Is Indy OK For Kids?

By now you’ve read Josh Tyler’s review of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I mostly agree with his overall conclusion that the movie is fun and entertaining, but no classic. Of course, we all know it doesn’t matter what our review or any review says, Indy is back on the big screen and you are going to see it, so there is just one question to answer; should you bring your kids? Or, as Helen Lovejoy pleads, “won’t someone please think about the children!”

In order to help you think about your own children and if you should take those under 13 to see this PG-13 rated film, I went ahead brought an actual child to a preview screening as a guinea pig. She’s an eleven year old girl and a huge fan of the previous Indiana Jones movies, which she’s only seen, of course, on DVD. She is also a fan of such action movies as Spider-Man, National Treasure, and Pirates of the Caribbean. Between the two of us, hopefully we can give you some sense of the kid appropriateness of Harrison Ford’s latest adventure with his whip.

Plot Comprehension and Boredom Factor- Let’s face it, not every action or hero movie has a plot that makes sense to adults, much less kids. Will kids be able to figure out what Indy and his cohorts are up to without an adult providing commentary and thus pissing off everyone sitting around them? The short answer is yes. Although it’s not easy to connect the dots between what is happening with Indy at the beginning of the movie and his ultimate quest, it’s not mind bending either. Kids won’t pick up every nuance, but they can figure out that Indy is looking for….something…..and how he gets to the final location. Our kid correctly answered questions about the plot after the movie was over and seemed to get a sense of what was happening overall, so it should be clear to anyone over the age of 10 or 11. The other issue is often a boredom factor, when plot or character development is required and the action and comedy are put on hold. Fortunately, the movie is short on character development (one of its flaws from a grown up standpoint) and there aren’t too many gaps between action set pieces. There wasn’t much fidgeting or interest waning from my companion. The middle of the movie does drag a little, but there isn’t the lengthy Superman Returns or Batman Begins type angst and soul searching that bores kids to tears.

Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll- This is an Indiana Jones movie, there isn’t any sex. There isn’t even any passion, like you saw in Raiders of the Lost Ark, between Indy and Marion. There is no real connection or attraction between Marion and Indy this time around so the only problem for youngsters might be understanding why these two would ever have had a relationship in the past. Although Cate Blanchett’s character is referred to as being a sort of “dominatrix” in some early analysis of the trailers and photos, there is nothing sexual about her and no jokes in that regard that kids might not get.

Violence, Ants, and the Fear Factor- The biggest concern parents may have with the movie is the amount of action violence and how “scary” the movie would be for children. There isn’t much blood, but there is tons of action, naturally, and some of it is scary and intense by design. This was the part where my 11 year old had a little trouble. Although the violence and action is very mild from an adult point of view, the scenes are set up with a lot of tension as to what might happen. A younger child may have a hard time handling that. There is no real blood and the gore level is way down from our old favorites of people melting before our eyes in Raiders of the Lost Ark and Last Crusade. One scene with some very hungry ants might be a little much for the younger kids to handle, but everything else can be handled by anyone who saw things like Spider-Man or Pirates of the Caribbean in the movie theater. If your kids have only seen these types of movies on DVD, the intensity of some scenes might be a little scary.

So, can you bring your kids? I don’t want to leave you with an “it depends.” I’ll just say, if they are over 10, then you can probably bring them if they have some experience with an action or superhero movie before and they reacted fine. They will probably overlook some of the plot and character holes and just get into all the cool action, thus enjoying the movie more than their folks or older siblings. Anyone over 13 or 14 is fine and anyone under 10 is a real crapshoot, I’d wait for the DVD.