Monday, March 26, 2012

Movie Review: The Hunger Games (no spoilers)

I saw it this weekend with a diverse mix of people: C (who's 11), E (who's 8), my parents (who are seniors) and Hubby. Of the group, only C and I read the book.

My folks and Hubby enjoyed it. I gauged this by whether they wanted to see the sequels (the next one comes out in Nov 2013) - they all said they would.   Plus, they said they liked it.

C and I loved it. It was fun whispering back and forth during the movie as we remembered and compared things about the book. We talked a lot more about it later that night. This was the first novel-length book that held C's attention enough for him to read cover-to-cover. I love that the movie reinforced what he'd read. I'm hoping this encourages him to keep up the reading habit!

I had some reservations about letting E watch with us. The book contained no obscene language (literally - none) and no sexual content whatsoever, and I was hoping the movie would follow suit.  There was a good deal of violence described in some detail but I thought that, since E had seen the Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones movies (which carry the same PG-13 rating), that he could probably handle what the movie had in store. However, in hindsight, I think now that I would have arranged for him to not watch it, instead. It won't hurt those not in-the-know to know that the premise of The Hunger Games is kids hunting kids in a fight to the death - and that death happens. I've noticed that most adult crime shows and even many movies for adults stop just shy of visually depicting bodily harm happening to children. That's not so much the case in The Hunger Games movie. Most of the time, they indirectly (but strongly) allude to the violent acts, but there are at least two times when they show them outright, and I found it to be a bit jarring - not really something I would have wanted E to see. I think I perpetrated a bit of a parenting fail here, by foregoing our usual process of pre-screeing questionable movies before letting our kids see them. Ugh.

For his part, E said he didn't like it. He wasn't scared or scarred by anything he saw - it just didn't appeal to him. Not unlike the book, there wasn't a strong element of humor in the movie. There were a few lines designed to get chuckles from the audience, but they were lost on our 8 year-old. There were some intense parts that got a "Whoa!" out of E, but that was about it. The movie (again, like the book) didn't have the Disney-esque or even definitive ending he is used to, and I don't think he appreciated the cliffhanger.

So, for adults: if you've read and liked the book, you're going to love the movie. If you didn't read the book, you will still probably like the movie, even if you're just going to see it because you couldn't resist the hype.

For kids: I think the PG-13 rating is appropriate. C is actually almost 12 and, in my opinion, mature for his 12-ness. Plus, when reading the book, he was made to understand the subtleties and deeper significances in the story. I'm not sure the movie would be a good fit for a less-mature 11 or 12 year old who had not previously read the book. And I say that based on E's and my feelings about him having watched it. He said he would have rather been home, playing Club Pengin. I think that some of the scenes are inappropriate for younger children, period.

Did you see it? Will you take your kids to see it? What did you think? What did your kids think?

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