A Guide to Seeing Movies With Your Parents

It's the holidays. Everyone is visiting the places they used to call home (or staying in a hotel to avoid awkwardness). From the leading up to Christmas and New Years, there can be a lot of downtime [insert socializing here]. 

"Why don't we all go see a movie?" Dad asks. 
"Ehhh..." You say. 

Given the stereotypical prototypes of family dynamics, however, it is certain that Dad will prevail. So, after a long, family-driven break, the Movie Mistress is back to give you a few pointers about how to approach this problem:

1. Avoid R-ratings. It doesn't matter how old you are- 14, 20, 30... Watching a graphic sex scene with your mother is awkward. You can claim to be the most open-minded person in the world and it will still be awkward. Granted, there are some perfectly acceptable R-rated movies to see with your parents- Constantine, for example. But then again, Constantine isn't really worth paying money to rent, let alone see in a theatre. Or The Usual Suspects, for example. Movies that said the f-bomb one too many times and were slapped with an R-rating. Or ones with violence. But I would say that unless you've already seen the R-rated movie and can give it a once-over, pick something else. You wouldn't watch Little Children with great Aunt Edna, now would you? Just assume that every movie with an R-rating has Kate Winslet full frontal on top of a dryer. 

2. Avoid G-ratings and most PG rated films. I know, I know. You're probably shouting "What the fuck?! No R and now no PG? What the fuck is left? Come on." I have reason for this. I know that PG movies are safe to see. However, when you're with your parents, they're most likely treating, and the movie you see affects the dynamic of your relationship in the theatre. Yes, I am aware that we're all adults here, but when you see a kid's movie, it is likely that you will be treated like one, and the last thing you want is everyone in the theatre to see your parents ask you, a self-sufficient adult who likely makes more than they do, if you need to use the bathroom before the movie starts. Like I said before, there are some acceptable films- Up, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, etc.- that are a different genre of family film, but if you haven't test-driven, don't bother. 

3. Avoid nostalgia films from their generation. THIS IS A DEATH TRAP OF ENDLESS REMINISCING. You don't want it. Trust me- I know. If your parents are of the self-indulged Baby Boomer variety, you most likely know exactly what I am talking about and I don't have to explain any further. Taking Woodstock was a great movie, but it induced several discussions with my parents talking about their youth. Which can be interesting... in moderation. When you hear for the fifth time about your uncle Ted's run-in with the crazy naked hippies, however, it can get a little bit uncomfortable. 

What's left, then? What CAN you see with your parents this holiday season to kill the time? I've come to help you out! I am good for something [insert that's-what-she-said-joke here]. I've made a list of movies to whip out when Dad, or Grandma, or whoever, asks that formidable question (if you've already forgotten what I'm talking about, drag your lazy ass up four paragraphs). 

The Movie Mistress' List of Acceptable Movies to see with the Fam this Holiday Season:

Avatar- PG13
You can compare it to The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Dad can compare it Alien, and Mom can say how she liked Titanic better. A win!

Sherlock Holmes- PG13 (Opening Dec. 25)
What's a better family film than one about two men who bunk together and solve crimes?

The Blind Side- PG13 
If anything, you can discuss the pros and cons of Sandra Bullock's strange Southern accent afterward. 

Invictus- PG13
Sports movies are always pretty safe, especially ones with Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. Happy ending, anyone? 

As a Precaution, DO NOT SEE:

It's Complicated- R (Opening Dec. 25)
It's like sitting next to your parents while watching them have sex. 

New Moon- PG13
The last thing you want your parents to do is compare you to all the screaming thirteen year old girls in the audience.

Happy Holidays!


The Movie Mistress


  1. Thank you for this - it really brightened my rather boring work day.

    For what it's worth, the last movie I saw with my folks was STAR TREK (on Mother's Day no less), and they both seemed to really dig it...impressive, since neither of 'em are, or ever were, Trekkers.

  2. Add American Beauty to the list of do not see-definate family outing fail.

  3. Star Trek seems like it would also be safe, given the Sci-fi heavy special effects driven plot.

    I saw Rent with my parents and I thought that was bad. I don't want to imagine the disaster American Beauty would be.

  4. Oh, and you're very welcome. I like brightening people's days :)

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