With the approach of summer comes an increase in leisure time for young people. Despite the prevalence of computer games and the lure of outdoor activity, popular films and videos remain a popular pastime for many.

Many parents, however, have noted a distinct lack of choice when it comes to finding positive, family-oriented themes in today’s movies. And while the values of Hollywood film producers do not often coincide with pro-life, pro-family North Americans, there are always a few gems waiting to be discovered.

One source parents can turn to is the United States Catholic Conference’s Office for Film and Broadcasting, which rates current film and video releases on the basis of moral suitability.

The USCC classifies films on the following basis:

A-I – general patronage;

A-II – adults and adolescents;

A-III – adults;

A-IV – adults, with reservations (an A-IV classification designates problematic films that, while not morally offensive in themselves, require caution and some analysis and explanation as a safeguard against wrong interpretations and false conclusions);

O – morally offensive.

Each USCC rating includes a brief synopsis of the film as well as a mention of the Motion Picture Association of America’s industry rating (e.g. G, General audiences, P, Parental Guidance, etc.).

Many parents eagerly awaited the USCC’s film listings when they were printed in religious publications. Thanks to toll-free telephone lines and the Internet, these ratings are now more readily available than ever before.

Those with Internet access can call up the USCC listings at www.nccbuscc.org/movie/ movieall.htm.

The reviews can also be heard by calling toll-free 1-800-311-4CCC (4222) for the movie review line. This line is updated each Friday and includes information about six theatre releases and a family video of the week.

The Academy Award-winning film As Good As It Gets is treated in a unique fashion by the USCC. “Because of stylized violence, sexual situations, recurring rough language and occasional profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-IV – adults, with reservations … As Good As It Gets is an abrasive comedy in which nasty writer Jack Nicholson mellows after falling in love with friendly waitress Helen Hunt and befriending homosexual artist Greg Kinnear. The thin plot offers little but mean-spirited humor which turns mushy as the writer attempts to reform, but the proceedings are overlong and seldom amusing.”

The majority of films rated by the USCC fall in the A-III to O categories. However, the diligent searcher will eventually find some titles which do not conflict with traditional family values.