How does one possibly discuss watching The Hunger Games
with kids? It’s a movie ABOUT kids killing other kids. That’s the plot of both the original movie and Catching Fire
, the wildly anticipated sequel. And yet, Lionsgate’s massive franchise caters to readers of Suzanne Collins’ YA literary series, and so parents likely are facing a situation this week where their kids want to see the next chapter in Katniss Everdeen’s saga.
Can they? Yes, and no. Did they read the book? Have they seen the first film? There are conversations to be had as Catching Fire inches closer to theaters. Join the conversation below as we go through the Green Lights and Red Flags tied to director Francis Lawrence’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. When can you watch it with your kids?
Green Lights and Red Flags
The Green Lights
- This is an extremely faithful adaptation of the book. If your kids read Collins’ novel, they’ve likely envisioned most of the on-screen action with their own imaginations.
- The money earned on the first Hunger Games has been poured back into the sequel. The production values on Catching Fire are top-notch, so areas of interest like the Capitol and the Arena pop on the screen.
- Jennifer Lawrence. Everything about her is fantastic. She elevates the stock material. She makes Katniss a credible role model. She’s one of our strongest young actors.
The Red Flags
- Beyond the fact that kids kill other kids in the Arena for sport? Seriously, what is wrong with Suzanne Collins? And what I wrong with U.S., that this has become a national treasure in our theaters?
There’s a reason the Hunger Games movies earn PG-13 ratings. They are dark, complicated moral and political exercises, with mature themes that will appeal to older moviegoers. That being said, Lawrence is wise enough to tone down the inherent violence of the storyline, and make it palatable to 11- and 12-year-old advanced readers who might have rifled through Collins’ books and want to see the movie on-screen.
As I suggest in the above video, if your kids read the books, they can handle the adaptation. If they saw the original movie, and have a sense of what’s coming, Catching Fire is OK for them. Start with the books. Ease into the movies. They are not harmful, but they’re more sophisticated than Twilight, the Marvel movies, or other YA adaptations that claim to be tailored to kids.
If you’d like to read previous entries in the "When Can I Watch That with My Kids?" series, click right here. Some of the films covered: Star Wars, Back to the Future, The Goonies, Hugo, The Princess Bride, The Monster Squad and Elf, to name just a few.
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