Is the movie, "Where the Wild Things Are" suitable for young children (under 5)? If not, what is the minimum age for allowing your child to view it?
The movie is rated PG, but I'm hearing from some parents and others that it is not suitable for young children, or even for elementary school children. Is that true? My child and my friends' children are asking to go see it. Should we take them if they are under age 10?
A parent asked me a similar question (http://bit.ly/2j3agT) on my website, Ask the Mediatrician. Her 5 and 7 year old children loved the book was wondering whether she should take her kids to see the movie. Here was my answer to her:
Books and movies have very different ways of creating worlds. When we read a book—even if it’s illustrated—our minds add sounds, other images, and detail to the story. That means that what we imagine will be limited by what our brains are ready to create. Movies, however, describe worlds much more fully, with sounds and music and visual images, and so they make meaning for us.
This means that a story like Where the Wild Things Are, which can be great for adults in any medium, might work for children in one medium but not in another. For example, an adult who reads the book may see darkness in Max’s emotions, but a child who reads the book may not see that darkness at all, simply because her brain is not ready to create that darkness on its own. In contrast, the world of the movie is so fully formed that it will pull her into that darkness whether she’s ready for it or not.
What that means for your children depends on their age and sensitivities. At almost any age, they will perceive the fear and anger and sadness in this movie. The younger they are though, the less likely they will be able to understand that this movie is about managing and living through those feelings—what they will walk away with is those feelings themselves, not resolution of them. That’s all their experience so far has prepared them for.
For all of these reasons, if you’re considering sharing this movie with your children, I strongly recommend that you see it first, talk to people who have already seen it, or read parent reviews from Common Sense Media. Then think about what you know of your children as individuals to help you make your decision. In some ways, this movie is a great representation of how kids Max's age think, and adults might be able to learn a lot from that. But the kids themselves certainly won't come away with the same understanding as you do.
Enjoy your media and use them wisely,
Dr. Michael Rich, The Mediatrician®
dgraab - the member who asked this question - selected this as the best answer posted by another Education.com member.
from a fellow member
It is completely unsuitable for young children, for two reasons. First, it is really scary. The "wild things" are beautifully imagined and constructed, but they do terrifying things that wouldn't make sense to a child, and Max appears to be in danger--a young child wouldn't get that this is a fantasy or a parable. (Of course this will depend on the child--a five year old who is used to seeing a lot of violent action movies--e.g., Batman--won't be any more troubled by this than what he or she has seen already. But a very tender-hearted ten year old could be quite unnerved.)
Ten-year-olds who aren't easily rattled would probably be fine, and might really profit from a conversation about how the movie is a metaphor for what goes wrong when people are locked into particular ways of responding to sadness or anger.
However, the difficulties that the wild things have in getting along are very adult; they remind me of people my age trying to live in a collective--their characters are completely recognizable, as you'll see if you see it. Go with a bunch of over-50s, not under 10s!
It depends on you and your child. I took my five year old daughter to it and she was not scared and we discussed the underlying truths of the movie during it as well as after the movie. Namely that the young boy was having a lot of feelings about his parents divorce, had a lot of anger and wasn't feeling heard or seen. In the world he created he was trying to take care of everyone but he began to realize that no one can really do that. It's not possible to make everyone else happy and "fix" a family and through his imagination the boy was able to move through his feelings of loss and sadness that were coming out as anger. If your child just wants to go and see a funny ha-ha silly movie this may not be for them, although there were funny parts in it. But if you want your child to understand more about life and reality and feelings that it's a great opportunity to be real with kids about real situations they may face. Children are much more complicated and diverse than we often think they are or give them credit for.
I haven't seen the movie yet, so I posted this question to my Facebook profile to see what my parent friends who had seen the movie would say.
Here are two comments received....
From a mom of a 9 year old and 5 year old:
"It's dark but very beautifully done. I did have to explain a bit about Carol (one of the wild things)'s behavior to my kids who were a little confused I think by him ....but happy ending and got them thinking!"
From an elementary after-school program and recess yard helper (with two grown children):
"Many of the kids at my school have seen it & thought it was very cool. They like all that scary stuff & so did my kids."
As for me:
I'm thinking I'll go see the movie myself without our daughter (who can be a bit sensitive to scary or dark-themed movies), to see if I think it's ok for her to see. That could be a solution for you too.
I would not bring young children to this movie. I found this movie dark and sad, its themes are complex- I was surprised by how adult it was considering the book and the advertising. Max is in danger of being eaten at several points, someone looses an arm. I'd definitely preview first if you are planning on bringing children to it.
I agree with Graham. I am an adult and found myself feeling uncomfortable/scared at certain points in this movie, mainly because it's very melancholic in tone and the chaotic relationships of the "wild things" are very evocative of childhood fear of instability, etc. I think that it depends on the child, of course. But if your child is sensitive at all I think that the movie could be a bit disturbing, especially for younger kids (and maybe even adults like me ;)
My 7 year old was very much upset as well as my 5 year old. The emotional aspects of the movie are not for children under 9 unless they are developmentally ready( mature enough to understand that anger is hurtful on many levels, and how to deal with that).
Absolutely not. My son who is 6 yrs old did not like it from the start. The destructive behaviour, the yelling, the tears - it was totally not for him. We stopped watching when Max was first with the monsters.
He has seen other PG movies. He has watched plenty of "violent" kid shows like Batman, the new Ninja Turtles, etc. He is not afraid of monsters (or ghosts, goblins, vampires, etc.). He did not like all of the shouting at each other (humans and monsters) and the characters were confusing to him. I watched the rest of it when the kids were not around. I found it to be dark, grim, sad, disturbing and I was so mad that the movie trailers portrayed as uplifting and adventuresome. I can appreciate the artistic slant on the movie (I like Spike Jonze as a director and it was beautifully shot in Australia) but this was a classic children's book gone bad.
"Minimum age for viewing?" I would say teenage years at a minimum - they have sorted out their emotional demonstrations by then (hopefully). It should have been PG-13.