Parental Guidance

If The Shape of Water is Too Adult for Your Kids, Watch These 3 Films Instead

by | December 1, 2017 | Comments

Guillermo del Toro’s latest film is a rather grown-up sci-fi fairy tale of sorts, and while it looks gorgeous, its messages are worthy, and fine for older teens, we realize it’s not the most family-friendly stuff. Plus, it’s only showing in a couple of theaters in New York this week. Instead, critic Christy Lemire offers up three similar alternatives you can enjoy with your kids.


THE MOVIE

The Shape of Water (2017) 92%

Rating: R, for sexual content, graphic nudity, violence and language.

The latest from visionary director Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Crimson Peak) is a symphony of sight and sound – a lush love letter to movies and to the power of love itself. As romantic and transporting as it is, though, it’s also a dark, sci-fi fairy tale, as del Toro’s films tend to be. This one earns its R rating with quite a bit of nudity, suggested sexuality, language, and some strong violence, including shootings. But The Shape of Water could be a solid choice for teenagers and up: It’s a dazzling and inspiring story of unexpected romance and of outsiders banding together for a noble cause. Sally Hawkins stars as Elisa, a mute janitor working at a government laboratory during the early 1960s, at the height of the Cold War. When she and her co-worker (Octavia Spencer) discover that a mutant amphibian man (Doug Jones) is being hidden away there for experimentation, they dare to free him with the help of Elisa’s best friend (Richard Jenkins). Del Toro’s film features a thoughtful mix of thrills and melancholy, and its themes of courage and acceptance are definitely worthwhile.


THE RECOMMENDATIONS

If your kids are too young to see The Shape of Water but you’d like to share another creature feature with them, here are a few suggestions:

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) 79%

Rating: G

An obvious choice, perhaps, because the creature in The Shape of Water so clearly resembles this classic Universal monster – although del Toro had the benefit of high-tech special effects and a much more elaborate suit to help bring his amphibious man to life. But while this sci-fi oldie but goodie may look cheesy to young viewers today, it still provides thrills as well as something to think about. Scientists on an expedition to the Amazon discover the mysterious and ferocious Gill Man, which hunts them down in pursuit of one of their colleagues, the beautiful Kay (Julie Adams). In both films, the creatures are feared, captured and misunderstood. But as is the case with The Shape of Water, Creature From the Black Lagoon is clearly an allegory about what happens when we make the mistake of attacking those who might seem different or unusual. Your kids might think the black-and-white, low-budget look of Jack Arnold’s movie is hilarious or bizarre, but that’s part of the fun.


E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) 98%

Rating: PG, for language and mild thematic elements.

If you’ve never shown your kids E.T., now is the time. Just give in to snuggling on the couch and sobbing with your children as you wallow in the nostalgia of your own youth. Although, you may find, as I did when I watched E.T. with my 8-year-old son for the first time a couple years ago, that it’s just as powerful viewing it as an adult. I thought a lot about E.T. – one of my favorite movies ever – as I was watching The Shape of Water, and I even referenced the Steven Spielberg classic when I was explaining the plot of del Toro’s film to my son. In both, a highly intelligent, sensitive, and kind human forms a powerful bond with an otherworldly creature; in both, the government wants to take that creature away to study it. But the strength of their connection allows them to overcome whatever obstacles come their way. In a nutshell: An alien is left behind on Earth when his spaceship takes off without him. He forms a sweet friendship with a lonely boy named Elliott (Henry Thomas), which becomes so strong that they begin communicating psychically. Of course, scary scientists close in to investigate – at least, they seem scary from Elliott’s perspective. There’s some stuff in here that will seem too frightening or emotionally intense for very little kids, as Elliott and E.T. find themselves in increasing physical danger. And the ending will just wreck you, no matter how old you are. But this is a must-see, of course – both from a film-history perspective and for its themes of decency and friendship.


Starman (1984) 85%

Rating: PG-13, for adult situations/language, violence.

This one’s probably better for older kids – tweens and up – but it’s an ‘80s classic with a funny and touching Jeff Bridges performance. Bridges stars as an alien who crash lands on Earth and takes the human form of a deceased man named Scott. He then kidnaps Scott’s widow, Jenny (Karen Allen), and forces her to drive him to a crater in the desert to reconnect with his kind, or he’ll perish. (The alien journey element of the story is reminiscent of last year’s excellent Midnight Special, which would also be a solid choice for older kids.) But the two eventually form an unlikely bond as he learns to assimilate on Earth, and Jenny feels protective of (and ultimately falls for) this sweet, misunderstood visitor – especially as the authorities close in on them. John Carpenter’s film is both thrilling science fiction and a cleverly charming romance. It features a bit of sex, and Jenny becomes pregnant. There’s also some violence, smoking, and language scattered throughout. But the film’s themes of kindness, tolerance and generosity toward people who seem different are more than worthwhile.

Tag Cloud

news documentaries Fantasy Mystery VOD asian-american series period drama Lionsgate Sundance Now obituary teaser Peacock scary movies DGA dragons Disney streaming service Sneak Peek Reality Competition Thanksgiving universal monsters ID Film Festival Apple Disney Channel scorecard 99% See It Skip It The CW NYCC comics cooking casting 2015 Fox Searchlight crime thriller spinoff Comics on TV Nat Geo TCA 2017 Interview crime HBO Max Oscars Rocketman sequels Cosplay christmas movies toronto Pet Sematary zero dark thirty FXX halloween black Set visit Summer cults Holidays Animation Ellie Kemper Pop dceu police drama diversity tv talk dramedy Christmas Mindy Kaling Masterpiece talk show SXSW BAFTA Pride Month revenge DC Comics Winners parents Sony Pictures zombies Fox News San Diego Comic-Con ratings documentary foreign A24 concert Amazon Studios Baby Yoda adventure Captain marvel Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Countdown Tumblr Black Mirror The Purge Nominations politics Podcast Disney Plus binge boxing Shudder dogs free movies Kids & Family YA romance natural history Cartoon Network versus Paramount Watching Series ABC Family indie stand-up comedy ABC Apple TV+ APB 24 frames child's play based on movie TCA Awards Marvel Box Office Acorn TV Amazon directors TruTV Trivia Netflix Christmas movies SDCC Vudu laika Starz BET Awards Spring TV TCA Winter 2020 PaleyFest blaxploitation NBC cars 2018 cancelled TV series Lifetime Christmas movies children's TV science fiction Endgame festival Chernobyl FX on Hulu President nbcuniversal El Rey Marvel Studios Amazon Prime Video rotten anime golden globes Universal Reality Women's History Month E3 political drama theme song YouTube Red MTV Star Trek Grammys Family Adult Swim book Hallmark Christmas movies BBC Mary poppins Lifetime Mudbound movies Horror HBO Go Binge Guide LGBTQ FOX Funimation spain stop motion Turner Comedy CMT YouTube anthology TNT biography latino GIFs Pixar USA sports 2016 DirecTV hollywood Food Network Winter TV LGBT fast and furious PBS zombie sag awards technology werewolf Heroines Schedule breaking bad romantic comedy The Arrangement 2019 Logo Elton John films comedies worst name the review superhero canceled TV shows canceled worst movies Turner Classic Movies TV Land Disney 71st Emmy Awards Writers Guild of America Character Guide cinemax japanese justice league DC streaming service Opinion Hulu Bravo hispanic chucky football Paramount Network HBO FX SundanceTV Teen Showtime best PlayStation Cannes comic TCM USA Network Photos Warner Bros. Netflix south america adaptation IFC Rock OneApp Epix 2020 nfl Music Year in Review renewed TV shows Calendar rotten movies we love Ghostbusters Polls and Games a nightmare on elm street Spike Trophy Talk Election boxoffice die hard Awards Tour historical drama stoner nature Fall TV satire cops witnail Quiz reviews Dark Horse Comics Martial Arts Drama TV Amazon Prime New York Comic Con GoT disaster singing competition First Reviews Mary Poppins Returns game show kids Crunchyroll crossover remakes dc ghosts Biopics elevated horror 45 war WGN Columbia Pictures Red Carpet Spectrum Originals james bond classics Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt 2017 First Look Certified Fresh Musical Action Extras serial killer Freeform critics Television Academy Video Games Song of Ice and Fire video on demand Apple TV Plus Marathons CNN toy story Avengers 20th Century Fox batman fresh TCA ESPN supernatural spanish what to watch mission: impossible History cats game of thrones Tubi Marvel Television dark Nickelodeon TIFF Esquire archives quibi ITV spanish language comic books cancelled television Emmys Country festivals social media Travel Channel slashers MSNBC 72 Emmy Awards criterion RT History GLAAD discovery Black History Month harry potter Academy Awards Disney+ Disney Plus Holiday A&E true crime cancelled TV shows YouTube Premium mutant psychological thriller CW Seed Superheroes Comic Book Western VICE deadpool miniseries independent BBC America MCU unscripted animated Ovation franchise CBS Best and Worst facebook Infographic strong female leads streaming BET Sundance TV Star Wars Pop TV Tarantino Tomatazos Anna Paquin AMC National Geographic blockbuster cancelled DC Universe television award winner Crackle Toys Discovery Channel spider-man indiana jones australia psycho RT21 Walt Disney Pictures movie Shondaland Rom-Com CBS All Access comiccon crime drama OWN American Society of Cinematographers BBC One green book X-Men 4/20 venice sitcom vampires Film spy thriller 21st Century Fox VH1 Television Critics Association cartoon Trailer The Academy Emmy Nominations Hallmark The Walking Dead TLC aliens transformers thriller halloween tv TBS robots 007 all-time Stephen King Creative Arts Emmys Valentine's Day screen actors guild french Syfy Superheroe Pirates WarnerMedia richard e. Grant twilight Hear Us Out The Witch screenings Sundance italian Awards medical drama Musicals Super Bowl finale Comedy Central Brie Larson reboot Premiere Dates hist doctor who Classic Film Sci-Fi IFC Films Britbox Rocky Lucasfilm E! Mary Tyler Moore video joker docudrama rt archives space Arrowverse sequel composers travel mockumentary TV renewals Alien emmy awards jamie lee curtis