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POLL: What Age Is Too Young to See 'The Hunger Games'?

Blockbuster film opening this week raises sensitive question for some parents.

Ladies and gentlemen, let The Hunger Games begin on screens near you.

Tickets are on sale for Friday's 12:01 a.m. debut of the thriller based on the lead book in Suzanne Collins' young adult trilogy. It opens nationally that day in 4,000 theaters and is sure to be a box office smash.

Local showings in IMAX or regular format are scheduled in Brighton (MJR Brighton Towne Square Digital Cinema 20), Novi (Emagine Novi) and Waterford (MJR Waterford Digital Cinema 16.A searchable Metro Detroit list is here

Though the 2008 best-seller's gory violence has been notched back enough to snare a PG-13 rating, the film spurs discussion about age-appropriateness – just as Collins' provocative books do when they're in school libraries or classrooms. The first volume depicts a totalitarian nation, Panem, where a girl and boy from each of 12 state-like districts are chosen by government lottery to fight for food and survival in a televised annual spectacle.  

"While emotional maturity is relative, I would rate The Hunger Games at 12 and up," posts a blogger at mamapop.com, anticipating a decision parents face this week. 

Across the Atlantic, Britain's film review board required removal of seven seconds featuring bloody wounds and weapons, as well as darkening or blurring of five other scenes, to qualify for a rating that lets children younger than 12 into theaters with a parent.    

This sets the stage for family choices, moms' group debates and "let's talk" experiences across generations. Share your view below and in our comments forum.

And may the odds be ever in your favor.

Stefanie Furge March 22, 2012 at 12:02 PM
The book does have a good moral theme, believe it or not (my 11-year-old made sure to point this out to me). Some might also argue there is an historical quality to it as well. This book is along similar lines to "Fahrenheit 451," "Brave New World," and "The Handmaid's Tale." A warning tale of what could happen to our world if we all become complacent.
Linda Bowen March 22, 2012 at 05:05 PM
The book has a very good moral theme and has sparked many a thoughtful discussion between my 13 year-old daughter, her friends and her teachers. To me, a film's rating is only one factor in whether it is or is not appropriate for a child. Different kids have very different levels of maturity and abilities to process what they read and see. For me, I try to have discussions with my kids about the story -- not only the plot but overall theme -- and we talk about a book/film's message, etc. My daughter wrote an essay about this particular book and I think reading it made her think about things like compassion, risk-taking, and violence-as-entertainment. In all, a book she read for pleasure gave her a lot more to consider than your average novel. 
Jordan Genso March 22, 2012 at 06:14 PM
My wife and I do not have kids, but I believe that issues like this should be based more on the individual child rather than blanket policies based on age alone. I am fairly certain that the 11-year-old me would've been able to handle the story just fine, and I would've found it incredibly interesting. I have read the trilogy, and I have to say though I am amazed that they got it a PG rating. A literal visual representation of the book would've easily been rated R (if not more strict than that). But even if they cut out all of the nudity (as I would've expected), I assume they had to leave a lot of the violence up to the movie audience's imagination in order to not reach PG-13 status. My wife and I are looking forward to the movie regardless though.
Linda Bowen March 22, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Jordan raises an interesting point about the violence in the book vs. the film and I heard a reviewer discussing this issue on the radio yesterday. He raised the point that he believed The Hunger Games novel was intentionally disturbing and graphic, in order to communicate the horror of war to a young adult audience. Thus there is a concern that toning down the violence in order to garner a PG-13 rating risks making the violence "exciting".
Jordan Genso March 22, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Actually, that was a more insightful point than I was making :-) It didn't even occur to me that by toning down the details of the violence, the movie may unintentionally glamourize what should remain horrific.

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