Family

Internet Movie Database Parental Guide

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Non-judgmental guide to adult content in movies

Everyone knows, or should know, about the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). It’s been around since before the web (you used to be able to send e-mail queries to the database to retrieve information about movies and actors – but I digress).

But not everyone knows about one of its most useful features: the Parents’ Guide.

In the detailed information about pretty much any movie on IMDb, you can click on the link to the Parents’ Guide, and you’ll get a factual, unbiased description of various aspects of the movie that some viewers may find inappropriate for their children, or for themselves.

Here’s how the Parents’ Guide page describes itself:

“Since the beliefs that parents want to instill in their children can vary greatly, we ask that, instead of adding your personal opinions about what is right or wrong in a film, you use this feature to help parents make informed viewing decisions by describing the facts of relevant scenes in the title for each one of the different categories: Sex and Nudity, Violence and Gore, Profanity, Alcohol/Drugs/Smoking, and Frightening/Intense Scenes.”

By reading the descriptions, you can determine if a movie that you are considering showing your kids (or your parents, or your friends) may be inappropriate or offensive. Every kid is different, and every family is different: some people don’t like swearing, some people are OK with swearing but object to sex or violence, and some people know that their kids don’t do well with scary scenes. The Parents’ Guide, which is edited wiki-style by contributors to the IMDb, lets you decide for yourself. (It can also help you check your recollection of a movie that you saw when you were young but that might not be acceptable for your own children.)

The “Profanity” section will often contain a straightforward list of potentially objectionable words that appear in the movie.

Here are a few example descriptions, from the original Ghostbusters (1984) (spoiler alerts!):

  • “Dana tries to seduce Venkman but he refuses. She rolls him over on top of her and says ‘I want you inside me.'”
  • “Dana opens her refrigerator and sees a hallucination of a rooftop building with a vicious dog, which roars loudly and frightens her.”
  • “Ghosts and monsters appear in some scenes, which young viewers may find frightening. Especially the one in the library at the beginning of the film.”

And here are a few from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975):

  • “Multiple animated bare bottoms.”
  • “Two young women look at and touch a man’s private parts, no nudity seen.”
  • “Lancelot slays multiple people at a wedding, and some people’s clothes become blood-stained. His sword is also blood-stained.”
  • “Three men are flung into the gorge of eternal peril.”
  • “Lots of name calling and insults: bosom, tart, chicken, shut up, crapper, gay, sod, tit, git, weird, idiot, stupid.”

What I love about the Parents’ Guide is that it is not biased by a particular viewpoint, as far as I can tell. It simply states the facts; you can decide for yourself if what is described will be acceptable to your audience.

-- Chris Jones 11/3/15