Movie Review Web Sites
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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:
Hope these help.
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!
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.
Check out www.commonsensemedia.org for movie reviews.
also careful with movies
They review movies and other media. Good info.
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
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
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,
it will be helpful to you as well. Good luck.
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.
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.
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:
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
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.
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!
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).
Here are two web sites I really like for kid-relevant movie reviews:
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.
An excellent web-site for determining kid-appropriate movies (and a
variety of other media) is:
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).
http://www.commonsensemedia.org/ is a great site and provides exactly what
you mentioned - movie ratings with details!
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
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.
I highly recommend rottentomatoes.com for movie reviews.
Here are two sites:
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.
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
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!
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
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
Check out CommonSenseMedia.org, a non-profit dedicated to
educating caregivers about kids' media choices.
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...
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.
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.
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!
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:
* 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.
* Phrases: ''Oh, Jeez,'' ''Shut up,'' ''Losers,'' ''You're an
embarrassment to nature,'' ''What are you looking at, bone bag?''
-- 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:
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!
You can see other parents' comments on kids' movies and videos
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:
I'm sure there are others too. That, coupled with knowing what
my particular child can handle is how I make up my mind.
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,
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!
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.
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.
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,
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
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:
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.
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
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...
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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