Minimal Effort in Parenting: Deadpool

*This is an old review I wrote back in February when the movie was released but never posted due to technical difficulties. I present it now in full 2-D format.

This is not a review of Deadpool as a movie.

This is a review of the experiences I have had while watching it.

The overall greatness that is this amazing film on its own cannot be overstated. It was true to character, engaging, funny, vulgar, and fantastic. We laughed so hard we cried several times. The movie wasn’t the issue.

It was the goddamn kids.

The biggest question with the production of Deadpool was what the rating would end up being. A lot of people were worried that they were going to neuter it and make it PG-13 so that they’d have a wider audience and make more money. There was a time when they were worried that it was going to be NC-17 and not accessible to a big audience. Instead, they kept it true to the character and managed to score an R rating.

And it is a hard R. There is violence about every five minutes, blood and guts and brain matter splattering on all matter of surfaces, the F-bomb is dropped every minute or so, more creative swearing than I have ever heard in my life, buckets of boobs, sexy fun times, and full-frontal male and female nudity. With all the hype about how violent and vulgar the film was going to be, there is no way that I will believe anyone is 100% naïve about what they get into.

The Captain, B, and I all knew what we were getting into even if we didn’t know how it was going to play out in the overall movie. What we did not expect was to walk into a theater and sit behind parents seeing the movie with their preteen children. It was awkward and we gave each other quite a few disbelieving stares, but it seemed almost forgivable. It was opening night, no one really knew quite what the film contained, and they’d probably walk out if it got too inappropriate.

They stayed for the whole thing. They stayed through all the swears and the blood, through the sex scenes (“No one should be introduced to pegging in that way” as B said), and through the entire strip club sequence. I was engaged with the film 99% and that last percent was devoted to gauging the poor child’s reaction to what I was seeing. I have to wonder what they talked about on the drive home.

There were about three kids in the theater that night, and I came home and posted a warning about how inappropriate it was for kids. Tons of other people had the same thought and did the same thing.

Then The Captain, B, and I went to see Deadpool again. Different theater and everything, and guess what? There were NINE kids this time—ranging in age from five to about fourteen. We sat next to a mother and her eight year old and B and I looked at each other as if to say, “Here we go again.”

We knew what we were getting into completely now, but did the mother? Did any of the parents know what they were about to see? Should we warn them how inappropriate it was?

Parenting is a touchy subject anywhere you go. People don’t want to be told they’re a bad parent or be questioned about their decisions, and I understand that. But when you bring your child to an adult movie, in a public place with other adults, you open yourself up to speculation and debate. Especially after the movie has been released and thousands of people are saying that it is not appropriate for children.

I don’t care if you’re a progressive parent and you let your kid swear, have a sip of beer now and again, or shoot a gun. But taking your kid to a movie that was almost rated NC-17 is not the best parenting decision period. If your kid wanted to see the movie that bad then buy it when it comes out and let them watch it at home. Nerds who have been waiting almost as long as Ryan Reynolds for this film want to enjoy it as adults in an adult setting and laugh at purely adult humor. They do not want to think about the four year old in front of them after watching a sex montage.

I get that the market is oversaturated with superhero movies and that Deadpool is marketed as a Marvel/X-Men type film. I get that your kid may be familiar with Deadpool from comics (Do you even know what your child is reading?), cameos in children’s TV shows, or from all the merchandise—he’s popular. That doesn’t mean they’re old enough to see this movie. I don’t care if you take them and cover their eyes during the nudity (and there’s a lot of it), because you’re distracting the other audience members with the fact you BROUGHT A YOUNG CHILD TO A MOVIE WITH GRATUITUOUS NUDITY AND VIOLENCE.

Sure, kids these days are different and they’re exposed to real-life violence and nudity everywhere else, but active, maximum effort parenting involves seeing what your children are exposed to and choosing to engage with it in a dialogue-friendly way. My parents didn’t let me watch rated R films until I was fifteen, and even then it was just the occasional horror movie. And that was at home! I didn’t see a rated R film in theaters until I was almost twenty. Am I the paragon of innocent childhood? Definitely not, but I can distinctly remember the first rated R film I watched with a parent.

I was seventeen and it was Bridesmaids. My mother and I sat in awkward tension for the first ten minutes of the film as the sex scene played out. Can you imagine how your child is going to remember seeing Deadpool for the first time as a ten year old? They were sitting next to their mom/dad while full-frontal male nudity played on the screen!

Basically, if you wouldn’t take your kid to a strip club (a public venue meant for adults) then you shouldn’t take them to see Deadpool. It is poor parenting, tarnishes the experience for the other people, and probably scars your child for life.

The movie is great, but if you want to see it hire a babysitter and leave the kids at home. Take them to see Captain America: Civil War or wait till it comes out on DVD. Be responsible about what your children consume and don’t complain if your kid doesn’t like a film made for adults. Deadpool is an original, one-of-a-kind movie and if we want studios to make more films like it then we can’t have a bunch of whistle-blowing babies ruining everything.

Deadpool is not for kids.

Please don’t be that parent.

Just don’t.

If I had to put an age that it was “okay” for those under 17 to see this movie, it would be 15 or (trusting your judgement of your child here) 13 at least. Kids that can still eat off a kid’s menu at Denny’s are not ready for Deadpool. Read the reviews, do some research, and then decide if you want to watch a movie with gore galore in it. If your child can’t spell decapitation then they shouldn’t have to see it.

*I am happy to say that Cinemark theaters did create a new policy a few weeks after Deadpool was released. After 6pm, children 6 and under were not allowed into R-rated films even with a parental guardian. It’s a start, right?