A trip to a ‘family movie’ can go one of three ways.
1. It can leave you wanting to gouge out your eyes and ears and vow never return to a cinema ever again. This is usually caused by an inane movie with no sub-plots, layers or subtle jokes for the parents, just a slew of crude fart jokes.
2. There’s the not-so-kid-friendly family movie, that seems like a good idea until you’ve got one kid bawling at the scary music and another practising his sword-fighting moves by hitting his little sister with a choc-top.
3. Then there’s the holy grail of family flicks – the sweet, funny and nuanced films that leave the entire family with toothier grins than if Julia Roberts and Jaws had a baby.
These are the ones that make you gush to your mum, your gyno, the old man next door and everyone waiting in queue at the ATM, “yes it’s a kids movie but it made me feel ALL THE FEELS.”
So if you’re looking for a movie that fits the third category, look no further.
Film critic and host of SBS Viceland’s The Feed Marc Fennell joined Mamamia’s parenting podcast This Glorious Mess to tell us the secrets to a good family flick. He also spilled on what movies to avoid at the cinema these school holidays.
Listen to Marc Fennell on This Glorious Mess to find out which family flicks you should go see.
When it comes to age appropriate movies, Marc says you know your kids better than everyone else.
“You know are they likely to stay still? Are they going to be freaked out by a dark room? Are they going to get bored?” the 32-year-old dad says.
One question plaguing every parent these school holidays, including host Holly Wainwright, is can you take your daughter to see Wonder Woman?
Not only is this the biggest blockbuster hit of winter, it’s a feminist masterpiece. A celebration of a kick-arse female superhero who is breaking down stereotypes and reinventing a tired genre.
Seems like the perfect movie to take your daughter to. But sadly, father of two Marc Fennell told Holly her seven-year-old daughter Matilda is probably too young to be dragged along.
“I would hold off. That kind of movie may play better on a TV screen in your living room than the all-encompassing nature of a cinema experience,” he says.
This goes for any movie you're a bit wary of. If you think your child may be too young or easily frightened but you want to give it a crack, wait for the film to come out on DVD and settle in to watch with them.
If you think things are going astray, you can switch it off without causing a scene by dragging a crying child out of a packed movie theatre.
Once you know your kids' sensitivities, you can look out for red flags. There'll be no f-bombs getting past you!
"There's a fantastic array of websites... which will give you a review that gives you a really clear sense of the content," the host of podcast Download This Show says.
"You wanna know as a parent, is there death? Is it gory? Is there swearing? That kind of thing is actually helpful to let you know what you're in for."
Surprisingly, he lists Christian websites as a great source of information. Well, if it passes the stringent religious tests of morality, it must be okay!
According to the movie-expert, good family films are one of the toughest genres to get right because you've got to entertain such a wide cross-section. He says if you want a good movie that both the kids and the bored babysitter will enjoy, it's a safe bet that a Pixar film will tick all the boxes.
"They'll do a movie like Wall-E where there's no talking for the first half-hour of the movie. Or a movie like Up where the first ten minutes is a montage of death and grieving," Marc says.
And somehow it works. What is this sorcery? Is there a secret? You betcha.
"They put a lot of effort into character design," Marc explains.
"If you fall in love with a character early on, you'll follow that character through something that is maybe potentially a bit boring or potentially a bit scary... That defies language."
Will you be taking your kids to see Wonder Woman?
Listen to the full episode of This Glorious Mess here:
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