I come from a movie watching family. My mum's the instigator. She'd video good ones off TV and watch them while ironing when I was in my teens. Movies like Hunt for Red October, and While You Were Sleeping. We didn't watch much TV when I was growing up, but I remember going to the movies to see Milo and Otis, Cool Runnings, Sister Act, and a few others. I remember being mesmerised by The Sound of Music on a teeny tiny TV one wet summer night in a caravan in Coromandel when I was quite little (that was the holiday our tent got flooded and we had to join Mum and Dad in the tiny caravan, if I remember rightly!). I remember many laughs over my brother's (very good) attempts at imitating the Muppets, "I am not a shrimp, I am a king prawn!" My family enjoyed movies together so much that we'd finish off lines for them. Imagine my surprise then, when I had to explain to my husband that "There was a bee!" comes from Ever After. A movie which he'd never even seen! Tut tut.
So while my son is a very literate small boy, immersed in books galore, he also watches movies. One day over summer we got out Cars on DVD and watched it, the three of us, together. He also watched Planes with his daddy. I've sat with Munchkin and watched snippets of Finding Nemo, Madagascar, Rio, and Monsters Inc. He's also watched the whole of the Muppets Movie. A few times. To the point he would sing with his daddy, "Am I a man?" (Daddy) "Am I a muppet?" (Munchkin). Absolutely too cute! I just loved listening to them together, and was quite sad when we had to return the DVD to the DVD store (okay, so I admit that I LOVE good musicals and the Muppets Movie has some very catchy tunes as well as being a flash from my past!).
BUT, I have also learned to beware. Mummy-editing is sometimes necessary, even on movies that other parents have deemed fine for small viewers. Finding Nemo, for instance. A very cute movie to watch as an adult, but have you ever thought about how dark it is for children? There's big sharks that try to eat Nemo's dad. And the deep dark water bit. It's funny, but not in a light-hearted kiddie way. We turned the sound off for a bit. And I carefully checked for the happy bits of Monsters Inc.
Munchkin went to the movies for the first time recently, a trip with his grandmother. They, after some debate, went to see the latest Muppet movie. I thought this would be pretty safe. It was a G. It was the Muppets, which he'd loved at home on DVD. Uh-oh. There was a mean nasty evil frog. And Kermit was languishing in a dark dungeon. Munchy lasted an hour, then they went to play at the park. Mum and I agreed, he's just not ready yet. He doesn't like new experiences, and the movie theatre is rather big and dark even when there's nothing on the screen. We thought about whether another movie might have been better, something lighter and happier perhaps, like Rio 2 or The Lego Movie. But they both also have bad guys. There really isn't anything designed for a four year old these days. They all have adult humour, suspense, dark bits, and so on (because they want us adults to be happy enough taking our kids to the movies and buying the DVD so it can be watched a hundred times of course!). Home DVD watching it is for us, at least for awhile. Boyo and I don't mind, we don't go to the movies anyway. With a widescreen TV, who needs to? It's much more comfortable at home.
So I got a bit clever this time round, after being caught out with Nemo and my Muppet friends. I watched Ratatouille on TV myself. And decided not to rent it on DVD for my son just yet. We did, however, watch a small bit of Bolt, and a small bit of The Incredibles. Both of which are really a bit above my nearly-four-year-old, but he loved the experience of it all the same, for the short time I let him watch.
And what's even better than watching a movie on TV before bed?
Having dinner at your own little table in the lounge, while watching!
Mummy did have rather a lot of spoon feeding to do. Grin.