I have seen the movies I review – kind of obvious. But what if you HAVEN’T seen it and you plan to go with your: grandmother, kids, first date, or priest? Or what if there are elements YOU just find offensive or unpleasant? If certain things ruin your suspension of disbelief: graphic violence, specific profanities, whatever is your personal family definition of explicit sex, or even smoking or scary “jump” music, what do you do? Call every friend you know who might have seen the movie to scour their memory for anything that you might not like? Go see it and hope for the best? Skip it?
There is a FABULOUS website called Screenit (www.screenit.com). They document ever profanity – how it’s used, the number, whether it is complete or whether it is partially used or done with humor – as in Shitaki mushrooms instead of s*** (InstaQuiz: what movie is this from? Answer below).
Screenit describes in detail every salacious scene. Is the shirt on, shirt off, position of camera, proximity of characters to each other, context of naked (are they showering or — engaged in another activity?), who are they with?……………..OK, yes, that IS kind of a funny, almost oxymoron if you’re trying to AVOID that kind of thing. But forewarned is forearmed – better to read about it than be surprised with a 22 by 52 foot wide visual AND if you read one that is a “deal breaker” there’s no law that says you have to read the rest. The morality of how you USE the information: alert or titillation is entirely up to you. LOL
Screenit documents if there is smoking and context. Movies set in World War II, for example, would be incomplete without it given the culture of the day. Violence: is it cartoonish? graphic? show beginning of a violent act but cut away for the “final blow” or is it “in your face” gory. They discuss “tense family issues”. Does the movie involve divorce, death of a close family member, alcoholism, animal abuse, loud arguments, job loss, terminal illness, etc? Is there gun use or “imitative behavior”. Will the movie feature kids jumping off the roof of a house for fun or swaggering around a school yard in a way and by a character they might want to imitate? If there is “scary” music or “jump”
scenes where creatures leap out or camera cuts happen with the intent to startle or frighten, this site warns you.
Anything that might put you off from a particular film or make you decide to be more discrete about who you would show it to is in this site. Of course, DO keep in mind, that means this site is almost nothing BUT spoilers — just so’s you’ll know.
I use it for almost everything I see. The only downside is that it does not cover many classic old movies, many of which have a lot of the above. Even a child’s film, like Bambi has: fire engulfing the protagonist’s home, the violent sudden death of the protagonist’s mother, mild derision of a handicapped creature – Thumper laughs at Bambi as he is trying to walk. Dumbo has the famous “pink elephants on parade” scene – intoxication of a child, violent arrest of his mother, abuse by neighbors – the other elephant moms make fun of his ears and shun Dumbo. I mean, I saw all these films as a child. I’ve shown them to my kids as I find value in them. But everyone has their own hot buttons and it is best you avoid those things that bother you. This is where Screenit comes in handy.
They even list the topics that, should you choose to see the movie, you might want to discuss either before or after the film with your companions or, especially, your children: was the FBI agent justified in crashing through a large display glass window in pursuit of an escaping convict? should the kids have gone to their parents before trying to help the alien? would you have come back to fight if someone called you “chicken”? these are the kinds of issues Screenit flags. (And, for the record, I wrote each “issue topic” based upon a specific movie. Can you identify them? See below for answers.)
It’s not just a cookie cutter one-size-fits-all broadband rating. They provide you with the tools to make your own personal decision for you and your family. Screenit DOES have an “Our Take” spot where they review the movie and tell you how well or badly it is presented, no matter whether the content is banal or egregious, but for the most part their raison d’être is to give you a heads up based upon your own personal, detailed family and religious codes of ethics. Even within a religion two families can have different sensitive spots depending on their history, family make up and interpretation of appropriate.
Screenit used to be free but they now charge a modest $7.95/month membership fee. I find the price WELL worth it. You can hardly buy a movie ticket, much less popcorn and drink for that. So before you queue up for popcorn, check out screenit.com to be sure the money you’ve spent on your ticket won’t be wasted by disappointment or shock or embarrassment.
So, the moral to THIS story is: www.screenit.com BEFORE you screen it.
Answer: Spy Kids
The Rock, ET, Back to the Future.