Last night I went with some friends to see the new hit movie, The Fault in Our Stars. Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of it. Evidently it’s the big hit of the summer for teen and tween girls. I have a daughter in 5th grade and a son in middle school so I was curious to see it even though I knew it was going to be a tough one to watch. I haven’t read the book, so I didn’t know much going in — just what I’ve seen in the trailer and read on Facebook.
Hazel and Augustus are two teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and a love that sweeps them on a journey. Their relationship is all the more miraculous, given that Hazel’s other constant companion is an oxygen tank, Gus jokes about his prosthetic leg, and they meet and fall in love at a cancer support group.
Sounds like a real bucket of laughs, right? Yeah, try a bucket of tears.
Like I said, I new going in what I was in for, and I was game. I brought my handy packet of Kleenex along, and I used every last one. I was only about 5 minutes in when I had to start choking back heaving sobs.
For me, it wasn’t the story of the two teens that really got to me. It was the mom. I could feel her pain and see her dying inside as she tried to be light-hearted and positive for her daughter with terminal cancer. The acting was superb. I felt like I was living the story, not that I’d want to. There was some comedic relief, but not enough. It was really hard not to audibly sob, and there were plenty around us who were.
I don’t want to give away any spoilers so I’m not going to say much else about the plot. If you don’t mind a cry fest, it’s definitely worth seeing.
As for the title of this post, is it appropriate for kids . . . that is a tough call. The subject matter is definitely heavy, no doubt about it. Many scenes are intense as they deal with issues of death and mortality.
But even more concerning than the topic of cancer and death, is the fact that the two teens discuss being virgins and then have sex. Not only do they participate in the act, but the scene in the movie goes a little further than I think was truly necessary and I was uncomfortable with that. From an adult perspective, I’d say it was handled tastefully. But as a parent, I would say use caution when taking your children to see it.
I’m definitely not going to take my 11-year-old daughter to see this movie. My son is 14, and if he wanted to see it, I’d probably let him, but I doubt he cares.
If I had to make a blanket statement and suggest an age at which I believe it is appropriate, I would say it’s fine for ages 13 and up as long as the child is mature enough to handle the feelings it evokes. It’s very intense. There were kids sobbing all around me in the theater. I would also advise seeing this movie with your child so you can discuss it together.
Overall, I thought it was a beautiful movie. I’m actually glad I didn’t read the book first. As with most movies based on books, they left a lot out (according to my friends who saw it with me) and I think I prefer it this way. Will I read the book now that I know what happens? No. I really have no desire. I would, however, read another book by John Green.
For more parental guidance, you can read the reviews of The Fault in Our Stars at Common Sense Media.