How to Choose Movies for Children
Look For Movie Ratings and Review Sites
I have reviewed films for a few websites and parents' publications, and I have reviewed films for Kids In Mind for several years. The work interesting as well as valuable. This website (kids-in-mind.com) is effective in its services of providing parents and guardians of children and youth all the information they need to have in order to make rational, intelligent, and prudent choices for their children's film viewing.
The website and its critics do not make suggestions or recommendations about films for viewing by any group of people, but it does lay out a comprehensive and thorough outline of important information and content of each film reviewed. The outline is objective and helps readers to make their won choices about films available.
This film reviewing company maintains a website that reveals all the data available on nearly all movies as they are released, or shortly before release. The reviews provided include all the action and thematic content of each film reviewed, grouping data without too many spoilers in the following areas:
- Nudity and Sex
- Violence and Gore
- Substance use - alcohol, and legal and illegal drugs
- Stereotypical references
- Topics to discuss with children, because these topics will likely raise questions for them and
- Film message(s).
The site is free to use and can provide a lot of answers to questions parents ave about films. Parents may read the reviews before they decide whether each film examined is right for their child(ren). No judgment values are made in the reviewing process and personal opinions are not given. The hard data are simply put into the public eye and each individual may use the information to make specific decisions.
The following are some excepts from a recent article:
Objective and High-Content
"We make no recommendations whatsoever, neither good, bad or indifferent," said Aris Christofides, who runs the site with his wife, Lori Pearson.
The Dublin couple believe they can serve the public better simply by listing all the elements in a movie-violence, sex, nudity, profanity, drug use and even insults-that might make it inappropriate for children. "Anything," said Pearson, "that might raise questions in a child's mind."
Unlike some religious-oriented sites, Kids-in-Mind's operators say, they aren't trying to keep parents and their children away from certain films. They simply put objective information out there, and then let parents decide for themselves. After all, Christofides said, different families have varying ideas about what's appropriate. Some people are bothered by violence, others are bothered by sex. To each his own."
From a larger article on a weekly town news publication:
Patty Inglish, one of the people who review movies for Kids-in-Mind, acknowledged that some movies make her job harder than others. The recent children's fantasy August Rush, for example, left her with little to do, while the western 3:10 to Yuma kept her note-taking hand busy. "There was so much gunfire and other violence in addition to harsh language and sexual content," she said, conversing via e-mail. "I was writing constantly."
The result was a review that devoted 21 of its 26 paragraphs solely to the movie's violence and gore, beginning with: "A man is shot in the abdomen 4 times and drops to the ground. A man shoots and kills several men in quick succession. An elderly man is shot, we see blood soak his shirt, and he falls and crawls away."
Compare Website Review Content With Official Rating
When you visit a review site such as Kids In Mind, compare the review material offered with the actual Motion Picture Association Of America Rating System designation for the movie and with your experience while viewing the film. From time to time, you may find some material that makes you question the rating of a particular film.
For instance, Rango (2011), starring the voice of Johnny Depp, carries a PG rating. In 2011 at its release, many reviewers and audience members expressed various opinions about the rating. I recall that there had been an initial controversy about choosing whether it should be G or PG. Some groups wanted the rating further upgraded to R, because of smoking scenes. Many felt that a G would a "hard G" and should be changed to PG for dark characters, some violence, a snake talking about hell, etc.
At a pre-release screening where young children attended (many in western costumes), I expected some kids to be frightened by a few of the darker characters and themes, but they did not seem to be affected in that way. In fact. some of the youngest kids became bored and fell asleep. Overall, reading reviews and deciding for yourself and your own family is the best bet in choosing appropriate films.
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© 2007 Patty Inglish MS