Close X

{A&E} Ultimate Guide: Finding Clean Movies

Kaela Worthen Gardner - September 15, 2011

Thinkstock.

In my quest to resolve my love of movies with my frustration at spending money on something not worthwhile, I found the following sites that help me screen movie content for sex, violence, and other things beforehand.

I love movies. A lot. But what I don’t love is the extraneous sex and gore often thrown in, in base attempts to appeal to the masses.

We, a peculiar people, are not the masses, which means a lot of times this doesn’t appeal to us, and we get stuck in sticky situations. It’s easy to turn off the TV or close out of Netflix when you’re at home watching something on your own. But what about when you’re with other people? What about when you’ve paid 10 bucks to go to the theater? Do you cover your eyes? Walk out? Or laugh along?

I often find myself wishing I could know exactly what was going to be in a movie I’m thinking about seeing as far as questionable content is concerned. Some things I would rather not see at all, some I would watch with my best friend but not my parents, and some are only a problem when very little children are around.

But how am I to know? There is actually a wealth of resources on the web to help screen your movie choices for you. Since I recently watched The Help in theaters when some family members came to visit, I decided to use the movie as a method of comparison on some of the top sites I found.

Common Sense Media (commonsensemedia.org)
This site has a great balance of features when it comes to movie content review sites.  Using ratings on a scale of 1 to 5, it evaluates positive messages; positive role models; violence; sex; language; consumerism; and drinking, drugs, and smoking. Each rating has a paragraph explaining the rating it received, as well as an overall “What parents need to know” introductory paragraph. I love the age ratings: They have a chart starting at age 2 and continuing to 17: red means they shouldn’t see it, green means it should be a good fit, and yellow means it depends on the kid. The Help was acceptable to any kid age 12 and up, according to this site, while 10-year-olds fell in the yellow category. One of the best features is that it brings up questions that you may want to discuss with your children after the movie.

Kids in Mind (kids-in-mind.com)
This site does not have the breadth of Common Sense Media, using a scale of 1 to 10 to rate questionable material in only three categories: sex & nudity, violence & gore, and profanity. But if you want to know exactly what to expect, this site is the place to go. It details an extremely comprehensive list of all the instances of such content in each category.  You can be sure nothing will be missed as it catches all the fine details: Point number seven in the list of 21 instances of violence in The Help says that “A woman has a bloody cut on her swollen eyebrow and another woman implies that she knows that a man had harmed her; the woman winces in pain as the other woman cleans her wound.”

Deseret News Family Media Guide (deseretnews.com/familymedia)
This site, in its beta stage, uses content descriptions and 1 to 10 scales from Kids in Mind, but it has a couple interesting and unique features. The most interesting is the "What do you think this movie should be rated?" feature, which allows you to see how viewers would rate the movie (and, in turn, how the 1 to 10 scales match up with viewers' sensitivity). Most movies are on par with the MPAA's rating, but you'll ocassionally come across a movie that viewers think was rated too leniently. There's also a "worth your time" scale, which isn't super novel, but is still helpful for recommendations. For our example, most people think The Help is accurately rated as PG-13, skewing toward PG, and it has a 94% "worth your time" rating.

Movie Mom (blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom)
Originally Nell Minow started the “Movie Mom” column on Yahoo! movies, and my family used her reviews all the time to decide if we would go see a movie (or we would even call home from the video store—when those still existed—to have someone check the site before we rented one). The age ratings always seem pretty on target to me: while The Help was acceptable for middle school students according to Movie Mom, some other PG-13 movies were only for “mature high school students.” She addresses the same basic categories as many other sites but also writes a full review of the movie that incorporates those issues, something many other similar sites lack. At the end, she covers family discussion topics and suggestions for similar movies if you like the one you’re currently reading about. Unfortunately, the site is extremely hard to navigate, so it may take some work to find the review of the specific movie you’re looking for if it’s not recent enough to already be on the home page.

Parent Previews (parentpreviews.com)
This site ties with Common Sense Media for the best overall balance of breadth and depth, in my opinion. Each movie is signed an overall grade (just like in school), as well as a grade in four classes: violence, sexual content, language, and drugs/alcohol. You can click through the tabs to see an overview of the film, detailed review, content review (elaborating on the ratings for questionable content), a “talk it over” section with discussion questions, suggestions for other films to watch, reader comments, video trailers/clips, and even ratings in other locations (The Help is PG-13 in the U.S. but only PG in Canada; in Quebec it’s just G).


How do you decide which movies to watch? Do you have other websites you use? Let us know in the comments below.

—


Kaela Worthen is the associate editor at LDS Living. A self-titled “ultimate grammar nerd,” she also battles serious addictions to news and food websites and a compulsion to dance to the radio while driving.

© LDS Living, 2011.
Comments 8 comments

joanne10 said...

06:29 AM
on Sep 15, 2011

Report Abuse

The one I use the most is www.screenit.com It has great content descriptions that let me know exactly what is in a movie.

harristsajrm said...

08:02 AM
on Sep 15, 2011

Report Abuse

I also like imdb.com. You can choose a movie, scroll down to Motion Picture Rating, and click on View Content Advisory next to the Parents Guide. It gives a detailed account of every detail you might worry about. It tells you every swear word that is said and how many times, every instance of violence and more.

jkeagle13 said...

10:00 AM
on Sep 15, 2011

Report Abuse

The system that I prefer is ClearPlay - it simply removes all of the junk from movies, violence, sex, profanity, etc., during playback. While it won't work on theater releases such as The Help, it will remedy almost anything once released to DVD.

lola said...

10:01 AM
on Sep 15, 2011

Report Abuse

I love, love, love movie mom. I use her all the time. I also love the fact that common sense media is not only movie reviews but almost any kind of entertainment. We love it. You have to be careful with movie mom though. I have learned that if I am looking up a movie for my husband and I to see I only look at the content info and skip the review, she gets very detailed. If I am looking it up for my kids I read it all. I have used movie mom for at least 5 years now and I have never felt like she had missed something. She is very good.

heythere said...

12:18 AM
on Sep 16, 2011

Report Abuse

My website of choice for movie info is http://www.pluggedin.com/. It is Focus on the Family's website of movie, music, dvd reviews. They list positive, spiritual, negative, violence, sexual, drug/alcohol use, etc. If they are giving away any part of the movie in their comments they give you a heads up with "spoiler warning" before reading what is next. I've used this site for many many years and have been so grateful for it. PLUS you don't have to deal with any pop-up or animated ads.

jujubee6 said...

01:15 PM
on Sep 17, 2011

Report Abuse

I think you have to be really careful with these websites, especially commonsensemedia.org. I had never heard of it until this article, so I decided to look up some well known movies and shows to see their take. I was horrified by their review of "Glee" as a overall positive show about teens learning to working together. Unfortunately I have seen 10 or so episodes of this show and can never get that time back. This show glorfies teen sex with multiple partners, and mocks religion. Also, their review of Crazy, Stupid Love was of similar caliber. This movie blatantly discusses masterbation as perfectly acceptable for a 8th grade boy and the main character has 9 extramarital affairs with no consequence. All the characters are wanting to have sex with someone that they are not married to, and most of them do. There is not positive message in this movie. It is so important that you watch these movies and shows before your children do because the people making these reviews do not share our standards.

lds_mom_of_5 said...

11:55 PM
on Sep 21, 2011

Report Abuse

Reading about a movie's content enables parents to decide if they want their children to watch that movie or not, but that is their only choice: watch or don't watch. What often happens is that parents decide the movie is "pretty good except for one or two scenes," so their children end up seeing those scenes anyway. However, in addition to visiting websites that review movie content, parents can use movie filtering software to make movies more appropriate for the viewers in their families. For favorite movies on DVD, parents can use the software found at www.enjoymoviesyourway.com to skip scenes or mute sound in DVD movies. This tool puts parents in control of what their children see and hear in their entertainment.

mshe33 said...

12:28 PM
on Sep 22, 2011

Report Abuse

Was disappointed with commonsensemedia.org. Many questionable movies were evaluated as acceptable for teens. I would only use this site for comparison. The other sites listed were a bit more realistic.
Leave a Comment
Login to leave a comment.