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See also: Movies & Videos for Kids and More Movie Reviews by BPN Parents

Website with kid-appropriate movie reviews?

Sept 2007

Does anyone know of a website that will give good assessments of kids' movies with the real scoop on violence and scariness for small children? I really appreciated the person's warning who gave the unsolicited warning about ''Ratatouille''. I had looked at reviews online and had the impression that the movie would be ok for my 3-year-old, and I was planning on taking her. (While they did mention that the main character is, yet again, an orphan, they made NO MENTION of the scary losing-of-parents scene.) Thanks to your advice, my daughter will not be cowering on my lap like your child was. Thank you! Next time maybe I'll write in here to ask about a specific movie. By the way, how was ''Surf's Up''? Maybe this should be a category on BPN. Careful about Movies


I usually look at these two websites: www.kids-in-mind.com www.commonsensemedia.org Hope these help. Stephanie
You'll probably get a lot of people who have the same advice - visit www.commonsensemedia.org. It's a great resource for identifying age appropriate media content. As far as I can tell, it's also non-partisan and non-religious. The thing I like is that it breaks movies, video games, tv shows, music, etc., down by categories - e.g. romance/sexuality, violence, drugs/alcohol, etc. It gives you a relative age appropriateness rating. It also gives detailed information about all the scenes that touch on these hot button issues, so you can judge for yourself if it's content you want to avoid.

It's my go to place when I'm thinking of renting a movie or seeing a movie with my son. I have found the advice to be right on and even if I decide that a movie with an age rating higher than my son's chrono age, I know when to be there to answer questions and what issues to talk about after the movie. Hope this helps! Jen


You could try http://www.kids-in-mind.com/ - this site bills itself as ''Movie Ratings That Actually Work'' and they rate the levels of sex/nudity, violence/gore, and profanity each on a 10-point scale. Plus they have detailed write-ups on the content in these areas. I think the ratings and write-ups are excellent. Down-sides are that the write-ups often contain ''spoilers'' so don't read if you want to be surprised. Also the site sends pop-up and pop-under ads out which is annoying. kat
Check out www.commonsensemedia.org for movie reviews. also careful with movies
http://www.commonsensemedia.org/ They review movies and other media. Good info. careful mom
One website I've found very useful is Kids-in-Mind (www.kids-in-mind.com). They rate movies based on 3 scales: sex/nudity, violence/gore, and profanity. Movies are scored on a scale of 0-10, so for little kids, you want numbers as low as possible. They describe all of the scenes that one might find scary or questionable so you can judge whether the content of a movie might be appropriate for your child. I've found this website to be very useful, and hopefully it will be helpful to you as well. Good luck. Lianna
A few resources:

Movie Mom at the Yahoo review site (movies.yahoo.com) recommends Ratatouille for ages 8 (!) and up. Not a lot of detail, though, and she doesn't review every movie.

At the site for International Movie Data Base - imdb.com - , under ''additional details'', find the link to ''Parent's Guide'' for some details about sex and nudity, violence and gore, profanity, alcohol/drugs/smoking/, and frightening/intense scenes. I believe the information is contributed by users, and is supposed to be ''just the facts'', no opinions.

www.kids-in-mind.com also has an extensive listing of ''offenses'', as well as scores on sex/nudity, violence/gore, and profanity. Unfortunately, it also has a lot of advertising, pop-ups, etc. R.K.


We like http://www.commonsensemedia.org/ The movies, tv shows and videos are reviewed three ways: by the CS team, parents and kids. They've been pretty clear on their ratings and recommendations, giving sufficient information that I can make appropriate choices for my kids. Glad to discover this resource
I have the perfect site for you: Common Sense Media. http://www.commonsensemedia.org/ Not only does it rate kids' movies, it also reviews, TV. Web Sites, DVDs, computer games etc. It's very well organized and has great archives. Mollie
I often check with http://www.commonsensemedia.org for movies (they also review games, websites, TV shows, and even books). Their review for ''Ratatouille'' recommended it for children 5 years and over. They also have kid media related news -- like the recent study about scary movies causing kids' nightmares. Definitely worth checking out! Movie Wary Mom
I really recommend you check out Common Sense Media: http://www.commonsensemedia.org/ This non-profit isn't affiliated w/ any commercial, religious, etc. organization. They do a great job rating the age appropriateness of tv shows, video games, etc. The have both their own reviews and parent reviews. anon
Yes, Yahoo.com's movie page offers ''The Movie Mom'' - Reviews with kids in mind. It addresses the potential issues a film might present to children such as sex, violence, substance abuse, diversity issues, scariness, and more. It also suggests ways that parents might discuss the specific issues brought up by individual movies. Meg
We, too, are VERY careful about the movies we allow our children to see. We have children ages 3,8, and 10. Before letting our children see any movie, we check out a website called www.pluggedinonline.com. It is some type of Christian movie review website, I think, but what I appreciate about it is that it breaks every movie down into categories, such as ''Language'', ''Sexual Content'', etc ... and discusses EVERY nuance possible of each category within the movie. While I sometimes think it goes a bit overboard in terms of being overly sensitive to some details, I do not want any surprises when we take our children to the movies! I have never been lead astray in terms of movie content after reading about it on this site.I think our children are bombarded with enough inappropriate messages from our media in our everyday lives, who needs it at the movies?? Good luck! Cautious Mom
Try the International Movie Database at: us.imdb.com. Once you've found the movie you're interested in, scroll down to ''Additional Details'' and you'll see a link called ''Parents Guide.'' It's a place that people who have seen the movie can post factual information (no opinions) about things that might be of concern for child viewers. I've found it helpful (though it does depend on other parents having posted information). Lori
Here are two web sites I really like for kid-relevant movie reviews: http://www.kids-in-mind.com http://www.commonsensemedia.org

I think kids-in-mind.com gives more detail. For instance, the site rates movies on a 1-10 scale for things like violence/gore, profanity, sex/nudity, etc. Then it goes on to give most or all of the actual incidences, describing the scenes or words used that might cause offense or upset kids.

Commonsensemedia.org is good, too. It rates movies by age appropriateness, including a category for ''know your kid.'' Recently, I logged on and saw a review of the new Britney Spears single, which they rate as an age 14 and older song. They also give examples of the lyrics that pushed the rating to 14 and above. Commonsensemedia also rate video games.

All in all, these sites are good because they aren't railing against anything concept-wise, they are merely giving parents the information they need to decide whether a movie is appropriate for their kids or not.


I usually go to commonsensemedia.org. They give a complete run down of themes, violence, sexual content (the site is for all ages), language, etc., and I really appreciate that they include commercialism as one of their categories. Product placement, etc. They give general recommendations, and their written reviews usually start with ''Parents should know...'' Which is exactly what I'm looking for when I need to know what a particular movie is like. Monica
An excellent web-site for determining kid-appropriate movies (and a variety of other media) is: www.commonsensemedia.org They have very detailed reviews and categories for different age-appropriate content (sex, violence, message, language). A representative from their group visited our pre-school a couple of years back, and I was very impressed at how much thought they put into their reviews (and other content available on their site). Kevin
http://www.commonsensemedia.org/ is a great site and provides exactly what you mentioned - movie ratings with details! monica
Oct 2003

Wondering if any one can recommend useful, parent-friendly websites for the critique of current (or older) kid's films? I'd really value the objective, intelligent insights of a movie reviewer specializing in kids films before relying on my own instincts or limited time with which to do research. Many thanks. Movie critic lacking time


Try http://www.kidsinmind.com/. They do very detailed reviews of all movies, with specific examples of every situation in the movie that might be of concern to a parent. Claire
I highly recommend rottentomatoes.com for movie reviews. anonymous
Here are two sites: www.screenit.com and www.kids-in-mind.com Helena
I use http://www.screenit.com mostly; it gives summaries, reviews, and exhausting detail on just about every scene that might give a parent pause. Also http://movies.yahoo.com/moviemom, with letter grades and perceptive reviews. Moviemom's a bit more challenging to navigate since her move to yahoo; there are useful categories to browse, but the browsing is tedious. Jane
I have found several sites that give VERY detailed information, but since my child is now 9, I tend to use Mom's Movie Review through Yahoo. Just click on the intended movie and a bar will appear on the left with the rest of the reviews. She give a rating, intended age, outlines why it receives the MPAA rating and gives you highlights, family talking points and similar movie titles. B
I use the previously mentioned online movie guides for families such as screen-it.com and moviemom.com, and resources such as rottentomatoes.com and imdb.com. You should also know about a great new resource! http://www.commonsensemedia.org/ Common Sense Media is a non-profit organization founded by my friend James Steyer, founder of Children Now and author of ''The Other Parent: The Inside Story of the Mediab

Earlier suggestions

s Effect on Our Children.'' The website contains information on movies, video games, tv shows, and books, assigning them a rating (green, yellow or red) for sex, violence, language and content, as well as a 0-5 star quality rating. You can search by age range or by title. You can write your own comments. Add it to your list of bookmarked sites! - Natasha
Check out CommonSenseMedia.org, a non-profit dedicated to educating caregivers about kids' media choices. sheryl
May 2002

I took my 3 year old to see Ice Age this weekend, having heard generally that it was ''good.'' It wasn't bad - certainly not as violent as some of the Disney movies I've seen - but it still had an awful lot of bopping on the head, crunching, stomping, falling, screaming, growling, etc (it was extremely loud too)-- more than I expected; I would have liked to have had a better idea of what it was like beforehand. How do other parents find out what movies to take their kids to see? Is there a website or something that anyone knows of? Thanks for any tips... Fran


I like the web site http://www.kids-in-mind.com/. It gives a very detailed description of each incidence of violence, language, situations, etc. to help you determine whether the movie is one you want to take your children to. Claire
Check out http://www.moviemom.com/ before going to the theater. It has great, non-studio-approved ratings by a mom for parents. And while we're talking about due diligence in movies, everyone, please don't take your kid's friend to a movie without checking it out with the parents first. This may sound obvious, but last weekend someone took my 7 year old to Star Wars without asking me!!!! Three days of nightmares later, I just had to put that in. Sleepy Mom
Screenit.com is an excellent way to break down the actual scenes in a movie. For every movie that is reviewed, they rate it on subjects such as smoking, disrespectful/bad attitude, imitative behavior, topics to talk about, inappropriate music, profanity, nudity and a few others. Then at the bottom of the page, it breaks down the movie by scene for each category. So it gives you a really good idea of what you can expect to see in the film. (Be careful. The review will tell you all about the movie, and if you wanted anything to be a surprise, forget it!) There's also a pretty detailed review of the plot. They seem to have a ton of movies listed--New releases and video. FYI, Ice Age is on there. Hope this helps! molly
In my opinion, there's rarely anything released to theaters that's ''good'' for a 3-year-old. When my son was that age I was eager to take him to the movies, too, but the only one I remember that was really okay for him was a Winnie the Pooh movie. All the movies are extremely loud (I even take earplugs with me -- but admittedly I'm sensitive to loud noises). And the whole experience can be overwhelming for preschoolers, depending on how sensitive they are. The best source I've found for figuring out beforehand what a movie is like is a site called Screen It (http://www.screenit.com). It goes into incredible detail about the movies, with in-depth comments under various headings such as Disrespectful/Bad Attitude, Frightening Scenes, Guns/Weapons, Music (scary/tense), Profanity, Violence, Tense Family Scenes, and Blood/Gore. For example in the review of Ice Age (http://www.screenit.com/movies/2002/ice_age.html), to quote just a tiny part of the lengthy review, it says this:

VIOLENCE

* Diego and other saber-toothed tigers prepare to attack a human encampment and steal a baby as a means of revenge. Moments later, they attack and a human must knock one of them aside. The humans then try to defend themselves with spears, while Diego goes into a tent and goes to get the baby, but the mother hits him on the head with a club. He then chases her through several locales until she gets to a very tall waterfall and decides to take the plunge with her baby to avoid the tiger. The humans' large dogs are then let loose on the tigers that then retreat, with the humans also throwing spears at them.

IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR

* Phrases: ''Oh, Jeez,'' ''Shut up,'' ''Losers,'' ''You're an embarrassment to nature,'' ''What are you looking at, bone bag?'' and ''Knuckleheads.'' -- Dana D.


Before I take my children to ANY movie or rent any video, I check out what Movie Mom says about it. This site lists latest releases, age appropriateness, and provides a review including discussion points. Don't enter a theater without it: http://www.moviemom.com/ Jeanne
http://www.screenit.com Deborah
You can get very detailed info on movies at www.screenit.com. When you search for a movie, you'll see a table w/violence, sex, bad attitude, etc, rated from none to extreme. If you want details on how they came to those ratings, just keep scrolling down the page for a blow by blow description of what happens in the movie in each of the table's categories. They don't make recommendations here, just give facts & you decide. I use this all the time when I'm not sure about something for my kids. There is also www.moviemom.com which gives less factual information and one mom's opinion. I don't always agree w/her, but it's worth a look. Good luck! Melissa
You can see other parents' comments on kids' movies and videos on www.ParentCenter.com: http://www.parentcenter.com/community/ppt/picks/funActivities/ent ertainment/animation/ Leah
I have found some websites that I peruse before deciding on whether or not my 3.5 year old should see a movie. They are: http://www.gradingthemovies.com/html/movie.shtml http://www.moviemom.com/ http://www.filmvalues.com/ http://dir.yahoo.com/Entertainment/Movies_and_Film/Reviews/Review s_for_Parents/ I'm sure there are others too. That, coupled with knowing what my particular child can handle is how I make up my mind. Hilary
Fran- Try www.kids-in-mind.com. It has factual detailed decriptions of sex, violence, and profanity in movies. For ''Ice Age,'' there is about a page worth of violence described, for example: ''A flock of dodo birds do taekwondo moves (kicking and punching) to defend their collection of melons; a dodo falls into a smoldering pit, a sloth charges through a group of dodos knocking them down, and the dodos end up falling off a cliff.'' Hope this helps, Zach
That's a great question! http://www.screenit.com/ has been doing very thorough make-up-your-own-mind reviews for a long time. I went to see Spiderman last weekend at the Orinda theater. Great movie for grownups, not little kids. I was really surprised that about three quarters of the audience was little kids under 8. One little boy a few seats down from me was crying throughout ''Mommy what's that!'' and ''Mommy I'm scared'' and his mom was just shushing him. It's a scary movie for a little kid - explosions, scary evil villians, people falling off buildings, a busload of kids toppling off a bridge, etc. Maybe the parents thought since it's about a comic book hero it's a movie for kids but it's not! Ginger
If I ever have a question about a movie or video, I always check the very DETAILED reviews at http://www.screenit.com/ They are SO detailed that they can ruin a movie for you so only check it if you are willing to know EVERYTHING about the film! It's excellent for parents of kids and teens. Paula
An exhaustively thorough website for screening kids' movies is at http://www.screenit.com/search_movies.html. They describe every single possibly objectionable scene and utterance, including sex, violence, profanity, ''bad attitude,'' substance ingestion, and the like. Sometimes it can be pretty funny in its thoroughness, but parents will definitely be able to make informed decisions about what movies they want their kids to see. Susan
I highly recommend the ScreenIt website, which gives parents very detailed information on movies and dvds/videos.

For example, if you click on the review of Ice Age, http://www.screenit.com/movies/2002/ice_age.html you would have discovered that although there was minor blood and gore, & minor weaponry, there were frightening/tense scenes, scary/tense music, and some violence. Beyond these topics, you can also click on an ''our take'' link which gives you an idea of the artistic merits of the film. I find this site very reliable and almost always in tune with my take on things.

Another useful site is ''MovieMom'', http://www.moviemom.com/ which has a less detailed approach to movie reviews. I don't always agree with her opinions - she is much more positive about some of the Disney standard fare than I am. She also has a book, which divides movies according to themes/stories they tell. I find her to be useful, but fairly mainstream in her thinking. She would have told you that Ice Age is recommended for ages 6 and up, and that there was some scariness. She is good at pulling out issues to discuss in the movie.

There is a site called Kids-in-Mind which rates movies on sex- violence-profanity. You would have found out about some of the violent/scary scenes in Ice Age. If those are your main concerns, this site could be somewhat helpful, but you won't get much of a sense of the overall merit of the film.

Lastly, there is Kids First/Coalition for Quality Children's Media which has a website and a book based on their panel of kids and adults reviews of videos and software. They give their endorsement to high quality media, but do not review current films. They publish a good book called ''Parents Guide to the Best Children's videos'', and a somewhat less useful website at http://www.cqcm.org/kidsfirst/

I'm afraid you will continue to be frustrated at the lack of appropriate movie programming for young children. Ice Age was rated PG, which really means it isn't recommended for the under 6 set. Movies with a G rating will probably have fewer frightening scenes, but for a little person, just sitting in the dark in a strange room with loudspeakers all around can be frightening! You may need to find some good videos to keep you going for the next few years - when our kids were preschoolers our favorites were My Neighbor Totoro, the Snowman, Wee Sing Train, National Geographic GeoKids, short animated book-based films such as the Critics Choice, Rabbit Ear, or Children's Circle series, including Marzipan Pig, Mouse & Motorcycle, Frog and Toad Series, the Emperor and the Nightingale, etc. Most of these can be found at your local library, or check out this website: http://www.greattapes.com/

We have a weekly ''family movie night'' and are always in search of good movies to enjoy together. I'd love to hear what people with kids our age are watching (6 and 9 year old). Our favorites include Marx Brothers, Roan Inish, The Yearling, Captains Courageous, Ever After, etc. Natasha


July 1999

Summer's here, and so are the summer blockbusters. Should you take your 4 year old to see Tarzan? Should your 8 year old see Austin Powers, Wild Wild West, or Star Wars? Or you're planning a family video night, trying to find something that's not too scary for your 5 year old, but interesting enough for your 9 year old. Friends who know of my knee-jerk anti-Disney attitude are often challenging me to come up with good movies for their kids, and "Movie Mom" Nell Minow has come to my rescue with her book and website. She helps parents evaluate the appropriateness of movies for children of various ages, and writes thoughtfully about the movies' themes, including suggestions for topics that parents may want to discuss with their children before or after the movie. Here's part of a review of her book: "Written in a wise, warm, and witty voice, the book is brimming with suggestions on how to engage kids attention, what to do if they get scared, how to respond if they say "everyone else in the 4th grade gets to watch R movies" or "black and white movies are boring," and which movies are best to watch if you're sick in bed..."

In an ideal world, we'd all preview the movies and videos we allow our children to see. Whether or not you're able to do so, you'll really appreciate "Movie Mom's" insights and her age guidelines. I have sometimes made the mistake of letting my three and a half year old watch a movie that was just fine for her six year old sister, only to find that a mildly scary scene was terrifying for the younger one. (I do think that when one is pushing the age envelope, which is tempting to do since there are so few good movies for very young kids, it's best to take the time to sit and watch with the younger child so you can monitor his or her reactions.)

Here are some examples, first from her discussion of "Ever After", a video retelling of the Cinderella story, which my 9 year old niece adores:

Sumptuously filmed at medieval castles and chateaux, with gorgeous costumes, this is is a pleasure for the eye as well as the spirit. Danielle is a very modern heroine, smart, brave, honest, and able to save her prince as well as herself, if necessary. The script is clever (though wildly anachronistic in places), and while the accents come and go (and why do French characters speak with English accents, anyway?), the performances are excellent, with particularly engaging turns by Melanie Lynskey as the sympathetic younger step-sister and Judy Parfitt as the queen...There is some action violence, and a sad onscreen death. The plot may be a challenge to younger children, especially those expecting the story they know (Cinderella), so it is a good idea to prepare them, which can lead to a good discussion of different versions and points of view. (Rated 5 stars, for ages 6 and up)

And here's part of her review of "October Sky":

Parents can use this movie to talk to kids about how Homer, not a great student and not especially strong in math, became so inspired by an idea that he begins to think in new ways...They could also talk about...whether Homer made the right choice in going to work in the mine...how kids at school treat the "nerds" and why...how people are evaluated differently in school than they are once they get out, and how life in 1999 is different from the world of 1957. Parents should know that a drunken stepfather beats up one of Homer's friends in one scene (and is stopped by John) and that there are some very mild sexual references. Kids who enjoy this movie might also enjoy "The Corn is Green," another true story about a boy from the coal mines who is transformed by education." (rated 5 stars, and recommended for ages 8 and up)

Movie Mom's Guide to Family Movies by Nell Minow, is at Cody's Books...

Natasha


July 1998

I did a web search and found 6 sites that offer reviews of movies for parents. All except Screen It! had limited listings and only brief explanations of why a movie was or wasn't recommendaed for kids. Some listed only those movies the authors thought were appropriate for kids - not so useful, especially for older kids.

Screen it! has very detailed info about every conceivable movie & video. 15 different measures such as blood/gore - alcohol use - profanity - imitative behavior - scenes that make you jump - scary music - bad attitude - etc. Even includes actual count of f-words, etc! Gives a plot synopsis, info about the actors, a general review - the authors like movies, and give their own opinions about artistic content, while also providing useful info for parents.

This site stresses that these reviews are available so that parents can decide for themselves what their kids watch, rather than relying on some other organization to make this decision.


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