Making the Most of Family Movie Nights

A friend of mine, Matt, was recently recounting a memory of seeing a movie as an early teen with his dad.

“He took me to see Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, a movie he’d already seen. I remember him physically covering my eyes at one point because what was about to happen was going to be really violent.”

 Today, Matt Jarman is the president of a company called ClearPlay, an organization which developed technology that acts much like Matt’s dad did – shielding younger eyes and ears from things most families would rather not have their kids see or hear.

Matt’s ClearPlay team codes films past and present so that your family can filter out content based on the criteria you set, in categories ranging from sexual content and blasphemy (misusing God’s name) to graphic violence and drug or alcohol use. Then, when you put a DVD into your ClearPlay player, it plays the movie, filtering the content based on your settings. For films that are largely positive but have a few troublesome spots, it can reclassify a movie from off-limits to one you can enjoy together as a family.

For instance, one of my all-time favorite films is October Sky, a story about a boy who grows up in a mining town with a love of rockets and space – a love not shared by his foul-mouthed father. Since my son has a passion for flight and space, this is a movie we were able to enjoy together, while not having to listen to the dozen or so expletives littered throughout the film.

Better still, you can pair the power of ClearPlay with Family Movie Nights, a free resource from Focus’ Plugged In team that provides parents with a movie summary and discussion questions you can use to have a meaningful, biblically informed discussion. The questions help you to think critically about the themes and situations in the movie you just watched.

My son and I recently invited several father-son tandems over to watch the hoops classic, Hoosiers. Then, we took a few minutes to explore some of the discussion questions and talk about the key themes in this great story about a basketball coach with a troubled history who uses his second chance to help a small-town team achieve beyond their wildest expectations. As dads and sons, we discussed what makes for a good coach, the value of exercising self control and the portrayal of Christianity in the film.

What movie did you recently watch together that was either a great family experience … or an occasion when you wish you had a resource like ClearPlay or Family Movie Nights handy?

Simon Henry More than 1 year ago

My son is only 4, but I can't wait to share some of the great stories that exist through film. The Princess Bride will be an inconceivable night! Let's live like dads should!

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

This reminds me of about sixteen years ago when our pastor told the entire congregation "I just saw this incredible movie about hope called 'The Shawshank Redemption'; there is nothing inappropriate in it, have your whole family see it as soon as possible!" Needless to say, he got some confused and angry phone calls the following week. It turns out that he had watched the movie on an airplane, and all of the "adult" stuff had been edited out. He apologized the following Sunday, but still maintained that it was a great movie and to get the edited version for our children if we could.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Great resource Rich!  Thanks for sharing!  I wish I had the ClearPlay when my daughter and I watched Rango.  I had no idea that it was more for adults and cussed like 6 or 7 times!  Whoopsies!  It was a good teaching point for her, though, and she understood why we deleted it from our DVR.

A little side note- it was good spending time with you in Peru!  God Bless- Nate Roten

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Instead of trying to clean up so called hollywood's filth, how about we spend more time forcing our wives and children to spent the time wasted on tv, movies, and mtv video games on studying in the Word?

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Back to the Future was WAY more inappropriate than I remembered when I saw it as a kid. That's why I'm so thankful for Plugged In, tho they didn't have a review for that one.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

We watched Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Journey 2, recently. Both were enjoyable movies we could all watch as a family.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Flags of our Fathers with my high school son.