When selecting a movie for your whole family to enjoy, including everyone from your youngest child to grandma and grandpa, relying on the MPAA guidelines is not always sufficient. After all, there are many different reasons why a film may receive a PG or PG-13 rating, and not all of it may align with what you deem to be suitable for your family to view.
In a world where the hours in the day are infinite, perhaps you would have the luxury to screen every film beforehand in order to gauge its appropriateness. Alas, no one has quite that much free time on their hands, and even if they did, there is something to be said about viewing a film for the first time along with your loved ones. Luckily, there are reliable, accessible, and highly informative resources to guide you in picking the perfect movie for your family to watch together. Perhaps the most prominent of these resources is the Dove Foundation.
The Dove Foundation
The Dove Foundation is a nonprofit pro-family organization that writes reviews for movies specifically for their level of appropriateness for families. A Christian organization, they also note when films are faith-friendly or faith-based, but mainstream films that earn a family-approved seal are measured on a more general set of criteria .The organization has published their reviews online since 1995, and have since grown to include TV, Book, and Music CD reviews as well. The movie reviews are divided into the following categories: Now Showing in the Theater, Coming Soon to Home Entertainment, Theatrical Reviews, and Video/DVD Reviews. The first two categories contain reviews for films that have earned the Dove seal of approval. The last two categories include ALL films reviewd by the Dove Foundation, sorted by their release dates, that may or may not have earned the Dove seal of approval. Films that have been approved receive one of two of the following seals, depending on their intended audience:
After an approved film is released on video, the seal is placed on its DVD or blu-ray box. In certain cases, such as when a film just barely failed to win the Dove seal of approval, a special edited version of the film will be included in the video release. On the website, this distinction is made by differentiating between a film’s theatrical and video release. When selecting a film for your family to watch, it is important to be aware of this difference, as the unedited version will likely be the default track on the disc.
Unlike the MPAA , which merely assigns a rating along with a very brief explanation, Dove Foundation reviews are thorough and informative. Each detailed review contains a synopsis, a review that explains and qualifies the reasoning behind the film’s approved or not-approved status, a Severity of Content chart, and a content description. The Severity of Content chart breaks the movie down into six categories to measure the potential for objectionable material: Sex, Language, Violence, Drugs, Nudity, and Other. Each category is measured on a scale of 0-5, with 2 being the threshold for a film’s approval. A breakdown of what each level for each category means can be found here. The content description accompanies the Severity of Content chart by explaining each threshold rating given within the context of a specific film. In this way, it is easier for you to decide whether or not you agree with the rating given in regards to your own threshold.
So the next time you are choosing a movie for your family to view, consult www.dove.org or look for the seal of approval.
For other websites that review media (including video games) with families and children in mind, check out the following: