If you have teens (especially teens who like video games), you’ve likely heard about the Ready Player One movie that comes out in theaters today, or at least the novel it’s based on, by Ernest Cline. If you haven’t, you SHOULD take the time to look into it, because as parents, we need to know what our teens are into and the Ready Player One movie and book are huge in teen culture right now. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I highly recommend the Ready Player One parent guide from Axis. It’s like Cliff Notes for Christian parents!)
So, let me tell you a little background before I jump into my Ready Player One movie review. My fourteen-year-old son is really into video games (mostly Nintendo), and having heard buzz about the movie, he asked for the book for Christmas. My husband simultaneously listened to it on audiobook while our son read it. They both loved the book, then my son asked me to read it. I think. when your teen asks you to read a book he really likes, you DO IT.
Lucky for me, the book was GREAT. I loved it. As a writer, I am a fan of story. Ready Player One is a good story that is well-told. It’s fantastic. The basic premise is: in the year 2045, the world has gone to pot. This is partially because twenty years prior, a video game nerd named James Halliday has invented the OASIS: a virtual reality world where you can, among other things, get an education and live out your wildest fantasies. Because nearly everyone spends nearly ALL their time (except for bathroom breaks and meals) inside the OASIS, the real world has taken a bad turn. The book’s protagonist, Wade Watts, is engaged, with most of the rest of the OASIS, in playing the ultimate video game: finding Halliday’s “Easter egg,” which allows the winner to inherit Halliday’s fortune and take control of the OASIS.
A couple of cautions about the book: it is definitely PG-13 for language and some talk about sex (the main character’s mom, before her death, was an OASIS phone sex worker) – so I would NOT recommend this for under 13, and definitely not until you’ve had LOTS of talks with your kid about right and wrong and what healthy Biblical sexual relationships look like.
But I seriously LOVED the book!
However, the movie is a LOT different from the book. It’s PG-13 almost ENTIRELY for language and simulated video game violence. The sex stuff from the book is basically not present at all in the movie. As a parent, I would not worry AT ALL about your teen seeing this movie (though there is ONE “F-bomb” which took me by surprise, and they say “sh*t” more than a few times), but I would NOT take a child younger than 13 to see it. The family in the row behind my teenager and I last night had a little girl with them who was seven or eight years old and frankly, that made me MAD. Sooooo inappropriate.
Another thing parents might want to be aware of is that the movie re-creates a few scenes from the movie “The Shining.” Now, I’ve never seen “The Shining” because I do NOT DO HORROR MOVIES – and it’s nothing super super gory, but again, I think parents should be aware of it, AND please don’t take kids younger than 13 to see this. (This was NOT in the book so I was unprepared.)
Bottom line: the movie is fun to watch, and your teens will probably like it. The book is WAY, WAY better. WAAAAAY better. Even though my teen and I agreed on this, he still liked the movie a lot. Also, the movie drives home the point that the REAL world and human connection is MUCH more valuable than the virtual video-game world – a lesson our teens definitely need in this screen-crazed society.
This is by no means a Christian story, but it’s a good story that has lots of important conversation-starters for you and your teen.
Do your kids want to see the Ready Player One movie, and if they do, will you take them?