Thanks so much for visiting my blog! I hope you will check in often and I would be very happy to hear your comments, questions, and suggestions — even your corrections. I’ll be reviewing movies and DVDs every week and I’ll also be blogging nearly every day about media, values, family and community, posting interviews with writers, actors, directors, animators, and others, creating best/worst lists of all kinds, and responding to questions from “what’s a good movie for a 8-year-old’s slumber party?” to “why does my preschooler want to watch the same movie every single day?”, to the ever-popular “I only remember one thing about a movie I saw many years ago — do you know the title?” (Sometimes I do!)
My radio listeners are already familiar with the rarely-invoked “Gothika” rule — if a movie has a truly idiotic ending, I will give it away. Watch this space for the latest on my “Gothika” list.
And watch this space too — that’s my new Beliefnet Community group. Please join me there for a conversation about media, culture, and values. Let me know which movies and television shows you and your family love — and which ones you don’t.
More about my plans, my goals, and my point of view:
I’ve been a movie critic for more than 12 years, most recently at Yahoo! and every week on radio stations across the country. I have always loved movies of all kinds and I have always loved helping people find the movies that are right for them. When our children were little, I organized “Momfests” — mini-film festivals for the kids and their friends. By selecting films that related to their interests and experiences, I got them hooked on classics featuring The Marx Brothers, Astaire & Rogers, Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, John Wayne, and the Beatles.
Like every parent, we faced the challenges of managing the media onslaught. Our children did not always agree with our rules about what they could watch. Even more difficult — neither did some of the parents of the children they played with. We found that we could not just expect other families to have the same ideas about what was appropriate.
I began the Movie Mom website in 1995 and my book, The Movie Mom’s Guide to Family Movies came out in 1999. The second edition was published in 2004. I have written about media, values, culture, and family issues for USA Today, Family Fun, Daughters, Parents, the Chicago Tribune, and many others. Topics have included everything from “Baby Einstein” and other DVDs for under-twos (I am against them) to magazines for teen girls, why movies like “The Matrix” matter to teens and movies like Pokemon, DVD players that edit objectionable material out of movies (I am for them), parental control software, and “viral” marketing to tweens via slumber parties (against that, too). And then there was the family that brought a DVD player into a restaurant and put it in front of their daughter — without earphones — while the parents ignored her throughout the meal. Boy, am I against that.
When I review movies, I try to provide the information you need to decide whether a movie is right for your family. The letter grades reflect the value of the movie for its intended audience. They reflect age-appropriateness but are primarily determined by the film’s overall quality and how well it fulfills its own aspirations. A silly comedy, an adult thriller, and a thoughtful drama may all get B’s. That does not mean all are of equal value. It just means all deliver what their audience is looking for. I won’t give a good rating to a movie just because there is no objectionable material unless it is genuinely worth watching; children deserve movies that are intelligent and imaginative just as much as adults. Age recommendations are just a guideline. Every child is different, every family is different, and every situation is different. A general rule of thumb is that material that is racier or more violent than you would see on prime-time network television is recommended for high school and up. To determine whether a movie is right for your family, read the “parents should know” section of the review, which lists material parents might be concerned about, including sex, violence, language, substance abuse, and diversity issues, but also plot elements like loss, family stress, positive portrayal of poor judgment or behavior, and other factors that might make a movie inappropriate or a poor choice for some audiences.
Thanks again for checking in and I hope you will come back often and share your thoughts either here or via email to moviemom[@]moviemom.com