Movie Reviews For Families

by Larry Richman on February 17, 2012

We have talked before about selecting movies that are uplifting and portray good family values–for example, “Using Movies From the Lord’s Side of the Line,” “Best Positive/Uplifting Movies Ever,” and “Taking Control Back from Hollywood.”

This article highlights several sites that review movies from a family perspective.

1. The Mormon Movie Guy (mormonmovieguy.com) provides Hollywood film reviews from a Latter-Day Saint perspective. On his About page, Mormon Movie Guy Jonathan Decker says he has “a passion for cinema and especially for pointing people to great films that they might otherwise overlook.” In an article about what makes media good, Jonathan mentions that many Latter-Day Saints “have a mental moral checklist; this is to say that we look for what is absent (sex, harsh profanity, glorified and sadistic violence, etc.). While this is important, we may not focus enough on what is present in the films and TV shows we watch. A film can be inoffensive without uplifting the soul.” He defines truly good media as “media of substance which, to paraphrase Elder Ballard, uplifts, entertains, and accurately depicts the consequences of moral choices.” He provides a content overview as well as messages to discuss with the family.

2. Common Sense media (CommonSenseMedia.org/reviews) uses a ratings scale of 1 to 5, evaluating positive messages, positive role models, violence, sex, language, consumerism, and drinking/drugs/smoking. Each rating has a explanatory paragraph. It also brings up questions that you may want to discuss with your children after the movie.

3. Kids in Mind (kids-in-mind.com) rates questionable material in 3 categories: sex & nudity, violence & gore, and profanity. It also details in a comprehensive all the instances of such content in each category.

4. Ok.com Family Media Guide (ok.com) uses content descriptions and 1-to-10 scales from Kids in Mind, but it has a few unique features–a “What do you think this movie should be rated? feature to see how other voters think and a “worth your time” scale recommendation. Learn more about ok.com.

5. Focus on the Family’s Plugged In (pluggedin.com) site covers all the topics needed. It had a brief plot synopsis and reviews all the positive and spiritual elements of the film. It also delineates the sexual, violent, crude/profane, and drug/alcohol content. It neatly wraps up the package with a conclusion that ties all the elements together to help you decide if this movie is worth watching.

6. Movie Mom (blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom) provides age ratings. The site addresses the same basic categories as other sites, but also writes a full review of the movie and provides family discussion topics and suggestions for similar movies.

7. Parent Previews (ParentPreviews.com) ties with Common Sense Media for the best overall balance of breadth and depth. Each movie gets an overall grade, as well as a grade in four classes: violence, sexual content, language, and drugs/alcohol. It has a “talk it over” section with discussions questions. It also has suggestions for similar films.

Try these out and let us know which one  you like the best? Thanks to “{A&E} Finding Clean Movies” from LDS Living, Jan/Feb 2012, p. 27. If you have questions or want to recommend other review sites, please comment below.

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Which movie review sites do you find the most helpful?

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Naismith February 17, 2012 at 9:57 am

The point about finding positive things in media is very important. I was fortunate to attend a church “standards” even that was all about finding Christ in music and film, rather than the negative warnings that are more common. There were great examples from Les Miserables, The Lord of the Rings, Veggie Tales.

Kids in Mind is my go-to preview place. They seem to reflect my standards very well. But I resent that the issues are portrayed as being for “kids.” I don’t want filth in my brain, either. It is not more mature to expose oneself to gratuitous sex and violence.

Matt February 17, 2012 at 2:07 pm

In the spirit of ecumenical movie reviewing, one of the most useful sites in this vein is the Catholic News Service’s movie reviews:
http://www.catholicnews.com/movies.htm

Paul Vogelzang February 18, 2012 at 11:39 am

Very helpful! Thanks for posting. I agree with Matt. I do try to see what other faith’s are saying about movies, and trust the Jewish Film Festival awards for family.

Rebecca Baron February 25, 2012 at 10:44 pm

Here are some good sites you don’t mention:
Screenit – http://screenit.com/

Dove Foundation – http://www.dove.org/default1.asp

Crosswalk – http://www.crosswalk.com/culture/dvds/

Also, on our site http://www.mommybearmedia.com we attempt to sell only good clean family-friend movies. I’m an LDS mother and try to sell only appropriate movies.

Mormon Media Reviews July 28, 2012 at 9:07 am

Mormon Movie Guy does a great job. His reviews are more geared toward adult viewing content. (not that kind if adult!)

There are many great sites out there talking about what movies are for kids. But when a majority of the movies winning academy awards feature Strong Sexual Content, we need review sites for adults as well.

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