Brick by Brick: Confusion at the cinema

Sex scenes at the movies with Mom? “Gross!”


Marathons make me nervous in Copenhagen. Ever since I got caught up in one and wound up having to cross the finish line on my bicycle surrounded by sweaty runners and many witnesses. On marathon day, traffic changes, routes reverse and buses disappear. So I should have known that it was a bad idea to set off late to take my daughter and her friend to see a film.

A time for focus
We thundered into the cinema only to be told that they would not sell us tickets for a film that had started. “I’ve got two 11-year-olds here – what do you recommend?” I asked. “I recommend you should have got here on time,” the box office person snapped. “I mean what film do you recommend?” I asked indignantly. “They’re very disappointed you know; look at their little faces …” I turned to indicate my truculent, gum-chewing charges.
The assistant languidly indicated a laminated A4 handout with descriptions of the films. I couldn’t read it without my glasses, and it was in Danish anyway. So, pretending to make a considered decision, we got three tickets for the very next film, ‘Focus’ with Will Smith and Margot Robbie, which is suitable for ages 11 and above.

Popcorn with cop porn
Panic over, we took our seats already munching popcorn. About five minutes and 72 swear words into the film, things were getting steamy between Margot and Will. I squinted at the ticket in the dark – did I misread the 11 and above part?
“Should we leave?” I asked my young charges. Will and Margot were now in bed together. “I expect they’ll get married in the end,” I ventured. “Shhh Mummy, you’re not supposed to talk during the film,” whispered my daughter indignantly.
In fact Margot and Will didn’t consummate their union, because at the last minute Margot’s accomplice burst in pretending to be her husband in order to nick Will’s wallet. But they did it later, many times, along with promoting the message that crime pays.

No ‘actual’ violence then
I was concerned: am I turning into a prude? I looked up the British Board of Film Classification, BBFC, to get a sense of perspective. In the UK, ‘Focus’ is recommended for ages 15 and above because of “strong language, violence and sex”.

The equivalent US body, Motion Picture Association of America, rates ‘Focus’ as R (restricted), advising: “Parents should take this advisory rating very seriously. Most parents will consider these movies to be too adult for their children under 17.”

Yet Det Danske Filminstitut doesn’t even mention sex, just that films rated 11 should not contain “actual violence”. So I guess Will Smith getting shot and various people getting slapped about didn’t count.

Gross point blank
My kid and her friends are no strangers to the facts of life, but to an 11-year-old sex scenes are tedious, so I’ll be using the BBFC’s handy app from now on and trying to remember my glasses.

“You know, in the real world criminals get caught by policemen and sent to prison,” I told the girls on the way home. They looked at me blankly. “And I’m sorry the film was … inappropriate,” I ventured to my daughter’s friend.
“Gross,” said my daughter.

Stephanie Brickman made the hop across the North Sea from Scotland to live in Denmark with her distinctly un-Danish family. This 40-something mother, wife and superstar is delighted to share her learning curve, rich as it is with laughs, blunders and expert witnesses.