Introducing my 5 year old to his first rated R movie

Grady and I have been watching old 80’s movies over the past few months.  Some of the classics we have watched include Raiders of the Lost Ark, Gremlins, E.T., Honey I Shrunk the Kids and The Great Outdoors.  All of these are PG-rated and Grady loved them all.   Claire, not so much.  After 15 minutes of Honey I Shrunk the Kids, she stormed off to her room stating, “Daddy, I’m sick of watching movies that you liked when you were growing up!”

I’m aware that a PG rating in 1981 is different that we would consider a PG movie today, but it didn’t bother me as a parent.  Most of the scenes and language are harmless, although The Great Outdoors pushed the envelope with at least one ‘sh$t’ and an ‘a$$hole’ comment.   For those of you younger than 30, the PG-13 rating didn’t exist until 1984, inspired by movies like Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.  Up until then, PG rated movies included a wider spectrum of violence, language and adult situations.  Did you know the original Jaws is rated PG?

This past weekend, our movie of choice was Planes, Trains and Automobiles, a classic 80’s comedy with Steve Martin and John Candy.  Grady saw a promo of the movie on TV, recognized John Candy from the Great Outdoors, and wanted to watch another movie with that “funny fat guy” in it.  So we fired up some microwave popcorn, turned down the lights and sat down for a few laughs.

The movie is going along swimmingly, Grady is laughing along with me, and nothing inappropriate for what I thought was another one of our 80’s PG movies.  Then came the car rental counter scene.  If you know the movie, you’ll recall it.  For some reason, I didn’t remember what was about to unfold.  Maybe because I saw the theatrical release in the 80’s, and only have since seen the edited-for-TV version since.  Well, here is the scene:

Yep.  19 separate F-bombs in under a minute.  No chance of receiving the father-of-the-week award this time.  The next day a simple Google search would confirm that Planes, Trains and Automobiles is in fact a rated R movie.  Oops.  With Steve Martin’s tirade in full swing, Grady was sitting on my lap, I didn’t know where the remote was, and in the middle of everything I decided that trying to plug his ears would only draw attention to the situation and make it worse (or maybe because I was laughing too hard that it impacted my common sense).  So I waited it out.  Silence from the little guy.  Did he miss it?  Was he nodding off?  Suddenly he turned his head toward me.  “Daddy, what does f*cking mean?”

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