. They know all these words and more, however they know not to say them. The sexual innuendo was probably higher on my list of concerns than the swearing because it’s harder to explain away. In saying that, my two girls were on the cusp of where I think this film was appropriate. It was entertaining, had strong female leads tackling (pun totally intended) some interesting issues and I think my girls learned from it. Perhaps 9-10 would have been perfect though.
Rating: 3.5 conversions out of five penalty kicks
Was it a good movie? Yes, we all loved it, even the anti-dark movie queen Mum.
Was it family friendly? Yes. And no. Sorry about that. It is a “Yes” for my family, but maybe a “No” for someone else’s family. I would have no hesitation in letting my kids see this movie again, in fact they watched it without us during the week as a holiday treat. It is based on a fairytale and it’s a Disney movie, so how bad can it be. Yes it’s portrayed as being dark, but I think this is done this on purpose to maximise the impact of the twist, which I’m not revealing here today. If you haven’t see it, do so; it’s worth it.
Rating: 4.5 sword-wielding-knights out of five freaky-looking witches