Is ‘Odd Life of Timothy Green’ too sad for kids? What other family movies were unexpectedly sad? (Spoiler Alert!!)

Entertainment Weekly has posted a video of two boys crying their eyes out over the ending of “The Odd Life of Timothy Green?” (Spoiler Alert: It totally tell you what happens!!!)

The new Disney movie is rated a PG.

From Entertainment Weekly:

“Every weekend, parents around the country are faced with deciding if the movies playing at the multiplex are “safe” for their children to watch. Usually, “safe” translates to a G or PG rating. But, as any former child can tell you, some G-and-PG-rated movies geared for children can end up being the most traumatic moviegoing experiences of all.”

“Case in point, this weekend’s The Odd Life of Timothy Green. (Warning: SPOILERS follow, but parents may appreciate the advance warning!) The film follows Cindy and Jim Green (Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton), a married couple struggling to start a family, who one night bury a box in their backyard filled with their dearest hopes and dreams for their imagined child. Soon after, young Timothy Green (CJ Adams) pops up on their doorstep. He’s got leaves growing out of his ankles, and he seems preternaturally capable of fulfilling his adopted parents’ aforementioned dearest hopes and dreams.”

I knew as soon as I saw the trailer that puppy was going to end sadly! You can just tell. I thought it would be kind of like “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” I wept through that thing. I also wept through “Titanic.” I was inconsolable for a long time after when the Celine Dion song would come on.

My husband thinks that kids have an expectation that the main character isn’t going to die at the end of a movie. While you worry about Nemo, you know he is going to live! (Now the Lion King’s Dad wasn’t so lucky.)

What family movies are too sad? What family movies unexpectedly upset your kids? Is there value to exposing kids to sad movies?

57 comments Add your comment

Penguinmom

August 21st, 2012
2:28 am

I do remember when ‘My Girl’ with Macaulay Culkin came out that was considered too sad for some kids. ‘Bridge to Terabithia’ was another recent sad movie (not a surprise one though since the book has been around for quite awhile.)

I tend to vet movies using Previewonline.org or other movie site before going with my kids. I’d rather ruin it a little for me and not be surprised about something that might upset the kids. Sometimes we just decide to not see a movie or just put it off. There really are very few movies I feel my kids absolutely ‘have’ to see.

My kids are old enough now, I would probably offer them the option of making an informed choice. They usually read the book before seeing a movie so telling them the major plot points won’t usually change their enjoyment of the movie. I don’t expect they would react nearly this violently anyway. Since my kids have actually been to funerals of people they knew in real life, a movie character’s death would illicit tears but not wracking sobs.

I have to admit, the parents in the video have an odd sense of humor. I can’t imagine continuing to video and asking over and over again just to get them to wail. Just seems a little odd.

Kar

August 21st, 2012
3:06 am

Oh, and Ole Yella was fine, he slept besides the boy’s bed for the rest of his days. Bambi’s mother got a beautician’s license and opened up her own shop with Barbar’s mom,…..

I think it depends on your children and how comfortable they are with the concept of Death. Movies are less scary than real life events but death and tragedy can’t be glossed over all of the time.

So why not let your kids learn to understand grief and non-happy endings in a less realistic/closer to home method?

Mary

August 21st, 2012
3:45 am

I wanna cry just watching these kids… While not every film ends in sunshine and daisies, why make the children’s emotional distress a public display? Their emotional responses to the world around them should be treated with respect instead of being plastered all over the internet…

shaggy

August 21st, 2012
7:07 am

Old Yeller anyone?
If you didn’t cry after watching that one, you are probably from planet zoid or psychotic.

Voice of Reason

August 21st, 2012
7:39 am

Mufasa gets trampled, Bambi’s mom gets shot, and Old Yeller has to be put down. These are good lessons in reality for children and they should have more exposure to it. You learn from these examples.

I did not cry for any of the aforementioned movie tragedies, however the ending to Toy Story 3…..well, let’s not go there shall we?

kjadf

August 21st, 2012
7:55 am

so how does it end – does the kid get caught in a crossfire of round-up

shaggy

August 21st, 2012
7:55 am

I cried when Elmer was fooled once again by that wrascally wabbit, and that poor coyote never gets anything to eat, not even a skinny land bird…very sad.

shaggy

August 21st, 2012
7:57 am

kjadf,

He grows up to be a weed farmer, and a dang good one too.

Rose

August 21st, 2012
8:09 am

I laughed inside as I lowered Jack into the frozen abyss.

Now, who wants a popsicle?

Voice of Reason

August 21st, 2012
8:12 am

@Shaggy

I prefer to refer to it as, “My Glaucoma medicine.”

shaggy

August 21st, 2012
8:22 am

VOR,

He calls his “Tim’s Green Machine #5″ and has been featured in respected outlets all over CA, CO, MT, and other less sphincter-challenged states.

Penguinmom

August 21st, 2012
8:29 am

@VOR – Toy Story 3 was definitely a tear-jerker as was the first part of UP.

Augusta

August 21st, 2012
8:38 am

I think it’s good for kids to see sad movies. If they cry, it means they really got involved in the story.

I’ll never forget the first time all my kids watched E.T. At the end, ALL 4 of them were crying, with tears just running down their cheeks. Hubby and I were amazed….they all got into the move, and they all just loved E.T.

It’s a great feeling to see your child show emotions at a movie. It shows me they understand….

Augusta

August 21st, 2012
8:39 am

And yes, Toy Story 3 was a major tear jerkers……even my brother cried at the end…..I still can’t make it through the end of that movie without shedding a tear. Even if I walk in and it’s at the last scene, I’ll sit and the tears will start to flow……

Roberta

August 21st, 2012
8:45 am

Here’s the ending: The kid’s REAL mother, a rutabaga, is accidently picked, and is cooked in this awesome lamb shank stew. To console himself, he mistakenly takes refuge in a compost pile and decomposes. If you stay thru the credits, you see his soil being spread over the vegetable garden where his mother grew up.

Becky

August 21st, 2012
8:57 am

We haven’t seen this movie yet, but both kids want to go see it..As Augusta said, it’s good for them to cry, it shows that they enjoyed the movie..

@shaggy..My two think that Old Yeller is the best movie ever made..In second grade they had to take movies in one day for the class to watch..The boy took Old Yeller and the girl took Annie, both came home madder than a hornets nest, because none of the kids had ever seen it and would not watch either movie..As for Titanic, we have that movie on DVD and the boy watches it about once a week…The boy reads all the Titanic books that he can find and we have been to TN. twice to see the museum..

We saw Toy Story 3, but it didn’t upset them that much..They haven’t seen all of E.T. yet, so guess will have to make sure they do..My two tend to like the classics..

A

August 21st, 2012
9:32 am

What idiot parent videos their kids crying and eggs them on to get more of a reaction?? Really? If my child were upset by a movie or anything, the last thing I would think of would be to film it and, worst, post it for the world to see.

Me

August 21st, 2012
9:35 am

I’m really nor sure what there is to be upset about — it’s obvious the kid isn’t even real or, at least, I’ve never known any “real” kids who even have leaves much less lose them. I know I’m cynical but I’ve just never gotten caught up to that level with the plot of a movie knowing, all the time, that it isn’t real.

motherjanegoose

August 21st, 2012
9:42 am

We had a wonderful yellow lab/retriever named Old Yeller. He was with us for 11 years. He was a giveaway from a family who could not keep him, as they did not have a secure fence and he was a runner. We had a privacy fence and he could manuever that too.
We all bawled when we had to put him down , due to kidney failure at age 14, the weekend of our 25th anniversary.

Many small children are witnessing voilent things on TV and videos that are not particularly natural in most every day life. Parents do not seem to mind. What is up with that?

motherjanegoose

August 21st, 2012
9:43 am

ooops…violent…sorry~

Augusta

August 21st, 2012
9:48 am

I have to agree with MJG…..VIOLENT videos are ok, but a movie with a sad ending isn’t?

@Me- you do no 95% of movies you watch ARE made up right????? Someone WROTE the movie, made it up and all. If not, I believe they are called Documentaries……

PS

August 21st, 2012
9:53 am

The bigger issue to me, as others have mentioned, is that rather than talking to their kids about why they’re so upset, etc., these parents seem to be egging them on and it’s like it never even occurred to them to put the camera down and talk to their kids. Even worse, they then post it on the internet so others can view their kids’ emotional breakdown (and likely laugh). Talk about a jerk parent move.

FCM

August 21st, 2012
10:27 am

Where the Harry Potter, Red Fern Grows, Bambi, Old yeller….where is it written it has to have a happy ending.

Doesn’t that set up unreal expectations for real life?

Tiger Ochocinco Cougar Mellencamp Johnson

August 21st, 2012
10:31 am

I was inconsolable after Titanic too…couldn’t believe I spent three hours of my life that I’d never get back and $20 just to hear the most obnoxious French-Canadian singer ever wale into my ear about her heart going on and pounding her chest. “You’re so STUPID, Rose”…only line of the movie that resonated with me!!!

Tiger Ochocinco Cougar Mellencamp Johnson

August 21st, 2012
10:33 am

And just why was the Titanic such a surpise sad ending….did anyone go into that movie thinking “maybe it won’t sink”?

K

August 21st, 2012
10:35 am

This video is hilarious, I cannot with these people. Yes, I’m a mother of 2…they should’ve just explained that it was a movie and people die in real life. Have a talk about death but to videotape then put them on Youtube…so wrong! (but hilarious at the same d@#! time)

Denise

August 21st, 2012
10:50 am

Nothing says a movie must have a happy ending but you have to know your child’s capacity for violence and sadness. If you have a child that is going to internalize and be torn up about something for days then spare him/her and yourself the drama and just say no when they ask to see a certain movie. I cry reading books and watching movies; I am easily affected. However, I am able to see the fact that when I close the book or leave the theater/turn the TV off it’s over (unless it’s true crime then I have to “turn it off” in a different way). But I am also an adult. When I was younger I internalized a lot of things. I was the fool crying when a classmate failed because I should have offered to tutor him. No one could understand that. My point is, you have to know your child well enough to know what he or she can handle and make an informed decision. It can be a learning and bonding moment or scar your child and cause you unnecessary stress.

Sarah

August 21st, 2012
10:56 am

I don’t have a problem with sad endings at all. As kids mature, they need to learn that in movies… and in life… things don’t always turn out the way we expect or want them to. Sadness, Sympathy, and Empathy are all important emotional characteristics that need to be developed. So much of what we see on reality tv these days is about ego and selfishness (which I believe leads to more bully type behavior). A good sad movie that makes you cry (even for kids) lets us know we’re still emotional beings and really do care about others. I would be concerned for the kid who watches a really sad movie and DOESN’T cry.

Kat

August 21st, 2012
10:59 am

What age kids went to see Titanic? Bawling one’s eyes out? And you being inconsolable? Definitely not a poker face huh? I do think some emotions were stirred up by Toy Story 3. Scary with the trash bit, but more so with the college bit at the end. God, women can be such wusses.

motherjanegoose

August 21st, 2012
11:18 am

We all cried at Marley and me…anyone else? Perhaps you have to be a dog lover.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

August 21st, 2012
11:46 am

Totally cried through ET — good one! My Girl and Toy Story 3 — good examples.

Denise

August 21st, 2012
12:36 pm

@Sarah – good point about empathy and sympathy. Being able to feel for others is an important skill. Learning how not to be consumed by it is another skill. Have the “experience” in movies or books is a good way to practice the latter. At least for me it has been. I’ve learned to care without internalizing everyone else’s issues and I think feeling for characters and being able to close the book on them has really helped that.

DS

August 21st, 2012
12:42 pm

Had no plans to see it for personal reasons and because I knew from the previews the ending wasn’t going to be all too happy. Then, when Kenneth Turan, film critic from the LA Times, gave a less than flattering review on NPR, I knew that I made the right decision.

DS

August 21st, 2012
12:46 pm

Okay, the first segment of the video, clearly taken after the family went to see the movie kind of tugs at your heart strings. The daylight segment, even the younger of the two at times seems to think all this carrying on is over the top, because he appears to be on the verge of cracking smiles and there is clearly no tears. At that point, it seemed more about the pure entertainment value in a YouTube culture than anything else.

Debi

August 21st, 2012
12:48 pm

OH YEAH!! Old Yeller!! I saw that as a child, and don’t recall really crying that much, but I’m sure I did…. HOWEVER, my DAD wept and I think I remember that more!!

DB

August 21st, 2012
1:03 pm

I can’t name the movies I’ve cried at — I tend to blubber at just about any one, happy or sad ending! :-) The one that caused me to stay in the ladies room at the theatre and sob for five minutes, though, was “Philadelphia”, with Tom Hanks — that little movie clip at the end of him as a baby and child being shown after his funeral makes me tear up every time. Titanic — no, that wasn’t sad. It was inevitable — and it’s given our family a catch-phrase to describe any useless endeavor: “Jack! Jack!” said in a squeaky voice. :-) The end of Toy Story 3 got me, too, as my kids were off to college and the rest of their lives at that time, too — a little too close to home :-) Denise, you’re right about you have to know your child: I didn’t allow my kids to see Titanic until they were 13 (it WAS PG-13, after all), because I knew that the ocean full of dead, frozen people would give my son nightmares. It sat on the shelf for several years, the movie they couldn’t see . . . and on my son’s 13th birthday, he came home from school, took it off the shelf, and sat down to watch it! After it was over, he was “Well, it was good, but what was all the fuss about?”

Another one that tears my heart is “Hachi – a Dog’s Tale”, based on a real dog that waited every day at the same place for his owner to get home from work, even after the owner died. Also, “Where the Red Fern Grows” — awwwwww . . . And “Stepmom”, where Julia Roberts is telling Susan Sarandon that her biggest fear is putting everything she has into raising Susan’s daughter after she has died, knowing that she will never be Susan, and being at her wedding and helping with her veil, and having Susan’s daughter say, “I wish Mom was here,” and Susan’s simple response: “And my biggest fear is . . . that she won’t.” BAWL!! “Awakenings” will always bring a tear, as will “The Color Purple”, when Celie and her sister are reunited. “Saving Private Ryan”, at the end, when Matt Damon’s character asks his wife, plaintively, “Am I a good man?” “Beaches”, during Bette Midler’s last song after Hilary has died . . . oh, the list goes on . . . !

But that father taping his crying kids — that wasn’t sad, that was sick.

Augusta

August 21st, 2012
1:59 pm

The Notebook tears me up EVERY Time, such a beautiful love story….my oldest looses it during the scene where her kids come to visit, and she doesn’t know them…..

FCM

August 21st, 2012
3:24 pm

Terms of Enderment….saw that in Middle School. Steel Magnolias. Fried Green Tomatoes.

FCM

August 21st, 2012
3:25 pm

There is actually on scene in Momma Mia that makes me cry and I never cry in movies.

Becky

August 21st, 2012
3:54 pm

@DB..As I mentioned earlier, the boy loves Titanic and he saw it for the first time when he was 7, I don’t think it scared him..He runs around the house quoting lives from the movie all the time…:)

I also love Stepmom and Beaches adn cry each time that I see them..An old one that I love and watch every time that it comes on TV is “Imitation of Life”.. I haven’t seen all of Hachi, but I do like the parts that I’ve seen..

@FCM..I cry over Steel Magnolias when I see it,not only because it’s a sad movie, but the part scene where shes on the hospital hooked up to everything always reminds me of when my Mom was in the hospital hooked up the same way..

Denise

August 21st, 2012
4:03 pm

I cry watching Remember the Titans EVERY time at the SAME part of the movie. It’s an amazing movie, not just an amazing football movie. Denzel Washington is great in the movie and the kids in the movie really do a wonderful job.

Brisilda

August 21st, 2012
4:17 pm

Marlie and me yep I cried to that I have a black lab and i hug him when ever I see the movie!

Denise

August 21st, 2012
5:47 pm

@DB – that scene in Stepmom does me in too. And when they take the family pictures.

MA

August 21st, 2012
6:05 pm

Sound of Music, My Girl, E.T., any old Disney – Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, etc…. Toy Story 3 – only because my daughter(only one) graduated that year and it was a very bittersweet year for me!!

Tiger Ochocinco Cougar Mellencamp Johnson

August 21st, 2012
6:41 pm

I cried during “The Excorcist”….it was just so sad.

DB

August 21st, 2012
6:45 pm

@Becky: I had to be a little more careful with DS’s movies than I did with DD’s movies. DS had nightmares for several nights after seeing “Hercules” because of the Fates that cut the “threads of life” — that pretty much gave me a head’s up that I had to be a little more thoughtful about what I let him watch. Dead bodies bobbing in the ocean seemed to be a no-brainer (heck, that gave ME the creeps!) DD is more pragmatic when it comes to movies (”oh, it’s not real, it’s just a movie”).

Penguinmom

August 22nd, 2012
1:35 am

@Denise – Remember the Titans is great! And you’re right I cry every time. If I ever catch it on and start watching it, I know I will be watching it all the way to the end.

@DB – I agree, you have to know your own kids. What will completely freak out one of my kids, the other will not bat an eye at. There are some things I know my daughter will be able to watch at a younger age than my son did just because she is more practical and not as sensitive. Not sure about my youngest yet, he tends to have a very vivid imagination and can hold onto a scary scene for weeks. Hopefully, he’ll grow out of that soon.

Holly

August 22nd, 2012
1:49 am

Better to introduce death to your kids in a movie than have it sneak up on them in real life. It’s a good conversation starter, since you never know when a relative or someone else they know will die. You need to be able to talk seriously about it so they understand what death is.

Becky

August 22nd, 2012
9:11 am

@DB..I understand..Thankfully, my two have never had nightmares after watching a movie..Of course, they have been to several funerals in their short 10 years…So seeing dead people isn’t new to them..

Happytam

August 22nd, 2012
11:16 am

@DB… thank you for mentioning Hachi. I cry every time I watch it. I put a copy into a Christmas stocking for my sister and her kids last year. She said at the end of the movie all three of them were crying their eyes out.
Also, Selena. I always cry at the end of that one too.