Dave Schmall

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April 16, 2013
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Dave Schmall: With your family media guide, you're the film critic

I love movies. I used to see a lot of movies. I was one of those annoying folks who would brag about having seen all the Oscar-nominated films before the Academy Awards and would freely give my less than humble predictions to anyone in earshot.

If nothing else, it certainly made the awards show much more interesting.

I lost my “movie hobby” five or six years ago with the rest of my hobbies.

I’m chalking that up to technology and social media, which has sucked so much marginal time from my daily life, I find myself with almost no time to actually get out and socialize.

Nonetheless, I’ll save that rant for another day.

I watched “Argo” a few weeks ago on a flight back from Denver and was glad I did.

It’s a historical dramatization of the six fugitive American diplomats rescued out of revolutionary Iran in 1980 after militants stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

I knew how the story would end because it’s based on the true story, but that didn’t keep me from wringing my hands frequently during tense action scenes.

I learned that flight attendants don’t much care for hand-wringing folks aboard their aircraft. They said it makes the other passengers nervous.

It’s always a wild card whether a movie will live up to its marketing hype.

I didn’t perceive “Argo” to be any exception.

Did I care that Ben Affleck got snubbed as a Best Director nominee at the Oscars after back-to-back triumphs at the Critics’ Choice Awards and Golden Globes?

No, I just wanted to know whether the movie was going to be worth the $7.99 the airline was charging to watch it on the 5-by-7-inch screen on the back of the seat in front of me.

Incidentally, the teenage kid in front of me couldn’t decide whether he wanted his seat forward or back and changed his mind every five minutes, which added a 3–D effect I hadn’t anticipated for “Argo.”

To no avail, I pointed my overhead air nozzle at the back of his seat and opened it completely until I saw the hairs on top of his head blowing around.

I then moved to the occasional kick to the seatback and slammed my tray table a few times, as well.

I tried several other covert methods to annoy him in retaliation, thinking he might make the connection and cease.

He stopped just as the movie credits began to roll across the little screen. Bravo.

Airplane fodder aside, instead of rolling the dice on movies, wouldn’t it be nice to know what like-minded, ordinary Joes like you and me think about a movie before opening your wallet at the box office or rental site?

Hopefully, you answered yes because The Union’s new Family Media Guide, OK.com, does just that and more.

Our OK.com widget is accessible from the bottom half of the opening page on TheUnion.com and is chock full of ratings and review information from average, everyday moviegoers, or at: http://www.theunion.com/movies. Please make a bookmark for it and share it with your family and friends.

The Family Media Guide provides an online “dashboard” that will detail the percentage of users that rated a movie “worth your time” and how they rate the movie compared to Hollywood’s MPAA rating for age appropriateness.

For example, “The King’s Speech” MPAA rating is “R” citing profanity, but most moviegoers think it should be rated much lower.

On the other hand, the MPAA rating of “Dinner For Schmucks” is PG-13 but most viewers consider it to be closer to “R” due to its violence, nudity and profanity.

In addition, the Family Media Guide provides movie photos, trailers and availability at theaters, Redbox and Netflix. There’s also a place to connect with friends via Facebook and get recommendations from people you trust and who share your values. Think of it as a personal movie rating system you share with your family and friends, one that places you in full control.

The Family Media Guide will also be summarized weekly and can be found in our new family section in The Union starting this Thursday.

Speaking of Thursday’s edition of The Union, the Learning section title is now changed to Family Focus to reflect content changes. Family Focus will not only include the education coverage you’re used to reading but expand to a wider variety of information focused on family activities and issues pertaining to family life in our community.

So, that’s what’s new this month at The Union and TheUnion.com. Be sure to go onto our website and check out the Family Media Guide and become your own version of Siskel or Ebert. It’s fun and informational.

On that note, I’m recommending “Argo” as definitely rated “R” (violence and profanity) but worth your time even though you know the outcome.

I can say the same for “Zero Dark Thirty,” which chronicles the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden by Navy Seals. Come to think of it, I knew how that would end, too.

Perhaps I should go see “The Croods,” a DreamWorks animated film, next. I have no idea how it starts or ends and it’s bound to be a little easier on the eyes and ears!

Dave Schmall is publisher at The Union. Contact him via email at dschmall@theunion.com or 530-477-4299.

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The Union Updated Apr 18, 2013 12:05PM Published May 29, 2013 01:41AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.