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Movie Translator: Your Guide to Renting Movies
I am extremely disenchanted whenever I go to the video store. There just isn't anything decent to see.

Think about this: in the early 1960s, The Sound of Music won Picture of the Year. The vast majority of Americans had seen it.

Today, fewer than 15% go to a movie theatre at all.

And it's not just because we have DVD players. It's because most movies are awful.

Every now and then Keith and I say, "We're just pessimistic. We're being silly. There has be good stuff out there!" And so we rent a movie only to turn it off halfway.

It's not that good movies don't make kajillions. They do. Think Passion of the Christ, The Incredibles, or Finding Nemo. Movies for families, or with broad moral appeal, make money. Movies that are violent and degrading don't make as much. It's a simple fact.

And yet Hollywood streams out trash because Hollywood is trash. I don't mean to be judgmental, but I truly believe that's all most of them know. So, in order to help you when you go to rent movies, I would like to present to you my Movie Translator:

If a movie cover proclaims the movie is "edgy"
They mean: It was written by someone who was high on drugs at the time.

If it "probes the depths of human relationships"
They mean, it portrays really degrading sexual fantasies.

If it is "illuminating",
They mean: it shows the perversion of the dark side of human nature.

If it is "insightful", see above. It's only insightful if you want to understand your whacked out sociology professor who has experimented with most recreational and hard-core drugs, and whose children are currently incarcerated.

If it is "biting":
It bites. Leave it alone.

If it is "realistic":
They mean: The person calling it that grew up in a crack house with a single mother and her fourteen lovers who were in and out of jail, and was in juvenile detention himself for most of his teenage life.

If it "exposes" something:
They mean: We believe all authority is corrupt, and only people with no education except indoctrination are able to see how evil all of government currently is. And you're evil if you don't agree! Oh, and Harry Truman was a war criminal. So was Abraham Lincoln. So get with the program, people!

If it shows "a mid-life crisis":
They mean: some old guy is going to take advantage of some really young girl and make us think it's okay.

So what are you allowed to get? Look only for these adjectives:

Heart-warming. Endearing. Classic. Family. Touching. Funny.

That's it. Nothing else. If it shows anything "insightful, probing, or realistic", run very fast out of the rental shop. Very, very fast.

For instance, recently we rented "Rachel Getting Married". Here's the tagline:

When KYM (Anne Hathaway) returns to the Buchman family home for the wedding of her sister RACHEL (Rosemarie Dewitt), she brings a long history of personal crisis and family conflict along with her.

For some reason the "personal crisis and family conflict" didn't raise a red flag to me. It should have. The movie is garbage, whether or not Anne Hathaway acted well. We turned it off after 45 minutes. I kept thinking it was going to be funny, about a wedding, just like "Father of the Bride" that we rewatched last week. Wrong. Unless you find people just getting out of rehab and sleeping with someone they met five minutes ago and swearing at everyone is funny.

Here's the thing: some of these movies may very well be insightful. Some of them may depict the reality of the American family. But who still wants to see them? I want to be inspired and entertained, not challenged and lectured at. So make movies to make me feel uplifted, not like I need a bath afterwards.

If you have any other tips you'd like to add, please do so! I'd love to add to this list. I might turn it into a column soon!

UPDATE: Thanks for all your comments! I've written a follow up post addressing some of them here.

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At 1:27 PM , Blogger Mommy In Pink said…

Interesting! I agree, most movies are trash anymore!


At 4:07 PM , Blogger Charity said…

"So make movies to make me feel uplifted, not like I need a bath afterwards."

Big AGREE from me!! I love good movies - decent films you could watch with a five year old... or thirteen year old... or whoever.


At 6:44 PM , Blogger Mommy Bee said…

We really don't go to movie stores, so we don't see the labels on the movies, but we do use netflix (which I like because we can find older and hard-to-find stuff!). Anyway, I like to utilize screening websites which have specific information about what is in a movie. You can't really rely exclusively on ratings (as I'm sure you know) because sometimes a hefty rating for 'mature themes' might be something like terminal illness in what is actually an excellent and moving movie... ("Lorenzo's Oil" comes to mind). Anyway, I posted on my blog a couple of months ago with info/links to my favorite screening sites. Maybe they'll be helpful for you too. :)


At 12:16 AM , Blogger Sarah DeVries said…

I understand where you are coming from, and certainly agree that most modern movies are trash. But flagging a keyword like "exposes" as a no-no is rather unwise. For example Ben Stein's recent documentary "Expelled" was an excellent exposé of the evolutionist conspiracy. The truth is, as followers of Christ we SHOULD be ready to question "authority" whenever it does not line up with the word of God. And filmmakers who are willing to defy the powers that be and expose corruption should be applauded.

In short, I like you definitely would like to see more whole-family friendly films, but also feel there is a need for more challenging but godly films that do not always cater to a young audience (eg. Fireproof).


At 8:53 AM , Blogger Mrs W said…

I'm the oddball I guess. I do NOT want to be entertained in a movie, I want to learn something. That's why I loved Fireproof, and Expelled, both of which we went to the theatre to see just so that we could support them.


At 6:04 PM , Blogger Catherine R. said…

Too true!

You forgot "thought provoking". I have figured that one out. When they say "thought provoking" about a movie they mean that the thought will be "I want to kill myself!"

Seriously, to these people depression is the thought they know the best.

Oh, and Hollywood sure is trash. When you go there you can marvel at the transvestites and junkies bathing in a fast food restroom.


At 9:21 PM , Blogger Storm said…

Interesting translation. Yes, many movies are trash but there are still good movies out there too.

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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