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Movie Nights

For Teens

For Kids

Galaxy Quest

Galaxy Quest

Aging actors from a campy sci-fi series get recruited to fight an actual space battle … but don’t know it. A clever comedy that raises questions about fantasy and reality.

Finding Nemo

Finding Nemo

Brilliantly animated fish tale about an overprotective clownfish risking life and fin to locate his kidnapped son. A terrific illustration of God’s tireless pursuit of His wayward children.

Because of Winn-Dixie

Because of Winn-Dixie

With the help of a stray pooch, the young daughter of a small-town minister learns about life, compassion and community by befriending good-hearted adults with painful pasts.

Pinocchio

Pinocchio

Becoming a real boy isn’t easy for a soft-hearted marionette easily led astray. But just as irresponsibility has its consequences, bravery, honesty and sacrificial love have rewards.

The Mission

The Mission

A devout priest and a converted slave trader are dedicated to serving natives deep in the jungles of South America. But political entanglements threaten their work … and their lives.

Balto

Balto

Born part wolf, this canine outcast overcomes prejudice and proves himself a worthy sled dog by heroically trekking across Alaska with medicine for sick children.

FAQs

Question: What is a Movie Night?

Answer: A Movie Night is a golden opportunity for parents and children to have a meaningful, biblically based discussion about one of the better films coming out of Hollywood. It's also the term we use for the downloadable curricula we've created to help you accomplish that.

On this website, you'll find two categories of Movie Nights. Each targets a different age group. The first, "Movie Nights for Kids," includes a one-page tip sheet for parents (with an activity, plot summary, scripture verses and several discussion questions), as well as a puzzle page for children ages 6-10.

The second type, "Movie Nights for Teens," encourages parents and adolescents to explore deeper issues with the help of more challenging, mature-minded films. These Movie Nights are more dialogue-oriented and intended for older children (13 and up), but the goals remain the same: Have fun, enrich the parent/child relationship and help children learn to analyze media from a Christian perspective.

Families with 11- and 12-year-olds can use discretion as they transition from one format to the other, aided by teen-lite titles such as The Incredibles, Horton Hears a Who!, It's a Wonderful Life and Because of Winn-Dixie.

Question: How can I make our Movie Night more effective?

Answer: It's always a good idea to apply the four P's:

Preview. Moms and dads who haven't seen the film should preview it privately before using it in a Movie Night setting. This will help you gauge the age-appropriateness of the content, forewarn you of any questionable scenes, and give you a leg up on the discussion material.

Pray. Before and after previewing the movie, mull over the content and pray about its role in the character development of your child. Should you use it at all? If so, invite God to be part of the process. Pray that He gives you wisdom and discernment in evaluating the film and using it to touch your child in a meaningful way.

Predict. Anticipate ways the film or certain moments might connect specifically with your child. Be sensitive to how scenes or lines of dialogue could resonate in a unique way.

Protect. More than a chance to instruct, this should be an enjoyable, exclusive time shared together. You'll go to the trouble to rent a video, ice the drinks and fix the snacks. Go a step further and protect your time together—especially if you're diving into a teen Movie Night. Plan ahead to limit interruptions. Keep siblings occupied elsewhere. Let calls go to voice mail. Make it the sole activity for the evening so neither you nor your teen is in a hurry to wrap things up in order to do something else.

Question: Can you really use a Hollywood movie to teach biblical truth?

Answer: Aside from the simple pleasure of spending time together and discussing films over a big bowl of hot-buttered popcorn, there are teachable moments in Hollywood's modern parables and character studies. Crafted properly, movies can lift the spirit, tap into eternal truth and convey moral messages that challenge us to live out what we've experienced. We have a brief window for watching age-appropriate movies together before our children have to make those decisions for themselves. Here's your chance to influence the process. The key is to use movies with which you feel comfortable in a controlled setting.

Question: What are your editors' criteria for choosing the films?

Answer: We consider a wide assortment of popular, mainstream titles, provided that each meets the following criteria: 1) It must feature thoughtful, moral themes worth exploring as a family. 2) It should be well made, intelligent and generally entertaining. 3) It should have some appeal to children in the target age group. 4) Negative elements must be navigable for most families and far outweighed by positive material. 5) No R-rated movies (even though arguments could be made for a select few).

From there we seek variety. Different genres appeal to different tastes, so we look for dramas, comedies, biopics, sports sagas, adventure stories, documentaries, love stories and more. You'll find new films as well as timeless classics. Overall, we believe the best films are both fun to look at and think about—while they reflect eternal truth in a dynamic way. Even if you've already seen these movies, you'll never see them the same way again after exploring them as part of a Movie Night.

Question: Can I avoid or edit bad moments from good movies?

Answer: Even though we try to select films with a minimum of unpleasant surprises, it's rare to find a title—especially one intended for thoughtful, mature audiences—that doesn't have something inappropriate in it. There are several ways to head off potentially offensive material. First, your remote control can be your best friend when an otherwise wholesome story tosses in an unnecessary scene or two. Skip 'em. Silence 'em. When feasible, we'll let you know where to hit the fast-forward or mute button.

Sometimes, however, that's not possible. In the case of a film like Quiz Show, there's no egregious scene to jump past, but disappointing language pops up unpredictably. Network television may still censor some choice words, so recording a movie from TV can help. An even better option is using software designed to filter undesirable content. We really like ClearPlay, a DVD player and editing service that excises violence, profanity and sexuality according to sensitivity levels you establish.

Question: We're leery of PG-13 movies. Are we overreacting?

Answer: Not at all. Ideally, PG-13 films should be characterized by content that falls squarely between PG and R. Today, though, far too many PG-13 titles might be better described as "almost an R."

Floating standards and dubious marketing moves make it clear that the PG-13 rating now serves the industry better than it serves families. What was intended to inform parents now frustrates them. That's too bad because some PG-13 movies are brimming with good stuff. We've selected a handful of PG-13s with a wealth of redemptive value and what many families will consider "navigable negatives." If after reading the "Cautions" section in a particular Movie Night print-out you still feel it's not a journey you want to take, don't.

Question: Can films really shape how we think and feel?

Answer: Absolutely. Anyone who has ever left the cinema excited, angry, inspired or choking back tears knows that movies aren't "just entertainment." They can touch us deeply, sometimes even impacting our attitudes or behavior.

Why do films possess such power? The answer may be as simple and timeless as the storytelling approach taken by Jesus Himself. For example, in Matthew 7:24-27 He could've said, "The world is unstable. Follow me." Short and to the point. Ready to move on to the next lesson. (We can tend to instruct our own children that way, which usually elicits little more than a grunt and a nod.) But not the Lord. Instead, Jesus told a story about two aspiring homeowners who built their houses on different foundations. The wise man chose rock. The foolish man trusted in sand. Jesus proceeded to describe a storm that buffeted both structures. One stood up to the elements. The other fell. He concluded by comparing Himself to the solid rock that served as the wise man's starting point. In just four sentences Christ crafted a plot, characters, conflict and a moral to the story. It captivated His audience at an emotional level, which is what makes any message stick.

Now consider the tools available to big-screen storytellers: celebrities, dialogue, music, wardrobe, cinematography, clever editing and special effects. Filmmakers know exactly what they want us to think and feel, and some are experts at making it happen.

Question: Are Movie Nights movies endorsed by Focus on the Family?

Answer: We realize the mere inclusion of specific films could seem like a tacit endorsement of them. That's not our intent. We're simply looking at some of Hollywood's better efforts and breaking them down for you as a starting point. Our goal is to provide as much information as possible to help you determine whether or not a particular film will serve you well. Then it's your call.

Question: Do some discussion questions apply to all movies, not just a Movie Nights movie?

Answer: In addition to the specific questions featured in the "Talking Points" section of each Movie Night, you can refer back to this list of more general ones at any time:

• "Which character did you admire most? Why?"
• "Do the themes in this movie reflect reality? Do they reflect truth?"
• "How do the morals onscreen compare with the values you've been taught at home, in school or in church?"
• "Do you think movies like this have any effect on how close you feel to your family, friends or God? Explain."
• "How might you imagine God reacting to this movie? Why? Would you feel comfortable if Jesus sat watching it with you?" (See Matthew 28:20)
• "Beyond God's opinion of the movie, does the movie have an opinion of God? What is it?"
• "What would happen if you imitated the lifestyles or choices of the characters?"
• "How does it make you feel to know that, by renting this video, you are supporting the morals and ideas it's promoting?"
• "What would you say is the main point of this movie? Do you agree or disagree with it?"

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