Have you ever watched a preview to a movie and then been disappointed by the R or PG-13 rating? You’d like to watch it with your family, but you don’t want to hear the profanity or see that one gratuitous bedroom scene? Enter VidAngel to the rescue! (Or not! See my cautions below.)

VidAngel is a clever service that allows you to customize filters for the movies you view using their service. I decided to sign up and try it out. Here’s what I found.

 

VidAngel helps parents set filters on movies

When you sign up with VidAngel, you actually purchase a digital copy of the movie for $20, stream it through VidAngel, and then sell it back within 24 hours for $19. That makes the rental feel only $1.00! (Or $2.00 if you purchase the HD version.) You can also keep the movie for the $20 price.

Other services have tried to sell filtered movies, only to be sued by the entertainment industry. But apparently, if you purchase a movie, you’re allowed to edit it however you wish while you own it.

 

VidAngel Filtering Options

When you sign up for VidAngel, you can choose the filters you want applied to your movie selections. You do this from the website after you’ve logged in. You can turn on or off various filters for each of these categories:

  • Miscellaneous
  • Language
  • Sex/Nudity/Immodesty
  • Violence/Blood/Gore
  • Alcohol or Drug Use

And you can even change the filters mid-movie!

A few cautions to consider

  • VidAngel may filter out the entire sentence that contains profanity or sexual language. (Of course, in some movies the entire sentence is peppered with profanity!) I watched a movie with the profanity and sexual language filters on and felt like I was missing more information than I wanted to. On the bright side, I didn’t hear any profanity, and that was nice!
  • Just because you can filter out content, some of these movies are still not going to be appropriate for kids. Think about it–filters can’t redeem a movie like Dirty Grandpa (the title pretty much says it all!) Most PG-13 and R-rated movies deal with mature themes and some teach values that many families reject. So although I really appreciate the ability to filter out peripheral language, violence or sexual triggers from certain movies, VidAngel won’t make every movie family friendly.
  • When you purchase a movie or stream a show, you are in essence voting for it. Just something to think about. This is my biggest philosophical reservation with filtering software and there probably are a limited selection of movies that I will be watching through VidAngel because of this. My criteria will probably include judging whether the overall message  of the movie outweighs the objectionable content. Of course, if you happen to watch a movie that portrays values your family doesn’t want to emulate, you can use that as a teaching opportunity. Blogger Becky Edwards makes a good case: “My opinion is that if a movie isn’t going to inspire and make me a better person in some way, it’s not worth my time. Sometimes the most inspiring part of a movie is the family discussion you have afterward, looking for life lessons and principles.”

What I appreciate about VidAngel

The filters are super customizable (is that a word?). You get to choose exactly what you want to see or hear instead of someone else making that decision for you.

Each instance of potentially filtered material is listed so you can see what you may want to filter out BEFORE you watch the movie. You can be very precise in your filtering for each movie. This feature is so helpful!

 

VidAngel Language

 

VidAngel will show you where and how much time will be filtered from the movie. A line graph shows you what you’ll hear and another shows you what you’ll see. You can also see the Run Time versus the Time w/Filters.

 

VidAngel bar graph

 

VidAngel allows me to see highly acclaimed movies I’ve chosen to avoid because of their ratings. For example, I want to stream The King’s Speech through VidAngel. It’s rated R for one word but I believe the message of overcoming difficulty and disability with courage and perseverance makes it worth watching.

It’s cheaper. Several of the movies that VidAngel offers are not available on NetFlix and can be cheaper to stream through them than paying through another service, like Amazon Prime. For example, you can stream 101 Dalmations from VidAngel for a total of $1, but the same movie streamed through Amazon will cost $2.99, three times as much.

Have you tried VidAngel? Can you think of any movies you’d like to watch with your family if you could filter out the objectionable content?

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Kristen Jenson
Kristen A. Jenson is the founder of Protect Young Minds and author of Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today's Young Kids. Kristen enjoys speaking, writing and anything else that will help empower kids to reject pornography. Kristen earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature (mostly because she had no idea what she wanted to be when she grew up), and a master’s degree in Organizational Communication. Kristen currently lives with her husband in Washington State, where she enjoys growing a vegetable garden, cooking those vegetables in new and delicious ways, and taking long walks with friends who tolerate her incessant talking about you know what. Above all else, her husband and three children are her greatest treasures.
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