Managing Summer Movie Mania
by Sandie Angulo Chen
Sandie Angulo Chen is a senior movie reviewer for Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization that provides parents with comprehensive media reviews. Read more »
Sorry, Sandie Angulo Chen is no longer taking questions.
With the start of summer comes a burning desire to fill the days with air-conditioned entertainment, sending movie attendance soaring. And who can blame families? Some of my favorite memories of summer involve seeing the season's biggest and best movie releases. At 33, I can still recall the excitement of waiting in line with my brothers to see "Batman" when I was 12 years old, and chances are high that your media-savvy kids, tweens or teens are also dying to see this summer's blockbusters.
The problem, of course, is that whether you have one child or multiple children, it's difficult to manage all of the requests for movie outings. Your 13-year-old daughter (or, cough-cough, you) wants to see The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, but what about your 8-year-old? And just because your under-10 kids love talking animals and want to see Marmaduke or animated sequels like Shrek Forever After, your teens are likely too old (or at least think they're too old) for some of those features.
So what's a busy parent to do? Here are three tips for managing summer-movie mania.
- Pick and Plan: Depending on how old your children are, browse through a calendar of this summer's movie releases. Read the synopses, watch trailers and figure out which ones are must-see movies for different members of your family. (Be warned: Not all of the summer's titles have been rated yet.) Once you've identified the ones that look like winners, put them on the family calendar and decide who gets to go when. That way you know ahead of time if your summer travel plans will make it difficult for your Team Edward and Team Jacob daughters, for example, to see Eclipse on opening night. (I'm not even joking. I know one set of parents that had to buy advance tickets in another state just to appease their Twihard tweens.)
- Divide and Conquer: Don't try to see everything together if your kids are in different ages and stages. Instead of forcing older kids to "suffer" through a movie they'll consider babyish, or taking the risk that a younger sibling might not be ready for a tween or teen-oriented story, split up and see movies separately. For every Diary of a Wimpy Kid or How to Train Your Dragon my 8-year-old son is desperate to catch, there's a Horton Hears a Who or Princess and the Frog he'd rather leave to his slightly younger sister and me. Movie-going, even for a movie reviewer's kid, is a treat, and I don't just automatically take my kid to any movie marketed as family-friendly. By dividing up movie duty among kids, we make each of them feel special -- especially if we take one of their friends along -- and we don't have to worry about exasperated whines all the way to the movies.
- Family Movie Nights In: Going to the movies as a family (of four) every weekend this summer would cost more than $400 (not counting concessions or 3-D fees), so once you've planned ahead and decided which movies you're going to pay to see at the local multiplex, institute a weekly Family Movie Night of your own. Whether it's On Demand, Netflix, a video rental shop or your personal DVD collection, there are dozens of ways to watch movies that didn't exist when I was growing up. (Remember VHS stores that required you to rewind?) Let a different family member pick the movie each week, or have a double-feature of a particular genre or the same actor or director's work. It's the perfect opportunity to expose your kids to older movies from your own childhood. I know my oldest loves E.T. and The Princess Bride because of he knows they're among my childhood favorites.
How do you handle your children's movie requests? What kind of movies does your family enjoy watching together?
Sorry, Sandie Angulo Chen is no longer taking questions. Feel free to comment on the article and let us know what you think about the topic.