At the first Parents Night Out that I planned, I showed the movie Shrek. We were a boy-heavy ministry at the time, and I thought, “Swamps, ogres, dragons… the boys will love it!” Well they also loved it when the characters cussed 4 times – yes, 4 times – throughout the movie and they got to tell their parents they heard a potty word at church. #fail
Since that wonderful experience of inadvertently teaching the sweet preschoolers new words, I always read up on any movie I plan to show in my ministry. Using one or all three of the following sites helps make sure I’m not showing anything inappropriate and helps me prepare to address any issues that may arise. Learn from my Shrek mistake, and use these sites to preview movie content before showing it in your ministry.
The Dove Foundation – I like this one because it breaks down the movie concerns into different categories: violence, language, sexual content, etc. and even tells you specifically what the instances are. (For example, if I had looked up Shrek, I would have known exactly what words the kids would hear and how often they would occur.)
Plugged In – This site from Focus on the Family is similar to the Dove Foundation, but it is not as easy to read through. One bonus is that it tends to give more details on the spiritual aspects of the movies rather than just a warning of the possible questionable content and offers reviews on more than just movies.
Common Sense Media – This last one is my favorite! Easy to use, much more in-depth, and an overall trustworthy review. I’ve found that it’s typically more updated than the other two and even features movies that are in theatres or coming out in theatres soon. It also reviews video games and tv shows in addition to movies. It highlights more of the positive attributes and values within the movie that you can talk about with kids and allows you to read reviews submitted by parents.