I was stunned by the level of violence in this movie and am not surprised to read the attached parent's reviews describing many examples of children screaming in cinemas and resulting nightmares. I'm a parent and also a child psychologist who is very concerned about the level and effects of media violence on young developing minds - really, we need to stop and think about what we're feeding our children as entertainment.
We watched this movie on Xmas day at a relative's house and I finished watching it feeling incredibly sad. Sad that this level of violence has become normalised to the point that it's made its way into the cinemas and homes with very little questioning as to its suitability for children. Hollywood makes it so must be alright yes? I popped onto this site this morning to see your review, and when I saw your "Best" and "Worst" lists, went straight to the "Worst" as that's where I assumed you would have listed it! How disappointing to find that not only was your review peppered with adjectives like "sweet", "cute" "irresistible" "hilarious", but you'd put it in the Best of 2013 list. A "minions filled adventure for the entire family", "violence is cartoonish and silly but does include biological weapons and a taser gun". But what is "silly" to an adult reviewer is very different to a child and this is what this website is meant to be geared towards - helping parents make sensible choices for their children. This movie features non stop violence, murder, beatings, assaults. Why does it being in cartoon form negate that? Beyond that it involves episodes of characters becoming inebriated, one to the point of passing out, an overtly sexualised "date" who is drugged and assaulted while passed out and being driven home (presumably OK because she's been cast in the role of bimbo?). And when did pole-dancing become normalised into mainstream children's media? But because it's all "cute" and "silly", it's OK? I can't even remember what else, loads of other stuff that had me clawing the sofa. I'd be interested to see a content analysis on this movie re amounts of acts of violence per minute. It was non-stop, unnecessary and gratuitous.
What concerns me is that we now seem to rate effects of violence on what kids "can handle" rather than what's "good for them" (don't take your 5 year old because they'll scream the cinema down, but your 7 year old will probably just get freaked out a bit)? Yes, I can make the choice not to view this stuff, but as a professional in the area I also feel a responsibility to speak up. Surely as parents and educators, our focus should be on nurturing our children's minds, helping them flourish and develop as socially and emotionally intelligent, caring and empathic human beings. I'm not suggesting we wrap them up in cotton wool. Violence and aggression are a very real part of this world and in the context of news, media etc are valid .. for an audience who's brains are sufficiently mature and need the information to make sensible choices for their families. However, the adults I know don't watch the news each night with a bowl of popcorn and fizzy drink, slapping their thighs and cracking up each time a story shows murder, assault or other acts of extreme violence. Yet this is exactly what we're showing to our children as a comedic, laugh a minute entertainment device??? Their natural response to it is aversive (younger kids screaming), yet we adults TEACH them that this is all just good fun. I think we'd do well as a society to stop and think about that for a moment.
Underneath all this horror and violence that was terrifying the younger children there were messages of family and love and relationships - great! But this message can still be built into a fantastic story without all the nastiness - or at the very least, with it drastically reduced.
Disappointed in the movie, even more disappointed about this positive "best of" review on this website.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking