In the olden days it was very simple. We watched Pocahontas and everyone was happy.
Well, Jane and I weren’t. We were bored senseless. But we were parents so that didn’t count.
We were watching a family film and the children were fine so all was well with the world.
Especially if dad had invested heavily in Haribos: which he always had.
Fast forward a few years. Tom forsakes the cosy circle of the family film for his bedroom and the seductive embrace of the illegal download. Ah… how empty life seems without those regular warnings from the internet police.
Jessica likewise. But not without a few arguments over what was classed as family viewing when her little brother was in the room…
But now he’s her little brother no longer. I look up at my youngest son (not by much, not by much) and realise that we’re about ready to throw film ratings out of the window – the official ones at any rate.
12 – 15 – 18: they’ve served their time now. But there are still our unofficial ones to deal with.
Chief among these is the E rating. That’s E for Embarrassment. As in, ‘can I watch this film with my children without dying of embarrassment?’
It all started with Sinbad the Sailor. I was watching with Ben. A delightful traditional tale, I thought. Not so: a slave girl fell overboard. Astonishingly, all her clothes were washed away. Cue much uncomfortable shuffling on the sofa, neither of us quite sure where to look or what to say.
And then of course, Game of Thrones came along.
I bow to no man in my admiration for Daenerys Targaryen (or Deanery’s Margarine as my non-erotic spell-check suggests I call her), but she is not a woman to share with your 15 year old son.
And so we came to Mother’s Day. What film shall we watch tonight? Sponsored by Sky Box Office the nominees for this year were:
The Manchurian Candidate, Gangs of New York, Cloud Atlas and Goodfellas
And the winner was… Hang on while we discuss it.
“Not too much swearing,” I said, “So that’s Goodfellas out.” Too much of the F-word also has me shuffling uncomfortably when I’m watching with the children.
My wife snorts derisively. “What did you say – several times – when your football team lost the other day?”
“Cloud Atlas is supposed to be good,” I offer.
“Seen it,” Tom says. “It’s really good. Six interwoven stories – it’s a bit complicated.”
“Too complicated for dad then,” my wife and sons say in harmony.
That left Gangs of New York and The Manchurian Candidate. “Manchurian Candidate’s boring. I’ve seen that as well.”
So we have a winner, ladies and gentlemen – subject only to the final scrutiny.
“Has it got any sex in it?” I ask – because it’s an 18 and we’ve probably moved on from Sinbad.
Ben checks his iPhone. Specifically IMDB. Even more specifically, Parents Guide/Sex and Nudity.
“A man and a woman kiss and moan,” my youngest son intones. “He unties her dress, kisses her neck and chest. She opens his shirt…”
And so it goes on. None of it sounds too… Well, we’re not talking 9½ Weeks here. It’s an OK 18. Obviously there’s plenty of stabbing, cleaving, ripping and chopping – but it’s the kissing and moaning I’m worried about.
“Kiss and moan,” I say. “That’s all they do is it?”
“That’s all it says here,” Ben replies.
“Well that sounds alright then.” I think I can cope with kissing and moaning. And who knows what might happen later? I pour my wife some more wine and settle back to watch the film…