Watch Out! "Family" Movies with Cursing
Over the summer of 1985, I saw Back to the Future in the theater five times -- a personal record that still stands. I can still vividly remember watching the scene in which Marty (Michael J. Fox) sees the terrorists coming after Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd); eyes goggling in fear and disbelief, Marty yells out a loud, clear (and, given the circumstances, probably justified) "Holy s--t!" I don't remember my parents making a big deal of it, but to my 10-year-old ears, that was a pretty electrifying moment. He swore! (And he did it again, too; all together, there are five uses of "s--t" in the movie, plus a fair bit of other iffy language.)
Back to the Future certainly isn't the only family-targeted film from the '70s and '80s to get a little blue. Movies you remember as being innocuous when you were young may have more four-letter words than you remember -- or maybe it's just been years since you saw anything besides the edited-for-TV version. To help you and your family keep it clean, we've rounded up a few other hall-of-famers:
- Adventures in Babysitting: This '80s action-comedy (a nostalgic favorite for plenty of parents) includes everything from "f--k" and "s--t" to "goddamn" and the derogatory word "homo."
- The Bad News Bears: Not only do the kids in this edgy '70s baseball comedy swear ("s--t," "goddamn," "a--hole," "bastard," and more, including racial slurs), but they also smoke and are given beer by an adult.
- Beetlejuice: There's plenty of creepy imagery on display in Tim Burton's comedy-horror hybrid, as well as a few memorable uses of strong language (notably "s--t" and "f--k").
- Big: This PG-rated Tom Hanks comedy includes a kid (Hanks' character's best friend) using "f--k," plus a few instances of "goddamn," "a--hole," "bastard," and more. Watch out for a fair bit of smoking and suggestive material, too.
- A Christmas Story: While the movie's most memorable language-related moment actually centers on a word that isn't said ("Oh, fuuuuudge!" "Only I didn't say fudge."), there's lots of discussion about profanity, and a few other choice terms pop up: "ass," "son of a bitch," "hell," "hot damn," and the like.
- E.T.: Many parents are surprised to be reminded of the colorful language in this feel-good favorite, particularly the insult "penis breath" from a young child. Other terms include "s--t," "damn," "oh my God!," and "son of a bitch."
- Ferris Bueller's Day Off: True, Ferris is more for teens anyway (as are John Hughes' other classic '80s teen comedies, all of which are pretty salty -- especially the R-rated Breakfast Club), but given his long-lasting appeal, it's worth a reminder that everything from "f--k" (said once) to "s--t" (used often) pops up.
- The Goonies: Kids and adults alike use "s--t" several times over the course of this exciting, Steven Spielberg-produced adventure, and you'll hear "damn," "goddamn," "ass," "hell," "oh my God," and more, too.
- Grease: Most of the strong language in this perennial favorite is in the racy song "Greased Lightning," from "s--t" to "p---y wagon," but a lot of it is said or sung so quickly that kids might not pick up on it. Characters also say "crap," "ass," and "God" (as an exclamation). And then there's all the smoking and sexual content.
- Spaceballs: Lots of the iffier language in Mel Brooks' Star Wars spoof gets edited out when it airs on TV; if you watch the uncut version, you can expect to hear "s--t," "a--hole," "damn," and even one use of "f--k."
- Stand by Me: Between the swearing ("f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and more), the ultra-gross barfing scenes, and the dead body at the center of the story, this coming-of-age classic based on a Stephen King novella certainly earns its R rating -- but people tend to forget that, since it's set in the '50s and has a strongly nostalgic tone.
Kids know that swear words get a rise out of adults, so when they hear strong language, it tends to make an impression. Even milder "gateway" words -- insults such as "stupid" and "idiot" or made-up swear substitutes such as "gammit" (thanks, Fred Figglehorn), "smurf," and "frack" (Battlestar Galactica) -- can lead to imitation and rude behavior. How to nip it in the bud? Get our tips on talking to your kids about swearing.
Are there any more movies you'd put on our list? Add them in the comments below! Follow me @BetsyBoz.