A lot of trauma mamas are cautious about the movies we let our kids see. We know keeping our kids’ worlds small, and not allowing everything other families might be able to experience without a problem, helps us keep a reign on certain trauma triggers – things that trigger our kids and cause them pain. There are other blogs out there where trauma mamas can find reviews of movies written specifically for those of us raising hurt kids. One of my favorites is Gold to Refine. You’ll find links to Diana’s movie reviews on the side column of her blog. Now that I have my own blog, I thought I’d write a movie review from time to time, too. Our family does not go to movies often, but when we do, I’ll let you know what I think. For now, let me tell you about Puss in Boots. (Warning: if you don’t want any spoilers, read no further. However, as a trauma mama, you may appreciate a spoiler or two if it helps you help your kids.)
We saw Puss in Boots in 3D this afternoon. My hubby and I took our two younger kids, as well as one of our older boys (who has a mild form of Asperger Syndrome). All five of us enjoyed the movie. It was funny, and there were plenty of mild zingers for the adults in the crowd. There was no cursing, though there were a few off-color references – much that would go over most kids’ heads. The movie is filled with plenty of action and its theme is “good overcomes evil.” All good stuff.
The thing trauma mamas might consider, however, is that Puss and his childhood friend, Humpty Alexander Dumpty, are orphans. The boys are raised in a Mexican orphanage where they are bullied by the likes of Little Boy Blue. They have a kind and loving “mama” who runs the orphanage, however. She grows to love Puss as her son, even calling him, “my boy” a few times in the movie. Puss and Humpty emotionally wrestle a lot with their past. Humpty is especially affected by it and makes many poor choices throughout the movie. In the end, he makes a decision for the greater good, but gives his life to do so. Humpty dies by falling off a cliff and being cracked open. Inside, we see he is a golden egg. Puss comments he always knew Humpty was a “good egg” inside. This golden egg ends up being taken up into the heavens by the Goose – you know, the one that lays the golden eggs.
All three of my kids did just fine with the movie for the most part. Remember, they are older. My daughter is 13 and my youngest son is 16. I asked them if the boys being orphans and being in an orphanage made them feel funny at all. My daughter said no, and I believe her. She’s a positive person and is not a deep thinker about hard things. My son looked at me like I was crazy (but this is not unusual – he looks at me like I’m crazy as a matter of course) and also said no – with extra emphasis (“NO-ah!), and a deep Eastern European accent – which is especially exaggerated when he is stressed. So, while he did fine for the most part, I know the orphan theme bothered him. He said he liked the movie and he thought it was funny. My Asperger young man (22) was stimulated by the action scenes – he always is. He tends to chew his hands when this happens. So if you have an Aspie, be aware that the action scenes cause excitement like most action and adventure movies do for Aspies.
I’m not sure why SO many movies seem to center around characters with tough backgrounds. I guess it makes the character more interesting. As your hurt kids get older, it’s hard to keep all the parameters around their worlds that you once did. You can’t shield them from all the violent movies, or all the movies with themes that make them crazy. You can teach them (or try to teach them) to be discerning – to consider whether or a not a movie is a good thing for them to watch, or whether the content of a movie is worth their time. After all, there’s a lot of JUNK out there! And if you happen to stumble on one that’s not good for you, it is OKAY to teach them it is perfectly fine to walk out of a movie (or turn off the TV).
That said, I don’t think Puss in Boots is junk. Far from it. It is fun and it is funny. But for some kids with orphanage backgrounds and traumatic pasts, it may not be a movie to see.