Bad Guys (Pluggedin Online) Tired of all the super heroes? This animated movie offers a completely different take...the bad guys are the dfeatured characters. Why are they bad? Becuase that is what they have been told so they fulfill their destiny. This is a very entertaining movie but it haas a message...maybe the people we have characterized as bad as we think. Masybe we should be slow to judge until we hear the whole story of people's lives. Father Stu (Catholic Review) You don't see many movies today with a positive presentation of a priest so for Catholic ADULTS this one may be one not to miss. It stars Mark Wahlberg as a true life character who though burrdened by a life of difficulty decides to ghive his life to Chridst in the priesthood. The movie is filled with rough language and some violence but would be indspiring for adults and possibly older teenagers.
Turning Red (Pluggedin Online) If you are a Pixar fan as many parents are, you were probably excited to see this new Pixar animated film appear. It is well done technically but unlike many of Pixar's films of the past there are spome content issues...crass language and sexual inuendos. Nothing extremely serious but if you want to take the family to this just be ready for some problems that you might not expect.
The Adam Project (Pluggedin Online) If you have Netflix, you may want to watch this very exciting movie with your middle school or older kids. It's about relationships between parents and kids and how we don't always do and say what we really want to. Kids can be harder on their parents than they mean to be and it can come back to haunt them. Besides, movies about time travel are always fun.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Pluggedin Online) CAUTION! This movie contains lots of violence but because it is on Disney Plus and will also be in theaters, many families and youth will see it. With that in mind it might be good to take a look at the following review. It is an enjoyablwe movie but there is a lesson to be learned in it abpout violence and the spirituality that can be discovered in other cultures.
Paw Patrol: The Movie (Pluggedin Online) I've seen more episodes of Paw Patrol than I want to number. My granddaughter loved these little pups. The movie is great for kids and has a positive message about helping each other in times of need and overcoming fear and doubt. So parents grab some pop corn and enjoy.
Respect (Pluggedin Online) This movie is a biopic on the life of Aretha Franklin. It is recommended for mature young people and adults because of sexual content and other problematic behavior on the part of Aretha and the others in her life. That said the movie has a strong spiritual message and it portrays a real conversion that Aretha experienced late in her life. For all of thesae reasons as well as thestrong acting and singing this movie will be a good source of conversation for adults and youth. Luca (Pluggedin Online) This movie is streaming on Disney Plus. It is another of the wonderful Pixar movies that Disney has co produced. Luca is a sea monster, through a very young and friendly one. This is a coming of age movie that might bring back memories of a certain mermaid you may have heard of. Luca is enticed by a fellow sea monster to try his fins (?) on land and with that the fun begins.
Boss Bay: Family Business (Pluggedin Online) This is a sequel to the Boss Baby movie of several years ago and actually (unless you like a lot of potty humor) this one is better. Yes, there is still the pratfalls and rumbles but there is a real plot and some positive messages about family. The movie is funny and great for all ages.
Black Widow (Pluggedin Online) If I have to inform you that this movie is part of a much larger series of movies based on Marvel comics superheroes and heroines then you have been quarantined for too long. Black Widow is a well known Marvel heroine and this is her back story. It is a story about family and family sticking together even when things don't make a lot of sense ands damage has been done. Of course there are villains to defeat but family is a very positive theme. Warning! the movie is not for the younger set, best for teenagers and older, but it is an enjoyable film and one that just might have some great points of discussion hidden within.
Spirit Untamed (Pluggedin Online) If your kids like horses and adventures out west this movie should be on their watch list. It is much like a previous film Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron but takes a very different path. It's about a young girl who goes out west to live with her estranged father and meets the wild horse of her dreams. In this case the horse and the girl get tamed. In the Heights (Pluggedin Online) This movie is not for the younger set... high school would be a good bet. With theaters beginning to open many young people might be looking for something like this. It is a musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda about young people in a Latinx neighborhood in New York called the Heights. There is some language but it presents a very positive and helpful message about Latin culture and overall message is positive and the music is enjoyable.
Raya and the Last Dragon (Pluggedin Online) This new Disney movie provides us with another princess so parents make room on the princess shelf in your daughter's room. The great thing about this movie is that, besides being a beautiful film, is that there are some powerful themes that can be a lesson for everyone who views it. The theme of forgiveness and how forgiving others does not come easily is presented very well here. Parents and kids can use the film to discuss the multitude of ways this applies in real life.
The Sponge Bob Movie: Sponge on the Run (Pluggedin Online) Sponge Bob is a lot of fun, sometimes a bit crazy and always silly but fun. The best thing about Sponge Bob is his(?) love for his friends and positive attitude no matter what. Those things are very present in this film so for fans of the Sponge this film is worth seeing. There are some things that might not work well with the younger set so parents should be wary, but for older kids and teens and even adults it can be enjoyable.
Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry (Pluggedin Online) Billie Eilish (a 17 year old girl in case you didn't know) has become a sensation over the last several years for her music. In her music she honestly expresses her struggles as a young woman and that is why so many teens are attracted to her and her music. This documentary is definitely not rated PG but if parents choose to watch this with their teens... especially teen girls it could be a transforming experience and discussion.
Tom and Jerry (Pluggedin Online) Tom and Jerry cartoons go back a long way. It seems like Tom always gets the worst of it and in this movie nothing has changed. So you can expects a lot of rough and tumble chase scenes that the kids may or may not like, and a plot that is pretty simple. But the fun in this movie is mostly the slapstick action and guessing whether Tom will ever catch Jerry.
Your Guide to Pro-life Films and TV Shows on Netflix and Amazon (America Magazine) This list may not satisfy every pro-life enthusiast but it is valuable for those who are looking for programs that fit the broad definition of pro-life. Admittedly this is from as more liberal source but the suggestions are very useful.
TV about Racism and Social Justice (Common Sense Media) The issues of racism and social justice are all over the news these days. Even my 4 year old granddaughter is aware of it. Why not sit down as a family and watch some television programs that address the issue is a gentle way as a discussion starter? This is just one of the many helpful "best of" lists on Common Sense Media.
Go Dog Go (Common Sense Media) This is a Netflix series that the young ones will enjoy as they follow the funny adventures of the characters in this TV program. The characters offer good example to the kids as they deal with what life sends their way.
Charming (Pluggedin Online) Everyone has a back story right? Have you ever wondered what the back story for Prince Charming is? If so, then this movie is for you. It is a "charming" tale about the man who swoops in and saves the day or falls in love with the beautiful damsel in distress. There is the usual villain that might scare some kids and some violence between the good guys and the bad guys so the younger crowd might be shocked a bit but the ,movie as well done and on Netflix.
Kiss the Ground (Common Sense Media) This documentary on Netflix is special because it offers youth an in depth look at how nature works on the soil underneath our feet. Beyond that it discusses the environmental crisis and that one solution can be found in a better use of the soil that God gave us.
Movies that Inspire Kids to Change the World (Common Sense Media) Common Sense Media is wonderful website that offers parents help and advice on media in general and movies in particular. This is just one of their "best lists." Check out this site for these movies and much more.
Family Movies to Get Excited about in 2021 (Common Sense Media) I don't know if you are making any plans at all for 2021 given the year we've just had but if your kids love ,movies there is a lot to be excited about including a new Cinderella movie and Ghostbusters as well as Cruella. Check out this preview for more information.
Soul (Pluggedin Online) This new movie from PIXAR/Disney is all about life after death and the existence of a soul as the unique life force of every person. It does not at all reflect a faith perspective much less a Catholic one. It is certainly a movie the family would enjoy and it offers a chance for the family to have a discuss of the afterlife and what we Catholic believe.
The Best Family Movies of 2020 (Common Sense Media) 2020 may have been a bummer of a year for many reasons, but it has produced a number of good family movies. The people at Common Sense Media have made it easy for us by putting together their list of the 20 best. The list includes everything between Dino Dana and others for the small children to John Lewis: Good Trouble and Hamilton for teens. Check it out, you'll find something to watch with the family.
Four Christmas Movies for the Family (Sister Rose Pacette) We love Sister Rose and her reviews of movies. This year when we have lots of time at home, she has found four Christmas movies that offer more than the usual Christmas fare. One of the movies is reviewed below, Jingle Jangle A Christmas Journey, so check the out. The other three are well worth viewing also: Dear Santa, Christmas Chronicles 2 and You Are My Home. They are all heart warming and offer a great message as well.
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (Netflix) If you love a heartwarming Christmas story that the whole family can enjoy this is for you. Plus, this movie has lots of singing and dancing, the special effects are fabulous and the sets and costumes are great. We stumbled across this gem on Netflix. Beyond all of that, the main characters are African American and they are presented as wonderful inventers who create all kinds of gadgets. The movie breaks stereotypes. David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet (Netflix) This documentary honors the work of David Attenborough as a natural historian and broadcaster. He truly loves life on this planet. The documentary shows the serious effects that humanity has had on the natural world and it predicts a dire future if we don't find a way to change the damage we are doing. A great watch for parents and older children, especially teens.
Come Away (Pluggedin Online) If you liked Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan, this movie may be for you. It might be too heavy for younger kids because of its portrayal of a tragic death and some street violence, but for older children and teens it can offer a wonderful trip into fantasy land. Great entertainment for a somewhat dark period of our own.
I Am Greta (HULU) This documentary is about the 16 year old girl from Sweden who began the school strikes in protest of the inactivity of political leaders regarding climate change. Greta is for real and she is portrayed in a very human way. This documentary would make for great conversation about this issue. Whose Vote Counts? (Netflix) This documentary series on Netflix offers families a view of the way democracy works in the United States warts and all. It would not be recommended for younger kids but would be a good conversation starter for teens and adults to watch together. It is helpful for everyone to have good information about the way the system in the U.S. works.
Kid President (Youtube) Kid President was an internet sensation of a few years ago that I totally missed. It featured a young black boy sharing his perspective on the world and society. After a fairly long run, suddenly the videos stopped. And the kid who was kid president grew up. Fans were disappointed but things change. Well now Kid President is back with whole new series pf adventures looking for young people who are, making a difference, changing the world. Subscribe to the Youtube channel it will be well worth it.
The Social Dilemma (Roger Ebert) This documentary on the dangers of social media is a must see for all parents and teens. Anyone who is worried about the influence that social media is having on young people and young teens especially should watch this film and take it to heart. A friend of mine who had been a Facebook lover dropped the app altogether after he watched the documentary. There are some insidious things going on behind the scenes of these companies.
Mulan (Sister Rose Pacette NCR) Disney lovers know that Mulan was originally an animated film about a brave Chinese young woman who lived in the days of the emperors. Disney has been offering live action versions of those animated films lately and this is another example of that. Sister Rose loves the film and feels it offers a wonderful example of a strong young woman to girls of today. She is brave but deceptive. Sister Rose believes that parents and young people might have some fruitful discussions after watching the film.
Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs (Pluggedin Online) This is a delightful movie for the whole family but especially for the little ones. It is a retelling of the Snow White story with some plot twists. The message is very positive: what counts is what is on the inside of people not how they look. It is a Pixar style animated movie.
Enola Holmes (Pluggedin Online) I'm not sure if families are going to the theater these days, but in case they are not this is a very enjoyable movie for families with junior high and high school aged kids (especially girls). Enola Holmes is Sherlock's younger sister and of course in this movie she is off to solve a mystery. The movie is fast paced and humorous. It stars Millie Bobby Brown who also starred in the Netflix hit Stranger Things. There are some violent scenes but overall the content is fine for young teens.
Fatima (Pluggedin Online) It has been awhile since a truly Catholic movie has appeared in theaters. The retelling of the Fatima story by a secular production company is a rarity today. The Catholic Church has been more accustomed to being criticized or even demonized these days. The movie is well done. The theology is sometimes questionable: Mary asks the children to pray the rosary to stop God's wrath, but with a bit of discussion parents can take their teens to this movie and help them understand the times and the miraculous events. The movie is not for young children (under 12) because of its violent depiction of war.
Jojo Rabbit (Pluggedin Online) This is a great movie for our times. It seems there has been a renewed interest in fascism and Nazism in our country. This movie is almost dreamlike in that it presents a young boy's fanatic love for Adolph Hitler. It is definitely not for the younger set but teenagers might enjoy and learn a lot from the film. It offers a great deal of opportunity for discussion.
Just Mercy (Pluggedin Online) We like to think that racism is a thing of the past and that inmates in prison are there for the right reasons. This movie, based on a real case in Alabama highlights the fact that the "justice system" isn't always just. Johnny D as he is called has been given the death penalty for something he did not do. Enter lawyer Bryan Stevenson who fights for Johnny's rights. This movie is definitely not for children, but high school aged youth could gain a great deal from it.
The Two Popes (Pluggedin Online) Most people won't have seen this movie in the theater but it is right there on Netflix if you want to check it out. It seems these days the pope, who is the symbol of Catholic unity, can often be the most divisive; and so it is with these two popes. They are very different men with very different views of the Church but they become close friends. This movie is not for young children but older kids, especially in high school, might enjoy it and learn a lot. It can open some eyes and minds to the inner workings of the Church and the humanity and sincere faith of the leaders of the Church.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Pluggedin Online) If you have seen the documentary movie on Fred Rogers you will not be surprised by this film. Fred really was a great human being and a man of faith not just a TV personality. This movie basically says "ditto" to the message of the documentary. Take your whole family to see it and then talk about what it means to be a hero.
Harriet (Pluggedin Online) This movie is a must see for everyone but especially for families with older kids. These days when we are experiencing a rise of prejudice among many, it is important for all of us to be reminded of its destructive power. Harriet Tubman was a hero. Many young people may not be aware of her and her courageous life. The movie is not recommended for the young ones but for older kids and teens it would be well worth while.
Lion King (Pluggedin Online) The Lion King animated movie came out 25 years ago, yikes! It doesn't seem that long. Many people may be wondering why Disney would try to improve on perfection with a live action version... well, it's pretty awesome. Once more with feeling I guess. The movie has the same great story line with many opportunities for discussion with family. Plus, it has awesome and very realistic graphics. The only problem is that the real life characters can be more scary for the little ones. Enjoy!
Unplanned (Pluggedin Online) This movie is definitely not for children but could be a movie that parents take their teens to. It is the story of Abby Johnson who once worked for Planned Parenthood before actually witnessing an abortion and having a change of heart. It is R rated for a reason and it is not in the movies for families category for a reason. Parts of it are fairly graphic (though not nearly as graphic as many current horror movies), but they are not things that are imaginary or pretend; they are really happening. So parents beware especially of your son or daughter is squeamish, but viewing it together could lead to some very good discussion of a very important issue.
Busted Halo Busted Halo is a Catholic website for young adults. Spiritual Side of Cinema examines the spiritual side of favorite movies. Take a unique look at the intersection of faith and Hollywood. Parents might find this site helpful when discussing the faith aspects of a movie their kids.
Common Sense Media Reviews of movies, games, apps, & more so parents can make informed decisions.
Plugged In Online Focus on the Family sponsors this website which offers faith based reviews of current movies and television programs as well as video games. Sister Rose Reviews the Movies Sister Rose Pacatte offers an insightful faith based review of current movies.