Editorial: CMA patron celebrates 20 years of “Know Before You Go” movie reviews

By Steve Biddulph

We all know that erkk feeling in the stomach - we’ve taken the trouble, expense, and time to get our kids along to the movies, for a big family treat. (or just at home with a rented or streamed video). We are settled in, popcorn in hand, and after just a few seconds, it’s clear this was a terrible choice. Crass and degrading kinds of humour, or scarey violence, or just way too grown up and complex, or so jangling and disconnected, you hover between sitting it out, hoping it doesn’t get worse, or taking the nuclear option and saying “sorry kids, we chose the wrong film” and doing the walk of shame, hoping that an icecream on the way out will wipe it from their memories.

Sure, you obviously check the ratings, but kids vary in their understanding, and their apparent thick or thin-skinnedness. But even the most unflappable-seeming child has a tender heart. And seeing scarey images or storylines can contribute to trouble sleeping, nightmares when they do sleep, aggressive behaviour, lack of ability to pay attention. It can take a kid weeks to get over something that made their world feel less safe. We want our kids to see their world, at least until they are teenagers, as somewhere exciting, interesting, and beautiful. Dealing with the horrors of life is something that can only be done with care, and when they have the mental tools to handle it. 

But don’t despair. There are people who have been navigating this stuff for over 50 years, and at Children and Media Australia, the best experts, lobbyists, researchers and parents themselves have combined efforts to give you an up to date guide. The CMA movie reviews cover all newly released  G, PG and those M films promoted to children, in theatres, especially focussing on ones that children or parents might want to watch. Right now, someone from CMA’s team is watching a movie so you don’t have to! And writing a snappy summary of what is good, what is perhaps not what your child would enjoy or benefit from. 

Know Before You Go is now a database of 1500 reviews with new movies usually  added faster for Australia and UK parents than other review services.  In five seconds you can find and decide if a movie is right for your five year old, twelve year old, or any age. Children and Media Australia do a superb job with these professional reviews, I am proud to be their ambassador

You are in charge of what your kids see, and you are responsible, but this is a great starting point.

So you have less erkks, and far more wow!!s and come out of the movies feeling like their hearts are soaring, their imaginations firing, and their lives enriched. 

Go have a look, and you will be so glad you did.