When John was three we took him to see Tarzan (Walt Disney, certificate U). Five minutes into the film and we had to leave; he was frightened to death of the leopard (the one that tore both Tarzan's parents to pieces and was just about to tuck into baby Tarzan) and admits to still having nightmares about that leopard's tail causally flicking to and fro after the massacre.
Brian was relieved to escape the Phil Collins soundtrack and we put trips to the cinema on hold for a few years.
By the time John could handle the combination of terror and deafening surround sound, Joe couldn't. By the time Joe could, Ed couldn't. By the time Ed could sit through a film without his fingers in his ears and my scarf over his eyes, John had a girlfriend and preferred to go to the cinema with her.
There was a brief spell when Harry Potter appealed to all of them and John could be persuaded to come along too - not because he was into wizardry but because he was into Emma Watson in school uniform.
Since they've all become teenagers it hasn't got any easier, i.e. Ed wants to see Black Swan with his Italia Conti friends, while Joe wants to see Dude Where's My Car (two potheads wake up from a night of partying and can't remember where they parked their car - in case you haven't seem it). Both are cert. 15 making it illegal for them to see either in the cinema. They all enjoyed The Hangover on DVD. I didn't, but unselfishly agreed to take them to see Hangover 2 at Screen on the Green last week as a half term family treat. They have nice comfy sofas there and you can get a decent glass of wine. Might not be too unbearable. Bollocks, tits, fuck and wank! It's a certificate 15! I ring the cinema. 'Is there anyway I can bring my thirteen year-old if he's accompanied by both parents?' 'No, no you can't. It's strictly fifteen and over' followed by a 'what kind of mother are you?' silence.
I scout the Stoke Newington Literary Festival programme to see if there's anything not too demanding that might appeal to three teenage boys. Hmm... Exclusive screening of The Mask of the Red Death, a movie inspired by one-time Stoke Newington resident Edgar Allan Poe, 9.30 pm in the town hall... 'Don't be too suprised if there are some shadowy demons lurking in the darkness.' Sounds fun, let's book it. Hang on... rated 15!!
(I'd like to insert the C word here several times but that would make this post certificate 18.)
Here's a clip from The Mask of the Red Death - watch it if you dare!