Is 'The Martian' right for kids?

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MARS — The Matt Damon fueled, love-letter-to-science movie, "The Martian," will be hitting theaters this weekend, much to the delight of sci-fi fans around the globe.

Fellow critic John Clyde gave us a full review of the film recently, calling it the best movie of 2015 so far; and science enthusiasts are encouraging people to get out and support the film through social media, and even promoting screenings with guest lecturers preceding the film.

With critics and educators parading "The Martian" around on its shoulders like it just scored the winning run, you might be thinking this is the perfect movie to take your kids to over the weekend.

It might be. It really is an amazing film and definitely a rallying cry for homework over Halo. That said, let's chat about a few parental red flags you might want to consider before deciding which of your kids is old enough to join you on your Martian excursion.


When people ask why "The Martian" is rated PG-13, language will be the first thing audiences point to. I believe the standard collector's set of schoolyard language finds its way onscreen, but the four-letter captain of naughtiness is best represented. To the film's credit, the team finds some comically creative ways to dance around its gambit of offensive verbal weaponry, but if language is where you draw the lines for kids, "The Martian" will be a no-go.

This photo released by 20th Century Fox shows Matt Damon in a scene from the film, "The Martian." (Giles Keyte/20th Century Fox via AP)
This photo released by 20th Century Fox shows Matt Damon in a scene from the film, "The Martian." (Giles Keyte/20th Century Fox via AP)


We were about two thirds through the film when I thought to myself, "This looks like a green light in the sexiness department." That's when a naked person walked out on screen, giving the audience an eyeful of what very thin men look like from behind.

The scene isn't nearly as gratuitous as say the Wolverine shot in "X-Men: Days of Future Past," but there were also a thousand ways for director Ridley Scott to make his same point without adding "partial nudity" to the list of reasons why this movie is PG-13.

Blood and gore

With one major exception, "The Martian" plays out relatively injury free. There are a few cuts and bruises for sure, but usually those moments are tossed in for comedy's sake or to remind us of just how dangerous life on Mars can be.

That one mentioned exception however will make you squirm. Damon's performance adds to the discomfort you'll endure staring at an unfortunate injury, and the moment is graphic enough that an especially queasy moviegoer will probably want to shut their eyes until it's over.


From a strictly clinical perspective, "The Martian" walks the line between PG-13 and R with a grace that is almost worthy of the price of admission. I mean, obviously you wouldn't want to take kids for that reason, but for grownups, you'll probably chuckle to yourself a few times as you watch Scott edit out offensive material while still technically leaving it in. Unless, of course, you find nothing about such a scenario funny, in which case, totally disregard this last paragraph.

Regardless, when it comes to kids, this one is tough because I think "The Martian" is a truly inspiring film that will encourage students to take another look at math and science. On the other hand, it hits many of the beats parents want to avoid when deciding if a title is right for their little ones.

On paper, I'd say conservatively this is a movie for the 14+ crowd. Personally, I'd take kids a little younger, but this will ultimately come down to how you as a parent balance theme vs. content.

About the Author: Travis Poppleton ----------------------------------

Travis Poppleton has been covering movie news, film reviews and live events for Deseret News and since 2010 and co-hosts the FlixJunkies podcast. You can contact him at

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