Listening to a Christian radio station several years ago, we heard a movie review followed by the tag line, “for more reviews, go to pluggedinonline.com.” I was sitting at my computer at the time and opened it up. As I did, one of my favorite resources as a parent opened onto my computer screen.
Pluggedinonline.com is a creation of Focus on the Family. It reviews books, movies, television, games, and music. The best part about their review process is that they both clinically break down the movie, and also offer opinions as a critic.
By clinical breakdown, I mean this:
This is the “Crude or Profane Language” section for the new release Astro Boy:
HamEgg uses the phrase “freakin’ robots!” “Gosh” and “jeez” make an appearance or two each. Frustrated outbursts include “lug nuts!”
This is the “Sexual Content’ section for Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs:
In the midst of all his acorn-chasing travails, Scrat the prehistoric squirrel runs into a female flying squirrel named Scratte. He is quickly wowed by her batting eyes and swaying hips. After fighting over the acorn, the two eventually become a couple, tangoing, embracing and kissing in several short segments.
Manny tells his “preggers” mate that “round is foxy.” When trapped together in the gut of a man-eating plant, Diego tells Manny, “I feel tingly.” Manny replies, “Don’t say that when you’re pressed up against me!”
Seeing a giant butterfly, Buck exclaims, “I knew that guy when he was a caterpillar, you know, before he came out.” When being told that someone “had his back,” Buck counters that he’d rather they had his front because, “That’s where all the good stuff is.”
There’s no opinion there – just information. For movies, the site breaks down: positive elements, sexual content, violent content, crude or profane language, drug and alcohol content, and negative elements.
Before the breakdown, the reviewer will give an introduction to the film, and after the reviewer will critique the film. Here is an example of the critique for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra:
Playthings from my childhood are mindlessly mangling the modern multiplex. Transformers. And now G.I. Joes. What’s next? LEGOs? Maybe the movie could be called LEGO: Rise and Fall of the Yellow Brick. It’s only been a few weeks since I reviewed Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and since that was one of the worst movies I’ve seen all year, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Will G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra be as bad? Or worse?”
The answer: Sure, why not?
Which made me laugh and send the review to my husband.
We haven’t always diligently checked movies before we saw them, and we were burned pretty badly twice.
The first time happened when we took Kaylee to see The Bad News Bears. Despite the fact that it had a PG-13 rating, we went to see it as a family. It never occurred to us that there would be a problem with it. I guess we just didn’t think about the rating because it was the Bad News Bears. I don’t think Gregg or I remembered the language in the original. About 20 minutes into it, Kaylee asked if we could go. If we had read the review before going, among all of the other really inappropriate elements in the film, we would have read this:
The original Bad News Bears was controversial for its use of swearing by and at children. This version easily triples both the quantity and aggressiveness of that film’s bad language, and much more of it comes from the kids. The s-word, “h—” and “a–” are heard around 35 times each in various forms, along with regular uses of “d–n” and “b–ch.” Jesus’ and God’s names are abused about five times each. One player uses the letters “FU”
Male anatomy is referenced repeatedly using multiple slang words. The words “homo” and “fag” are used as insults, as are “cracker,” “bastard,” “cornhole,” “jerk-off” and “bag of douche.” Bathroom humor is crude, creative and rampant. A girl’s dress is called a “hooker suit.”
So, we learned to not take Kaylee (and now Scott and Jeb) to any movie at all without checking Plugged In first. Some lessons aren’t learned fast enough.
Gregg and I went to see A History of Violence. We’re both good with violence and never even contemplated that the movie would be so sexual. The third real-time sex scene had us looking at our watches wishing the guy would just be done already. After that, we vowed never to see another movie ourselves without reading the review first.
The big movie season is upon us. Blockbusters are sprouting up right and left. Our family has a made a commitment to “clean house” – to keep what comes into our minds free from the pervasive sexuality and immorality that is so rampant in our culture. Plugged In is a phenomenal resource to use before we watch any movie.
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Thanks for posting this. We’ve been burned too with The Waterhorse and Happy Feet. It’s sad when “family films” really aren’t for families after all, and all too often we don’t realize it until it’s too late and the ridiculous amount of money we paid for tickets is already gone.
This is great Hallee! Thanks so much. I can’t tell you how many times we have made the mistake of suggesting/accompanying the kids to the wrong movie(s). This is a great way to check in first and see how the movie REALLY plays out. I will use this as a future reference from now on. It’s duly noted how sad it really is, the amount of effort we parents have to put into everything our kids eat, watch, play, consume, observe, and absorb. It’s amazing how, really, no one else has our children’s best interests at heart. Thanks for the gentle reminder; it’s all too easy to get in a passive role.
Thanks for sending this to me! I’ll definitely check it out before we commit our time to anymore “kids” movies.