Movies: Know Before You Go

So friends, how do you go about selecting which movie to watch in theatres?

If you’re like most people, you judge a film by its marketing campaign’s captivating graphic designs and stirring trailers, plus a brief glance at the MPAA rating.

If you’re like a growing number of people, you engage in steps 1 and 2, then promptly visit to find out exactly what kind of scenes you’ll be spending money to expose yourself to for the next couple of hours. After all, you shouldn’t just watch anything, right?, your #1 resource for media reviews from a non-secular perspective!

In the past several decades, the movie industry increasingly sees new films pushing new extremes–and we’re not just talking about Sasha Baron Cohen and Quentin Tarantino movies. When we embrace images that in the past would have made us run out of the auditorium, we live out a manifestation of the “boiling frog” syndrome: our disgust of inappropriate content is slowly whittled away by small, indistinguishable  increases of immorality, all during our simple pursuit of a good time. After all, we go to movies to escape from life’s stress, right?

Here’s an example: my then 12-year brother and I once sat down in front of the television for some bonding time, browsing through channels until we encountered a 1980s action flick. It was rated R, but again, it was 1980s. We enjoyed the storyline and fighting scenes without having to cover our eyes or clear our throats. Most of the moments that were supposed to leave us grimacing at the edge of our seats in shock actually led to sincere laughter. In the two scenes where blood was shown, we questioned jokingly if such blows even solicited bleeding. Good times!

Would I watch a choice R-rated movie with Charlie that debuted after 2005? Well yeah, we both thought Ip Man 1 and 2 were amazing. Would I randomly select a movie without knowing beforehand what kind of content is involved? No. Way.

Thankfully, that’s where thorough, content-based reviews come in handy! So what’s so good about PluggedIn, and what can it do for you?

The well-structured and aesthetically pleasing Focus on the Family subsidiary offers not only movie reviews, but also television, video game, and music evaluations. For movies, the site breaks each film into these categories: positive elements, spiritual content, sexual content, violent content, crude or profane language, drug and alcohol content, and other negative elements, before giving readers a conclusion. The other media types follow suit in the form of articles.

As for its benefits, I’ll break them down into three categories:

  1. The website will give you all the red flags that the majority of other reviewers will overlook, letting you know straight up what you will encounter regardless of how enthralled you became with the plot. While other reviewers are focused mainly on special effects, camera angles, and replay value, PluggedIn’s sincere assessment points out what content will grieve you as a believer.
  2. It will also help you realize which entertainment you can and cannot absorb. Honestly, there are certain aspects of a movie that some enjoy while others would prefer to avoid. I personally can watch several PG-13 and a few R films over and over again for action and drama (e.g. Dark Knight), while movies and games with demoralizing profanity or objectification of women make me writhe in anguish.
  3. Finally, it will brace you for the influential, sometimes hidden, messages that certain films attempt to induce on unsuspecting minds. Maybe you saw contrary ideals coming in the alien movie Paul, but you’d be surprised at what Happy Feet 2 insinuates, using its cute animals and “G” rating as a green to access children when their values are rapidly developing.

Here’s a personal testimonial: PluggedIn has certainly helped preserve my relationship. I don’t watch movies often, and when I do, I try to watch them with mi novia. This wonderful woman has a low tolerance for inappropriate content, meaning I can’t sit through movies like Man on a Ledge without it becoming very awkward. This also keeps me in check, helping me guard my heart from subtle invasions.

Talk about not being able to judge a book by its cover. I must admit, after putting all negative assumptions about horse movies aside, I found War Horse to be phenomenal.

We’re known to spend 10 minutes in front of our local Redbox, even in the cold, looking at listings of available DVDs and scanning through their corresponding PluggedIn reviews. “Nope… nope… definitely not… alright fine, this one,” resembles our conversation as 90% of the movies I hoped to see are rejected, revealed as too compromising. Still, quality over quantity, right? In an attempt to avoid inappropriate content, we’ve actually selected great movies I otherwise wouldn’t have dreamed of watching.

Now for plenty of people, taking five minutes to read a media review from a Christian perspective may seem a bit crazy. But think about it for a second: the negative content we take into our eyegate has a serious effect on our view of life, our self-control, our motivations… harming us slowly but surely…

…just like a boiled frog.

Instead of choosing to be that frog, visit for your movie, music, television, and video game reviews, and choose your movies with confidence!

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