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R-rated movie brings out both guilt and joy

This photo released by Paramount Pictures shows Jackson

This photo released by Paramount Pictures shows Jackson Nicoll, left, as Billy and Johnny Knoxville, as Irving Zisman in "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa," from Paramount Pictures and MTV Films. (AP Photo/Paramount Pictures, Sean Cliver) Credit: AP Photo Sean Cliver

I’m a bad mama.

That’s what I thought as I entered my neighborhood theater for a certain matinee with my 9-year-old son in tow. Thankfully, the place was empty. I was embarrassed enough without mothers in town seeing me there.

“I feel guilty about this,” I told the clerks behind the cash register, “but I’d like two tickets to ‘Bad Grandpa.’”

That’s “Bad Grandpa” as in the latest “Jackass” movie, and my son really wanted to see it. When he started the fifth grade this year, he had to make a poster about himself. One of the questions asked, What do you find funny? He drew a picture of a man on the ground and wrote, “Watching people fall down.”

Being that the movie is put out by the same folks from the crass, expletive-ridden, violent MTV stunt show should have been enough of a deal-breaker. But the commercials featuring Johnny Knoxville as a grouchy old man doing crazy things in public were funny, almost Betty White-esque — and seemed selfishly so much better than the kids' movies out today. (I just can’t stand going to them anymore.)

I spoke to my husband. He was concerned with Harrison copying the dangerous stunts, as youths have been known to do, sometimes to their death. I was most concerned with profanity. I spoke to Harrison about our concerns, and my husband reluctantly agreed to letting me take him.

We went on a Sunday morning. The clerks pointed out that I could not leave the theater during the movie, which is apparently what many parents do — buy their kids tickets to an R-rated movie, then sneak out. As I fretted about whether I should take him, one of the men said that times had changed — reminiscing about how his parents let him see just about any movie he wanted to when he was growing up.

That justified it — my parents had taken me to see many R-rated movies as an even younger child, and I consider myself healthily undamaged.

We had the theater almost to ourselves. An older couple sat up front, and there was one other parent, a father, who had taken his son. The son was about Harrison’s age. I asked the father if he felt as guilty as I felt, and he said, “No!” I was surprised by his enthusiasm.

The movie was about as wrong as I expected — coarse, blue and really dumb. Still I don’t think the two of us have ever had a better time at the movies, laughing to the point of tears. For the first time, I had invited my only child — my baby — to eat at the grown-up table and there was something really special about that.

The movie also had a heart-warming side to it, which I know will be hard for anyone to believe who is reading this. When I teared up, Harrison told me to stop and got me to smile by pointing to the screen at the next lowly skit.

I may be fooling myself, but I trust my son enough to believe that he will be responsible with the material in the movie. But I won’t be taking him to any other children-under-17-not-admitted-without-a-parent movies anytime soon. Let’s not push it.

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