If you’re still sticking your fingers in your ears to avoid hearing insufferably smug moviegoers reveal spoilers for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” fine, but there are a few things you may want to know as a parent before taking your kids to see the film.
1. Child-inappropriate previews there may be, hmm. Not only were we treated to a ridiculously long chain of movie previews — our 10 a.m. showing this past Sunday began at 10:25 a.m. (!) — but the first of those coming attractions included a woman and her ex-husband steamily hooking up in a car.
Yes, the PG-13 rating of Star Wars gives theaters license to show PG-13 previews … and for the most part the previews we saw, with their mix of sci-fi violence, mayhem, and mischief were “thoughtfully” selected to match what was to come in the movie. But corporate America, let’s show some restraint here… no one expects to see sex in a “Star Wars” film so please don’t ambush us with it in a preview.
2. Know what the PG-13 means in this case. That there’s no sex in this installment of Star Wars shouldn’t come as a surprise or as a spoiler, but a head’s up that there is plenty of “sci-fi action violence” that includes torture and many scenes that are intense. My 9-year-old son took my wife’s hand a couple times and looked at us from time to time for reassurance during some of those intense scenes, but we felt that the movie was appropriate for him overall. The user-generated IMDb parents guide for The Force Awakens has some vague spoilers but sums up sufficiently what to expect. And if you’re in any doubt about whether the film’s intensity may be appropriate for your kid, you could do a lot worse than go see the movie on your own before bringing your family to it.
3. Expect parental angst onscreen. Strained family relationships and estrangement are not new to the Star Wars galaxy and there’s plenty of both in The Force Awakens. And it’s perhaps never more true than it is in a Star Wars movie that you can pick your friends, but you sure can’t pick your family.
4. Count on seeing this movie again…in the theater. The first “Star Wars” installment in 1977 (aka Episode IV) marks the first and only time I saw a movie in the theater multiple times during its original release, and you should do the same with The Force Awakens to really feel not just the Force, but get the full impact of the movie’s sound and the way the sheer…bigness of the movie makes you feel small and intimidated … but in that good way that epic movies are supposed to.
And, if you’re a purist like me and like to watch the sacred Star Wars opening credits in relative silence, you can be sure the thoughtless knucklehead behind you will start crinkling cellophane candy packaging at the Worst. Possible. Time. Plus, and I wish more people would come out and say this: Star Wars: The Force Awakens is not just a good Star Wars movie, but it’s a good movie, period. That my sometimes impossible-to-please younger teen daughter was championing the movie even before we left the theater also tells me there’s something special about this film. And it’s very likely the best-acted Star Wars episode, which no doubt will help the film hold up better for grown-ups during repeat viewings.
5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens will make you want to travel. You’ll want to go to space, for sure, and just as the first Star Wars awakened millions of new armchair and would-be travelers to the slopes of Tunisia, the locations in the newest installment are bound to ignite real wanderlust among those in your brood. I predict that the destination featured in the final scene of The Force Awakens sees an influx of tourism over the coming years, though for the sake of that locale I hope they preemptively forbid selfie sticks, starting today.