Adult Content Packaged into Kids Movies
I will admit my 4-year-old is sensitive to peril and danger in movies. That is one of the reasons I started reviewing movies. (If something scares her she will start crying or even run from the room.) Many movies have a lot of adult content, jokes, and ideas that are then bundled up into an animated movie and marketed towards kids. (Toy Story 4 is a great example.) Some kids understand, and some kids don’t. Frozen 2 is one of those movies that I feel comes across as a movie for older kids/adults but is marketed towards kids of all ages. I had the chance to speak with Kristen Bell, mom to mom, at the LA press junket for Frozen 2 about my concern over the movie, and she gave some great insight into how those of us with sensitive kids can help them when it comes to movies.
A little Frozen 2 Trailer Backstory
When the trailer for Frozen 2 came out everybody in my house was excited. Because I also love Frozen I snuck a quick view of the trailer before showing it to my 2-year-old and 4-year-old. While I loved the tailer my first thought and comment was how dark and foreboding the trailer was. It was the complete opposite of how bright and upbeat the first movie is. I was now concerned if my Frozen loving girls were going to like it.
They really wanted to see the trailer though so we all gathered around the computer, them giddy with excitement, and I pressed play. My 2-year-old just scream “Anna! Anna!” the whole time, but my 4-year-old sat there in silence with wide eyes. After it was over she had so many questions about what Elsa was doing trying to cross the water, and finally, she made a comment about how she doesn’t know if she liked it. I asked her why she didn’t like it and she mentioned it was a little scary.
Mom to Mom Moment with Kristen Bell
While in LA for The Geekly Retreat I had the opportunity to attend the world premiere of Frozen 2 and see the movie. (You can read my spoiler-free review HERE.) After watching it I still felt it was much darker than the first, and geared towards older kids/adults. Lucky for me I was also going to be attending the press junket for Frozen 2 and had an opportunity to possibly ask the writers, directors, and cast about the creative thought process behind the movie and if they made the movie darker on purpose to market it towards an older audience.
Well, I got my chance to ask my question, where I also mentioned I have 2 young kids and how the movie might be too dark for them, and Kristen Bell answered. Little does she know, or maybe she does Haha, that 3 of her statements outlined a great way that parents of sensitive kids can help them when they watch movies. Kristen started by saying she totally understood where I was coming from because she has kids of her own, and then she delved into her thoughts when it comes to kids and possible scary situations. Kristen stated she felt “We don’t give them [kids] enough credit for their ability to digest complex situations and trauma and struggle.”. (This is true, and something I have to keep reminding myself when it comes to my kids.)
Kristen further continued by saying, “…I actually think that it’s great for kids to be a little bit on the edge of their seat because it’s a safe environment to try on those emotions.”. Her last statement that really struck me though was “You don’t have to tell them [kids] that the world is a scary place, even though it really is, but you can let them see a story that has a resolution…” So how do these statements from Kristen Bell help us parents with sensitive kids when it comes to watching movies?
Sensitive Kids and Movies
First, she is right. We don’t give our kids enough credit when it comes to digesting situations. Sometimes we just go into parental protection mode, and because of that, we may end up holding our kids back. That doesn’t mean let your child watch any movie willy nilly, and there is nothing wrong with prescreening movies before your child watches them. It just means that PG movie you thought might scare your child, in the end, might not. (A great example is Toy Story 4 and my 4-year-old. I thought it was not appropriate for young kids, but my daughter wanted to see it. So I let her watch it, and she was fine with it.)
Second, location matters. Where that seat Kristen talks about is matters. That might mean you don’t go to the theater to watch the movie but instead watch it at home where you can stop/fast forward when needed. Movie theaters can be intimidating, loud, and themselves scary to kids. Lastly, resolution is important. Make sure you talk to your kids about the movie they just saw. A great example is I know a mom whose kid was scared of Marshmallow from the first Frozen movie. She said her kid would watch Frozen and would need to watch till the end where Marshmallow calms down and his spikes recede. Her child was then able to digest the information and the character wasn’t as scary to her anymore.
So Did Kristen Change My Mind on Frozen 2?
Yes, and no. Do I still feel Frozen 2 is a little dark, and possibly a little dark for my kids? Yes. Will I be taking my 4-year-old to watch it in the theaters? No, but I may let her watch it when it comes out on digital. (After Dad previews it first.) That way she can be on the edge of her seat in a comfortable/safe feeling environment where we can stop/pause when needed, and then we are going to discuss the movie and any questions/concerns she has afterward.