Choosing the Right Movie for Your Family
Christian media critic Ted Baehr, founder of Movieguide®, coaches parents on how to use discernment when choosing a movie for their families. Baehr encourages parents to be aware of their children's cognitive development and to do their research on a film before heading to the theater.
About the Guest
movieguide.org), a family guide to entertainment. An award-winning media authority often on web, television, radio, and print, his purpose is to be used by God to redeem the mass media and to encourage families to use wisdom in selecting their entertainment. His many books include How To Succeed In Hollywood (Without Losing Your Soul), The Media-Wise Family, Narnia Beckons, Faith In God & G...more
Ted Baehr coaches parents on how to use discernment when choosing a movie for their families. Baehr encourages parents to be aware of their children’s development and to research a film before heading to the theater.
Choosing the Right Movie for Your Family
Bob: Sure; yes.
Dennis: —critically. I’m not talking about criticizing a movie but thinking about: “What is the message?” and “How does it stack up against the Christian worldview that’s found in the Scriptures?”
Ted: And we talked about that the last time I was here. What we do at Movieguide is—we give you information so that you can help develop discernment so you can think through:
“This is what I’m going to see. What should I do? Should I see it or not?” We give you enough information to make an informed decision.
Dennis: There would be some movies that would have a high enough rating, but the message of the movie would be poisonous for young people today.
Ted: Right; well, there are a lot of bad movies with four stars; and there are a lot of—like The Passion of the Christ and Hacksaw Ridge—really good, heart-rending stories that then have a -2 because there is extreme caution for violence or something else in it.
Bob: I read a guy, years ago, who said, “Good art is like a stool that you can stand on that lets you look out of a window and see things you weren’t able to see otherwise.” That’s always stuck with me because there are times I will watch a movie, and I will come away and go, “That gives me a level of understanding into issues of the human condition that I wouldn’t have realized if I hadn’t gone to see that movie.”
Ted: C.S. Lewis said it a little bit differently, but it might be good—
—he said, “I’m pulling back the curtain a little bit on truth, but Jesus pulled back the curtain all the way on truth.” A great work of art pulls back the curtain on truth that’s deeper than you possibly imagine.
Bob: One of the movies you have a devotional built around here is the movie, Schindler’s List.
Ted: I wept.
Bob: I did too; in fact, I remember I watched it late one night. It wasn’t over until like one in the morning—1:30. Everybody else had gone to bed. I couldn’t get up from the sofa, having been so sobered by this movie that’s shot like a documentary. You feel like you are actually watching what happened and the horror of all of this. Now, there’s non-sexual nudity in this film.
Ted: Well, it’s the women going off to the gas chambers—
Ted: —they are being killed. You’ve got a whole situation of—what you’d see in documentaries, by the way—if you see German documentaries, or Patton’s documentaries, or whoever they were afterwards.
Bob: But watching that movie, I wanted my teenage kids to watch it; because you understand the horror of the Holocaust differently after you’ve seen that movie than before you’ve seen it.
Ted: You have to know your kids—that’s exactly what Dennis said. You have to get to know them—because the truth of the matter is—I meet parents, every day, who don’t know their kids well / don’t understand their susceptibilities.
Sometimes, you can’t read it—a kid will tell you [when you ask], “What are you watching?” “Oh, I don’t know.” “What’s it about?” “I don’t know.” “What’s going on? Who’s the hero?” “I don’t know.” “Is the hero any good?” “I don’t know.” But the truth of the matter is—it’s working on a deeper level; it’s going into their heart. Their heart is now responding to the message of the movie in a way that you don’t want them to. So, you’ve got to be careful.
Dennis: Early in our marriage, I took Barbara to a movie—and I don’t remember what it was—but it was—it wasn’t a horror movie, but it was something that was like I had hooked her up to an I.V. and dripped fear—
Dennis: —into her veins. She told me—a couple of days later, she said, “I just—I’m not sure I need to be going to movies like that.”
Ted: My wife—three times—she couldn’t see Passion of the Christ.
Dennis: I had a choice, when Barbara shared that with me: “Am I going to believe her and respect her at that point, or—
Dennis: —“am I going to overrule it and say, ‘No, sweetheart, you can handle it; you know, you can handle it’?” It took me a while to finally get it, but I respected her boundaries and protected her.
I think, for parents today, they need a fresh reading of Ephesians, Chapter 5, verse 15 and following. Listen to these words and think about movies when you listen to these words: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
“Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
I think my challenge to parents—in signing up to get Movieguide or get this Reel to Real devo—is to be discerning and have your own set of convictions that you develop from the Scriptures yourself. Be discerning on your own and stand on the Book and guide your children to be able to do that as well. That’s what’s needed in the next generation.
Bob: When our kids were young, we used to have—every Friday night was family movie night. We went back and watched old Andy Hardy movies. We went back and watched the classics. My kids didn’t know movies were in color until they were about 14 years old, because all we’d watch was old black-and-white movies.
But, as a dad, I made sure that I checked out Ted’s reviews. Now, back in the old days, you got it as a magazine. Now, you can go online and get Ted’s Movieguide reviews.
In fact, we’ve got a link at FamilyLifeToday.com if you want to bookmark Ted’s site so you can check these reviews out as you’re looking at films to select for your family to view or films for you to see in theaters. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and find out more about the Movieguide website.
I also wish we’d had your book, Reel to Real: 45 Movie Devotions for Families, where you can watch a movie together—and don’t just watch the movie—but then, interact about it afterward. Use the devotional guide around that movie to talk about some of the biblical themes that come from those films. We’ve got copies of Ted’s book, Reel to Real, in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can order it from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to order a copy of the book.
Of course, we’re hoping all of you will make plans to go to the movies next week. Only two options for you to go to see our new movie—
—which is called Like Arrows—it’s going to be showing Tuesday night at 7 o’clock and Thursday night at 7 o’clock—those are the only two options. This is a special Fathom Event; and some theaters, I know, are already sold out. There have been screens added because of the demand for this. We’re pretty excited about the response.
But I would love to see—you know what? I’d love to be able to send a message like the movie, I Can Only Imagine, did a few weeks ago—send a message that says, “These are the kinds of films—there’s an audience for these films if they are well-made and tell a compelling story.” We think Like Arrows fits that definition. I think Hollywood is going to take notice.
Join us Tuesday night or Thursday night at the theaters for Like Arrows. You can order tickets, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. I would encourage you to get your tickets early. Don’t just plan to show up and buy tickets at the door, because there may not be any available when you show up that night.
Again, the information is available at FamilyLifeToday.com. You can watch the trailer for the movie. Take a group with you and join us for Like Arrows next week.
Now, tomorrow, Ted Baehr is going to be back with us. We’re going to continue talking about movies; and Christian movies; and Hollywood; and, maybe, about your kids—who may want to be in a movie someday or help make movies someday: “Is that safe for them? Is there an opportunity that’s not going to shipwreck their faith?” We’ll talk more about that tomorrow. I hope you can be with us.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas; a Cru® Ministry.
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