Basically our standards are that movies are clean from sexual images and talk, low on violence - especially gratuitous violence, and have a positive message.
I will add to this page as time goes on and as we see new movies.
(Remember this though - everyone has different standards of what is appropriate. I am only listing my feelings. My two cents - for free!)
1. Soul Surfer. It is the story of real life Surfing Champion Bethany Hamilton. She is an inspiration to everyone around her as she tackled all the odds after she lost her arm to a shark attack. She has an interview on I Am Second - check it out here.
It is clean in language and topics. However there are a lot of bikini clad women and girls in it. I have been reassured that is cultural for those that live in Hawaii. However for those of us in chilly Canada we don't see that a lot. Also the shark attack scene is tastefully done without a lot of hype and blood. However it can be scary for small children.
2. No Greater Love This story is about a woman who leaves her family due to some addiction issues. Her husband and son continue on hoping that one day she will return. After ten years they stumble upon her working at a VBS at a local church. Everyone`s lives are turned into a tail spin as they grapple with the wedding vows she took many years ago and her commitment to Christ now.
I enjoyed this movie. It moved me to tears. The issues and questions raised are one not typically seen in movies. I also thought the Christians in the movie were authentic.
There was not quite enough background information given of the couple`s life before she left which leaves you guessing a little as to why it all happened. However it`s message that marriage is forever and that God is all-sufficient is very clear.
3. In The Blink of an Eye This is an end times movie. Except the character in this film is given warnings from God that the rapture is coming. It is a mix between Left Behind and Groundhog Day. If you've never seen Groundhog Day you might not understand my analogy. It is a movie where the main character keeps reliving the same day over and over until he gets his priorities turned around. That is what happens in this Christian Suspense movie.
4. Love Comes Softly Series And here. And here. And here. And here. And here. And here. And here. These movies are based on the novels by Janette Oke. If you haven`t read them you should! The movies are directed by Michael Landon Jr. (The son of Little House on the Prairie`s Michael Landon). He does an awesome job of movie making. As well as an excellent job of putting Janette`s books into a film. So far there are seven movies out. I rate them all two thumbs up! (Although my husband might not agree.)
5. Faith Like Potatoes This is an amazing movie about the power of faith. I needed to watch it with the subtitles on though. The main actor is a Scottish - Australian living in South Africa - or some kind of accent stew. However it did not deter the story. A very powerful theme. I think it was based on a true story - if I remember correctly. May be hard for young kids to follow, but my teenage daughter really enjoyed it.
6. Fireproof Absolutely amazing movie. Do not miss this one. Trailer here. The movie is about a fireman who is about ready to give up on his `burning to the ground`marriage. So is his wife, in fact. Then his father steps in and asks him to wait 40 days before filing for divorce. He hands him a leather bound journal called the Love Dare. It is a daily exercise of showing selfless love to your spouse one small step at a time. The Dare is powerful - as all things littered with God are. It changes his feelings for his wife, his job and even his feelings about God.
If you are engaged to be married or considering renewing your vows, let me direct you to the last scene in the movie - the wedding scene. Take a moment and consider the difference between their vows and the traditional ones we often hear. If I ever get married ( to my husband) again, we are exchanging those kinds of vows. (If you can`t spot the difference send me an email or comment and I will point it out for you.)
Parental Guidance for this one. There are references to online pornography addictions, fierce anger scenes and a budding affair. Don`t let this warning keep you from watching it. It is very tastefully done but it will raise questions from the younger folk. A+++++
7. Flywheel This is the first Kendrick Brothers and Sherwood Pictures film. If you can get your hands on the revised addition you will enjoy it just a smidgen better. If you want to see the power of God at work, watch the commentary and listen to how little they had - experience, equipment and time. They did a fantastic job with what they had.
If you are not familiar with the Kendrick brothers, let me fill you in on a few tidbits. They are three brothers - two of which are pastors at a church in Albany Georgia. They decided that Christ-centered movies were a great outreach to their communities. However there were so few available to them they decided to make their own. So, make their own they did. They recruited people from their church to act, shoot cameras, make sets - you name it. They did it all on volunteers servants. If you manage to watch all four of their movies you will see many of the same people being recycled in several roles.
8. Facing the Giants The second Kendrick Film. A major improvement over the first one even. These boys learn from doing. The story is of a football coach losing at life in many ways. He is brought to his knees and recommits to do it God's way. Often God`s way goes against the crowd though. But God`s way never fails! A real feel good, family movie. There are no inappropriate scenes for younger viewers, although too young and they will not catch the lessons. But they will have fun watching it. Lots of football scenes. There is even a cameo of a famous football coach from the NFL in there.
9. Narnia Series (no actual Christian content - but allegorical) Perhaps you read the Narnia books as a kid. Well Walden Media had decided to make the classic C.S. Lewis books into movies. They are filming them a little out of order from the book series, but my kids tell me from an in depth internet research that they are filming them in the order that Lewis wrote them.
The first, Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, remains very close to the book. It is the story of four children shipped off from their home during the war to live with a distant and unknown uncle. The kids stumble upon a magical wardrobe that takes them into a whole new world - Narnia. Here the animals talk and the world is frozen in ice from a wicked witch. She rules only because the greater power - the Deep Magic is awaiting the arrival of the Adams and Eves - the four children.
The second is Prince Caspian. It is the story of a thousand years later in Narnia where the human race, the Telmarines are controlling the forests now and have tried to wipe the entire Narnian race (talking animals). Along come the four children again to help a Telmarine Prince reclaim the throne and reunite the races once again.
The third installment is The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Only two of the fours siblings are allowed to return to the magical world of Narnia this time. But they bring along a cousin (for comic relief). They meet up on the Dawn Treader which is King Caspian's ship (the Prince from the previous movie). This time only three years have passed. there is still peace but now Caspian must embark on a perilous journey to reclaim the swords of Aslan. Everyone is faced with temptations in this story as they try to stay on the narrow path.
If you know your bible you will see unmistakable links between the world of Narnia and the Christian faith.. however there is nothing religious about the movies whatsoever.
I need to comment on the "fear" factor of these movies. They are fantastical and amazingly graphic with battle scenes and tidal waves and dragons. As that may influence your decision to let young ones watch these I need to point out that my youngest daughter (who was 12 when we watched The Voyage of The Dawn Treader) loves them and she does not like "scary" movies. It may have helped that she was familiar with the stories from the books and audio we own. However she still prefers cartoons over most other movies but LOVES Narnia. Please check out plugged in for more ideas of their appropriateness for young children.
10. Courageous. This is the fourth movie by the Kendrick brothers that portrays the lives of four law enforcement officers faced with a new challenge. Fatherhood. The movie plot follows the statistical research that kids from poor father homes or absent father homes are more likely to fail in life - drugs, alcohol, jail etc. When a tragedy strikes one of the fathers he is forced to evaluate how he is doing as a dad. When he decides to involve God in to that evaluation amazing things start happening. A powerful and moving movie that will make you cry, cheer and laugh till you fall off your seat. May not be appropriate for young children due to references to drugs and crimes. Great for Moms and Dads!
11. Seven Days in Utopia. A story of second chances. This particular movie follows the downward slide of a professional golfer who makes a fool of himself in front of the world. Then after running to hide he finds himself in Utopia Texas. From that point on he is part of a divine plan to turn his life around, ground him in faith and fill him with forgiveness. The theme is powerful and the cast is fantastic. A real family film.
The movie ends with a small cliffhanger then directs you to a website to find out how the story really ends. Check it out. Official movie website here. Trailer here. My blog post here.
12. Paper Dream The movie is short; an unbelievably well-packed 44 minutes long. It tells the realistic and agonizing experience of infertility. The actors were new faces to me but it didn't feel like they were "new". The entire piece was very engaging.
As far as family-friendly goes ... it has earned the Dove Foundation seal for its clean content. The only questionable items that may help you decide if your younger children are ready to watch it is there is a scene where it is vaguely suggested that a young girl has had an abortion. Without this understanding the next few scenes may be difficult to process. So decide for yourself if you want to open that discussion with your family or not. If you do ... I don't think you will be disappointed. Movie trailer.
13. Little Red Wagon The story of Zach Bonner, a very young boy from the USA who started out helping a few people and ended up changing the world. The movie tells of how this young boy got started and how without planning to, began running a charity foundation helping thousands upon thousands of needy children.
I really liked that the movie told a well-rounded story. Not just the facts of the boy and his journey but the ups and downs of a family trying to live out their lives together. There is no real mention or attention given to the faiths/beliefs of this family and I have not been able to ascertain if they are christian. However they are doing an amazing thing.
There are a few language issues in the movie to be aware of - a lippy teenager, basically. However I still believe it is a very family friendly movie to watch. But beware ... you might want to get off your couch and do something amazing after watching it!
15. Review of God's Not Dead.
16. Review of When the Game Stands Tall.
17. Review of Ring The Bell.
18. Review of Wildflower.
19. Review of Risen.
20. Review of Miracles from Heaven.
21. Review of God's Not Dead 2.
22. Review of Voiceless.
More to come!