Tuesday, September 17, 2013

BLOG TOUR: 250 Great Movies for Latter-day Families by Jonathan Decker

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Finding wholesome, uplifting movies can be a daunting task—especially when Hollywood’s values are so far from the Church’s. 250 Great Movies for Latter-day Families offers a broad selection of edifying options for your family’s next movie night. With content reviews, gospel parallels, and easy-to-use indexes, this guide is sure to have something for everyone.

“The theatre, the theatre, what’s happened to the theatre?” This is what many LDS parents are also asking. Finding films is not hard with the unlimited resources available for entertainment, including Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, and Amazon instant video. But finding movies that are entertaining, well-made, and wholesome is a challenge.

Jonathan Decker, host of the KJZZ Movie Show and certified marriage and family therapist, offers this review guide—complete with easy-to-navigate indexes—on movies that range from Bing Cosby’s Going My Way (1944) to the more modernAvengers (2012). Each film receives a discussion of artistic value, a general content review, and suggestions for gospel parallels. This guide has something for everyone and is an essential tool when planning movie nights, dates, family home evenings, and other gatherings.


Jonathan Decker is a licensed marriage and family therapist moonlighting as a film critic, providing Hollywood movie reviews from a Latter-day Saint perspective at mormonmovieguy.com. He also writes regularly for Meridian Magazine, Modern Mormon Men, and Mommy Bear Media, and has published articles in St. George Magazine, Desert Saints Magazine, and Southern Bride Magazine. Jonathan earned a master’s degree from Auburn University, where his thesis was picked up for international publication. He has a background in entertainment, winning a campus-wide talent show at Brigham Young University for his act, “One-Man Lord of the Rings,” and spending two years as a writer and performer with the popular BYU humor group Divine Comedy. Jonathan lives with his wife and children in St. George, Utah.


Finding a film worth watching is a challenge for me these days. I generally prefer a good book.  Especially since a lot of the time movies have stuff in them that I don't want to see.  I like to be warned beforehand of this sort of thing.  So I was interested when I heard about this book. Decker clearly explains his reasons for the book and how he has put together his reviews.  He highlights three areas for each movie: artistic merit, content overviews, and messages to discuss.  Artistic merit is pretty self-explanatory, some movies are just poorly done period.  I especially appreciated the author's discussion of content and why he has included what he has despite some issues and what he has excluded and why.  This sort of thing helps me determine what I am comfortable watching.  At this point he also discusses LDS church standards and quotes several general authorities statements about media and its value as well as dangers. He makes clear that his comments on the movies are his own and leaves the reader free to make up his/her own mind.  I liked this because after all, even with the same standards, we all still have different opinions about what we like and don't like and what is appropriate for children.

The book includes reviews of 250 great movies, both old and new.  Some examples include: 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, Megamind, Sense & Sensibility, Lord of the Rings, Winnie the Pooh, and many more.  While the movies are listed alphabetically, there are two indexes listing the included titles by genre, then by related gospel topics.  A great resource for those like me who want more information before picking a movie to see. For reviews of more current movies see the authors website.

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