A Good Day to Die Hard is not suitable for a ten-year-old. It’s not that the ten-year-old was running from the cinema or crying his eyes out, in fact he said the words “that film was really good” to his Dad as he left the cinema. I was just amazed to see the boy after a film that contained extreme violence and more than one occasion of the “F word.”
It’s not my place to say whether a parent should bring their kids to see any film. I’m not a parent and I’m in no position to pass judgement, unless it affects my cinema viewing, which it has, on more than one occasion. In the UK, which I believe is a similar situation to the US, we have a rating of 12a. This means that anyone above the age of 12 can see the movie and anyone below, if accompanied by an adult, can view the same film. The issue is when a movie gets this classification and it’s clearly not suitable.
The Woman in Black, The Amazing Spiderman and The Incredible Hulk are three movies in which I have had to put up with parents taking their screaming children in and out of the cinema as the movie’s monsters and violent moments play out on-screen. The kids are clearly too scared of the huge monster on-screen and react in a more than expected way. This is infuriating for me when I could predict, from the trailers alone, that a five-year-old (which was the case when I went to see Incredible Hulk) would not cope with the movie.
It wasn’t just the scary moments in some of these films. In other cases, the kids just don’t want to sit through the non-action parts of the movie, usually wanting to get their parents attention while Spiderman is having a tender moment with Gwen Stacy or Daniel Radcliffe is searching a house for a dead woman who wears black. It’s a great way to kill the atmosphere and mood.
It’s not just the fact that children who are too young to see the movie are interrupting my enjoyment. 12a (PG13 in America) is now the target for most mainstream films. It’s now become standard practice for a studio to push cuts and changes to a movie to get this widespread, much more accessible rating. This feel like it makes a difference in movies such as Die Hard and Taken 2.
It’s not necessarily that I need to see ultra-violence and a ridiculous amount of swearing, I just need to be safe in the knowledge that the film I’m seeing hasn’t been altered in such a way that a parent can bring their eight-year-old if they want to. I want my movie to be as close to the writers and directors vision and original view as possible, without cuts so that the studio can get the biggest possible release.
This is why I believe a 15a (PG15 in the USA) would be suitable. It would give parents a clearer warning of the kind of content they can expect. It would mean that the film could be as scary, violent or foul-mouthed as it wanted to be and parents would know that it’s not necessarily suitable for an eight-year-old. They could still bring their twelve-year-old or younger if they believe suitable but it means I won’t be watching Bruce Willis blow a guy’s brains out while sat next to a six-year-old sipping her large drink.
It would also mean that studios can avoid unnecessary, mainstream focused cuts to the movie. Die Hard could be as close to the originals as possible without having to compromise on the potential audience. It would mean that movies like The Woman in Black could actually be scarier than they may have been originally, not having to tame anything back to tap into the Harry Potter audience. It may not solve the problem of unsuitably aged children in the audience but you’d hope it would give parents something more to think about.
Overall, A Good Day to Die Hard is just the most recent in a range of films that are unsuitably or misleadingly rated. Its time that parents were given more warning about how mature a film will be and not bring eight-year-olds to a 12a (PG13) movie which their kid won’t be able to handle. It will also mean that films won’t have to be cut and changed to get that golden, money-making rating. Its time to consider a 15a (PG15 rating).