With so many different entertainment options out there for your children, we at PopcornBiz thought we'd take a moment each week to dissect one piece of family entertainment strictly from a parent's perspective, so that you know what parts are appropriate for your loved ones, and which are not. This week's COVER YOUR EYES subject: “Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone”
"Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Part 2" comes out Friday on DVD and Blu-ray, and if you're a big Potterphile you'd best get your hands on it now, because the cunning marketing folks at Warner Bros. are going to pull all "Potter" DVDs and Blu-rays from the shelves at the end of this year. That makes this your last chance to buy the complete set of Potter films before the studio comes back and makes you buy 700 different special editions that you never asked for. You may want the complete saga on your hand for your little ones, especially if you're a pushy parent like me who expects his kids to like all the same things he likes. But when, exactly, do you start kids on the Potter movies? What's a good age to get them into this sort of thing? To figure it out, we have to take a look back at the very first movie in the series and consider a few factors:
The “Will Parents Be Able To Tolerate It?” Factor: Of course. The "Potter" movies were made for audiences of all ages. In fact, if you're the kind of adult who finds dragons and wizards and all that other stuff to be juvenile, it's almost certainly a sign that you're an old fart whom no one likes.
The Dead Parent Factor: HUGE. Harry Potter 1 is like a Dead Parent Carnival. It's even worse than the likes of "Bambi" and "The Lion King," because BOTH of Harry's parents eat it. And at the end of "Sorcerer's Stone," there's this exchange between Harry and Dumbledore:
Dumbledore: Harry, do you know why Professor Quirrell couldn't bear to have you touch him? It was because of your mother. She sacrificed herself for you, and that kind of act leaves a mark... This kind of mark cannot be seen. It lives in your very skin.
Harry: What is it?
Dumbledore: Love, Harry. Love.
Oh man, that is just... (bursts into tears). Plus you have Harry's dead parents waving at him from the picture they're trapped inside. It's very emotional. Chris Columbus ain't shy about tugging on your heartstrings.
The Sexy Sex Sex Factor: None. Snogging and what not rears its head in the third Potter film. Prior to that, it's all very much above-the-waist.
The Scare Factor: This is where things gets a bit complicated. "Sorcerer's Stone" is not the scariest movie in the world. You get Voldemort appearing in the back of Quirrel's head, and you get a giant three-headed dog attack. But your average grade schooler will be able to handle all that. HOWEVAH, you no longer have the luxury of the Potter books and films being released at staggered intervals, in order to coincide with your child's growth. If your kid likes "Sorcerer's Stone," it's a good bet they'll want to see "Chamber of Secrets" (which is scarier), and then "Prisoner of Azkaban" (which is even scarier), and then "Goblet of Fire" (which is really terrifying). The Potter series grows more mature with each installment, so much so that "Deathly Hallows" isn't really for young kids at all. That's great when you're taking a year in between installments. When you take a day? Not so good.
The "Shouldn't They Read the Books First?" Factor: Any seasoned Potterphile will want their kid to read the books first, but that's not gonna be possible. Harry Potter is such a large part of the culture now that you're not gonna be able to put it off until your kid is in fourth grade. If you can, you must be some kind of wizard yourself.
The Violence Factor: Minimal. But after this one? Hoo-boy.
Age Range: 7 and up. Kids any younger can't tolerate the accents.