Catholic Movie-going Standards

I’m just curious about what you refuse to tolerate (gory violence, nudity, etc.) in the movies you watch and why. How do you decide if a movie is harmful to your faith? What are your standards? Do you even have standards? Would you watch anything you think you would enjoy, or do you carefully read reviews on the movie before deciding?

I stay away from morally offensive themes - not because I think they would be harmful to my faith but because I find them, well, offensive. I don’t want to financially support these kind of movies.

Violence, sex, nudity are all subjective. These days many film makers have a gratuitous approach to these elements. In some movies, they aren’t especially problematice since they fit the plot. It would be hard to do a war movie without violence. At other times, I find myself saying “this movie would have been so much better without that sex/violence scene or without those F-bombs.” Unfortunately, it’s hard to know ahead of time.

I normally check the ratings. I don’t go watch movies with nudity, extreme cursing or extreme violence. Needless to say I don’t go to the movies nor watch many movies anymore! :smiley:

This, essentially. If it is not glorifying or gratuitous in sex or gore, and has at least some redeamable qualities, I’ll give it a shot. I feel that even a morally problematic film or book can be good. It was a series dealing with murder, vengence, and horror that helped bring me closer to God, through the explorations of why such evil was commited.

As far as morals are concerned, I generally can’t stand anything that cares more about advancing a preachy agenda over art. That pretty much marks fiction the likes of The Da Vinci Code, The Golden Compass, as well as their religious counterparts in Left Behind and Catholic children’s cartoons as garbage. shudders

raises hand For what it’s woth, The Golden Compass as a stand alone novel isn’t all that bad. it’s The Amber Spyglass, the final book in the series, that is pretty aweful. I read the series when I was in middle school, and just saw a fun fantasy. When I got older, I still got that vibe from TGC. I got uncomfortable with The Subtle Knife, and stopped halfway through The Amber Spyglass. So I just pretend that TGC is a stand alone novel.

I’m a big horror fan and used to count Fight Club as my favorite movie.

As I grow in my Catholic faith, I can tolerate less and less. It’s not a conscious decision. :slight_smile:

That’s sort of how it is for me. It isn’t that I think going to se such a movie is sinful, or that any other good, practicing Catholic shouildn’t see it; it’s just not me me

Thank you so much for that link! I had never heard of that site; it shall be added to my favorites!! :thumbsup:

I can tolerate violence as long as it not too gory. For example, I’ve seen Predator and Alien/Aliens and I have no problem with that. But watching Child’s Play I have a problem with because it’s too gory. I generally don’t decide if a movie is harmful to my faith because the media, the conservative media, tends to tell if a movie is good to watch or not. Plus I get weird vibes from a movie that might be harmful to my faith.

I would say I do have standards, in that I don’t anything that’s preachy or pushing an agenda like gay marriage or abortion or makes fun of conservatives. I usually see the previews and then decide for myself if that’s something I’d want to see.


When I first started battleing with scruples about what was and wasn’t a sin to watch, this site was a Godsend. He’s a very devout man, even becoiming a deacon. He’s very learned in both art and religion, so I trust him. Additionally, he makes very good points about the difference between a movie featuring immoral behavior in a nuetral way (such as a character who is gay, vs, you know, Brokeback Mountain)

Be honest: today’s horror movies suck! :smiley:

I’m a horror fan myself and I am mostly drawn to the old stuff that actually play mind games with you. Today, just throw in buckets of fake blood, add-in some frontal nudity and there’s your horror movie.

Some are good. I liked Let Me In, and Insideous was like 2/3 awesome, 1/3 fail

Most moral problems facing Catholics today involve the improper use of human sexuality. That’s the bulk of it. We see it in movies all the time:

Cohabitation with sex. The attraction is you have an attractive couple (or at least an attractive female) and that most people are doing it. It becomes an affirmation for some and a learning experience for some others.

Adultery. Another theme where an attractive person has sex with someone he or she is not married to.

Fornication. You don’t have to live with the other person, you just have ‘just sex’ like going to the bathroom.

Dysfunctional families. No, not people who love each other and have a few flaws, I’m talking about people who are living in a way that is dysfunctional. Take, The Kids Are Alright, a movie about **** SPOILER ALERT *** a married lesbian couple who have kids that know they watch male gay porn. And one of the women decides to have a quick, spontaneous sexual encounter with a man, and enjoys it. **** END SPOILER ALERT***.


There was a time where movies showed a character being shot or hit with an arrow or a thrown knife – he just fell down, and the most you’d see is a little blood. I recall my first movie where a guy was hit with a rifle bullet and blood was flying everywhere. It shocked me. But, hey, as the years passed, it became “no big deal.” Saving Private Ryan was too graphic for me, and I am a huge World War II history buff. Realism does not equal, “Yes, people should see it.” I grew up around a lot of World War II vets, and they rarely spoke about it and if they did, it was mainly to each other. They had the right attitude: “We did our job. Time to put it behind us, get married and raise a family.” Which they did.


The brilliant Terminator 2 was spoiled by its profanity. Too bad. Right after the first Star Wars movie, we had Alien, where a woman ended up running around a spaceship yelling some profanity. And it just kept getting worse. The incomprehensible 2001 led to the movie 2010, which was marred by the use of profanity. The Star Wars movies never used any.

For Catholics who want further guidance, here is a resource from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Finally, the more we meditate on the sinful, the brutal, the ultra-violent and the overtly sexual, the more desensitized we become to sin in real life.


That statement just about sums my whole problem up. I mean, sure there’s sin everywhere in the world and everybody does it. But is it wrong to get to the point where it’s just normal? You never read about Jesus being surprised by sin. He didn’t get all shocked and indignant when prostitutes and tax collectors came to Him. But then again, He’s Jesus and … well… you know. I guess on the one hand you have thinking about sin and what it is - and that seems to be a good thing. Then on the other hand you have becoming too used to it and being desensitized by it… Maybe I’m thinking too much about this. I’m starting to confuse myself. :blush:

My wife and I have a paid membership to
The site breaks down every movie they review down to specific instances and count of everything that could be considered even remotely objectionable.
You will know exactly how many “four letter words” there are in the movie and which ones.
They describe every scene with anything from short skirts to cleavage to outright nudity.
They list out alcohol and tobacco use, immitatable behavior, and violent acts.
All this while being remarkably spoiler free.

With all this information, you can apply your own standards.
My wife and I are generally ok with anything pg-13 or lower.
On R movies, we’re willing to let some profanity slide, but if it gets too much, we’ll just wait for it to be on tv, or not watch at all if it’s that bad. We’re ok with violence since it’s mostly fake, unless it gets too gory. (Wish we had looked up “The Happening” before we wasted our money on that one)
Nudity is a tough sell though. Hard to justify people being exposed for the entertainment of others. Even when tasteful, you can’t really control how others will consume the media once produced. I know it’s arguable, for us the potential misuse outweighs the potential benefits, but that’s just our own standard.

We don’t worry to much about objectionable themes since anything morally objectionable, probably won’t get us interested to go watch.

Unless it’s a movie we know, we can look it up on Focus on the Family, plugged - Our children’s ages have a pretty big span, and a movie for one of the older ones, wouldn’t necessarily be fitting for a much younger child. So the details in these reviews help with that.

Wow, that site takes all the fun out of movies! People, use your discretion! Discern! Watch the movie though Catholic Coloured Lenses!

Everything else is …scruples!

I wouldn’t say it takes the fun out of movies, the information is there, you can use as much or as little of it as you want. Personally I mainly check the nudity section and the profanity section because those are the things I choose not to expose myself to. Others mighty want to look at some other criteria.

I do find your comment a bit simplistic. By that criteria, you could say someone could read 50 Shades of Gray “through Catholic Coloured Lenses”. I guess some would argue that you could… It’s not scrupules to use available information to make a more informed choice.

There is also something to be said about what we chose to patronize with our dollars. As consumers, our choices send a message. Often my wife and I will decide that a movie is ok to watch but due to some content, would prefer not to support it at theaters, and wait until it’s on TV where our viewing is not as significant. I wouldn’t call it a moral imperative or anything, but I wouldn’t dismiss it as scrupulous either.

What’s so “fun” about exposing children, especially boys, to images, or situations they’re not ready for. What about grown ups - maybe I’d rather choose a movie that’s more in-line with my beliefs. Great idea! - especially since I’m paying for it.

These are positive steps to take to find entertainment that fits our family’s values.

A friend forwarded me an article about how teens who view movies w/ sexually explicit language and images are more likely to imitate that behavior. I didn’t save it b/c I’ve always thought there’s some truth in that.

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