With so many different entertainment options out there for your children, we at PopcornBiz thought we'd take a moment each week to dissect one piece of family entertainment strictly from a parent's perspective, so that you know what parts are appropriate for your loved ones, and which are not. This week's COVER YOUR EYES subject: "Jurassic Park".
Hey, did you know people are actually watching "Terra Nova"? I know, I couldn't believe it either. I thought FOX had badly misjudged our national thirst for dinosaur-themed TV shows that look cheap despite costing a fortune. But "Terra Nova" has made modest gains since its disappointing premiere, which means that we may on the verge of another dinosaur trend in pop culture. With that in mind, let's take a look back at the movie that started the whole modern CGI dino craze: "Jurassic Park", which recently became available on Blu-ray. That movie and "Terra Nova" share a common contributor in director Steven Spielberg. Is Spielberg's original creation safe for young eyes? Let's consider a few factors.
The "Will Parents Be Able To Tolerate It?" Factor: Oh hell yeah. "Jurassic Park" has giant dinosaurs running amok and eating people and it's got Samuel L. Jackson saying, "Hold onto your butts," which isn't quite as good as him saying the MF word, but is close enough for you to appreciate his presence on screen. And the special effects haven't aged poorly. The dinosaurs still look real, realer than they do on "Terra Nova," actually.
The Dead Parent Factor: No dead parents in "Jurassic Park". But there's a whole lotta dead everything else.
The Violence Factor: Okay, so we have the lawyer getting picked up off the port-a-potty and eaten by the T-Rex, which is both funny and scary, but mostly scary. Then we've got the British hunter dude getting stalked and eaten by raptors, which is quite scary. Then we've got Newman from "Seinfeld" crashing his Jeep and coming face-to-face with some kind of weird cobrasaurus that spits poison in his face and then feasts upon his considerable girth. Then we have Laura Dern stumbling upon Sam Jackson's mutilated remains. So that's a bit... graphic.
The Language Factor: Jeff Goldblum says the s-word, which will totally corrupt your kids, far more than them seeing people get cleaved in two by a freakin' dinosaur. I'm sure that will have no impact on them at all.
The Sexy Sex Sex Factor: Some light flirting between Goldblum and Dern. Who knew chaos theory could help you score chicks?
The Scare Factor: The scene where Wayne Knight's villain gets his comeuppance was the scariest part for me, because you KNOW he's going to get eaten, but Spielberg teases it out to almost unbearable lengths. The rest of the movie is a scare-a-minute, from the first T-Rex chase all the way to the T-Rex vs. raptor climax at the end. Showing your kid "Jurassic Park" is like taking them on their first big-time roller coaster. It'll scare them to death, but they'll beg to do it again afterward. It's a masterfully bloodless exercise in big-thrill entertainment.
Age Range: Ten and up. That sounds a bit severe for a supposed family movie directed by Spielberg, but the original "JP" is basically a bloodbath set to a John Williams score. If you expose a six-year-old to it, you're an idiot.