Movie Mom: FAQs

These are the questions parents most often ask me:

How can a silly comedy and a serious, award-winning drama both get the same grade? How can a movie with no objectionable material get a bad grade? What do the grades mean?
The grade reflects the merits of a movie for its intended audience and within the context of its own aspirations. A B grade means that the movie is likely to be a satisfying experience for the people most likely to want to see it. Just because a movie is not offensive does not mean that it merits 90 minutes of a child's life. Children are as entitled to movies that illuminate, inspire, and entertain, filled with engaging characters and insightful writing and visuals. So are adults.

My reviews aim to give parents the information they need to make a decision about whether a given film is right for their family. Each child's parents have to make that decision based on the child's interests and tolerance of material that is scary or disturbing, based on their own values and each child's stage of development and situation. But parents also need to have some guide to a movie's overall value, and that is why I also assign each film a letter grade and recommended age range. The rating is an attempt to answer one question: Is this movie worth two hours of your family's time?

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A: Don't miss it. This one is really worth making a special trip to see! Something special.

B: It may not be on anyone's future list of classics, and parts of it might not be entirely successful, but the acting, script, and/or direction are above average and worth a trip to the theater. If you are a fan of these performers or this genre, it will probably meet your expectations for an enjoyable outing.

C: Average. If you like these actors, or this genre, you will enjoy this movie. But you probably won't consider it one of your favorites. See it at a discount matinee or wait for the video.

D: Below average. There may be some good moments, but there are many more you may find dumb or offensive. If it is on cable and you want to watch something while you fold your laundry, it might be okay for background noise.

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