Why am I writing this blog? Because, with our focus on parents and children here at Family Theater, I want to make sure you know that “Deadpool” is not a family film!
That may seem like I’m stating the obvious, especially when the movie has an “R” rating.
However, I know how the mind works, and how marketing works, and what current statistics indicate. Putting this knowledge together with the fact that “Deadpool” has made $491.9 million in just under two weeks tells me that it is not just 18-35-year-old males who are going to this film, but many others, including parents bringing along their kids– yes, it happens — and under 17-year-old kids convincing their parents to buy them tickets and let them see it alone.
This often occurs because of the argument that can be summed up as, “Well, the movie probably isn’t that bad.”
It is an argument I have seen used, that has been used on me, and that I have used myself in the pre-17 years.
And while I leave it up to the formed conscious of each and every parent to determine what is, and is not, suitable for their children, I want to make it clear that the current number #1 movie in America is not one of those borderline films that is just a little bit worse that PG-13, or a smidge too adult for teens.
It is NOT a family film. In industry terms it is a “hard R”. It doesn’t just cross the line, it pole vaults over it after lighting the line on fire.
Part of my reason for this blog is because this rating fact may not be obvious to the average, incredibly busy parent who doesn’t have time to watch every movie trailer or follow every piece of media and promotion about a film. You may have just seen the film trailer in front of the Super Bowl and thought, “It’s funny. It’s action-packed. Maybe it’s just an edgy super hero film.”
“Deadpool” is not a super hero movie. The film’s narrator tells you that after Deadpool impales an adversary on two samurai swords. The narrator quips, “Wait, I thought this was a super hero film, but that guy (Deadpool) just turned that man into a f-(expletive) shish-ka-bob.” And, that is because, while this film has superheroes in it, like Colossus from the X-Men, the star is not a good guy, but a borderline amoral mercenary who just happens to have superhuman powers.
Yes, “Deadpool” is a Marvel movie (it even has the flipping-pages comic-book logo at the start of the film) and Marvel is owned by Disney (whose logo is very conspicuously not at the start of this film), and the character Deadpool wears a costume and fights bad guys.
But this is where the similarities to a superhero movie end, and this is where our responsibility to be good media consumers begins.
In the film, Deadpool doesn’t just fight bad guys — he kills, maims and dismembers them. There isn’t just some swearing in this film. Deadpool and the other characters throw around the f-word as casually and copiously as they spray bullets. Being as this is an action film – they spray a lot of bullets.
There is nudity – female back and full frontal; male back and mostly full frontal. Oh, and sex — graphic and extreme enough that one scene made a theater full of grown men groan aloud, and which will literally be painfully awkward to explain to your kids should they see it, especially with you present.
That said, I am not writing to condemn “Deadpool.” Thousands of people clearly enjoy it, which explains the box-office numbers. Also, there were many parts that appealed to my inner delinquent teenager, who dreamed of beating up every bully who ever tormented me and who would have given his left arm to date a girl as attractive as the love interest, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) .
However, I can say that “Deadpool” is a movie no teenager should watch, especially knowing that biologically speaking, we actually can’t un-see something. Once an image hits the optic nerve and makes it to the cerebral cortex, we may forget it for a time, but it is somewhere in our brains forever.
What “Deadpool” provides is a perfect example of how we should be savvy and informed media consumers, safeguarding what we watch and what we allow our children to see. To the casual observer, it could easily appear as a slightly over-the-top comic-book film. The well-formed audience member would know better.
As a society obsessed with reading food labels, we should spend at least as much time vetting what goes into our brains as what goes into our mouths.
Here’s a few tips on how to get informed and how we can form ourselves.
1) Closely read the film’s Motion Picture (MPAA) rating. Thanks to diligent parents and a responsive MPAA board, next to a movie’s rating is a brief explanation on why it received its designation. For example “Deadpool” is Rated R for “strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity.” This should appear on the trailer or on the poster. You can also find it on sites such as IMDB.com (stands for Internet Movie Database) if you type in the title of the movie.
2) Watch the trailer in advance. They are usually available on YouTube if you type in the name of the movie and the word “trailer”. Especially pay attention if the film has a “Red Band” trailer, this is a term that means instead of the trailer having that signature green opening screen that says “This trailer has been approved for all audiences”, which is the most common, that screen is instead red and reads “for restricted audiences only” meaning 17 or older. The red band indicates that the trailer itself is rated R and will contain an adult level of anything from swearing and violence to sex and nudity. Red trailers give a much better idea to the true nature of the film, but do not view it in the presence of anyone you are trying to shield from adult material.
3) Find a reviewer you trust who also describes why something received the rating it was assigned. IMDB has a Parents Guide section that describes in clinical detail the moments that earned a film its rating. When you are on a film’s particular IMDB page, scroll down past the list of actors and under a section titled “Storyline,” you will see a sub-section called “Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)”. In that sub-section is the “Parents Guide” link which will take you to page listing all of the gritty details of the rating. The Catholic News Service also has a website that reviews films and gives a moral assessment of the movies themselves.
4) In addition, writers/commentators like Bishop Robert Baron, who is a filmmaker in his own right, is also known for creating video commentaries on popular films and modern culture. Search YouTube for Robert Barron, or go his media ministry WordonFire.org.
The key to all of this is not to be thought police, but to be informed. Each person must ultimately determine what is and is not appropriate for him or her to see by developing a relationship with God and forming his or her conscience. But an essential part of that process is being educated and aware.
Taking these steps helps us become the real superheroes as we strive to guard our own souls and protect the hearts and minds of our families and the ones we love.
Image: Courtesy Sony Pictures/20th Century Fox/Marvel Studios