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A movie guide for stupid parents

Barry Koltnow
The Orange County Register (MCT)

In the interest of full disclosure, I feel obligated to tell you that I have absolutely no experience raising children.

But I have no problem telling you how to raise your children.

And I would like to start with the woman who brought her young daughter to an afternoon showing of "Paranormal Activity."

Because of my lack of experience in dealing with children, I have no idea how old her daughter was, but I can say with confidence that she was definitely under the age of 5.

"Paranormal Activity" is a cross between "Poltergiest" and "Blair Witch Project" in that it is a horror film about ghosts and demons, but looks like it was filmed by amateurs. It is about a young couple from San Diego whose home appears to be haunted. They decide to investigate the phenomenon by setting up a camera in their bedroom to record what happens in the middle of the night.

I found it creepy, but not very scary, although I have heard of young adults who have had trouble sleeping after seeing it. Word of mouth has turned the low-budget film into a pop sensation.

Personally, I don't think it's a movie for small children, and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) agrees.

"Paranormal Activity" is rated "R," which stands for "restricted."

This is an excerpt from the MPAA's ratings guide:

"An R-rated motion picture may include adult themes, adult activity, hard language, intense or persistent violence, sexually-oriented nudity, drug abuse or other elements, so that parents are counseled to take this rating very seriously. Children under 17 are not allowed to attend unaccompanied by a parent or adult guardian. Parents are strongly urged to find out more about R-rated motion pictures in determining their suitability for their children. Generally, it is not appropriate for parents to bring their young children with them to R-rated motion pictures."

Let's not deal with theater management at this time. It's much more fun to point accusatory fingers at irresponsible parents.

As I said, I don't know anything about parenting, but I know a lot about stupidity. It takes one to know one.

I was one of many people in the theater who glared at the woman with the little girl. The woman never acknowledged the glares. Somebody should have said something out loud, but it was a very polite audience. I was too busy thinking about turning the incident into a column, or I would have openly expressed my outrage.

Finally, the woman removed her daughter from the theater — not because she realized that the film was inappropriate for someone that age, but because her child was chattering incessantly and annoying the mother.

The little girl was too young to even appreciate what was going on in the movie, and she was talking as if she were on a playground.

I have concluded from this experience that a movie ratings system isn't enough. Perhaps it is my job as a movie columnist to help parents. It's only fair that I give back to the stupid people who give me column ideas.

Therefore, I am going to run down a list of upcoming movies that might not be appropriate for small children. Let's call it "The Movie Guide for Stupid Parents."

1. "Saw VI" — If you missed the first five in the series, these movies are violent and bloody. You'll hear some people insist that they are psychological thrillers and not the standard slash-n-chop flicks, but that's just a way to excuse the slashing and chopping.

2. "The Men Who Stare at Goats" — This is not a movie about a petting zoo. It is an R-rated dark comedy. Go to a real petting zoo instead.

3. "The Fourth Kind" — This is not Steven Spielberg's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." This is the next kind. The fourth kind is about alien abductions, and do you really want your kid to live with that idea?

4. "2012" — This is the big end-of-the-world action movie from the guy who almost ended the world in "Independence Day" and "The Day After Tomorrow." Do you really want your child to contemplate the end of the world?

5. "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" — Hello? Vampires.

6. "Ninja Assassin" — Two words; ninja and assassin.

7. "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant" — See number 5.

8. "Precious" — Sounds precious, doesn't it? It's about parental abuse and rape. Still think it's precious?

9. "Pirate Radio" — It's about a group of DJs in the 1960s who start an illegal radio station at sea to thwart the attempt of British government officials to kill rock 'n' roll. Parents, it's sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.

10. "Old Dogs" — If you liked "Wild Hogs," you'll like this. But should you really expose your children to bad comedy?

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