‘Life of Pi’ with a 7-year Old

As my 7-year old and I were walking into the theater to see ‘Life of Pi’ she was telling me alllll about what she’d read in school about how desert plants grow. I was watching the parking lot traffic for us both.  All the way to our seats,  as we sat waiting for the movie to start; right up ’til the lights dimmed she kept going on and on about stuff she’d learned in school. To be honest, I was glad when the movie started.
Periodically throughout ‘Life of Pi’, I wanted to pause the movie and explain what just happened or the significance of some image. Yes, I do that at home.  This movie has a lot of content. Lots of culture. Lots of religion. Lots of schools of thought.  It made me feel like I’d neglected educating her on comparative religions and cultural differences.  But still, she got the plot of the movie and she was engaged the whole time.
I did a few times lean over to give her a few words about some of the major plot points, but in return I would get an earful about how flying fish can flap 600 times a minute or some such obscure fact.
The main character Pi is played by three actors, all of whom were very believable.  It was easy to feel Pi’s pain, confusion, exultation as Pi grows up, discovering first Hinduism, then Christianity, then Buddhism.  All of these religious beliefs guide his actions at different times in his adventure after the ship carrying him, his family and their zoo sinks.
‘Life of Pi’ is a very colorful movie. When I saw the trailer, I was a little worried that the ocean background would be monotonous. I was also not excited when I was handed the 3D glasses. However, I quickly forgot I was wearing them and became absorbed in the richness of the visual palette. Ang Lee really knows how to paint a picture.  There really weren’t any gratuitous uses of the 3D.  Only a few times when the tiger lunged, which made me jump.  I looked over at my girl and she was still staring at the screen.  I asked if it scared her.  Nope.
She had decided she wanted to go to ‘Life of Pi’ because she saw animals in the trailer.  As we walked to the car afterward, she talked about the animals.  Only this time she wasn’t stating facts as much as about the characters of the animals.  She was not happy that some of the animal characters died, but not upset about it.  The deaths were shielded, obscured from view by set pieces.
We spent the ride home discussing the movie and the characters.  She was asking me questions as well as telling me her thoughts on what she thought should have happened.  And that’s what I see as the value in this kind of movie.  We discussed why Pi was called Pi.  Why the tiger did what it did. I skipped the comparative religions, for now.  I’ll need a book, for that.  I have a lot to learn about that, too.
Overall, I really enjoyed ‘Life of Pi’.  And my daughter liked it, too.  She didn’t stop talking about it the whole way home.  And I didn’t mind.  We had a really good discussion which I think brought us a little close. I felt like a good parent.  And it was a change from desert plants.