Animated Spider-Movie thwips its way into critics’ hearts, but should you take your kids to see it?
As parents and film fans, we want to share the best of the cinematic world with our kids. But when you haven’t seen a new movie yet, how do you know if you should take your kids? Obviously every kid is different, and they change with age; the same child who had to be escorted, weeping, out of Guardians of the Galaxy might completely fall in love with Deadpool two years later (true story). But it’s also true that movie marketing can be misleading – no-one wants to be that mom who had to leave Pan’s Labyrinth with an emotionally-scarred 10-year-old. With this ongoing feature, we’ll aim to offer some loose, spoiler-free, age-by-age guidelines as to what parents might expect from new features marketed to families, so you can make the best judgment call for your youngsters.
The latest from Sony’s ever-expanding Spider-Man movie universe (an off-shoot of the Disney-owned Marvel Cinematic Universe – it’s complicated…) is a bona fide hit after its opening weekend, having smashed box office records for a December animated release (not a terribly crowded field, but still) and is poised to potentially reap an armful of awards if the warm critical response is any indicator. The kudos are well deserved – it’s visually magnificent, deploying an impressive array of animation styles to bring the multiverse to life, and demands to be seen on the biggest screen possible to appreciate all the tiny background details that provide a grounded realism to a fantastical superhero tale (keep an eye out for the fake movie billboards in the fictional Times Square for a few giggles). For a more detailed review, read Victor Stiff’s take here.
But should you take your kids to see it?
There were definitely kids as young as 4 at the showing we attended, and I didn’t witness anyone having to be tearfully escorted out of the theatre during the many tense moments of action and suspense. There’s violence, but it’s cartoony and bloodless. However, YMMV, and it’s not a spoiler to reveal that there are moments of serious peril, and actual heartfelt loss that our beloved main character has to process and grieve. If that sounds too heavy for your littles, best to wait until this one is out on streaming.
Tweens & Pre-teens
Again, YMMV but this animated superhero flick is fine for older kids, with plenty of slapsticky humour as Miles Morales learns the (webbed) ropes of being a friendly neighbourhood superhero. There’s also a brilliant cringe-worthy segment where he first attributes his burgeoning powers to puberty, with some attendant symptoms (growth spurts! excess sweating!) that many of a certain age will definitely relate to.
If you have a teen that is remotely nerdy, this movie will be nirvana for them. I personally missed about 1/3 of the dialogue bits in this because of our MCU-crazy teen leaning over to stage-whisper excitedly to me about easter eggs and references and foreshadowing. If your teen isn’t well-versed in comic book culture, no worries – this is essentially a movie about coming of age and entering the world of adult responsibility, something that every teen can definitely relate to, and is fully steeped in hip-hop and pop culture that will be relevant to any teenager.
It’s relatively rare for an animated movie to hit it out of the park in relating to all ages, but trust me on this: there’s plenty here for adults to enjoy and relate to, beyond the references and easter eggs relating to previous Spider-Man incarnations (too many to list, but The Electric Company is a classic). Miles Morales’ interactions with his parents, his beloved uncle Aaron, and most of all, his mentor Peter Parker will hit home for anyone with kids in their lives. And there’s a lovely tribute to the late Stan Lee that actually had me wiping a tear away (what?? I’m not made of stone!).
Wee Time: I wouldn’t recommend missing any moment of this movie, but if your child, like mine, has the world’s smallest bladder, there is a sequence at about the 1:15-1:25 mark that is mainly heartfelt dialogue that isn’t essential to the plot and could potentially be skipped in favour of a quick potty break.
Bottom Line: It’s a Marvel movie, so yes, you should stay until the bitter end of the credits. ‘Nuff said.
Jenny Bullough is a movie fan and mom based in Toronto. She has missed the middle 5 minutes of every kids’ movie because of small bladder syndrome, and she let her kids watch Deadpool before they hit their teens and stands by her choices.