When Is it Okay to Take Little Kids to R-Rated Movies?

Rant by Joey Paur

I don't know about you, but I'm seeing more and more parents taking their kids out to the cinema with them to watch rated R movies. I'm talking about kids from infant age to around 8 years old. Most of the shows I see them at are late night screenings as well. I initially thought that perhaps parents are bringing them late so the kids would just sleep through it, but that never happens. These kids stay up and watch what's on the big screen.

I was 8 years old when I saw my first R-rated movie in theaters. My dad and my uncle took me to see James Cameron's Aliens, and it was one of the coolest experiences of my life. So I'm not a prude when it comes to R-rated flicks. But how young is too young? 

The standard age set for Rated-R films by the MPAA is 17 and up, but if they're accompanied by a parent or guardian, a child of any age is permitted into the theater.  Some of these movies are pretty insane though. For example, I remember going to one of the Saw movies and seeing a couple bring their kids into the theater. The kids looked to be around three and five years old. These kids were freaking out, but the parents just sat their and watched the movie paying no mind to their kids. One of the more recent films I saw this at was The Wolf of Wall Street, which was borderline NC-17. A whole family of five walked in, with kids ranging from around ages two to ten! They sat right in front of me and it just seemed crazy to me that the parents would take their kids to see this extremely hard R flick. Maybe there were people thinking the same thing about me while I was having the time of my life watching Aliens.  I would have freaked out in a movie like The Wolf of Wall Street. I wouldn't have been prepared for that kind of madness as an 8-year-old.

I guess there are films that aren't that bad or even justifiable. For example, another R-rated movie my dad took me to see was Schindler's List because of its historical context. Then there was Terminator 2, which was a great sci-fi action movie that my dad wanted to share with me because he knew I'd think it was cool.  Of course he saw it first before he took me. There were a bunch of other R-rated action and sci-fi flicks that I snuck out to see with my friends without the permission of my parents. But this article is more focused on the ones parents actually take their kids to see knowing what they are getting into.

I see this kind of thing all the time, and it just kind of weirds me out. Especially when it's a film that you'd think a little kid should obviously not be watching. I have two young daughters of my own, ages six and eight, and there will be a time and a place where they get to see their first R-rated movie, but it's not going to happen anytime soon. Maybe parents just know the tolerance level of their kids. Knowing my eight year old girl, there's no way I would let her watch Aliens right now because I know she would freak out. 

I know we were all raised differently and everyone is entitled to raise their kids the way they want. I'm not pointing the finger at anyone, or calling anyone a bad parent, I was just curious to hear your point of view on the matter and start a discussion. The MPAA is pretty inconsistent when it comes to their their ratings anyway. There are a lot of R-rated films out there that I don't think should be rated R. One of the more recent ones I saw that didn't deserve that rating was Jon Favreau's Chef.  When do you think it's okay to take a little kid to an R-rated film? 

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