A week or so ago in the Deseret News, there was an article in the entertainment section about the Catholic Church’s movie rating system. I was especially interested to read the article because many years ago—probably when they first began reviewing movies—I accidentally stumbled across a book of their movie ratings at a bookstore, and bought it. I used the book to evaluate movies that we might rent from the nearby (“Now and Then”) video store in Simi. However, when newer movies appeared in the video store, I needed an updated book to continue to advise me on family-friendly films. And, although I have often browsed in bookstores to find such a book, I have never again serendipitously stumbled across one. Of course, where one door closes, another one often opens. And in this case, I was extremely pleased to find an excellent substitute for the Catholic movie reviews: Focus on the Family’s “Plugged-In” online movie reviews. “Plugged-In” quite strictly critiques the content of available films.
(See: http://www.pluggedinonline.com/movies/) If you are concerned about whether a movie meets the 13th Article of Faith criteria of “virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy,” this website is definitely useful.
Getting back to the Deseret News article, I was happy to learn that the Catholic Church movie reviews can also be accessed online through their website: http://www.usccb.org. Their reviews are another point of view and not in any way carbon copies of the reviews appearing on “Plugged-In,” so it is worth your time to check both sites to determine if you really want to watch any particular film. What I especially liked in the Catholic website was their lists of “Top Ten Movies” of the year and “Top Ten Family Films.” Currently online are their lists for 2009 and extending as far back as 1965.
Their top ten picks of “family films” for the year 2009 were:
1. Astro Boy
3. A Christmas Carol (animated, Jim Carrey)
4. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
5. Hannah Montana the Movie
6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
7. Monsters vs. Aliens
9. The Princess and the Frog
Their more “adult” or general selections for Top Ten movies of 2009 included:
1. The Blind Side
3. Fantastic Mr. Fox
7. Julie & Julia
8. Star Trek (the prequel)
10. Where the Wild things Are
Did you raise your eyebrows, as I did, at some of their selections or their classifications? For instance, why did “Harry Potter” end up on the OK for kids list, and “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and “Up” on the better for ‘adults’ list? Noticing such odd or puzzling decisions on their part, I decided that, when in doubt about their evaluations, it probably would be wise to check “Plugged-In” too, just to be on the safe side, or to get a second opinion.
The primary reason I was interested in the Top Ten lists is The Knight rarely takes me to the movies. We only go if I insist on it—which I rarely do. Instead, The Knight likes to buy DVDs. And the ones he buys, sad-but-true, are frequently unappealing to me. So, potentially, I’ve missed a great many “good” movies. I also think DVDs are vastly overpriced. I personally cannot justify spending $10-$20 on a DVD as long as the Dollar Theater is still operating down in Provo. AND, I recently discovered that movies are available to rent for a week at a time for $1.00 from the public library!
So. Armed with my lists of Top Ten Movies, I have begun checking out movies from the public library. None of the movies I’ve brought home have been movies that The Knight would have selected, so I’ve resigned myself to watching them by myself. Some of the Top Tens that I’ve watched so far:
—Julie &; Julia
—I Am David
—Au Revoir Les Enfants (French film)
—Secret Lives (a documentary on The Holocaust)
—The City Ember
and, next on the docket is “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.”
Amazingly, I actually cajoled The Knight into watching “The City Ember” with me on Friday night. He was surprised that he’d never heard of it, since it was science fiction. I was pleased that there were no offensive words, nor suggestive scenes, nor gratuitous violence. Happily, The Knight mostly liked it, too, even though it “started out slow”—I think what that means is nothing blew up in the entire movie! LOL