Transformers Not for Kids

Last week I went to see the new Transformers: Dark of the Moon film with two of my friends. We braved the theatres in the middle of the afternoon, a theatre full of young kids– literally toddlers and elementary school kids.

What a disappointment.

The film was upsetting on several levels.

First, it was just plain boring. The film was 2 and a half hours long, and had about 20 to 30 minutes of entertaining story. The rest was robots fighting. Yawn. (Seriously. I wish I brought a book!)

Second, it was just inappropriate for kids. Sure, I’d be the first to tell you that parents should probably not let their 7-year-old see a film rated Rated PG-13 for intense prolonged sequences of sci-fi action violence, mayhem and destruction, and for language, some sexuality and innuendo.” But the film’s opening credits revealed that Hasbro (the toy company) was a producer. Who is this film being marketed to? The age of the audience in my theatre said it all.

Should little Billy be watching…

  – a girl in her underwear walking up the stairs (camera following her butt) to get in bed with Sam

  – two robots making jokes about Sam “getting lucky”

  – the same two robots calling each other “d**khead”

  – Sam’s mom suggesting that the only reason Sam got two beautiful girlfriends was because of a large… Sam cuts her off by saying, “What the f…” and never finishes the sentence.

  – When Sam receives an award from the president, he mouths, “What the f**k!”

Should your 14-year-old watch that? The movie just wasn’t made for kids.

Todd and I are posting our detailed review as well as some discussion questions on our MOVIE REVIEWS & QUICK Q’s page later today on both www.TheSource4YM.com and www.TheSource4Parents.com 

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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12 Responses to Transformers Not for Kids

  1. Sean says:

    I didn’t like it either. I’m a big Transformers fan, have been since the original cartoon, but all three of the films didn’t live up to what we fans expected. The first one was pretty okay I guess, but the other 2 were horrid. DOTM had some good action, but the rest of the movie was boring. Also it has probably some of the worst editing I’m seen in a movie. And your right about giant robots fighting being boring. However if they had actually taken the time to make the Transformers actual characters, you would have been emotionaly invested more in what they were doing. Instead they are portrayed as toys that shoot at each other, with only Optimus getting any kind of story in the film. The Autobots and Decepticons in the source material are actually well rounded characters with their own ambitions, desires, troubles, etc. Which is sad that a 20 minute cartoon and comic, made in the 80’s, designed to sale toys actually portrayed these characters better then a big productin movie did. Point is if the movies had actually been about the Transformers you might have been enjoyed it more.

    Here’s a good Megatron and Starscream moment from the cartoon that shows how a simple toy cartoon created real characters as opposed to the movie.

    As for the movie not being for kids. Well as you pointed out it’s PG13. Hasbro is a toy company, but it sales toys to all generations. It has a classics line of GI Joe, Transformer, and He-Man all marketed to sale to kids and to collectors who were just kids when the toys just came out. Basically I’m saying that Habro sales to all ages. Also remember that this is Transformers that is a property that has a big fan base. I’d say more of those in thier mid 20’s, like myself, and older are one of the groups been marketed to with these films. Fans got Peter Cullen the job as Optimus Prime, a character he made famous when the original cartoon aired in 84. To myself and fans like me he is the only Optimus Prime. Tom Kenny voices Starscream. His voice draws influence from Chris Latta, who voiced Starscream in the original cartoon. He’s a legendary voice actor who in the late 90’s. Frank Welker voiced Megatron and Soundwave in the original cartoon. In the movie he just voiced Soundwave using his Dr.Claw voice. Bay thought that Hugo Weaving was better suited to voice the movie version of Megatron over him. All this is to show that they did a lot to appeal to fans of the Transformers.

    Lastly it’s a Bay movie. What do you expect? Revenge of the Fallen had much of the same stuff your pointing out. Plus 2 jive talking Transformers who were clear stereotypes. Bay movies are marketing tool in of themselves, they appeal to summer movie goers wanting to see a action blockbuster. So I’d say even though Hasbro is going for toy sales, children are probably the least marketed group here. From what I’ve gathered the toys haven’t sold all that well anyway. It’s not a movie for kids, but neither is Looney Tunes.

    I’m glad the series is over though. Bay never respected the property enough. Proven by the fact that he didn’t feel the Transformers could carry the movies themselves and you had to have the human element. Which is true to some extent but you could have had the human element in a story about the Transformers. Thankfully he’s decided that DOTM will be his last. Thank Primus!!!

  2. Sean says:

    and let me add to that that the 1986 movie, which was marketed to kids entirely, was probably just as violent as these films. If your talking about effects on kids, look no further then the death of Optimus Prime. I believe one kid locked himself in his room for a week. Still a much better Transformers movie then any of the Bay films, and it’s not even that good of a movie.

  3. Jon Forrest says:

    (@Sean). Nerd ALERT. Just kidding bro. There’s nothing wrong with knowing the original voice of Starscream. Ok, maybe there is a little something wrong with it. But I will not judge. I know every line of the movie Groundhog Day. Sean, I’m sure there’s more to you than meets the eye.

  4. Ha… yes… and I can probably talk that long about the movie Jaws. We all have our nerdy vices.

  5. Carrie says:

    uh oh, I let my 15-year-old go watch it by himself…there goes my “Mother-of-the-year”award! ha ha I even asked him if there were any risque parts, and he said, not too many. I should have known!

  6. Jon Forrest says:

    Btw Jon, I found something out when I posted the following on Facebook: I’m trying to decide between digging my eyes out with a spoon and going to watch the smurf movie when it comes out. #anyonegotaspoon.”. Some of my friends are eagerly awaiting this release to “share” a moment of their childhood with their own children. Have you seen the previews? Every joke is a dirty innuendo. I think this will be a perfect example of how Hollywood poisons our kids by appealing to us idiots.

    Until next time…fairwell and adeu to you fair Spainish ladies, farewell and adeu you ladies of Spain ……

  7. Oh man… Jon is singing Quint’s song! (Jaws) Now you’re tempting me to stop working and go watch it!

    “Show me the way to go home. I’m tired and I wanna go to bed…”

  8. Sean says:

    Jon, I’ll be the first to tell you I’m a nerd. Like quite a few of my generation I suffer from a horrible desease called Nostalgia, and it has no cure. Brought on by the being apart of the TV gen I guess. The 80’s saw more television aimed at kids then generations past. All of it was absorded by the pop culture part of the brain…yes there is one. I know my Transformers, another like me might no more about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Just go to a Hot Topic or Spencers in a Mall and look at the merchandise, and you’ll see stuff the likes of TMNT, Transformer, GI JOE, He-Man etc. You don’t actually think that stuff is marketed to kids do you? 🙂

  9. todd says:

    saw Dark of the Moon with some students on Wednesday night. As a guy, I loved all the robots and cannons and explosions…as a bit of a sap, I thought the “love story” aspect of Sam going back into massive danger to save the girl was fantastic…and yet, as one who knows a GREAT movie when I see one, I DO have to admit the storyline was a bit lame.

    but I digress…

    I am really writing about the underlying theme in parts of the movie, where the national security lady is talking condescendingly about something like “turning over our national security to teenagers…” At first, this annoyed me, because Sam HAD saved the world twice (as we were repeatedly reminded!), and he seems to be one of the only humans the good robots feel they can trust. But on further reflection, it occurred to me that the woman is right about how crazy an idea it is to place massive societal structures into teenaged hands.

    We do it all the time in our world though! Even in youth ministry, we’ve gone so far in the direction of “teenagers aren’t the ‘church of tomorrow’, they’re the ‘church of right now'”, we try to let them run the show. We try so hard not to damage or constrain the youth of our society, we put a lot of the tough-decision-making responsibility on them. And I am not so sure they can handle it! (see…even I thought that last sentence sounded callous and disrespectful!)

    Teenagers are just not mature enough to carry the weight of shaping universal strategies or national policy. YES, students are uniquely gifted with massive levels of passion, compassion and reckless abandon to enter into the world’s biggest problems and injustices. They also almost universally lack the consistency of restraint and holistic, big-picture wisdom required to effectively confront those injustices without creating more of them in their wake!

    This is something that continues to linger in my mind as an embedded message from the movie…which is an echo of what I feel is an embedded reality in our culture. I’m sure there’s “more [to this issue] than meets the eye”…anyone else intrigued by this?

    PS: I think the word “nerd” is actually a bit small for a few of yall 🙂 (…as I recite the first several minutes of Aladdin in my head, with proper voices and sound effects…)

  10. Stephen Zachary says:

    This is for Jonathan primarliy but for everyone else as well…
    If you want a most ‘objective’ analysis of today’s movies… go to http://www.capalert.com
    It’s originator is a sincere and committed Christian gentelman and it is well worth the look.
    Stephen Zachary
    Chaplain USN

  11. jeff smith says:

    All my girls will be at a girls retreat in a couple of weeks. I announced to the guys that we will do something together the night of our regular youth service – like see a movie. I asked if anyone had seen Transformers. Two had and BOTH said, “you probably shouldn’t take the youth group.” That is telling when the STUDENTS know they shouldn’t be watching it.

  12. Mervin Anthony Montano says:

    from a perspective of an amateur graphic artist.. the fights is a necessity to feature collaboration of colors, form, texture and motion especially of the robots. For me TF III is good when they make slow motion of some actions that put good detail of the robots. They got the best technology to picture of such robot and especially the transformers..

    true this story of the TF III is very dark where scenes of destruction is very much portrayed.. But I see it as an opportunity to portray war is always an ugly scene! even war is an option of the U.S.There is much a lesson about society here in TF III it even tells about collaboration with aliens! not just about space aliens but of multi-national aliens.. I know theres is an issue in the US about immigration and rights.. look how people of the US in the film easily dispose the autobots.. but for us FIlipinos it is a challenge of how we welcome foreign help especially the help of soldiers. Does it protect us from war or does it welcomes war?

    speaking of sex, this is i agree with though it reflect current culture. I like when sex symbol Megan Fox is taken of the film for I believe the issue is not when Megan Fox told the director “Hitler” which ired Spielberg but Megan Foz is reacting with the sexy protrayal in the film. But I do not know what really is in the mind of Megan.. But it is in the news