So you already have a great read to get you through one of Reba Ray’s winter wonders in a mug (hint, you’re reading it!), but when you want to take it down a philosophical notch and just be entertained on a cold winter evening under a warm blankie, you need a good movie. Careful though, that mindless entertainment can be deceptively dangerous. Like those romantic comedies that columnist Kimberly Miller likes so much – it’s hard to find one these days without gratuitous sex thrown in. And if the sex scene doesn’t get to you, the unrealistic expectations for love and romance the movie espouses will. Whereas the International Movie Database (IMDB) is highly useful for learning what earns a movie its rating, as well as providing a star rating based on thousands of viewer votes, IMBD can’t tell you how the movie might affect your spirit.
Philippians 4:8 tells us to think on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. In Galatians 5, we see a contrasting list to these qualities: “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.” Maybe you’re wondering, though, how you’re supposed to know if a movie is the Phil 4:8 kind or the Gal 5:19 kind in nature without watching it to find out? Here are three Web sites to add to bookmark and quickly check out while you’re deciding on which movie to rent or go see: Crosswalk.com movie archives, MovieGuide.org and ChristianAnswers.net Spotlight.
You can subscribe to movie reviews by e-mail through MovieGuide.org, but if you want to view their archives you have to pay a fee, which I don’t recommend since you can view reviews of older movies on the other two sites for free. Crosswalk.com’s format is straightforward with subheadings like The Good; The Not-so-Good; The Offensive and more to help you quickly find the info you’re looking for. ChristianAnswers.net gives a morality rating to each movie, but you have to sort through differently formatted reviews to learn why they got the moral score they did. And sometimes, it’s not very clear, such as in the case of “Avatar.” The site gave “Avatar” a morality rating of “offensive,” the same as it gave “Daybreakers,” a vampire movie with “strong, bloody violence.” When I read the review to see what was so morally offensive about “Avatar,” nothing popped out at me. The reviewer mentioned the alien’s religion worshipping a mother nature-type deity, but in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” the deity is a lion and that got three notches higher on the moral scale. (Honestly, if you ignore the fact that a great Christian apologist wrote the latter, that movie would probably be much more offensive to Christians.) Furthermore, ChristianAnswers.net gave Avatar only three stars on movie-making quality, whereas “Daybreakers” got four stars. But the masses don’t agree. On IMBD, more than 150,000 viewers gave “Avatar” an 8.7 average rating, but “Daybreakers” got only 7.1 from some 5,000 viewers. All this to say, be careful not to confuse cinematic critique with moral outcry, as the reviewers on these Christian sites seem to have done with “Avatar.”
Sparing exceptions like this, these sites can surely be helpful in keeping you from stumbling upon soft porn sex scenes, which apparently the major motion picture rating association considers acceptable viewing for a 13-year-old. Whatever your age, be careful little eyes what you see!