Lesson Learned!

I am fresh back from a cinematic-viewing experience with my almost-nine-year-old son and I am ticked.
We went to see Rango, and yes I did absolutely no research on this film. Rated PG, animated, how bad can it be?
The answer, I am sad to report, is plenty.
I am not one of those who does three months worth of reading and studying before going to see a movie. Probably because my tendency is to go to the movies when Pixar releases a film. That’s my every-other-year opportunity to take the boys end of story. Paul and I almost never go to the movies, opting instead to spend our precious date nights sharing a bottle of wine and enjoying some food cooked by not-my-hands.
In short, I don’t have a plan for seeing films because we rarely do.
Today, I decided to take Augie to the movies as a way to nurse the wounds of him not getting to go on a ski trip with his dad and three older brothers. The timing was really sad, with it being his birthday tomorrow and many of his favorite people jetting off for a few days of fun (without us).
So as we were discussing HAPPY!!! ways to spend the weekend, the issue of this film came up and I agreed to go. The boys had seen trailers for the flick on our home page — the Apple start-up page that I can’t figure out how to change.
So off we went. At the last minute Henry wanted to stay with Aunt Jojo, who was watching Isabel. I am so glad, because the noise, violence and just plain creepy images would have freaked him out.
Here are my issues with this movie:
Issue No. 1: It is CRUDE. One of the opening scenes involves the protagonist chameleon hanging out with his “companion,” who happens to be the headless upper-half of a naked Barbie. Need I say more? Yes? Well how bout this: at one point he looks at her chest and asks “are those real?” I’m not even lying. That was about five minutes into the film and I came *this close* to walking out. Why didn’t I? I decided to just take a deep breath and hope for the best.
Issue No. 2: It is Creepy, creepy, creepy. This is basically an animated (or CGI, whatever) Western and involves lack of water and lots of dry, dusty conditions. The characters are all freaky deaky and I found myself feeling depressed just looking at them. Augie told me after the movie that he couldn’t eat his popcorn when certain characters were on the screen.
We are a family that has seen Lord of the Rings. We are not sissies. This was just over-the-top. (One character has an arrow going in one eye socket and out the side of his head. The entire film. Um, really nice.)
Issue No. 3: It is Highly offensive. Here’s where I would put that it had “teenage boy humor” except now I have a teenaged boy and he does not joke about proctologist exams. There were so many off-color remarks in this film that I couldn’t figure out the intended audience.
And then I realized something: these jokes were for us all. Like, the grown ups.
All this filth and innuendo and sad stabs at cutting-edge humor — it was meant for the parents, a little enjoyment as we sat through this film — except the makers of this film seem to think parents have a less-evolved sense of humor than their children, I think.
I have another outrageous snippet from the movie that I was going to recount here but I can’t bring myself to subject my dear readers to it. I just deleted a whole paragraph about it. Too gross. And depressing. Dear Hollywood, please just don’t force your “alternative lifestyle is so great” line of bull-cocky. Enough already.
Deep breath.
Deep breath.
One more.
I am not sure why I stayed and watched this movie except I kept thinking, “surely, that will be the last [insert poop reference here]. It wasn’t.
I also didn’t want to fly off the handle irrationally, and it wasn’t really until the end, when I sat back and considered the entire body of work, that I thought “Wow. Now that was a train wreck.”
If I had been with the three older boys, I would have left. The crude humor would not have gone over their heads. Most of it was lost on Augie.
As I sat in the theatre today the thought I had was that Hollywood is trying to tell me something — it’s trying to tell me I need to take a great, big, chill pill and just REEE-LAXXX. It’s telling me that humor about fake boobs and medical exams and dudes spooning each other around the campfire — all of that is FUNNY! And it’s so cool and just get with the program lady.
But they overplayed their hand here. Those are the last $15 dollars I will be spending to support the silver screen (I know, don’t hold me to this). At the very least, next time around I will do my research. I will not be lured into the false sense of security of “animation” and “kid’s movie” and even “PG”.
No more. I am ready to kick Hollywood’s butt and tell it to go home.
Here’s what the USCCB had to say:


Sophisticated, comparatively edgy animated riff on Westerns during which a lonely chameleon (voiced by Johnny Depp) stumbles upon a Mojave Desert town where water and heroism are in short supply. Reteaming with the star of his “Pirates of the Caribbean” series, director Gore Verbinski oversees a visually striking, quite literate movie whose darker, existential ambitions would befuddle and bore kids, when not scaring them, and whose passing, but ill-advised foray into religious humor will jar on the sensibilities of many grownups. Some fairly intense cartoon violence, brief irreverent and frequent toilet humor, occasional innuendo and sexual references, an inaudible crude term and at least one instance of crass language.A-III — adults. (PG) 2011

Call me an old lady if you want, but I have a feeling we won’t be darkening the door of the Regal Cinemas anytime soon. Pixar, let me know when your next film comes out. Until then, we’ll be at home enjoying the occasional re-run of Monk and reading lots and lots of books.


  1. I am totally with you, sister! I took my 11 & 8 year old boys and was very disappointed in the movie also. For some reason, I didn't check the reviews (like I usually do) on Focus on the Family website. I wish I would have! We do love to go to the movies but are vigilant to check on appropriate-ness (is that a word?) for our 4 boys. I don't know what I was thinking. Lesson learned…like you. I do know CARS 2 is coming out this summer and I hope it's as good as the first.

    Hugs to you, Rachel,
    Amy W

  2. Catherine Post says:

    Rachel, I can relate, & I definitely do sympathize. One thing that you wrote stood out for me: "Too gross. And depressing. Dear Hollywood, please just don't force your "alternative lifestyle is so great" line of bull-cocky."

    Upon reading this, I immediately reflected on something a newly-Christian friend once said to me. She was referring to the 'normal' American culture, and her remark was this: "Being a Christian, I experience a better quality of life than (they) do; I know that. They do not realize it – not at all."

    Yes, you do normally experience a MUCH higher quality of life than this. May this experience and your telling of the story remind us all of how very fortunate we are, due to our not-'normal' Values these days. 😉

  3. Mary Kate says:

    Wow. Good to know, but sorry you (and Augie) had to find out that way. I have to say that, so far, none of my 6 have expressed a desire to see this movie and now I'm really glad.

    (Hope Augie had a better b-day post-cinema!)

  4. I am so glad you gave your review of the movie here because this is one that my older two boys (7 & 6) have been talking about wanting to see. I do not understand why 'children's' movies are made the way they are.

    My husband and I recently had our own movie disappointment when we went to see a movie (at a theater…first time in years). The message was definitely one I didn't agree with. I wrote about it in my last blog post.

    It's getting really hard to find acceptable movie entertainment.

  5. Amanda M. says:

    OH NO. I saw the trailer for this when I took my 5-year-old to see "Tangled" and she was like "Yuck. That lizard is gross." I am so glad she said that because I *might* have wound up taking her and had the experience you did. I am so sorry for you two. 🙁 That stinks!

  6. assortedjoys says:

    Thanks for the heads up – this one will not go on our list of rentals!

    My question though, is what happened to movies aimed at adults? It seems no two characters can make it past the first (at most second) date anymore without heading to the bedroom. Is that normal these days? It certainly isn't considered normal or appropriate in this family! Hollywood moans that fewer and fewer tickets are sold each year, but don't they realize they are alienating families not only with their ticket prices by with their plot lines?

  7. My 12 year old went to see it for a birthday party – he felt the same way. He didn't like it at all. So disappointing from something that was supposed to be a "family" movie. I also forgot to check USCCB before I let him go – won't make that mistake again.

  8. Monk and lots of good books is how we got through the last ten years. We might see a movie once a year. My kids, now teens and young adults, are glad we skipped most of what Hollywood was doing.

  9. Seriously... says:

    amen! SO SO SO tired of hollywood telling us what we should like and think is funny!!! More good people need to stand up and be vocal….good for you for giving us your review. I will definitely NOT be taking my boys to see this show….or probably ANY show for a long time 🙂

  10. Anonymous says:

    I've had similar experiences and now will only allow my kids to see movies I have researched. I don't spend tons of time on it though – just go to plugged in at the movies – they do a super job for busy parents. Good luck and thanks for sharing your experience.

  11. While I am sorry your movie wasn't great, I loved having the time with the littles. Maybe you could try another movie to redeem this one… I will gladly babysit! Love you.

  12. My husband took our boys and they felt the same way. Yuck!

  13. I am so glad I read your warning! We are the same and rarely go to the movies. When we walked at the mall this week I looked to see what "kid" movies were out and saw Rango but have not seen previews or heard anything about it. In high school I walked out pretty early in a movie and they gave us our money back. Hope you have a fun time to redeem such a horrible time. So glad most of the stuff went over your littles head.

  14. I felt the same way after I watched The Princess and the Frog. Well, maybe not the crass and crude humor, but the film was down right terrifying! Ghosts and demons and "the other side" shadows were chasing the frogs and actually CAUGHT them at one point! My husband had nightmares when he was a kid about shadows and this film would have scared the living daylights out of him! I am all for moms posting reviews of movies because more of us need to be looking out for each other and our little ones. Thanks for the review, we won't be seeing Rango as a family. We'll wait for Cars2 to come out this summer!

  15. We use a great site that tells it like it is and makes it easier to choose which movies are best for our family: http://www.kidsinmind.com. And… in regards to your homescreen on Safari – open Safari and then click Preferences within the drop down menu under Safari (left of File). Make sure you are in General and from there you can easily identify your preferred home screen. Consider making an iGoogle page. I love mine. You can choose nifty gadgets that make everything you like available at once. Good luck!

  16. Leila @ Little Catholic Bubble says:

    Thank you for the warning!! Who are the arrested adolescents that write these movies anyway?? Sigh.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I have had my slew of upsets and can longer trust PG13 movies even. Some I have seen and have been embarrassed to even be watching the movie; I would have granted them an R rating. And yes, there are so many hidden agendas in the characters and the themes that it is really sad. Tough lesson: just because it is animated it does not mean that it is kid friendly. Pixar is about the only trusted kid/family friendly one to follow.

  18. theresa EH says:

    I am so disappointed for you and your son 🙁

  19. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this. I was ready to take my 9 year old boys without researching this movie as well. We have always been very selective (and limited) in movie viewing but I started to think, now that they are 9, we would be safe seeing just about any animated movie. Thanks so much for sharing your lesson learned so that I could learn it vicariously.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I loathe those computer animated movies — they are always way too fast-paced, racy, plots with crude humor. The music drives me nuts, too. I can totally relate to your feelings after you left the theater.
    Have you & your kids seen "Mr. Bean's Holiday"? BEST MOVIE EVER. Period. Kids love it, it has a great moral, and Mr Bean does things we only think about doing. It's a great movie. You have to rent it — Netflix or whatever. Maybe I'll buy it…–Elizabeth Kay

  21. Bubbles In My Think Tank says:

    Thanks for the warning! Now I'm so happy my boys decided when they watched the trailer that it wasn't a movie for them.

  22. Rachel, I'm so sorry you went through this with Augie. And trying to make a special date of it, too! How disappointing. 🙁

    If I can make a suggestion – I visit 2 sites before letting my kids see a movie. One is http://decentfilms.com/ , the other is http://screenit.com/.

    Decent Films is Steven Greydanus's site; he writes for National Catholic Register, and has been reviewing films for a long time. He has a great reviewing system and gives thoughtful reviews of movies.

    Screen It is a great site as well. The author breaks down movies into their bits and pieces, very specifically – where there is alcohol/drug use, profanity – type and #. Yes, if you read through the site, you will 'know ' the movie before you go, but personally, when it comes to my boys seeing things, I don't care if I know the outcome of a movie I may see with them as well. This site is a little hard to navigate initially, but once you get to the right section, you'll see how incredibly descriptive it is. I find ~that~ the most helpful of all.

    As for the bishops' web site, I'm glad to see their review of Rango matched your experience. But I would caution relying on their reviews alone. One need only to Google the USCCB and Brokeback Mountain to see the problems that have existed there. It was a quite a 'issue' a few years back. I believe it has been resolved, but I find the other sites I mentioned consistently reliable.

    I hope this helps. I'm sure Augie's past it by now. I pray you get there too. God bless.

  23. So sorry that happened!!! I wholeheartedly recommend http://www.kids-in-mind.com/ for movie reviews. It will totally rob you of your innocence but it does a much better job of letting parents decided what they are ok with their kids watching. From my experience the bishop's reviews aren't as good like that!

  24. Monica S says:

    Thanks for the heads up about this movie. I'd seen a few previews and thought it was a little wierd. I won't be renting or taking my kids to see this one that's for sure. Also thanks to the others that commented and left websites to check out. I'm definitly going to look into them.

  25. Monica S says:

    Thanks for the heads up about this movie. I'd seen a few previews and thought it was a little wierd. I won't be renting or taking my kids to see this one that's for sure. Also thanks to the others that commented and left websites to check out. I'm definitly going to look into them.

  26. Nikkadmus says:

    I can't thank you enough for this post. I had planned to take my 10 yo son next week to see this while his sister was at an ice skating party in the same mall. We will do something much more fun instead. Still, glad I hadn't mentioned it to him yet…

  27. wisdomandpeace says:

    My favorite website for checking movies before exposing my children to them is Common Sense Media. I find that I have a problem with many G movies, we haven't made it to anything PG yet! (My oldest is 7.)

  28. thank you for this review so I will not waste my money on crap. i am so with you on the horrible movies that hollywood pust out there for children. But, i usually feel like i am the only one complaining when most other moms I know actually laugh along with the crude horrible humor. I don't feel so alone now.

    my mom loves monk too and watches it with the kids but in even that I think some of the episodes are a bit much for the young viewer. so i am not a happy camper when it comes to most things on the screen. i am very particular.

  29. Jen Raiche says:

    Pixar has been trying to release one movie a year, so that's usually when we go to the movies, now. Cars 2 will be out this summer. Also, Kung Fu Panda 2 is due out in May. The first installment of Kung Fu was good, so I'm hoping the new one is just as good.

    I understand your plight! We typically utilize Netflix movies on-demand for movies for our boys. They're really into Rocky and Bullwinkle right now. Good 'ole non-agenda humor. ;-]

  30. Rachel, thank you so much for this reiew. I completely agree.

    Why must Hollywood destroy the innocence of children? Let them be happy, wholesome kids and give us movies about virtuous people. That, I can get behind.

  31. bubblefeet says:

    What I find most annoying about Hollywood is that they make the movies seem so funny and interesting in the trailers and then you go and it's junk!Sorry you had to go through that with Augie!

  32. Jen in CT says:

    To fix your homepage – with safari open select Safari — Preferences. In the General window, the fifth item down says Home Page – type in the address you want it to be or click the "set to current page" button (only if you want it to be the current page).

    And as usual, thanks for your sharing your insight.

  33. Thanks for the warning! I'm so sorry you had to go through the experience.

  34. Becca @ Our Crazy Boys says:

    DITTO! To every single thing you just said!

  35. Wow – that's ridiculous. We wouldn't have gone to see it in the theater anyway, but now I know to avoid it when it comes to Netflix, too. I posted a link to your blog on FB, so that any of my friends who are thinking of taking their kids will reconsider.

  36. Mostly lurker here, delurking to say thanks for the review – I was considering taking my little guy and hadn't started researching yet. This made it easy – we're not going, and I don't have to do any (more) research!

    I wish I could say I was surprised by them… but I am still disappointed.

  37. Finally I don't feel like the lone voice in the wilderness.

  38. We took our two boys 5 and 7 to this movie and HATED it!!! We were so thankful that the 5 year old fell asleep, though I was worried through his entire slumber, that his subconcious was taking in all this junk. My 7 year old thought that he was supposed to see this whole deal as cool, but said that he too was feeling yucky after the movie. The scene with the "girl" held hostage with a knife to her neck made me really angry! Anyway, glad to see I am not the only one who things this should have been rated at least PG13 if not R(I mean really…the naked Barbie with no head??? what were they thinking??)Mom with two boys, a husband, and even the dog is male!

  39. Anonymous says:

    Hmmm. . . My husband took our kids last Sunday to give me a break, and they all really liked it.

  40. SO glad you warned me. Another gem coming out of Hollywood, imagine that? And they give themselves awards for these movies. Maybe 1 or 2 good ones out of 1,000's every year? Nothing to be proud of I'd dare say.

  41. Kris from Oregon says:

    I just saw Mars Need Moms. It was not at all enjoyable. While the message that moms are important is good, the majority of the film is dark and depressing. My seven-year-old nephew said, "I don't want to be here." I thought, "Neither do I."