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Movies My Parents Let Me Watch, But Probably Shouldn’t Have

August 25, 2015
Straight Outta Compton
Dirty Dancing

Movies were extremely important in my household growing up. My dad came to the USA from Nigeria in the late 1960s, and he watched films in order to learn about American culture. Because of that, and my determination to be more mature, there were movies that my parents let me watch at that I probably shouldn’t have. I remember seeing sex scenes and drugs on screen, and totally not understanding what was happening. That was probably for the best, considering the fact that I was one of those kids who asked a ton of questions all the time.

At first, my parents were adamant about not exposing us to too much too soon; however, they got more and more lenient as we got older. And it’s the same story in so many other households. As children, we were all too naive to truly understand what it was that we were watching — and sometimes our precociousness and curiosity led us to sneak up late to see quite a few films that we were way too young to see. That’s childhood in a nutshell. So, for those of you who might have forgotten, here are nine movies that your parents may have let you watch, despite the super mature subject matter.

Dirty Dancing


I watched this film with my mom when I was about 10 or 11 years old. It’s still one of my favorites, but, at the time, I remember being equally horrified and intrigued by all the humping on the dance floor. It took years for me to understand that Penny had a botched abortion; I thought for years that she was just ill or something. Luckily, I grew up and learned a bit more about life.


My parents probably let me watch this because of the historical references and because it’s a freaking MASTERPIECE. We were all quite uncomfortable during Kate and Leo’s sex scene; however, what I remember most is being devastated by Jack’s death. I’m sure my dad made me go to my room because I couldn’t stop weeping.

Save the Last Dance

I begged for weeks for my parents to let me see Save the Last Dance. After all, it was set my hometown. They probably shouldn’t have allowed it, though, because I remember being extremely fascinated by the very tame sex scene in the film. My friends and I rewound the movie a hundred times, watching it over and over again.

The Godfather

To my dad’s credit, I don’t think he was paying attention to the television when I watched The Godfather for the first time. I remember being both riveted and terrified that the Corleone family had roots in Chicago. I had to wait for years until I saw the rest of the trilogy.


Ironically, the film Thirteen came out the year that I turned 13. The things the girls were doing in that film weren’t even on my radar.

Patch Adams

I’m pretty sure Patch Adams was the first PG-13 film I was ever given permission to watch. I don’t remember it well, other than the fact that a woman dies in the film, and there was an epic shot of the late great Robin Williams’ buttocks. Clearly, the film was way too mature for my grammar school sensibilities.

What’s Love Got To Do With It (1993)

It took me a long time to see Laurence Fishburne as anyone other than Ike Turner. What’s Love Got To Do With It? is a magnificent portrayal of Tina Tuner’s rise to fame, but her abusive and volatile marriage to Ike Tuner is portrayed in all of its gory detail. It’s not a film any child should be subjected to, even if they, like me, were sneaking up to see it.

The Color Purple (1985)

After sneaking my mom’s paperback copy of Alice Walker’s novel into my room and reading it in middle school, my mom gave in and let me watch The Color Purple with her. I didn’t understand everything that happened to Celie, but what I did see was horrifying.

Though I’m pretty adult-ish, there are still some films that I wouldn’t watch with my parents today, The Wolf of Wall Street definitely comes to mind. Luckily, when I saw a lot of these films for the first time, I was too naive to be embarrassed.

Image: Lionsgate