Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Welcome from The Movie Mom

posted by Nell Minow

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[@]

  • Sheilagh

    Dear Movie Mom;
    Respectfully, I’ve read your bio. and I didn’t see anything mentioned about your faith background or your beliefs. Since this is BeliefNet, I think that’s a fair question. Would you like to elaborate on your own belief system?
    I have to say I’m somewhat skeptical that you might be a MSM plant from Mr. Murdock, Maybe yes. Maybe no.? As with most people, I’d want to take value judgments from people who shares my values.
    Would you be so kind as to share your thoughts on faith please.

  • Nell Minow

    Sheilagh, thanks for writing! My thoughts on faith would take many volumes and cannot be easily summarized, as I am certain is true of anyone who has thought through these issues. What I do know is that faith and values cannot be summarized by some litmus test of code words. If you want someone to say the secret word so that the duck will come down, like in the old Groucho Marx television show, in my opinion that is not about faith; it is about exclusion and rhetoric; signifiers, not significance.
    In my book, I wrote a good bit about the values I think are important and how movies can help families enter into sensitive and difficult discussions about morality. As I said in my introduction, my goal is to provide families with the information they need to make decisions on what media is appropriate based on their own priorities and their own individual circumstances.
    My approach is clear from my reviews; if you read over a couple of them you will see whether they are right for you. If not, I’d be glad to suggest some alternatives, if you tell me what you are looking for. I can assure you, however, that the people who have always made the editorial decisions at Beliefnet since the beginning are still making all the editorial decisions and that I first began writing for Beliefnet several years ago. Moving my blog and reviews here around the time of the sale is entirely coincidental; negotiations have been going on for some time.
    Now, if there is something specific you want to know that I have not answered, let me know here or at moviemom[@] Thanks for writing and I hope you will return often and participate in our conversation.

  • Steve

    Dear MovieMom
    At we used to be able to search for very specific info on a specific movie before deciding whether or not to see it.
    Is this still an option?
    If so where do we go and how do we do it?

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks for writing, Steve! Beliefnet is switching over my archive of over 1400 reviews as quickly as they can. You can search by typing in the name of the movie in the search box or by clicking on the movies or DVDs links on the right to bring up the list. You will soon also be able to sort by age recommendation, rating, or genre. If there’s something you can’t find, please email and I’ll find it for you. Thanks again and all best.

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