Making Family Movie Nights More Meaningful

Available in First Presbyterian Church Library

Available in First Presbyterian Church Library

It recaps a summary of the film Galaxy Quest with cautions such as, “The violence ranges from being humorously cartoonish to more intense and realistic, on par with a Star Trek movie. There are about 15 profanities (hit the mute button as Nesmith begins to show frustration following autograph-signing)—in watching this film through ClearPlay though, all of those profanities are removed. 

Just for fun, the reviews also often contain trivia, goofs and popular film quotes. These takeaways from shows and movies develop watchful, directors’ eyes, which translates into processing experiences and learning from them. Galaxy Quest is an ideal movie to explore why and how people make changes in the ways they treat others, and from a writer’s perspective, why which character changes first, second and so on.

Is it worth it?  Is adding meaning worth the time invested?

The window of time before a child becomes an adult is a mere eighteen years. Activities we can pursue together as family strengthen a sense of identity and joy when they are grounded in what is uplifting and thought-provoking. Ephesians 5:15-17 says, “Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil.  So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

After eighteen years, our oldest is off to college and finds herself discussing movies with former middle school classmates she’s been reunited with. She made a comment how she didn’t know how to honestly review a movie because she’d seen it on ClearPlay. Her friend said, “Olana, you still have ClearPlay!” To which she replied, “Yeah, I think we’ll probably always have it.” 


Jennifer Noble graduated with a Corporate Communications major and has written locally for “Etc. for Her” as well as Sioux Falls charities such as the Ronald McDonald House. In addition, two of her stories are published in compilations, “I’m Glad I’m a Mom” (Harvest House) and “God Still Meets Needs” (CreateSpace). She is the Communications Manager at First Presbyterian Church


With holidays on the horizon, new Hallmark movies are making their debut, and family movies may progress on the priority list. Kate Hruby, Interim Youth Director for First Presbyterian Church, knows Hallmark’s “Countdown to Christmas” is sure to incite excitement for everything Christmas in her house. She’ll hear her daughter Hannah’s excitement even over the ones she’s seen before saying, “We’ve seen this one before. We can tell you the whole thing!”

Morgan Small, FPC Youth Intern, shares similar traditions surrounding Christmas. In her family, The Santa Clause is a series of comedy films starring Tim Allen is their go-to for the silliness of the season. Finding they usually land their course on network TV, it makes this annual experience something to look forward to every year.  With three siblings, they each have their own Santa mug to fill with cocoa and relax together.

Small says, “In today’s world, having everyone together like that is a big deal.”  It makes family nights meaningful and creates lasting memories.

Hruby finds the same thing as she creates “Popcorn Surprise” to add to the movie night’s entertainment factor. This involves a small pail of popcorn with a prize at the bottom, similar to a Cracker Jacks box, only something special right at home. Hruby found Swedish Fish for the movies at her daughter’s mermaid party, but in general, some M&Ms or Skittles suffice to make the traditional bowl of popcorn a bit non-traditional.

But what about movies’ messages?

“Movie Nights:  25 Movies to Spark Spiritual Discussions with Your Teen” provides a surface glimpse into a deeper topic of finding quality media to share as a family.  In order to determine television shows, movies and live plays or music are going to have a lasting positive impact – compared to those that result in you and your family feeling grumpy or defeated. In our family, we realized this early on after observing toddlers either watching children on video having fun together and exploring, or engaging in conflict!


What gives media choices definition?

As far as approach goes, we began to anchor ourselves with informal media guidelines to follow from Philippians 4:8.

It says, “Whatever is true,

whatever is honorable,

whatever is just, whatever is pure,

whatever is pleasing,

whatever is commendable,

if there is any excellence and if

there is anything worthy of praise,

think about these things. whatever is pure,

whatever is pleasing,

whatever is commendable,

if there is any excellence and if

there is anything worthy of praise,

think about these things.

With this verse beginning a heart change in what we would choose, it already became easier by identifying true stories as an easy choice, and then looking at fiction stories in light of themes and truths we may glean from them. However, when we heard of a subscription option to filter out excessive “mushiness,” “violence” or “language,” called ClearPlay, we’d already been transitioning to being increasingly careful in our choices.  In finding surprise of how the filter overall did not change the movies we were watching from an enjoyment factor, but had quick one to two second jumps, maintaining a cohesive conversation, we have had the subscription ever since.

Endnote:  “Movie Nights:  25 Movies to Spark Spiritual Discussions with Your Teen” by Bob Smithouser is available through the First Presbyterian Church, Sioux Falls library.