In Edited Movies, Part One, we discussed why to use edited movies (and if you even should.)
If you decide that they might be a good fit for your family (or even if you are using regular movies), here are five tools and companies I am familiar with and have used when trying decide which movies to watch, whether they would be better edited, and how to find edited versions. I hope it helps you in your decision making.
First, I find out what is actually in the show. And as most of you know, ratings have very little to do with anything. Chris Hicks wrote a really interesting book called Has Hollywood Lost It's Mind? on the movie rating system and how it has changed over the years. Super interesting and super informational. You can read a review of it here.
To find out what is in each movie, I LOVE www.kids-in-mind.com. It will tell you every. single. little. thing. that is in the movie. R rated, G rated, it doesn't matter--it tells you EVERYTHING. Every swear word, every punch, every kiss, every outfit. But you have to be kind of careful, because it can sound overblown sometimes. I looked up Pride and Prejudice and the movie sounded awful.
www.commonsensemedia.org also gives age appropriate recommendations and reviews. They have reviews from both parents AND kids, which is kind of cool. However, every family has different opinions on what "age appropriate" is, so for thoroughness, I like kids-in-mind better.
Ok, so filtering is kind of tricky. To protect the movie maker's copyright, no one can intentionally edit or filter a movie and then sell it or rent it out. Several companies have gone out of business because they sold edited movies and then were sued or prosecuted. So legally, you have to have the movie (rented or owned) in hand and then filter it, not before.
I have used Clearplay for years. They were the first legal company on the scene of editing, and I am very grateful to them.
Here's how it works: They have a special dvd player they sell that has a usb port in it. Additionally, you also purchase a Clearplay membership, which means you are basically purchasing the filters. They give you access to download the filters on the usb and once you plug it into the dvd player, voila! You have a filter that works on the regular dvd.
The Good: Edited movies that are customizable--you get to pick the intensity of the filters. Their editing is also very smooth- if they take out a swear word, often I don't notice that anything was even there. This is a great option for movies you already own. They are also beginning to offer streamed movies when you rent them from Google Play.
The Bad: The dvd players in my opinion seem to be low quality--especially for the price. Also, if your kids are used to watching a certain movie on Clearplay, sometimes they can forget about the editing if they go to a friend's house. They might remember the movie as being "approved" but could forget that the friends don't have a Clearplay dvd player and could be unpleasantly surprised to see the movie without filters. (This happened at a family reunion once. Cousins brought a movie that they were used to seeing on Clearplay, but used a standard dvd player. Let's just say that Grandpa was a little shocked!) ;)
Also, if there is a movie that we LOVE in it's edited form and want to own, I don't love having to own the original that I don't feel comfortable watching without the filter--it's a bad situation waiting to happen. The lag time between when a movie is released and when the filter is ready can be a bit disappointing as well.
The Ugly: You have to keep your membership current, otherwise your usb filters will stop working and you are up a creek. I have to admit, that part really bugs me. We don't watch a ton of new movies, so I feel like I am paying over and over for the same filters. At this time, the membership is $7.99/month or $79.99/year. I would much rather be able to purchase individual filters if I wanted to.
Vidangel is really popular right now. And I have to say, I am getting on the band wagon!
How it works: You get on their website, "buy" the movie you want for $20 and then they give you the filters you choose. It is completely streamed, so no physical dvd (or special dvd player) is needed. When you are finished watching the movie, you "sell back" the movie for $19 (the price decreases every day you don't return it). HD movies cost $2. No Redbox needed, and the prices are comparable. No standing in line! No having to have the original movie in hand!
The Good: Super easy. Just get online, check the SUPER customize-able filters and watch the movie. Easy peasy. Plus, they have tv shows as well! Also, if you choose to, you can keep the movie permanently on their service (for the $20.) Another plus, is that you can use your account from a friend's house, on vacation, wherever you have the internet.
The Bad: The editing is not super smooth in certain situations. If someone swears for instance, the scene sometimes remains intact (and sometimes not), but the sound goes silent. That means that sometimes, you can still read an actor's lips and know exactly what they are saying. With Clearplay, this doesn't happen nearly as much.
The Sell back is a little confusing, because you get Vidangel credits instead of a credit to your credit card. But you CAN cash in your credits any time you want. Also, if you decide to keep a movie, you can't burn it on to a dvd to keep a physical copy. Pesky copyright laws. ;)
The Ugly: Honestly I haven't found anything yet, unless you count the fact that you need either an internet ready tv or an HDMI cord that you can connect from a laptop to the tv. I only have a dumb box tv that doesn't take HDMI cords--so it is only laptop movie watching for me. :( **Edit 10/22/16: Vidangel is currently under legal attack. If they lose their court case and have to go out of business, and you bought a movie that was kept on their website, you might lose access to that movie.**
Here is a quick tour of the process:
Online Movie Sellers
Additionally, you might find illegal companies on the internet that sell edited movies. They usually pop up quickly and then when they are close to being prosecuted, they go out of business, only to pop up again under another business name. They are illegal because they violate copyright and are basically pirated versions of the movie, but I wanted to talk about them in case someone had questions. Also, you don't necessarily know the quality/extent of the editing.
As I mentioned in Edited Movies, Part One, just because a movie CAN be edited, doesn't necessarily mean it is worth watching. I found this out the hard way. Please share with us if you have other tools that you like to use as well!
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