During a recent evening of channel surfing, I was pleasantly surprised to come across Splash. Ron Howard's 1984 comedy about an Everyguy (Tom Hanks) who falls for a mermaid (Daryl Hannah) is a movie I loved as a kid, and I hadn't seen it in a long time, so I happily started watching. Apparently it really had been a long time, since I'd forgotten just how racy some of the humor is, from shots of Hannah running around naked to her heavily implied "afternoon delight" with Hanks' character to co-star John Candy's habit of dropping coins to look up ladies' skirts. Let's just say I don't think it would be a shoo-in for a PG rating these days.
Movies you remember as being innocuous when you were young may have iffier stuff in them than you remember -- or maybe it's just been ages since you saw anything other than the edited-for-TV version. To help you avoid getting blindsided by something totally age-inappropriate (or even just awkward) when you play your old faves for your kids, here are some examples of "sexy surprises" you might not be expecting:
- Big: Another '80s Tom Hanks classic, this one includes a fair bit of innuendo ("I get to be on top!") and even a scene in which Hanks -- playing a 12-year-old boy trapped in a man's body -- touches his love interest's breast.
- Ghostbusters: Bill Murray's dialogue alone has plenty of double entendres, but the real eyebrow raisers in this 1984 supernatural comedy are the scenes in which it's implied that Dan Aykroyd's character receives oral sex from a ghost and in which Sigourney Weaver's character, while possessed, writhes around and asks Murray to have sex with her.
- Grease: There's lots of flirting and virginity mocking in this classic 1970s musical, as well as a teen pregnancy subplot that involves discussion of a broken condom and having a "bun in the oven."
- Parenthood: This 1989 Steve Martin comedy is about a big family and has lots of kid actors, but it's rated PG-13, and there are plenty of references to sex -- including between teens -- as well as a very memorable scene in which the power goes out and someone grabs what they think is a flashlight but is definitely not.
- Airplane!: The granddaddy of all spoof movies may be rated PG, but it's from 1980, before the PG-13 rating existed. And it has plenty of innuendo -- not to mention a scene with a brief glimpse of a topless woman.
- Sixteen Candles: Most of us probably do think of this as a teen movie, but lest you be tempted to put it on for younger kids due to the PG rating (another relic of the pre-PG-13 era), don't forget about the scenes involving a teen girl's panties going on display to a group of guys, a girl's naked torso in the shower, and the strong implication of drunken sex.
- Beauty and the Beast: Sure, it's a Disney princess movie, but the scene in which everyone participates in the rousing number "Gaston" has a surprising amount of jiggly cleavage on display, courtesy of the buxom barmaids.
Many people are quick to say that Americans are overly uptight about sexual content in the media; whether you agree or not, it never hurts to be prepared before you push play for your kids, especially where older movies are concerned. These tips will help nip unexpectedly awkward moments in the bud:
- Check out detailed movie reviews (like ours!) to look for potentially problematic scenes.
- For kids 7 and under, try to stick with movies that have simple romantic relationships and little to no innuendo or "action" (though a bit of kissing is probably fine if your kids have the stomach for it -- but many at this age find it gross!). Avoid anything with hyper-sexualized roles or sexual stereotypes, since this is an age when kids are really starting to take note of gender differences.
- For kids between the ages of 8 and 10, skip movies with nudity or simulated sex. It's also important to avoid media that portrays sexual stereotypes; gendered body part jokes are age appropriate, but demeaning sexual humor isn't.
- For older tweens, kissing and boy/girl social dynamics are fine, but all more serious/advanced sexual behavior should be by responsible adults and have consequences.
- Be ready to talk about anything that you -- and your kids -- might not have seen coming.
- Don't be afraid to say "no" to a movie your kid isn't ready for (or that you're not ready for them to see).