Aug 16, 2011

Why Does This Movie Have This Rating?

School is starting, the summer movie season is coming to a close, and those summer movies are starting to come to DVD, Blu-ray, Netflix, iTunes, etc. After a long week of work and school, you may want to watch a movie on the weekend, maybe even with the kids.

As a parent, you wonder if a given movie is safe for your kids.  More often than that, movie ratings won't give you the right answer.  The PG-13 movie rating, for example, is on such a wide range of content, it's often impossible to tell.  Don't you wish you knew what to expect? Fortunately, there are apps for that.

There are two I've used: Kid's in Mind and Plugged In.  Which one you like is largely dependent on your own taste.  I'll explain them both so that you can make up your mind.

Kid's in Mind gives you a 1 to 10 rating in three categories: Sexuality/Nudity, Violence/Gore, and Profanity.  The more of any of these, the higher the number in that category. These ratings are displayed on a chart, which makes them easy to get a quick synopsis.  Under the ratings, there is a description of each contributing factor toward the ratings, again divided into these categories.  Kid's in Mind claims to simply and objectively give these scores, without praising or criticizing the movies themselves.  Kid's in mind is available for the iPhone and the iPad as separate apps.

Plugged In is an app from Focus on the Family.  It provides a one- to five-star "family friendliness" rating and then detailed information in a variety of categories: Positive Elements, Spiritual Content, Sexual Content, Violent Content, Crude Language, and Other Negative Elements.  It reads more editorially than Kid's in Mind but seems to provide a little more detail. This app enables you to rate a movie yourself and shows average user ratings in addition.  It also has video reviews (i.e., reviews of a movie in video form), which are told to scenes from the movie, which makes for a very interesting presentation.  Plugged In also reviews music, TV episodes, and video games, which Kid's in Mind doesn't do.  Plugged In is available for both the iPhone and will work on the iPad but is not made specifically for the iPad

Either app is good to turn to before seeing a movie, whether for your kids' sake or whether you just don't want to subject yourself to all Hollywood has to offer.  Both give reviews for movies currently in the theaters as well as movies out on DVD. Plugged In is free, so if cost is a factor, go get that one.

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