The 12A rating, and why I still don’t want to be a parent.

I went to see the Amazing Spider-Man today. As someone who is fairly outspoken and has an obvious interest in the character I’d like to have an opinion on it. I’d then like to inundate you with it until your head explodes.

Sadly, I can’t. But I can tell you why at least. 

Like I said, I’d love to have an opinion, only, 1. I walked out about halfway through, and 2. I can’t separate the movie from the experience of actually watching it. At least not yet anyway.

So what happened?

I’ve been keeping an eye on this film since back when it was still going to be directed by Sam Raimi. Obviously I’m a fan of the character, and I’m fond of what was done with the previous movies. I’m one of the biggest apologists of Spider-Man 3 that I know.

So I made plans to see the movie earlier this week. Funnily enough, I didn’t want to go on Wednesday, having had bad experiences of going to the cinema on days where half of the crowd got in for free and couldn’t care less who they ruin it for. So my friend and I made plans for Saturday instead. How (Alanis) ironic that turned out to be.

It seemed to be going well. There were plenty of 2D showings, the cinema wasn’t too busy, I’m geniunely looking forward to the film… I was having a good evening.

This changed when a guy just over thirty strolled in with his two children in tow and sat down right next to my friend.

Of course, it’s not like this is illegal or anything. This is what the 12A rating is for: it enables those who are under the age specified by the BBFC who still have an interest in the movie to watch it under the supervision of an adult.

So why did I spend an hour wondering why these children were here?

I can handle a little bit of talking during the trailers and adverts. I do it myself even. But the golden rule of cinema is that as soon as the BBFC card comes up, your mouth closes. These children clearly hadn’t been taught that.

To make matters worse, their interest in the film seemed fleeting at best. Many times they asked inane questions that had nothing to do with the movie, and on the occasion that their questions were relevant, it betrayed an inability to simply comprehend the events on screen.

Amidst the constant cries of “Where’s Spider-Man?” I had to question if these children actually knew who Peter Parker is, and whether they really wanted to see the movie or perhaps the father simply doesn’t have the free time to see it by himself.

Hearing their stupid voices every two minutes was only part of it, as they also demonstrated an inability to sit in their seats, often preferring to lean against the row in front of them and bother the people sat there.

We’ve all seen the parent with the unruly child: the one who make threats of going home every fifteen minutes until they cease to be a public embarrassment, yet they never take action. And like so many before him this particular father had no aspirations of breaking the mould.

After an hour, my friend got up and walked out. I was surprised she snapped before I did, but I wasn’t going to sit there and endure it by myself either. To the cinema’s credit, they were quite gracious and efficient in refunding her ticket.

During the large hot chocolate and raspberry muffin it took to placate her, she started to apologise. I had trouble articulating how I was actually impressed with her. In a way, it’s too bad I won’t get a second chance.

I spent a fair amount of the journey back wondering when I eventually will see that movie. I guess I’m going to have to wait for the DVD/Blu-Ray release in a few months. With the exception of next door’s useless baby (whose parents would have me believe has been teething since the day it was born) I can usually count on not having as many distractions at home.

Which makes it all the more ironic that before every movie I have to watch the same PSAs over and over telling me to switch off my phone, not download the film from Isohunt, and thanks for supporting British cinema by the way. Year after year I feel less convinced that they’re holding up their end of the bargain.

Anecdotally, I remember when the BBFC’s 12A rating came into effect. Sam Raimi’s 2002 Spider-Man film, though not the first film to be awarded the certificate, was reclassified under it after originally having a regular 12 certificate. This meant pretty much anyone could see it if they wanted to. I remember at the time thinking that was kind of cool.

A decade later it’s fair to say that one bit me in the ass.

I’m sure on some level I’m supposed to have sympathy for that father. Someone will tell me sooner or later that when I have my own kids (ha) I’ll understand what it’s like to be in that situation, and that it’s something every parent has to go through. But I wonder if every parent is as in denial over their shortcomings as that man was.

I don’t like children, a point which I think I’ve made fairly obvious by now. But I do like films, and I like going to the cinema to watch them. In fact, I love it, and will tolerate the former for the sake of the latter if I have to.

Because on some level I know that it’s silly to be complaining that children ruined a comic book movie for me. It’s like the 25 year old who wonders why his Toy Story 3 screening has a bunch of five year olds sat on the row in front of him. In the end I don’t have any more rights than they do…

But never in a month of Sundays will anyone ever tell me I have less.

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