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'The Hunger Games': Is it OK for Kids?
What parents need to know about the movie before heading to the theater

By Martha Brockenbrough
Special to MSN Movies

Without a doubt, one of the biggest movies of the year will be "The Hunger Games," a story about two dozen teens forced to fight each other to the death while their fellow citizens watch the spectacle on TV.

The film is a bracing adaptation to one of the most popular book series of the age, and both are a powerful and important commentary on the corrupting influence of power and the dehumanizing influence of the mob.

You might be one of the millions of adults who've loved the book, written originally for a teen audience by Suzanne Collins. Or you might be the parent of a child who's read it.

Bing: More about 'The Hunger Games' | More about Jennifer Lawrence

And now you're wondering, do I take the kids?

It's a good question. Theoretically, one the Motion Picture Association of America exists to help us answer.

The operative word there is "theoretically." A PG-13 rating didn't stop hordes of parents from bringing 8-year-old girls to watch Edward bruise Bella during headboard-breaking sex, for example. 

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But given how unreliable the ratings are in the first place, it's understandable that people pretty much ignore them.

Why was "The Lorax," for example, rated PG "for brief, mild language"? Does "truffula fruit" have some secret connotation we're unaware of? There was nothing in it that should cause parents alarm besides the tastelessness and futility of adapting another slight picture book for the screen, and the tiredness of the snowboarding granny trope.

And it was infinitely milder on every score than "Cars 2." Meanwhile, the wonderful movie "The Incredibles" earned a PG rating, perhaps for all those wholesome images of urban mayhem, superhero torture and baby combustion.

And don't even get us started on the inanity of the R rating given to the documentary "Bully," about the misery so many kids face at the hands of their peers on account of language teens hear and use every day. It's laughable that something from real life is deemed inappropriate for the kids living it.

All of this is just another way of saying the PG-13 rating of "The Hunger Games" is meaningless. There is an answer to the question, though, whether the movie is appropriate for kids.

First, it's a faithful adaptation of the book. If you've read it, you know that means there are many violent, bloody deaths, including those of characters you will care about.

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Apr 9, 2012 3:08PM
Harry Potter had violence and was not a negative for kids.
Apr 9, 2012 6:08PM
Unfortunately real violent death of children is blasted through the media.  It seems that every night on the network news, we hear of children being killed by ****ers who can't shoot straight.  Innocent children!  My soon-to-be 13 grandson has certainly had the opportunity see the network news.  In the Chicago metro area, it's hard to avoid.

Certainly, they don't actually see the violence of death occurring, but the preteen kids are aware of it. Many have played video games that highlight violence to death, so would I recommend to my son & daughter-in-law that they allow my grandson to see The Hunger Games? 

I have read the book, and my daughter-in-law brought home a copy of the book for my grandson to read.

I would suggest to them, that they allow him to see it on DVD when it becomes available, and let him stay up to watch it after his younger sisters have gone to bed.

The real question is:  Will the soon-to-be 13 be mentally affected by what is seen in the film?  I would tend to doubt it.  I do however think younger children should not see it.

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