Last week I had a good whine about parenting, so it’s only fair that I crow about the high point in my family life to date. Guardians of the Galaxy. Okay, that probably needs a little backstory. Before kids, a perfect date night was a bootleg John Woo movie. Like Tarantino, we would have had no qualms watching Shogun Assassin with our kindergartener. Except…
You never get the kids you ordered. Charles Bronson may have been a staple in my early movie viewing, but my older daughter had nightmares for days after watching Finding Nemo (it was the anglerfish). My younger daughter is sensitive to ominous notes in a movie’s soundtrack, which means even silly movies without scary scenes can set her off.
We traded a daily kung fu movie habit for almost two solid years of Curious George. We had to leave the theater during Kung Fu Panda. The snow leopard was too scary. Even after we started a Friday night movie tradition, we were limited to the practically defunct G rating. Between babysitter, dinner, and tickets, we paid almost $200 to see the first Avengers movie in the theater, where we ran into one of our daughter’s classmates. When Guardians of the Galaxy came out, my husband took a day off work so we could watch the matinee while the kids were at school.
Then, last week when I was at the opera, my husband took a risk. He showed the girls a movie that we hadn’t previewed – Night at the Museum – and they had no problem with it. Then he thought, “Nothing in Guardians is scarier than this.” That moment changed our lives.
So we tried it. At the first appearance of the orb, my oldest announced, “That’s a weapon. It could probably destroy the universe.” Her obsession with high fantasy has served her well. She was crushing on Star Lord before he even escaped the Ronin’s henchman on the abandoned planet and she punctuated every one of Gamora’s scenes with the comment, “She’s SO good.” In the house of the Collector, she agreed with Rocket’s assessment, “This is creepy.” But as soon as the Collector appeared, she said, “Well at least he looks normal”! She talked about the movie all the next day, trying to clarify the fine points of Xandarian politics.
The younger daughter was angling for her own pet Rocket before they even busted out of prison. When Groot got angry and spiked a dozen Kree warriors, she farted in excitement as she danced on the couch shouting “Groot! Groot! Groot!” She made Star Lord flags out of napkins.
When the movie was over we came upstairs and put on the awful soundtrack. The kids danced around the living room like the apes in the beginning of 2001 A Space Odyssey. A switch has been flipped. They may not be ready for House of Flying Daggers, but there is no going back to Super Buddies.
This was the first time we sat as a family and watched a movie that my husband and I would have watched on our own. Not a sanitized kids’ version like Spy Kids, but an honest to goodness action movie with proper fight scenes, monsters, and explosions. Misplaced as it may be, our pride couldn’t be greater if our kids had actually contributed something of value to the world. Like a new comic book.