My family is always excited for a family movie night. But as the mother of three and a parent educator, it’s always been important to me to carefully choose the movies we see together as a family. There are eight criteria we use in how to pick a family movie for our entire family.
How to Pick a Family Movie
Rated Appropriately for the Family – I remember going to see a face-melting scifi movie in college. I was scared and hiding my eyes during several of the creepier scenes. There were a couple of families in the theater with children under the age of six. Even at age 20, I was shocked that parents would bring young children to such a graphic movie. With that experience, I’ve always tried to check the movie rating and read about the movie content to make sure it was appropriate for my children’s ages and our family to see together.
Something You Can Relate to – Choose a movie with a topic that your family can relate to. My family has a tradition of military service. My father, both of my uncles, my brother, husband, four of my cousins and I have all served in the military, across four branches of service. We often choose movies with a military angle to watch because I know that we’ll all be interested.
Something You Don’t Know Much About – It’s also interesting to find a movie with a topic that is something you’re not familiar with. Choosing a movie set in a location or culture you’re not familiar with is a great way to learn more and generate family discussion.
Exciting or Fun – For family watching, it’s important to keep everyone hooked. Choose a movie that is action-packed, exciting or just plain fun. Leave the deep, intellectual movies for another time or when your children are older.
Teaches a Positive Lesson – When we choose a movie to watch together as a family, I look to see that it teaches a positive lesson. A movie that teaches a positive trait or lesson is a great way to lead naturally into a family discussion on that topic after the movie.
Has Actors Your Family Likes – If a movie has actors and actresses that my family knows and likes, I know they’ll be much more excited about the movie and interested in watching it.
Has Something for Everyone – Each family member has different types of movies that they like. My son like things that blow up and crash. One daughter likes nostalgic, old-style movies. Another daughter likes love stories. I like movies with great character interaction. My husband likes sports or military themed movies. I look for movies that will appeal to as many family members as possible.
Recommended by a Friend or Trusted Source – I check with family and friends for their movie recommendations. I also check on trusted movie review sites. I want to know more than it got two thumbs up. I want to know about language, graphic scenes and whether my family will enjoy it.
I’ve just found our next family movie night choice – Disney’s The Finest Hours. I was able to watch it this week and I was riveted and can’t wait to watch it again (and I rarely watch movies twice, so that says a lot!). The Finest Hours will be available on Blu-ray™, Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere on May 24 and my family will be watching it on the very next family movie night. The Finest Hours is unique in that it hits every single one of my how to pick a family movie criteria.
The Finest Hours is based on the true story of Bernie Webber and one of the greatest real-life rescue stories in U.S. Coast Guard history. The digital release includes a bonus documentary, Against All Odds: The Bernie Webber Story that introduces you to the quaint, real town of Chatham. You’re able to experience the events through the eyes of people who were there, Bernie’s daughter, the filmmakers and coauthors of The Finest Hours book. Be sure to watch the documentary after the movie because it gives you deeper understanding of the people and the impossible stakes events.
Let me tell you how The Finest Hours meets my criteria for how to pick a family movie.
Rated Appropriately – It’s rated PG-13, so it’s perfect for my tween and teens.
Relatable – The Finest Hours is the extraordinary true story of the service and sacrifice of Bernie Webber and the other Coast Guard members. The courage and service above self featured in the movie is something that my family knows firsthand. It reminds me of the brave military veterans I’ve know and had the privilege of serving with.
Experience Something New – The movie shares details on ships, tides and Coast Guard rescues. These are not topics we know much about. My family will find the real-life, historic information fascinating (I know I did) and will generate topics of conversation and research.
Exciting – My heart was honestly in my throat many times during the moving. Watching the Coast Guard rescue ship fight its way through waves twice as large as the ship was long was unbelievable. I felt as though I was there pulling for the characters as they displayed uncommon heroism and depth of character. There was also intense action and drama occurring with the surviving crew on the damaged oil tanker.
Positive Message – The movie and characters exemplify heroism, courage, selflessness, caring and the power of community. The heroism of the Coast Guard, the crew and quiet strength and camaraderie of the community are all inspiring on individual and community levels. There are many layers of positive messages throughout the movie that will lead to meaningful family discussions.
Actors You Know – There are actors that everyone in my family knows. My daughters recognize Chris Pine (Bernie Webber) from a popular tween movie several years ago. My husband and I recognize Casey Affleck (Ray Sybert) and Eric Bana (Daniel Cluff) from various movies over the past 10 or more years. My son knows Keiyan Lonsdale from a superhero TV show we watch each week. I also found it faciniating that the actors very closely resemble the real-life people who lived the events p
Something for Everyone – The movie starts slow and a bit mysterious, like an old-time movie. It has that nostalgic feel that my daughter likes. From the very beginning, I was fascinated by the complex and heartfelt interpersonal relationships between the characters. There’s non-stop heart-stopping action for the majority of the movie that will keep my son and husband (and all of us) riveted.
Recommended by a Trusted Source – I was able to watch the movie before sharing it on family movie night. I can now whole-heartedly recommend the movie. I rarely watch movies more than once, but I can’t wait to watch The Finest Hours again with my family.
You’re welcome to come over next weekend and watch with us! How do you pick a family movie to watch?
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I’m a mom of 3, a veteran and military spouse. I’ve moved into 20+ homes all around the world. My passion is helping busy people make the space and time for what’s really important to them.