There are bad days. And then there are terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. Young Alexander is having one of the latter. But can a day get so bad that it actually ends up good? And can the same thing be said of a movie?
Hiro Hamanda never knew how much he needed his human friends until he started building robots. He never knew how important it is to talk about your problems until a (literal) airbag taught him how.
What would sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll look like … through Solomon's eyes? What about love and marriage? Or personal commitment to God?
This inspirational true story about the winningest high school football team of all time focuses on the influence of a committed coach and poignantly unpacks that old saying, "It's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game."
"Once more into the breach," Shakespeare wrote. Or was that Tolkien? Because it's a conversation-starting description that works quite well as a summation of Peter Jackson's third Hobbit installment.
Forget the Games. Katniss is now engaged in an all-out civil war, where the stakes are nothing less than the life and soul of Panem. And the conversation? It's all propaganda. Or is it?
What is a Movie Night?
Answer: A Movie Night is a golden opportunity for families, youth groups or other small groups to have a meaningful, biblically based discussion about the movies you decide to watch. It's also the term we use for the downloadable conversation guides we've created to help you accomplish that.
We hope our Movie Nights will push you to explore films more deeply while strenghtening your Christian worldview and enriching your relationships.
How can I make our Movie Night more effective?
Answer: We'll answer that great question with four P's:
Preview. If you're not super sure about the film you've selected, watch it privately first before unleashing it on your family or group. 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 it. Should you use it at all? If so, invite God to be part of the process.
Predict. Anticipate ways the film or certain moments might connect specifically with one of your own kids or individuals in your group. Be sensitive to how scenes or lines of dialogue could resonate in a unique way.
Protect. As much as this is a chance to instruct, it should also be an enjoyable time of sharing. So protect your time together. Plan ahead to limit interruptions. Maybe even make it the sole activity for the evening.
Can you really use a Hollywood movie to teach biblical truth?
Answer: Aside from the simple pleasure of spending time together and discussing films (while snarfing down 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. And some that don't do all of those things can still be effectively used to reinforce and confirm why we don't believe things should be a certain way. Conversation is the key!
What's your criteria for choosing Movie Nights movies?
Answer: 1) The film should have a bit of "heft" to it. Or to put it another way, it shouldn't merely be a slam-bang action pic with little else to say about the world we live in. Of course, that heft will look a bit different depending on the target demographic. And we'll sometimes tackle a popular movie that's not completely upright on its own ... that we feel good conversation can help kids and adults alike deal with its pop culture influence in a better, more biblical way.
2) Negative elements might be occasionally wince-inducing but should be at least navigable for many families and far outweighed by positive material. This means, among other things, that we aren't picking any R-rated movies (even though arguments could be made for a select few).
3) We also are looking for 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.
Are Movie Nights movies endorsed by Plugged In or 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.
Should I avoid or edit the bad moments in Movie Nights movies?
Answer: Even though we try to select films with fewer unpleasant surprises than the average, it's rare to find a title—especially one intended for thoughtful, mature audiences—that doesn't have something inappropriate in it. So our answer is Yes! Don't just endure something because it's in front of you.
And if you happen to be using a DVD for your Movie Night, you might consider using a player 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.
We see that you've picked some PG-13 movies for Movie Nights, but we're leery of that rating. Are we overreacting?
Answer: Not at all. PG-13 films can indeed contain some seriously problematic content. We try hard to avoid those edgier movies when it comes to Movie Nights, but just because we do a discussion guide on a movie doesn’t mean it’s an appropriate or advisable movie for your family to watch. If after reading a particular Movie Night's "Cautions" section and the accompanying Plugged In review and you still feel it's not a journey you should or want to take, don't.
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, swelling 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. Movie Nights should help you sort through all that as you discuss what the film's really teaching and how you should apply (or not apply) its messages to your own life.
What kinds of Movie Nights questions should we be asking about all movies, not just a Movie Nights movie?
Answer: In addition to the specific questions featured in each Movie Night, you can refer back to this list of more general ones at any time:
• What would you say is the main point of this movie? Do you agree or disagree with it?
• 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?
PI's most-used Movie Nights
The Hobbit: The Battle...
The Hobbit: The Battle...
The Hobbit: The Battle...
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