clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

How to go the movies with your family and avoid seeing awkward sex scenes together

Into the Woods
Into the Woods
Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

Christmas is barreling toward us like a forest green Passat screeching into the last open parking spot at Nordstrom's.

Not all Christmases are the same. Some are celebrated with more zeal than other. Some involve mythical figures like drunk uncles that get racist and moms that need everything explained to them, and some are the kinds that are put on this earth to teach normal humans how to love.

Inevitably, though, all families — no matter the strength of their familial fidelity — will succumb to the dull droll of the holidays, to the point where someone will bring up the idea of going to the cinema and eating popcorn out of paper buckets.

This task comes with its own challenges. But one is chief among them: how are you going to find a movie you won't be embarrassed to watch with your parents (or kids), a.k.a., a movie without any sex scenes.

Here's a brief guide to some of your options in this regard for this Christmas:

Top Five

Top Five/Paramount Pictures

Why you should see this movie: Chris Rock is the man of the moment right now, speaking eloquently about things that matter in this country, things like race, feminism, politics, and business. Top Five tackles many of those elements with its story about a star who has to revisit his past.

What you should know: Rosario Dawson plays a big-shot entertainment journalist. If you are a journalist, be prepared to explain how Rosario Dawson's job in the movie is nothing like yours.

Chances of a sex scene that you and your parents will want to avoid: There is nudity. And there are some sour, off-putting gay jokes. If you have a loved one who might think those jokes are funny, suggest something else.

The Interview

Sony/The Interview

Why you should see this movie: Because you can't let terrorists win … or you just want to see what all the hype is about.

What you should know: The movie is not good. It is only scoring a 53 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Chances of a sex scene that you and your parents will want to avoid: Nil. Usually, the sex scenes you don't want to watch with your parents are ones that are super passionate (see: Cold Mountain) or sad (see: Blue Valentine). While James Franco and Seth Rogen aren't afraid of nudity, their take on sex usually skews toward humorous. You can awkwardly chuckle your way through that while your mom covers her eyes and says, "Oh my goodness."



Why you should see this movie: Because you're all in a bad mood and want to realize, hey, it could be worse.

What you should know: Steve Carrell plays creepy convicted murderer John Eleuthère du Pont. Thus, it's his bid at Oscar glory and a far cry from his typical roles. But the movie, which explores du Pont's dark and twisted story, is getting solid reviews.

Chances of a sex scene that you and your parents will want to avoid: Some— sort of. There isn't actual sex in the movie, but  there are shades of homoeroticism that could prompt some discussion (why does this man love wrestling so much?). There's also one scene in particular of a "wrestling sequence" that is shot like a rape scene, according to reviewers, which could make viewers uncomfortable.

The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game/The Weinstein Company

Why you should see this movie: Because you have a relative who refers to himself or herself as a cumberbitch, and you want to know more about them. Or, you want to know about one of the greatest gay heroes of the modern world, Alan Turing.

What you should know: Benedict Cumberbatch plays Turing, a British mathematician, computer scientist, and logician responsible for cracking a Nazi code that helped win WWII. In 1952, Turing was prosecuted for being a gay man and died in 1954. Many people believe his death was a suicide.

Chances of a sex scene that you and your parents will want to avoid: None, though in this case, that's disappointing. The scrubbing of Turing's sexuality is one of the prime issues critics have with the film.

Into the Woods

Into the Woods/Disney

Why you should see this movie: Everyone is tired of watching Frozen, and you realize that Emily Blunt is one of the truly great talents that this modern world offers.

What you should know: According to some parental guidance sites, the film features a pagan worldview, adultery, witchcraft, and the death of a cow. Really though, those are small sacrifices one must one make to see Meryl Streep sing.

Chances of a sex scene that you and your parents will want to avoid: None. It's a PG-rated fairy tale musical. Even with a Stephen Sondheim score, you're safe.

The Holiday

The Holiday

Why you should see this movie: Because you're in the mood to see the greatest holiday-inspired romantic comedy ever made. This movie was made in 2006, so it's unlikely it will be shown in theaters. If you somehow happen upon a theater showing it, check to make sure you haven't time traveled.

What you should know: This movie has Jude Law at his peak, a Nancy Meyers kitchen scene, and Kate Winslet.

Chances of a sex scene that you and your parents will want to avoid: Even if it had the most jaw-droppingly erotic scene in the history of cinema, you would have to see it, just to experience the glory of The Holiday. (This may be an oversell. But you don't know until you've watched!)

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.