Why I Won't Let My Child Watch The Muppets, Toy Story or The Lion King

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So DH and I headed out to see The Muppets. I just wanted to make sure it was OK for kiddo, because you always want to pre-screen these things whenever possible, just in case of objectionable content, and ...

Um, OK, no. I wanted to see The Muppets. Because I grew up on The Muppet Show reruns. (And Sesame Street. And The Dark Crystal. And Labyrinth. And the for-some-reason-underrated, Fraggle Rock.) I remember sometimes my parents would wheel the TV stand around so we could watch the show while we ate dinner, which was the coolest thing. I loved the Swedish Chef. I loved "Pigs in Space." Of course I loved Kermit, the perfect little exasperated green straight man. One of the very few times I ever got upset about a celebrity dying was when it was Jim Henson.

The Muppets billboards on Hollywood Blvd

I wasn't too worried about the new movie being good, because I like Jason Segel (but seriously, HIMYM, bring out the mother already), and because the vampire puppet musical at the end of Forgetting Sarah Marshall was ridiculously hilarious. And I think Segel came through on this movie. I can't decide whether my favorite song was the all-chicken rendition of "Forget You" or the barbershop-quartet version of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (with Beaker!). Or maybe I just liked seeing the old show intro all over again.

I really did want to know, though, whether the movie would be safe for kiddo to watch at some point. I have a list of movies I can't wait to show the kids when they're old enough (kiddette is 2 and will not be old enough anytime soon): the Star Wars movies; Beauty and the Beast; The Lion King; Spirited Away; The Last Unicorn; The Incredibles; etc.

But "old enough" can be such a relative term. Is an explosion OK? How about if someone punches someone else? What about an innuendo that soars right over his head but that he might decide to quote on the playground later?

But that isn't even the real reason I hold off. It's because I love these movies so much, I want the kids to really appreciate what they're seeing. They won't get the Star Wars reference in the second Toy Story until after they've seen Empire, for instance. They wouldn't understand why Uncle Scar was being so mean to Simba in Lion King. If they don't get the movie, they won't like the movie.

And yes, I am clearly being overly sensitive on this one, since I've encountered a few small children in theaters to see kid-unfriendly movies. Including Deathly Hallows, Part 1, in which a woman gets eaten by a giant snake in the first five minutes. And the child that time was barely old enough to walk.

But I'd rather be overly cautious than give the kids nightmares. I remember watching the first Muppet Movie and being a little freaked by the bad guy getting his brain fried at the end, and I know I was older than 4 at the time.

At any rate, the new movie passes the test. So we can move that one up on the list.

Photo Credits: popculturegeek.

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