Why Does Hollywood...?

I LOVE The Princess Bride, and I want my daughter to love it like I did. What's the right age to introduce it to her? - Sara H.

I’m not a parent, so I don’t have absolute authority on this matter. I am an uncle, though, and playing the new Pokémon Snap with my niece and nephew was possibly my most joyous memory of the last five years. I understand wanting to impart one’s love of media down to the next generation.

My first piece of advice is to recall your frame of mind during your discovery. Yes, age is an important factor, but what other fondness was associated with that? As some readers may know, I have a blast watching murder shows with my mother. Why? Because it was one of the few weekly bonding experiences I had with her when I was a teenager. We’d watch CSI and Without a Trace–and usually guess the killer/kidnapper in the first half hour. When I queued up Line of Duty and Cardinal for review, you can bet she sat in on a few episodes and commented. The same goes for that “inconceivably” good movie. Did you watch it alone? With a specific snack? What emotions were you feeling when you watched it? Recreating this environment (within reason, of course) can greatly affect how someone new to the material will react to it.



Secondly, and this is paramount, WATCH IT FIRST! Just because you had fond memories of a late Reagan-era film doesn’t mean that the movie’s held up. One of my parents’ biggest regrets is showing my friends and me Short Circuit during a sleepover. Yes, the movie was funny. Yes, seven-year-old me heard dozens of profanities and innuendos. No, that movie would NOT be rated PG today. Having been on the receiving end of that debacle, I thought something like that would NEVER happen to me. I was the resident movie guy; I was smarter than that.


…Until I showed my seven-year-old sister Big, in which a woman seduces a child trapped in Tom Hanks’ body and a certain four-letter word is hurled twice, a move that would instantly land the film an R rating today. Far be it from me to tell readers how to police their children’s media habits, but refreshing yourself on the show in question can help you answer any tricky questions kids may ask.



Finally, ask yourself if the content is as good as you remember. In the case of The Princess Bride, I assure you that the film’s charm hasn’t tarnished, but it is 35 years old. Depending on your age, you may have been a contemporary viewer while your child isn’t. That’s not necessarily a dealbreaker; it just means that today’s youth may not connect with it in the same way you did. I loved The Giver when I read it in middle school. The movie adaptation, though, was an infamous miss which critics called bland. Why? Because other series had come along and appropriated that book’s ideas and reimplemented them. TV Tropes even has a page devoted to this phenomenon titled “Seinfeld isn’t funny.” In your case, I can only think of one other movie that captures The Princess Bride‘s energy (the criminally underrated Stardust), so I don’t think this movie will bore her.


My face upon watching "The Neverending Story" sequels.

In my opinion, The Princess Bride is the perfect movie for an eight-or-nine-year-old to fall in love with. Be prepared for the curse of success, though. Afterwards, she’ll want more. That’s what my friend’s mom learned when she showed us The Neverending Story. The sequels were… not as good.


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