This lack of consistency can be especially discouraging for parents who are trying to make sure the movies and TV shows their children see are age appropriate for their children, and customize what their family views for the personal needs of each child's personality and sensitivities. Every family is different, so trying to "rate" a movie based on ambiguous guidelines can be really tough. What one parent thinks is horrific may be totally acceptable to another parent. What's a parent to do?
I like to look up parental reviews for movies and TV shows before I watch them, especially if I am going to watch them with my kids. Occassionally I will share various sites that do parental reviews and give my thoughts on them. Here is my first "parental review site review." ;)
Jumbled Sunshine Review: www.screenit.com
- My go-to parental review site in the late 90's and early 2000's when my kids were small, through the 1990's when my kids were small, www.screenit.com is a great website that focuses on simply giving parents information about what's in a movie so you they can choose for themselves.
- I haven't used the site as much recently because they now charge for membership (I can't tell how much from the main site anymore), and I just didn't find myself using it often enough to be worth paying. However, I totally understand why they need to charge, since they have to find a way to pay the people who meticulously go through the movies.
- One month membership is $7.95, or you can pay for a year for $47.00. They are currently offering a free 3-day full-access pass to their site that requires only your name and email address to sign up for.
- They also offer a 30-day full money back guarantee if you're not satisfied with the service. So as long as you don't forget to cancel (like some busy parents may do!,) you've got nothing to lose.
- Rating System:
- Their rating system is great for parents who don't want someone else to tell them whether it's a good movie or not, but want to see what's in it and decide for themselves. It's an excellent approach. They make no attempt to rate the movie or say whether or not is it appropriate for children - that's up to the parent to decide.
- They take everything that happens in a movie and categorize it into various areas such as violence, profanity, sexual content, etc. They list the number of occurrences of each type of thing in movie. You can look at the overview which rates each category on how often it occurs. The more times it occurs, the more intense the rating will be. For example:
- profanity - mild
- violence - heavy
- smoking - none
- OR - you can click on the details of each category and see specifically what occurs in the movie. These details may contain spoilers, of course, but if you're looking up a G-rated movie and it says the nudity category is "mild," it's nice to go read the details to see if it's a big deal or not.
- Case in point - When I looked up Mulan years ago, it was listed as "mild" for the nudity category. Shocked, I clicked on the details to read what was considered "mild nudity." and remembered the scene where the soldiers are skinny dipping and Mulan looks up and obviously sees one of the characters on the beach. She covers her eyes, and it's obvious that she has seen more than she wanted to see. This is not obvious nudity, but it's good to be aware of as a parent before you take your kids to the movie, especially a "family-friendly" cartoon. That scene didn't bother me when I saw it, so it was intersting to see it written out in black and white.
- Like I said before, I used screenit.com all through the early years of my kids' growing up, and it never let me down. Though I haven't logged into the website recently, if it's anything like it used to be, it is a great option for parents who want to know what's in movies and don't mind paying a bit to do so. Get your free 3-day pass and decide for yourself!
Coming Soon - Jumbled Sunshine Review of parentpreviews.com