Beware of movies rated G. General Audience does not mean your 4-year-old can handle seeing a dad chased off a cliff only to be run over by a stampede, all while his son watches in terror. Even if the movie's characters are cartoon lions, those death scenes can be horrific.
So which movies will make your kids freak out, have nightmares, cry uncontrollably? Well, every kid is different, but it is worth pre-screening movies you haven't seen in a while, or that have just come out, so you know what you are getting yourself (and your kids) into.
I didn't do that when my husband brought home The Fox and the Hound a year ago. The kids thought he was superstar; they were 3 and 5 years old. I was an idiot for not reading the box. I'd never seen the movie, saw that it was rated G, and so we just popped it in. Man, did I learn my lesson.
It is true that every kid has their own level of tolerance and I've come to find out that my kids (my daughter, in particular) have very little when it comes to scary (or overly sentimental) movie scenes. She might be 12 before she's willing to see The Wizard of Oz!
Below is a short list (feel free to add to it) of movies I am keeping out of the DVD player ... for now.
The Fox and he Hound: Remember this one? The fox and the hound are best of friends until the hound is taught to hunt foxes. Yes, the hound ultimately saves the grown-up fox from certain death ... but try explaining to a little one why they were once friends and now the hound wants to kill him. The chase scenes, which include the hunter shooting off his rifle like a madman, are seriously unpleasant.
Bambi: I just can't let my kids see this one yet. Remember how it plays out? Bambi and mom are happily eating grass in the meadow when mom senses danger. They start running and after a while you hear shots ring out. Bambi continues to run thinking mom is behind him, but when he reaches home and says, "We made it!", he realizes he is alone and his mother is dead.
Toy Story 3: I am a big fan of Toy Story so we took the kids. Because we knew about the terrifying scene at the end where all of the toys face (what seems to be) an imminent death by fire, it wasn't as bad as it could have been. I was able to prep them about the scene before we went and assure them that all of the toys would live. I know many an adult that cried like a baby during that scene. Note: Explaining to kids that they are just toys doesn't help at all.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: I hesitate showing this classic film to my kids because of the scene where the wicked stepmother (who is, of course, the queen) orders her guard to take Snow White into the woods and kill her ... and as if that wasn't bad enough ... she tells him to bring back Snow White's heart in a box. Okay, so the guard lets her go, but just when she thinks she is safe with her new found friends, she bites into a poison apple. Ugh, now I have to explain what poison is? I suppose I can use it an example of Stranger Danger.
The Lion King: Scar, the evil lion who wants to be king, chases Mufasa (the current king) off a cliff and once he lands he gets run over by a stampede. To make matters worse, Scar, who is actually Mufasa's brother, manages to convince Simba (Mufasa's son) that it was his fault his father died! Poor Simba runs away, making it possible for Scar to become the new king.
The Brave Little Toaster: In one scene the main character (yes, a toaster) has a freaky nightmare sequence in which he is confronted by a hideous, evil, firefighter clown. The friendly toaster is left hanging (literally) on for dear life above a bathtub. Yes, it wakes up from this terrible dream, but the scene is pretty tortuous.
Finding Nemo: I love this movie so I've made some adjustment to how my kids view it. I fast forward through the first scene. You know the one ... it's where Nemo's mom and all of his unborn siblings are eaten by a shark. The kids don't know the difference and can usually, happily, get through it. They are scared now and then because of the sharks, and the "mean" scuba diver, and of course, Carla. She is the annoying little girl for whom Nemo is meant as a gift. Still, out of the blue the other day, my daughter declared that she never wants to watch Nemo again because it's too scary!
Lilo & Stitch: An alien, impersonating a dog, gets adopted by a little girl. The girl is cared for by her sister because their parents died; however, Children's Services is keeping a close eye on the family and doesn't think big sis is a fit caretaker. My daughter lost it, and I mean uncontrollably, when the little girl finally gets taken away from her sister by the "big mean man" from child services. Of course, it all ends happily and the alien dog officially becomes her pet and so on ... but my daughter was still crying when the movie credits were rolling.
Do you have any movies to add to the list? Or better yet, any tips on how to get my kids to understand that this is all just "pretend"?
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