"We want to show X movie to Y group..."
This is the start of a potentially beautiful experience of learning, community building, reflection, prayer or just fun....
Or it could be a bad choice.
How can you tell the difference?
With the current string of religiously themed movies, this seems like a good time to share a few basic considerations if you are looking to show a movie to children, youth or families:
1. A group leader should ALWAYS preview a movie!
Consider watching it twice, the first time to get an overall sense of the film; then if that seems fine, watch it again to look for any subtle themes, plot twists, backdrops or characters that may raise questions, concerns, or 'red flags.'
You may wish to invite a few other adult to preview the movie with you so that you have additional eyes to notice things and insights to share.
A few questions:
-- what is that main message the film is communicating?
-- what others themes is the film sending?
-- what Gospel themes are connected?
-- what Diocesan Curriculum Objectives are covered? (Hey, even if you are planning it just as a fun activity, it doesn't hurt to slip some catechesis in if you are sponsoring it as a ministry event!)
-- is this movie the best way to teach these themes?
-- can clips of the film be shown (obviously at a later date once they are available) to better get across the point(s) you hope to teach, or does the movie need to be seen in its entirety?
-- what prayers, reflection questions and discussions can support the film theme(s)?
Movies that pervert the faith or are blatantly immoral must be avoided.
2. What is the movie rating? Remember that the Motion Pictures Association of America is one form of rating, and a great starting point.
G = General Audiences (all ages)
PG = Parental Guidance suggested as some aspects may not be suitable for children
PG 13 = Parental Guidance but really most viewers should be 13 and older
R = viewers should be 17 and older or with a parent (often based on amount of violence, profanity, nudity)
NC 17= restricted to only those 17 and older
Therefore, you should NOT plan to high school teens to an R-rated movie, or small children to a PG film.... and I must add that you still might want to preview G-rated movies as some themes might be questionable for religious purposes, although they should be generally "safe" to watch.
3. How have Catholic Leaders rated it?
Catholic leaders look at the movies not only based on the amount of
violence, profanity, and nudity (the 3 criteria used for the MPAA ratings above) but also based on our Christian morals, teachings and scriptures.
A. Catholic News Services --CNS continues to work begun by the U.S. Bishops Office for Film and Broadcasting by reviewing movies through the lenses of our Catholic faith.
The rating system they use:
Visit the website to see the ratings given in current and older movies:
B. Franciscans Media movie reviews
(I am not sure if they add original reviews, or just post the CNS reviews from above? But the format for reading might be easier on some screens.)
C. Sr. Rose Pacatte - Daughters of St. Paul community member Sr. Rose has taken the 5 Things the National Director for Catechesis says about media (see image to the right). She reviews and writes for a number of outlets to help Catholics chose movies wisely:
RCL Benziger (publisher) has "Sr. Rose Goes to the Movies" video reviews posted for catechists, educators and parents at:
Articles on movies posted with the National Catholic Reporter (newspaper):
Pathos Faith Channels also has "Sr. Rose Goes to the Movies" for all ages at:
OK, so once you have previewed a movie (perhaps twice or with a team),
decide that it is worthy of pursuing as a parish activity, have checked the
movie ratings and see that reliable Catholic leaders support the film,
please remember that if going as a youth event, you must follow all the guidelines regarding permission forms, Diocesan Child Protection Policy compliant chaperones and drivers....
then get some popcorn and enjoy!
Cindee Case, MPS
Director of the Diocese of Youngstown Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.