Friday, November 22, 2013

Catching Fire: One Christian's Review

Before our family trip to see Catching Fire, I read some blogger reviews to see if it was something we would feel comfortable letting our kids see. From what I could gather, it was released in the UK a week ago. There was far more potentially objectionable material than what the blogs I read reported on, and so I want to add my voice to the crowd and give parents a little more information.

To get straight to the point, I won't say you shouldn't take your kids, but I can't say I recommend it, either.

Intensity: Very emotional. The book was emotional, but also cerebral. Seeing it on the screen made it more real and I lost the delicate balance that Suzanne Collins masterfully created in her book between "emotional" and "cerebral." To see the oppression unfold made me angry to the point that I literally clapped when the tributes joined hands at the end of the interview. Not necessarily a bad thing, but worth noting.

Violence: Tastefully done. There wasn't any violence added for the sake of adding violence. It was all important to the story line and necessary to make the point. Blood, yes. Gore, no. The message in the Hunger Games trilogy isn't preschool-level thinking and it wasn't dumbed down in the movie. If you have little ones, keep that in mind.

Language: I was disappointed in the amount of language. Sh** was heard early in the movie. There were a couple b****'s, a few d***'s, and the F-word was pronounced, "F-bleeeeeeeep." (They didn't bleep out the F-word; they bleeped 3 letters of it.) You could turn off the sound and still know what was said. You didn't have to be an experienced lip reader. There were also several OMG's, which is very offensive to me, however I don't remember any G-D's, which is far worse than the F-bomb, in my opinion.

Sexual Content: Let's just get to it. Joanna strips naked. As much as I hoped that this scene wouldn't make the cut, I knew it was coming. They showed far more skin than I'm comfortable with; however, it was true to the book in that it wasn't a steamy moment. It's shocking, just as Joanna was in the book, but not steamy. Peeta was obviously taken off guard. He wasn't drooling, but the fact that a woman just stripped naked in front of him wasn't lost on him, either. Haymitch was surprised, but the only thing that takes Haymitch off guard is a cold glass of water to the face. He takes a few quick glances and smiles, then thanks her as she is leaving the elevator. Katniss' face was HILARIOUS! Well played, Jennifer Lawrence, well played!

There was kissing, but not nearly as passionately as Suzanne Collins described it. We read the books together as a family and I cut out a bit of Collins' description of Katniss and Peeta's kiss on the beach. In the movie, the kiss was tasteful. (Ha! No pun intended!)

Bottom line: I think PG-13 is an appropriate rating. (This is coming from someone who thinks that many PG-13's should have an R rating.) There are some fabulous things to talk about, but I would recommend that parents see the movie first before deciding whether to take anyone 12 & under if the above things concern you. You know your kids best. If I had to do it again, I'd probably still take my kids (ages 10, 12, & 13), but I have to admit that I am torn between wishing my (highly sheltered) younger ones hadn't seen it just yet and smiling at the lively conversation we've been having. I'm also struggling with the foul language and supporting a movie that threw in the F-word just to push the limits. That bothers me.

If there was only one recommendation I could give, I would say definitely talk about it as a family. Engage your children's minds. That's the whole point of reading the books and seeing the movie. Catching Fire is just violence if you don't make an application and give your kids tools to think critically.

In the interest of disclosure, that's the opinion of a parent who shelters her children and whose PG-13 library consists of Pirates of the CaribbeanLord of the RingsChronicles of Narnia , and CourageousFireproof will be making an entrance next year.

Personal Thoughts: Before reading the books, I was strongly and decidedly anti-Hunger Games. My husband and I previewed the first movie before taking our kids and we walked out shaking our heads at how parents could let their kids watch it. At the insistence of many fans and an English teacher, we read the books. Since then, there have been many conversations in our home about how we see metaphorical hunger games playing out in real life. All three of my kids have made some very insightful comments and my 13-year old is in the process of re-reading the trilogy with the sole purpose of figuring out exactly what Suzanne Collins' opinion is of our state of the union. She is developing her critical and abstract thinking skills at an advanced rate and with more gusto than she ever has with school work. Now that we understand the story, the movie takes on a different form. It has a point. It's not just entertainment anymore.

By reading the books and seeing the movies, we have challenged and strengthened core family values as a family, we have had lively and relevant conversations as a family, and we have had our minds blown as a family. I cannot fully express the richness that the Hunger Games trilogy has to offer to families who are willing to stop, think, and a family. Conversation is essential, in my opinion.