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Family Film Guide: Do Your Kids Love ‘The Phantom Menace’?

“Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace 3D” hits theaters this weekend, and it brings up a lot of contradictory feelings in fans of George Lucas’ legendary franchise. Most parents (and viewers in general) feel an overpowering allegiance to the original trilogy, but our kids, who have been exposed to the prequel trilogy and its animated “Clone Wars” spin-off, might actually prefer Episodes I-II-III. What is a self-respecting IV-V-VI-loyal parent to do? Moviefone has spoken to “Star Wars” fans to discuss what parents think about their kids’ experience with the complete saga.

A Balanced Approach
“My husband is/was a HUGE ‘Star Wars’ fan growing up, and our boys of course love it too. But, we made it a point to show them the originals first, and my oldest likes ‘Return of the Jedi’ best of all.  Naturally, he’s a big ‘Clone Wars’ lover (yes, he’s already made me DVR the season finale on Cartoon Network), but he knows what’s up when it comes to appreciating the classics. And, you should hear my 6-year-old’s Yoda voice.  So, so awesome.”
— Amanda R., mother of three

Prequel Schmequel
“The fact that my boys do not have the appropriate reverence for Luke, Han Solo and Leia is what I consider one of my parenting failures.  Prequel schmequel.  Maybe if they had to get up to turn a knob to change the channel on a TV they would appreciate the finer points of the original movies.  Harumph!”
— Amie Adams, mother of three

Fans All Around

“My elementary school aged children prefer the first prequel, ‘Star Wars I: Phantom Menance,’ because they identify with young Anakin Skywalker and Padme/Queen Amidala. They love Anakin’s storyline (eschewing the boring Senate politics) for its ‘Harry Potter’-esque discovery that a boy of sad circumstances actually has supernatural powers. My daughter is entranced by Padme’s dual roles and costumes. And who wouldn’t want to podrace?

My kids also adore what my husband and I will always think of as Star Wars number one, ‘A New Hope,’ for Luke’s similar discovery story and Han Solo’s hilarious one liners (they frequently tell each other, ‘Watch your mouth kid or you’re gonna find yourself floating home!’). They are also Team Chewbacca, finding Jar Jar annoying.

And if given a chance to watch the ‘Clone Wars’ animated show or play Lego Star Wars on the Wii, they always choose the latter.”
— Jessica McFadden, mother of three

It Makes No Difference
“The obsession with the rest of my family drives me crazy. My kids don’t realize there is a difference in the two trilogies. I was surprised they didn’t notice a difference in the effects, but it just escaped them completely. It does make me sad that ‘Episode I’ is their fave instead of ‘Episode V’ like me.”
— Christi L, mother of four

‘Clone Wars’ Lover
“Emma doesn’t even completely like the old trilogy. She LOVES ‘Clone Wars,’ however. I haven’t let her watch episodes 1-3 because she’s not ready yet. I suppose ‘Phantom Menace’ would be okay, but she doesn’t really care to see it. But she will simply be crushed and not be able to handle watching Anakin become Vader. *I* couldn’t even handle it, but that’s because it’s a crap movie. Why is Lucas still allowed to make movies?”
— Jamie, mother of two

Inheriting the Force
“Having grown up with the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy, I love sharing the joy of ‘Star Wars’ with our children. Our kids have so many of the same questions about the series that I had. It throws me off when they refer to the original trilogy as ‘movies #4, 5 and 6.’ I still think of ‘Star Wars: A New Hope,’ ‘The Empire Strikes Back,’ and ‘Return of the Jedi’ as #1-3!”
— Leticia Barr, mother of two

Star Wars Gamer
“My son doesn’t watch the movies over and over again. But he is an avid player of Wii Lego Star Wars. He prefers playing the characters from the newer films when he plays his video games. Although I haven’t asked him, I wonder if kids like the newer films because the special effects are better. I prefer the old films because I remember then in relation to what I was doing in the 70s. I waited months for the first ‘Star Wars’ film to make it to my local cinema in England. I saw it at least twice, which was unusual as I saw very few movies during my childhood in the UK.”
— Jill Berry, mother of three

Repeat Fans
“We watch them over and over…and I actually like how the new Trilogy makes the older ones even better and make sense. The acting is equally bad so it matches up! 🙂 My kids act out Luke and Leia almost as much as Padme and Anakin.”
— Linda Kerr, mother of two

Original Purists
“My kids have yet to see the prequels. I think my husband’s attempt to keep them in the dark about Episodes 1, 2, & 3 is about to come to an end, though, since the commercials for Episode 1 in 3D is enticing Cupcake. She’s asked to be taken to the theatre to see it!”
— Michelle, mother of three

Age-Appropriate Issues
“My daughter can’t compare because I will not allow her to watch the prequels. She is 7. I feel episodes IV-VI are appropriate for her but episodes I-III are not. The prequels are more graphically violent and dark, she’s not emotionally mature enough to handle them. She does have classmates who seem very obsessed with the prequels but when she plays with them she has enough knowledge from the original films to fit right in with no issues.”
— Lisa Meeks, mother of one

A Dad’s Perspective
“Jonas views both trilogies equally and does not show a preference for either one, though he likes ‘Return of the Jedi’ as the best movie. For him, all six movies are just one big story. Personally, like most people who grew up with the original trilogy, I think episodes 1 – 3 are weak. Jonas does not watch many movies with a critical eye, but the newer trilogy has generated discussion on how one becomes evil. And yes, we will probably check out the 3D episode 1.”
— Daryl Bish

The Horror
“The fact that my future children might prefer Episodes 1-3 is the most horrifying thing I’ve ever heard. You should sell this information as a form of birth control.”
— Lauren Goodman