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Preview to a Nightmare

October 1, 2012

My kids love going to the movies – what kid doesn’t? – and they love seeing the previews for what’s coming soon, but when the kids become so scared of a movie preview that they don’t even want to go to the movies for fear of seeing it, then it’s a problem.

I’m not talking about an adult horror movie or an action/adventure movie or a blood-thirsty thriller. I’m talking about a movie that is currently being marketed to kids. Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie is based on a short film he first made in 1984. Like many Tim Burton movies (think Beetlejuice, Corpse Bride and The Nightmare Before Christmas), it seems to have a dark side. How do I know? Let’s review the first two minutes of the trailer, shall we? Family dog dies, boy is devastated, boy digs up the corpse of dog, boy tries to bring dog zombie back to life, dog zombie hilariously terrifies people. I say hilarious in the way it is obviously hilarious when the family pet dies and you dig up its corpse and then try to bring it back to life. Hilarious — right?

It’s animated so it must be for kids. Great! It’s from Disney so it must be for kids. Great! Rotten Tomatoes has the official movie description hailing the film as a “heartwarming tale about a boy and his dog.” Oh, wait. The heartwarming part comes after the dog dies, its corpse is dug up and the boy misguidedly tries to bring the zombie dog back to life. Oh, wait. The MPAA gave it a PG rating. Parental Guidance suggested. In this case, the PG rating is because of “thematic elements, scary images and action.” Oh, wait. Maybe it’s NOT for kids. So why is it being marketed to kids?

The trailer is playing before all the kids movies right now. We saw Disney’s Cinderella at LA’s El Capitan, and there was the preview of zombie dog. My little 7-year-old was crying. She won’t even go by the movie posters in the lobby. And now it’s so bad, she doesn’t even want to go to the movies until after Frankenweenie is out of the theaters because she’s worried about seeing the poster or the preview. Nice job, Disney.

I get it. Not every movie is for kids. I get it. Parents must do THEIR job to make sure movies are appropriate for their kids. I get it. And I’m willing to do my part. So don’t sandbag me by showing scary previews of a PG movie about a zombie dog brought back to life before the rated-G movie we carefully picked out for our kids. I haven’t seen Frankenweenie… but it is rated PG for a reason.

When is a kids movie not a kids movie? When it leaves the kids crying during the preview. Do you agree or disagree?

Pete Wilgoren is outnumbered by a wife, two little girls, and a dog named Cupcake. Guess who named the dog? Find him on Facebook at Dadmissions – The Book.

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