I was five when the first “Star Wars” movie was released, eight when “The Empire Strikes Back” came out, and 11 when “Return of the Jedi” hit theaters. My parents let me watch those latter two films on the big screen, but kept me home for the first one.
Now, some three decades later, I am asking myself the question a lot of parents this month are raising: Should I take my children to see the newest film in the franchise, “The Force Awakens”? And … will they have nightmares for a year if I do let them go?
If you want the spoiler-free answer – or at least this traditional parent’s take on it – then keep reading.
I watched “The Force Awakens” with a critical eye on opening day, and after talking with a few other parents in the theater lobby, came to this conclusion: I would not take a 3- or 4-year-old kid to see it. I might take a 7-year-old to watch it. I would take a 10-year-old to see it – that is, if the kid is discerning.
My oldest children are 7 and 3 (nearly 4). I know this film would terrify my almost-4-year-old son, and there are a few scenes that potentially could give my 7-year-old son some bad dreams. But I am considering taking him to it, with the understanding that I need to shield his eyes in at least two specific scenes (both involving Kylo Ren).
But it is rated PG-13 for a reason. Comparing its violence and “scary” content to the other films, it is less violent and less scary than “Revenge of the Sith” (PG-13) and at least as violent and scary as “Return of the Jedi” (PG, but likely would have garnered a PG-13 if that rating had existed). If your child handled “Return of the Jedi” with no problem – even the spooky Emperor-Luke-Darth battle at the end – then you’re probably fine. But if not, then you may want to keep the kids home. “The Force Awakens” is more violent and more scary than the first “Star Wars” film and “The Empire Strikes Back.”