Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Twilight

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for some violence and a scene of sensuality
Profanity:Some teenage language
Nudity/Sex:Sexual references, kisses
Alcohol/Drugs:Adults drink beer
Violence/Scariness:Vampire violence, grisly images, characters injured and killed
Diversity Issues:Diverse characters
Movie Release Date:November 21, 2008

It is in no way disrespectful to this movie to say that I enjoyed the audience reaction as much as I enjoyed what was on the screen. In a theater filled with fans who had patiently waited for over an hour, it was possible to hear some lines softly recited along with the characters, some squeals of joy at seeing favorite moments depicted, and, in a few quiet scenes, some happily sad sniffs.

“Twilight,” the first in the Stephanie Meyer series of books about a high school romance where the boy happens to be a vampire, has become “Twilight” the movie and it has been brought to life with respectful diligence for the source material and a warm understanding of its characters and target audience. Catherine Hardwicke has developed something of a speciality in stories about teenagers with “13,” “The Nativity Story,” and “The Lords of Dogtown,” and one of the pleasures of the film is the way she shows us the rhythms of teenage interaction.

Bella (a perfectly cast Kristen Stewart) has left sunny Phoenix for the rainiest town in America, Forks, Washington, to live with her father. The students at her new school welcome her warmly but the boy who dazzles her is handsome Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). At first, he seems to dislike her, but it turns out that he has just been trying to hide from her and from himself how much he is attracted to her.

These days, it is increasingly difficult to find a reason for a couple not to get together so fast there is no time for a story to happen and Meyer specifically created Edward and Bella with a permanent dilemma to give her characters and her readers some breathing room to explore the relationship. Part of the appeal of the story is an almost-Victorian sense of repression, sacrifice, and longing, all so sincerely depicted it just might single-handedly bring back the swoon. Young girls can enjoy this story because of Bella’s sense of power — loving her so devotedly all but un-mans a creature designed to be “the world’s most dangerous predator.” Edward has the attributes of the adolescent ideal for romance since before the days of “Romeo and Juliet,” “Wuthering Heights” and “Titanic” — unconditional love, parental disapproval, and ultimate impossibility.

The film falters a little in the portrayal of the vampires, who seem, even by fantasy standards, unnaturally pasty-faced, and some of the special effects are a little cheesy. It’s hard to make someone super-fast without looking cartoony. But it benefits from some deft and easy humor and sly twists on both vampire lore (let’s just say that mirrors and sunlight are different for these vampires than for the traditional Bram Stoker variety, with subtle hints to crosses and garlic) and high school (giving it up on prom night takes on a new meaning). Hardwicke, originally a production designer, also lets the settings help tell the story, from the lush greens of the opening shots to the Cullen’s sun-filled home. But the movie belongs to Bella and Edward and Stewart and Pattinson show us a tenderness and devotion that makes them one of this year’s most romantic couples.



  • lathawo

    Amazing such waited movie just been released. I have seen it grate love story that bring tears to my eyes. Fascinating stuff by the actors they have contributed well in the movie. It was perfect love with the vampires around. The way he protect his lover was heart breaking.

  • Jenn

    Thank you Movie Mom Nell. I have listened to you on our local radio KRBB for many years and was anticipating your review of this movie. I have to say your review showed how well you get Stephanie Meyer and the movie that Twilight has become. I went to the midnight showing and being a huge twilightmom fan of the books was happily surprised at how well the movie worked. I was also happy that I was left with the same feeling at the end of the movie as the book…just wanting to feel that again.

  • Miguel

    You should have a facebook profile. There are more adults (with families) on there than you think.

  • Nell Minow

    I do have a Facebook profile! You’re more than welcome to friend me.

  • Alexis Faith

    Ma’am, while I respect your opinion, I’m not sure that you’ve actually read all of the books or that they’re something you would want to endorse. I really don’t think that a book series that promotes pedophilia, abuse, rape, and superficial love really makes for much family discussion.
    If I were to hear that a book series involves any of what this one does, there is no way I’d let my kid read it without a good talking to about what is NOT okay in a relationship. And I don’t want to know how they’re going to put any of this into any future sequels and still have them be PG-13.

  • Nell Minow

    Alexis — Thanks very much for these comments, which will give people who visit the site a better understanding of parental concerns. I have only read the first book, and will do my best to be sensitive to all of the issues you raise as the other books are made into films. And of course you are right that what really matters is conversation with parents — and good examples from parents and other adults in the lives of teens — which convey what we should expect and insist on in relationships far more powerfully than any book or movie.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks so much, Jenn! It means the world to me that a fan of the books thinks I got it right. And thanks for listening!

  • april

    Hi NELL YOU ARE THE BEST! i have always used your reviews to check out what is appropriate for my almost 12 yr old daughter. i am not religious(AT ALL), and i am so glad i found you again! april

  • mike

    well i just think twilight sucks in general! and i heard it was a bad movie too, im not wasting my money; even if my girlfriend wants to see it, IM NOT PAYING FOR THAT!

  • Nell Minow

    Well, Mike, thanks for writing, but let me suggest that girlfriends in general prefer guys who are kind, respectful, thoughtful, and generous, not to mention those who don’t jump to conclusions and dis their taste, so you might want to rethink it.

  • Your Name

    Movie Mom, I was just letting you know that i saw twilight yesterday and i thought it was amazing! I haven’t read the books and have been pretty skeptical of the series, even though all my friends have read it. The whole story in general is really good

  • Tony

    Hi Nell,
    I have 3 boys and I ALWAYS check your site before seeing a movie with them. Thanks for the review. I think that my wife and I shall preview it first! I know she wants to see it and secretly, so do I! Keep up the great job!

  • Judy

    Hi Nell,
    My daughter will be so excited that you gave this movie a “Thumbs Up”! The first question for our family about any movie (even for our High School son) is “What does Movie Mom say?”. Thanks for always giving us the informative reviews that help us make our family decisions about movie viewing. You rock!

  • Becca

    Being a big fan of the books, I was somewhat terrified to the see the movie. I thought it would be too different from the book for me to enjoy it, but it was actually really good! My sister has not read the books and she liked as much, if not more, than me. So, if you have or haven’t read the books, I strongly recommend it! GO TEAM EDWARD!

  • The Unborn Trailer is NOT Ok for PG13

    What were they thinking?
    The trailer for The Unborn is giving my 13 year old nightmares. That is not acceptable.

  • Nell Minow

    I haven’t seen the trailer yet and I am so sorry to hear it. Please write to the MPAA and the National Association of Theater Owners to let them know how you feel. They take this kind of feedback very seriously.
    National Association of Theatre Owners
    750 First Street, NE
    Suite 1130
    Washington, DC 20002
    Tel. 202.962-0054
    Fax: 202.962-0370
    E-mail: nato@natodc.com
    Office of the Chairman and CEO
    Washington, DC
    1600 Eye St., NW
    Washington, DC 20006
    (202) 293-1966 (main)
    (202) 296-7410 (fax)

  • Bev

    Thanks so much, someone, for mentioning the trailer for The Unborn. SOOOOO inappropriate for this audience. I’m 40 and it freaked me out! I will send an e-mail as indicated above.
    As for the movie – it was a joy to take my three daughters and friends to see this film. Greatly enjoyed by Edward and Bella fans (me included). I appreciated that the movie maintains the restraint. It’s nice for girls to know that not EVERYONE “hooks up” after a few dates.

  • Carrie

    My husband and I went to see Twilight Sunday. Although we had tried all weekend, the late show was the only one we could get into. I was surprised to see the line out the door and only a few empty seats; something I’ve never seen before when there was not a Holiday the next day.
    It was great to see so many young adults (we’re both pushing 30) talking about the books, and debating the book versus the movie. After the movie began, the audience reaction was amazing. There seemed to be a collective sigh as we were introduced to the Cullens, as Bella fell for Edward, and as he rescued her time after time. Even my husband, who has not read the series, enjoyed the film and I caught him smiling and scowling at the screen.
    After the movie ended, it seemed no one wanted to move and I think if there had been another showing, most of us would have gone and gotten tickets. There were discussions about favorite moments that had been tweaked, or left out, for the movie, but overall, we were all happy. I LOVED it!
    Again, Movie Mom, you got the review perfect. Do you know if there are plans for the rest of the books to be made into movies? Oh, I hope so!!

  • Nell Minow

    Yes, Claire! They have announced the second film and the stars have agreed to return. The director is not yet committed, but I am betting she will come back, too. Can’t wait!

  • juju

    my 10 year old daughter wants to see twilight what should i say to her movie mom?

  • http://amazon.com Lisa Lowry

    Loved the movie and the books. I did read a more realistic version of vampires. That book was called Vrakluna: Origin of the Vampire. It was definitely an adult vampire romance. I bought it at Amazon. The author’s name was Benjamin G. King. I don’t think he is related to Stephen King.

  • Nell Minow

    Has she read the books? The movie has some vampire violence that could be disturbing for a 10-year-old, especially one who is not familiar with the details of the story. My recommendation is for 13 and up. I think the PG-13 rating is correct.

  • E

    I thought that the movie was okay. Some parts were really good while other parts, not so much. Kristen Stewart needed to laugh more; she acted so straight laced, while Bella was supposed to be funny and easy going. I don’t think that Kristen Stewart smiled more than 10 times that whole movie.

  • Marla

    I saw this movie with my daughters and we had a conversation the next day about Bella’s character. There were several things about her that I wanted them to think about — her willingness to die for her love, her lack of concern about Edward’s violation of her privacy when he admitted he watched her sleep, that the relationship prevents her from befriending her peers, the whole rescue fantasy, etc. I could go on, but do think that even though the movie is enjoyable, that it was important for my daughters to think a bit about the qualities of the characters and their relationship.

  • Nell Minow

    What a wonderful comment, Marla! This is exactly what I hope to hear from parents and the way you raised these issues with your daughters is a wonderful example for all of us. Many thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.
    I agree with every point you made, but want to add that part of the appeal for girls of the Bella character is her strength and power — she essentially “tames” a creature who says he is nature’s most perfect predator. And in a sense she wants to die for her love but in another sense she wants eternal life for it, understanding it will make her a predator as well. She rescues Edward in a spiritual sense as much as he rescues her physically. And this is one reason the story resonates so deeply with so many people.

  • Your Name

    Im 13 and i really want to see the movie! i am reading the 1st book now! i think it will be the first really long book i have read!! Over half of my class is reading twilight! At night i dont want to put down the book!!
    P.S Love the site!! I found it on radiolia.com

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks for writing and I am so happy you are enjoying the book. Thanks for listening to the Lia show and checking out the site. I hope you will let me know what you think when you see the movie and I hope you will return and comment often!

  • Michele

    Hi,
    My daughter is 11 has read all 3 books and owuld like to see the movie. Is the movie appropriate for an 11 year old?

  • Nell Minow

    I think it might be too much for some 11 year olds, but if she has read the books and is very familiar with the material and wants to see it, I think she might be all right with it. But you know her best. You have seen how she is affected by tense and scary movies, so you are the best judge.

  • Your Name

    Thanks for your feedback. So does this mean that the violence is a bigger potential issue here than sex or other inapporpriate relatinship material?

  • Nell Minow

    Yes, as you can see from my review. There are some teenage sexual references but a theme of the movie is the importance of preventing a physical relationship; the issue is the vampire violence, which is gory at times.

  • Michele

    Thanks for your feedback. I read your web site often when trying to make good decisions for my children and which movies are right for them

  • megan

    How can you not love this movie!?!? It’s the best.

  • Kimberlee

    HELP! I am apparently the only mom of a 6th grade girl who will not let her daughter read the books or see the movie! Twilight has been the source of discussion, arguments, and tears (for us both!). I just have a check in my spirit about these books. It’s not about the vampires. That isn’t a big deal to me. We understand that they are fictional characters that do not exist. The issue for me is the fact that the author intended for these books to be read by high school girls. They are romance novels. Am I exposing my 6th grader to relationships which are too mature for her to understand at this time? I work and go to school so reading them first is out of the question and I don’t want to be ridiculous about this if it’s not inappropriate for her in the first place. Feedback would be so appreciated! Thanks!

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    I understand your dilemma, Kimberlee. But I feel very strongly that you need to make the time to read the book. Not only is it the only way for you to make the best possible decision because only you know your daughter well enough to know whether the story is right for her, but it is also the only way for you to demonstrate to your daughter how important this is to you and how much you care about getting it right. She is at an age now where she needs to understand the reasons for the rules and she will respect them and you far more if she knows that you made the effort and put in the time for something that means so much to her. I am guessing that if you do read it you will allow her to read it, too, and that is the third reason for you to do so — because the best possible lesson you can give her is by reading it so you can talk to her about it. Work and school can wait. Your daughter can’t. And these books have provided a wonderful avenue of communication for many pre-teen and teen girls and their mothers.

  • Your Name

    I just want to encourage Kimberlee to trust your instincts. We all have different hot topics. I did read the book (which is a very enjoyable and easy read, by the way, you could skim through it in a couple of nights) and have chosen to not let my 7th grade daughter read the book or see the movie, for the exact reasons you mentioned. This is clearly a full blown love story…between older teens. If you do decide to go I would read Maria’s comments above. Excellent questions that hit the mark of my concerns, as it sounds like are yours as well. I would include – what qualities do you think make for a healthy relationship, do you think Edward is a good choice for Bella, is their relationship realistic, why do you think Bella makes poor choices regarding Edward. I actually look forward to sharing this story with my daughter in a few more years. I hope she’s still interested by then. Good luck!

  • Ree

    Yes, I agree with the comments above. I am 15 years old and have read the books and loved them!! But I do think that 6th and 7th grade are too young. I don’t think girls that age can truly come to appreciate and understand the morals and meanings behind Edward’s virtuous and respectful actions, and Bella’s feelings towards Edward. Your daughters will enjoy the books more thoroughly in a couple of years time. It’s worth the wait!!

  • Caitlin

    Kimberlee I think you are DEFINITELY making the right choice by not allowing your daughter to read the books or watch the movie. I’m a high school girl and I first starting reading the Twilight series when I was in 8th grade. Honestly, I love and adore those books but they are absolutely not appropriate for 6th graders. The problem isn’t really that your daughter wouldn’t understand the relationships. The real problem is that this series is just not appropriate for children her age. Although I am an ardent fan of the Twilight series, there are some things in it that may not be healthy for the way girls view guys. Bella (the main character) really has what you would call an unhealthy obsession with Edward (her vampire boyfriend and, later, husband). She says that her soul doesn’t matter because, if she weren’t with him, her soul wouldn’t matter. In New Moon, Edward leaves Bella for awhile and she goes into a depression and does things to put herself in danger because then she hears his voice in her head. Altogether, not exactly a great example of a healthy relationship. In Eclipse and Breaking Dawn, there are MULTIPLE sexual references. They references from Eclipse are not as explicit as they are in Breaking Dawn. In Breaking Dawn, Bella and Edward finally get married. Well, you can just guess what happens throughout their honeymoon. Honestly, I cannot even believe that girls are reading them in 6th and 7th grade. That is MUCH too young and I can’t believe there parents are being so irresponsible. Stick to your guns! I’m sure your daughter will love the books when she gets older, but definitely not until then! And don’t worry, you’re not the only mother who feels that way :) I know because a lot of my friends have younger sisters who are in middle school and they are VERY eager to see what all the hype is about with the Twilight series and their mothers won’t let them read it yet either. Hope this helps!

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Caitlin, thanks so much for this most thoughtful and eloquent comment. It is very helpful. And it speaks well for the maturity that makes it possible for you to fully appreciate the books.

  • Vince Lugo

    I won’t be watching this. Aside from your review, all I’ve heard is that the book is a joke and the movie’s terrible. At one point, the actor who played Edward even questioned the author’s sanity in an interview. Personally, that says something about the quality of the story to me. Nice of you to recommend Buffy, though. For older teens, I would also recommend the Blade trilogy.

  • Cheri

    Am I ever glad I found your website and read these comments. My 11 yr old daughter has been bugging me to see this. I skimmmed over one of the books and told her no way. I was starting to re-think my objections now that the movie is out in video, but now I see I was right. I’ll be sticking to my guns too. Thanks.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Thanks, Cheri! You found here just what I was hoping parents would find — a community of comments to help people make decisions that are right for their families. I am always very glad to hear from parents who are careful about what their children see.

  • Mary

    I just wanted to thank you, Nell, for providing such a great resource for parents in helping decide what is appropriate for our children in terms of entertainment. I also want to thank everyone who has commented regarding whether or not young girls should be reading these books and seeing the movies. My 11-year-old daughter is dying to the read the book (every single girl in her 5th-grade class seems to have read at least the first one), and I have steadfastly refused to allow it until I have read it first (we have had this arrangement for many book series, including the Harry Potter books, the Frog Princess books, and the Nicholas Flamel series by Michael Scott–I recommend all of these! We’ve discovered some great reads this way!). I am in the middle of Twilight now, and I already can tell that I don’t want her to read it yet. I would very much like to know how others are handling this situation. It’s so hard for my daughter (whose favorite hobby is reading) to answer the daily questions she hears from her friends as to when she’s going to read the book. She feels left out of so many conversations, and frustrated that her friends are finally enjoying reading–something she’s enjoyed for years–but they’re reading something she isn’t being allowed to read. I know my standards differ from other parents’, and sometimes that is tough on my children. She reads so many great books, and I’m running out of arguments. I would truly appreciate a fresh perspective if anyone is willing to offer it. Thank you!

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Thank you, Mary. I love to hear from careful parents. One thing I have learned over and over again is that no matter what kids say now, they are always relieved and happy to have parents who set firm limits. I am so glad you make the decision by reading the book first.
    I agree that 11 is young for the books. But it is old enough for her to do some very thoughtful consideration of why she wants to read it. Now is a good time to make clear to her (as I am sure you already have) that “everyone else is” never works in your house. If she can put together a mature assessment of why she believes this book is right for her and why she believes she is old enough to understand its strengths and weaknesses and have a frank discussion with you about it afterward, I would think about allowing her to read it and treat the whole thing as a learning experience. Knowing that you have also read the book will have a beneficial impact on her own reading as she imagines your reaction to various scenes.
    It was around the time my kids were 11 that I told them that from then on, privileges would not come to them on the basis of achieving some calendar marking of the passage of time but from their demonstration that they had earned them.
    This is the time when your conversations about permissions and privileges will change — as your saying that you are running out of arguments shows — and it may be time to make her more of a participant in the decision-making. Good luck and keep us posted.

  • Mary

    Thank you Nell! I really appreciate your insights. I finished the book and decided that my daughter is definitely not ready for it; not because of the vampire issues, but because of the relationship issues. We talked about it a lot, and among other things, I explained to her that besides the fact that she’s not ready for some of the issues raised in the book, I truly believed she simply would not enjoy it! For those who love the books, that’s great; but I know it’s just not for her. She trusts my judgement on what constitutes an enjoyable read thanks to our history of reading things together. She’s realized that “because everyone else is doing it” simply doesn’t fly. And then I hit her with the best argument I had: She adores the Harry Potter series and hopes to become a writer like JK Rowling. Yet all of these girls who insist Twilight is “great” and “the best ever” don’t like the Potter books at all. So I simply asked her why she thought she’d like something recommended by people who can’t stand the one thing she loves above all others. That made her think about things at an 11-year-old level, and paired with our more adult-level discussions, she finally got it. That’s more info than you probably wanted, but I just wanted to let you know how your kind words helped refuel my tank and get talking with my daughter again. Thank you so much!

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    I loved hearing this from you, Mary. Thank you so much for letting me know. You are a terrific mother and your relationship with your daughter — and your understanding of what she needs — is superb. My very best to you both.

  • Staci M

    I’m definitely there with Mary, above! My 11-yr.-old DD wants to read “Twilight” and watch the movie, too. I won’t let her yet. LOTS of girls in her age group have. BTW, her fave book(s) are the Harry Potter series, too. I feel EXACTLY like Mary, that the longing & sexual tension of the relationship in Twilight would be lost on my daughter at this age. It is an important part of the story. It is something that she would appreciate and enjoy when she is a little bit older. If she read it now, she’d just be focused on the vampire parts and really “miss” the meat of the story, which I think is too mature for her at this point. We’re waiting here.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    This is just what I hope for on this site, a wonderful exchange of information and support. Many thanks, Staci. I support the decision you and Mary have made and I know your daughters will learn a lot in many categories from the wait.

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