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Erica Galindo
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Last edited on: June 18, 2015.

Both good and poor picks for family movies hold places in theaters mid-June. Among better choices are Home, Inside Out, and Beyond the Mask, while poor choices (not appropriate for children under eight) include the spectacles Jurassic World, Poltergeist, and Tomorrowland.

Parents need to protect and guide children through their experiences with entertainment. It is imperative that parents understand cognitive and moral stages of development. Generally, children under eight have difficulty separating fantasy and reality and are more fearful.  For these reasons, Jurassic World, Poltergeist, and Tomorrowland are inappropriate for young children.

"Home" is a fun animated film that's perfect for the whole family; Photo Courtesy of DreamWorks.

“Home” is a fun animated film that’s perfect for the whole family; Photo Courtesy of DreamWorks.

Better choices of movies in theaters this week for children include Home, a PG-rated movie about a comical alien character named Oh who has been relocated to Planet Earth. This film, which has no foul language, is a lovable animated movie with themes of self-sacrifice, doing what is right, and pursuit of justice. It celebrates freedom, family and truth.

Inside Out, released in theaters this week, is another better choice for children. This PG-rated movie shows the point of view of the five emotions of Joy, Anger, Disgust, Fear, and Sadness as they attempt to lead a young girl named Riley through her life. Riley has moved from the Midwest to San Francisco for her father’s new job. As Riley and her emotions adjust to their new home, Joy, Riley’s primary emotion, works to keep things positive, while the others struggle to get used to a new house, school, and city.

inside out

Inside Out gives us a fun, family-friendly glimpse at the inner workings of our emotions; Photo Courtesy of Disney Pixar.

Those who are interested in Beyond the Mask can see a preview video, list of cities hosting the movie, and updates on the film. This is a PG-rated, wholesome action movie set in the period of the American Revolution. It has no obscenities or profanities and is perfect for families with youths or teenagers.  Beyond The Mask is a family film that brings history to life in a faith-filled adventure celebrating grace, liberty, and the ultimate source of true freedom.

In an Associated Press article concerning Jurassic World, Michel Cieply reported of Steven Spielberg, executive producer of the latest film, that “… more than one reviewer criticized (Spielberg) as lacking his sure touch for fantasy adventure.” Richard Roeper of The Chicago Sun-Times says, “You can check your brain at the door and pick it up on your way out…”  The Metacritic website, which tallies reviews, gave Jurassic World a middling score of 59 out of 100. Jurassic World, a Universal Pictures release, has been rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for “intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril.” Associated Press clarifies the MPAA definition of PG-13 as “Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.” Jurassic World has profanity and violence throughout and so is inappropriate for families with children under eight.

Jurassic World may look appealing to children, but intense violence means it's not for younger kids; Photo Courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Jurassic World’s dinosaurs may appeal to children, but intense violence means the film is not for younger kids; Photo Courtesy of Universal Pictures.

 Tomorrowland, Casey is a bright, optimistic teenager who is fascinated with space. When she receives a pin that gives her a glimpse of the future, she wants to find the way to Tomorrowland, but someone is determined to stop her. This movie may be fun for families of teenagers, but it has elements that are inappropriate for younger children, including profanity, violence, terror that includes beheading of humanoid robots, intense danger to children and more.

Poltergeist is a movie remake of the classic 1982 horror film about a family trying to get their young daughter back after they lose her to some angry spirits in their house. It is also not appropriate for children under eight, due to profanity, paranormal violence that includes a clown doll attacking a young boy, a young girl abducted by spirits, hundreds of corpses, many scary images, sexual innuendos, and more.

Photo Courtesy of Disney Studios.

Tomorrowland is a fun adventure, but profanity and violence will make parents think twice; Photo Courtesy of Disney Studios.

The Telegraph in the UK reports on the  importance of exposing children to information and images at appropriate stages of development, as well as the physical, psychological, and emotional detriments of overstimulation of children’s brains. The article states, ” …in a recent poll, over 87 per cent of parents said they believed that the more stimulation a child received, the more successful they would be. This misplaced ambition – which ignores the prescribed stages of development … is not only of dubious benefit, but as research now tells us, risks the overstimulation of some areas of children’s brains at the expense of others.

“The effect, we now know, can be damaging to neural development, which can lead to severe psychological and emotional difficulties later in life …  we see it everywhere – the effects of ‘too much information’ … at a younger and younger age, without any consideration of the social and emotional effect on the child. The result is that we have an epidemic of mental illness as children struggle with ‘too much information’ or ‘too much, too soon,’ with the effect evident in increased depression or, in extremis, such appalling manifestations of distorted youth as … crimes committed by children often against other children and suicide…”

In short, when we expose children to too much too early, we risk confusion between fantasy and reality; vulnerability to fear; physical neural, emotional, and/or psychological damage; and inspiration and incitement to violence against others or themselves.

Mojo’s latest data shows that the following worthwhile, family, and/or redemptive  movies are still in theaters, even after many weeks (listed according to box office rank): 8. Avengers: Age of Ultron, 17. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, 20. Beyond the Mask, 24 When Marnie Was There, 29. Paddington, 30. Little Boy, 36. Where Hope Grows, and 37. Do You Believe?

 

Written by Diane Howard, Ph.D. (Performance Studies) – dianehoward.com

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