I’m watching the recent movie adaptation of Astro Boy, a year or so after my daughter watched it. There are so many emotional upheavals and elements I probably didn’t want my daughter to see without some conversation. She’s a smart kid, but this movie is all about rejection. There’s tons and tons of situations of emotional discomfort that I don’t consider to be appropriate for an 8-year-old.
How did I miss this? First, the trailer. There’s nothing in the trailer that shows that the entire movie will be about a robot imbued with a child’s emotions forced to deal with rejection over and over. There’s nothing in the trailer that says it’s a giant movie about fitting in clad with robots.
Second, there’s the series. The series wasn’t like this. We (who grew up watching it) know it to be fun and peppy and full of great little adventures. The filmmakers took elements to make the new movie, but opted to imbue it with huge emotional conflicts and make a real adult-scale film.
Growing up, I did everything I could to get around ratings. I convinced my folks to let me see Jaws at a very young age. I did that kind of thing a lot. I pushed the boundaries of what was okay to see. I also got them desensitized to letting me see violent films. I want to talk about that for a moment.
Parents seem to worry about violence in movies more than any other element. Well, okay, sex comes first. If you see a topless woman, this is somehow far worse than bullets in the brainpan. But is that really the most scarring thing a child is going to absorb? I say no. I say that heavy emotional issues are far worse than a few guns or boobies.
As parents, it’s up to us to decide what is going to be okay for our child. It’s up to us to watch first, to know what we’re getting them into. And I missed it with this movie. I made assumptions based on the trailer, and I’m really sorry that I did.
My daughter never said much about the movie. She didn’t say that she disliked it. She didn’t say that she found it disturbing. She just didn’t have much use for it.
In fact, the movie’s pretty interesting from an adult perspective. The visuals are great. The acting is good. There are some really salient points and some emotional moments. But it’s not right for my kid.
Parental guidance is a lot trickier these days. The storyteller rules have changed. What we think kids want in a kid’s movie has changed. And animation, as you probably know, rarely means “children’s movie” these days.
Keep your eyes open, and dig deep. It’s amazing what one can find.