I used to be able to determine which movies my kids watched, and I would just try to avoid those that I wasn’t sure were appropriate. Though without watching the movie, it can be hard to tell what’s going to pop up. Even movies “made for kids” seem to contain plenty of crudity and messages that parents would not want to be pushed onto their family.
But as my kids have gotten older, they have taken over which movies they want to see. And when they say, “Hey Mom, can I go see (insert the latest must see movie here)?” I don’t feel like I can tell them “No” just on the basis of a suggestion of an attitude I don’t like in a trailer I may or may not have seen.
Sometimes I’ll screen a DVD before my kids watch it, but I can’t, nor would I want to, preview everything they are interested in. Besides, my teens often want to see a movie that is barely in theaters. So I’ve been using other resources.
My favorite website for a moral review of a movie is Plugged In. It’s from Focus on the Family and has reviews not only on movies but music, TV shows and video games as well. It picks out everything you might want to know so that you can make your own decision about what you are exposed to. It even breaks it down into the content categories of positive, spiritual, sexual, violent, crude or profane language, and drugs and alcohol so you can easily see what you might find objectionable or of worth. I consider myself pretty picky about what we watch, but often I’ve read a movie review and realize that I haven’t caught some significant negative aspects.
Another great site is Common Sense Media.org. It has a section on each movie titled “What parents need to know” and “What families can talk about” as well as what age they think the movie is appropriate for. They also review books and other media.
Another site that reviews movies from a moral perspective is ChristianCinema.com, and there are more sites out there. Is there one you particularly like? Tell us which one and why.
Now when my teens ask to see a certain movie, I look up the review. And because they are learning to make their own decisions, I have them read the review, we discuss it a little, and I let them decide whether or not they want to see it. It also informs me about what they are seeing, and I can ask them what they thought about some of the aspects I learned about from the review. Questions like, “What did you think about their treatment of women?” or “What purpose did the violence have? Do you think it was partly catering to those who just like violence?” “Do you think the review was fair or accurate?” Questions I need practice asking myself also, because kids aren’t the only ones to need to be careful what they watch.