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Despereaux: A Rat Torture Tale

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Guest blogger Julie Wolfson: Since when does a princess being tied up and dragged by a band of angry rats deserve a G rating?

The Tale of Despereaux

On Saturday I walked up to a group of moms at a 5-year-old's pajama movie party. One mom looked very concerned. " My daughter was so scared we had to walk out." "Jeez, it looked like it was going to be a cute mouse movie." "My kids were confused. 'Mommy, was the main rat mean or nice?'"

What was all the fuss about? "The Tale of Despereaux."

For my family the "Desperaux" experience had been positive. My older daughter read the book in 3rd grade. Now 9 years old, she couldn't wait for the movie to come out. Our five-year-old daughter wanted to see it too, so off we went. They loved it. Though the story had some intense moments, the heroic little mouse saved the beautiful princess from the rats and the kingdom had soup again. We all walked out happy.

How would I have felt if my 5-year-old spent the whole film whimpering and cowering? These moms at the birthday party felt cheated. They thought the advertising campaign had sold them a sweet mouse movie. Their older children had gotten the impression that it was for little kids and didn't want to see it. Most of the people I talked to found it too dark and scary for their 4-7 year olds.

So what does a G rating mean? Not much. Parents still need to check kid film websites, like Kids in Mind for more details. On Slate Magazine, Emily Bazelon tells the tale of her frightened 5-year-old being traumatized by the film. She also recounts some of the history of the film rating system and what each one means. "...surely G doesn't reliably make good on the promise of "minimal violence" -- or at least not with any definition of violence that actually reflects what kids find disturbing." 

After we finished talking about what one mom called the "mean Ratatouille movie," we turned to watch our little girls snuggled up in their pjs, eating popcorn, and watching a movie. For their daughter's birthday party, these parents had chosen the very G-rated "Tinkerbell." Well, unless you want to talk about the super short revealing fairies' dresses -- one mom called it "porn for preschoolers," but that's a whole other debate.

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5 comments so far | Post a comment now
busy January 6, 2009, 3:12 PM

What a bunch of wimps.

birdsfly January 6, 2009, 5:22 PM

My 3 1/2 year old sat through the whole movie and loved it. He has a bit of an obsession with being a “gentleman” so this movie played right into that!

Christine Wheeler January 7, 2009, 8:12 PM

My name is Christine Wheeler, I did see the movie and I liked it but I think maybe it should be viewed by older children. I want to share with you that I recently published a children’s book for the age group 3-7 titled Bella’s Marigold Cake that would not scare any child but only enlighten them in lessons about friendship, compassion, and forgiveness. Please check out my book at or just Google the words Bella’s Marigold Cake and view information about me and my book. I hope you’ll check it out! Respectfully, Christine Wheeler

Christine Wheeler January 7, 2009, 8:17 PM

Hi, my name is Christine Wheeler, I did enjoy the movie but I do think it should be viewed by older children. I want to share with you a children’s book I recently published titled Bella’s Marigold Cake for the age group 3-7. I feel it will not scare your young children but only enlighten them in lessons of friendship, forgiveness, and compassion. Please check out my author website at or just Google the words Bella’s Marigold Cake. I hope you’ll check it out! Respectfully, Christine Wheeler

Ten Tees January 9, 2011, 8:26 AM

Interesting info. Enjoyable to read. I have got one point to offer about tee shirts.

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