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Sunday, December 20, 2015

I’ll do my best to keep this spoiler-free, but I just saw “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

You have been warned.

I walked into a movie theater today, hand in hand with my younger son, to watch a Star Wars movie. I can’t believe I just typed that. I gushed about my feelings on that matter last week, so I won’t go on for long, but suffice to say that I had tears in my eyes when the familiar John Williams fanfare played and the text started to scroll across the screen.

Plenty of people have reviewed the movie. I tell you that I loved it (except for one certain part that I nevertheless saw coming), and I think J.J. Abrams did his job well. As a parent, here’s what I can offer you that might be a little more unique.

Should you take your kids to see “The Force Awakens?”

If they’re already huge fans, they’ve probably already done so. If you’re on the fence, here’s what we thought.

Timid kids may not like this movie. Sam isn’t fazed by much (“Jurassic World” is his current favorite, and he’s seen all the prior Star Wars movies multiple times), but there were two times, once near the beginning and once near the end, where he hid his eyes for a few minutes. And there is torture here, and pain, and it’s not quite as bloodless as the similar tactics used by Darth Vader in the earlier films. People get hurt. People die.

I know many fans are avoiding spoilers like the plague right now, but if you’re uncertain about taking a child to the movie, my opinion is that you owe it to yourself and your kid to go look for reputable spoilers before making a decision. There was one notable plot point that we sat down to talk to Sam about before we entered the theater. He did better with it knowing that it was coming.

Some of the imagery used for the bad guys evokes Nazi Germany even more than the original movies did. That might lead to some questions. (Which might not be a bad thing as a springboard for a discussion, actually.)

There are some definite moral quandaries, and characters on both sides of the spectrum handle them in different ways. If you have a kid who chews on things like that (I do), keep that in mind. You’re probably going to have to talk about some things.

Now, all that being said, it’s a really good movie. There’s a lot of good action, and some familiar and favorite characters make a return. Sam, who never sits still, barely twitched for the entire two-plus hours. There are space battles, and lightsaber fights, and more humor that I thought would be present. And if your kids have seen the originals multiple times like mine, there are a lot of references they might catch.

Don’t take my word for it. From Sam:

“I loved the lightsaber fight between (censored) and (censored). I loved the music. (Jill’s note: We’ve raised this kid on John Williams.) I thought (a certain moment) was really funny, although (another moment) was really sad. And I really liked BB-8!

“Mom, do you think we could get a BB-8 for Christmas?”

Uh oh.


From my household to yours, Merry Christmas!

+Jill Keppeler may be watching “The Force Awakens” again as you read this. Follow her on Twitter @JillKeppeler or email her at

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