The Hunger Games: A Primer for Parents — What You Need to Know

The Hunger Games

What will many families and/or their kids be doing this weekend? Going to see the much anticipated The Hunger Games. It’s on track to break box office records, with lots of help from the kids. Earlier this week I penned a piece entitled Hunger Games: Fun for the Whole Family The Big Debate which brought up the subject of what age was appropriate for kids to see it at. Some say fourteen, some say twelve, and one even thought that the young age of eight was okay.

I saw The Hunger Games earlier this week at a preview and I will stick by my opinion that my own child will have to wait until she is 13 or 14 to see it. But plenty of other parents out there will probably be fine with their kids viewing this “must-see” movie  it at a younger age. And then there are the undecided – those who aren’t sure or who don’t know enough about the story and the film to make a well-informed decision.  To help you with that decision making process, here are some tips about The Hunger Games:nggallery id=’124030′

  • The Rating: 1 of 4
    The Rating:
    The film is rated PG-13, which means — "admission will be granted to persons of all ages but that parental guidance is suggested in the case of children under the age of 13." Some have thought that due to the violence and the heavy subject matter, the film should have been rated R rather than PG-13. But then they would ruled out their main audience. The suggestion that children under the age of 13 be with a parent when they see the film is a wise one.
  • The Violence: 2 of 4
    The Violence:
    The violence in the film was handled with much restraint. The director Gary Ross is known for his films like Seabiscuit and Pleasantville, two films that are far less dark than The Hunger Games. Had the film been in the hands of a director like Quentin Tarantino, well then it would have been wall-to-wall bloodshed. But Ross handled the violence with quick shots, many done with a handheld camera, without gore or any kind of glorification of the violence. But that said, it is still very jarring.

    There are:

  • Stabbings
  • Kids being killed by arrows
  • By a brick
  • By killer insects
  • By wild dog like creatures
  • And a particularly jarring scene of a teen breaking another teen's neck.
  • It's not too graphic, but it's there.

  • The Deaths: 3 of 4
    The Deaths:
    One of the big things are the consequences of the violence. There were several shots of those killed with their dead eyes wide open, shot with an eerie stillness. These images can be haunting and as disturbing if not more so then the violence itself. The death of one character is so powerful that a grown woman next to me broke down in an intense crying jag.
  • The Emotional Themes 4 of 4
    The Emotional Themes
    Although there are numerous instances of violence in the film, I believe the hardest thing for kids (and adults for that matter) to watch will be the power of the emotional storylines in the film. The tale of a girl being torn from her family, away from the sister that she needs to protect, is a heavy one. These scenes of a dust bowl-ish District 11 with Katniss' sister Primrose are not just dramatic but heart-wrenching. Plus the idea of having to go out and kill your peers, against your will, in a battle of survival is intense to say the least. While these themes cover a slew of deep topics like loyalty, family, exploitation and so many more, parents should make sure that their children are at the emotional age to absorb them not to disturb them.
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    Images: Lions Gate

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