Saturday, July 16, 2011

Winnie the Pooh - Dove Family Approved

Dove Review 
The animation is warm and wonderful, like water colors from a Golden Book, and the characters are delightful and the humor is wholesome. What more could you ask for in viewing a summer movie with your family? Pooh ("Oh bother") Bear is back along with Eeyore, Tigger, Piglet and the rest of the gang. Several kids chuckled and laughed at the screening I caught. One part that made them snicker was when Pooh spots a note at his door and says, "Good thing I noticed it or I wouldn't have seen it." Pooh mostly likes to eat honey or search for honey but to his credit when Piglet digs a hole Pooh "supervises".

A Disney short screened before the movie, "The Ballad of Nessie Short", about a sea monster, and it was delightful. Then we got straight to Pooh. When Eeyore loses his tail (or, as the gang posts on a sign, "tael"), Pooh and his friends go off in search of the missing ending. And then the pot is sweetened, literally, when a reward of a pot of honey is offered to whoever finds the tail. Tigger sings and dances (which caused some of the early laughter) and the gang won't stop until the missing tail is found. In the meantime, various tails are tried on Eeyore including an umbrella, a dart board, and a knitted tail. When it unravels Eeyore reminds everyone that "all good things come to an end".

We are happy to award this delightful movie our Dove "Family-Approved" Seal for all ages. Parents are sure to crack a smile along with the kids. Take your, someone special with you and your kids will thank you.

Tree of Life - Dove Family Approved

Dove Review

The vivid images of this film portray life in symbolic ways, such as clouds and storms accompanied by sorrowful music to portray the difficult times and then flowers blooming under sunny skies and an uplifting chorus to portray times of restoration. The nature and universe scenes are nicely filmed and showcased here. There are characters too, including a family man played by Brad Pitt and his wife and three sons, seemingly living a suburban life in the fifties. Pitt plays the father as a paradox, at times he is kind to his sons and plays with them, spraying them with a hose, hugs them and yet at other times he is volatile and verbally abusive, riding them about such things as slamming the door or not doing an outdoor job properly. In one particular scene he goes over the top a bit after his son sasses him and he grabs him and slings him into another room.

The film powerfully portrays death as one of the sons die in the story. We see the grief of the mother and father and remaining brothers. A pastor gives a brief message on Job and his trials and suffering. The film points toward the conclusion that people must love one another and that this is the great hope. Although it is not clearly stated in the movie that Christ is the answer scriptures are quoted and love is one of its main focuses. It features an infant baptism scene too. It also nicely features the topic of grace and it's stated that grace doesn't please itself and accepts injuries, insults and being slighted.

The film could have used some editing in my opinion and is a bit long with its runtime of approximately 138 minutes. And it is a bit esoteric. But for the most part it is a film which will claim the audience's attention such as when a few brothers stare at a man who walks funny due to being nearly crippled. The film not only features actor Brad Pitt but Sean Penn as well. It is a film which powerfully examines the theme of "Why, God? Where were you?" We are pleased to award the movie our Dove "Family-Approved" Seal for ages twelve plus.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Family movies have been missing from the scene since December. Not one theatrical release during the entire month of January was awarded the Dove Family Approved seal.  Finally, beginning on February 11th we see a delightful resurgence of films for various members of the family; from animated children’s features to educational documentaries, and from exciting action adventures to inspiring dramas. If Hollywood fails to serve the family audience, we have no one to blame but ourselves. Hollywood is not about “Show Art” it’s about “Show Business.” To borrow from the famous quote from Field of Dreams, “If they build it, we will come, and likewise, if we come, they will build more. At the box office, it’s okay to vote early and vote often. So, enjoy these family films!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Note to Filmmakers

Over the past several years we have been consulting with filmmakers at various stages of their craft. I feel it is important to address one particular issue that comes up frequently, especially from those who are just starting out, or those who have had a hard time getting their finished film to market. The common question is, “What must I do to make a financially successful movie?”
There are plenty of experts available to answer this crucial question. I don’t consider myself among them. But after 20 years of watching thousands of projects come through our offices, my observations might be of some value.
(read more)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Walmart and P&G bring FAMILY MOVIE NIGHT to television.

Walmart and Proctor and Gamble formed an alliance and created FAMILY MOVIE NIGHT, a unique space in the entertainment landscape designed especially for consumers who enjoy sharing a delightful movie experience in the comfort of their homes with every family member regardless of age.
Ben Simon, Wallmart
Ben Simon, Walmart
Brian Wells, Flyover Ent.
Brian Wells, Flyover Ent.

I recently spoke to Ben Simon, head of global family entertainment marketing at Walmart and Brian Wells, creative development director for Flyover Studios in Cincinnati.  These two men share a vision for serving up to the American family regular doses of enjoyable, inspirational television entertainment.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


During the past 20 years at the helm of The Dove Foundation, I’ve received hundreds of letters and thousands of emails from people who either love what we do here, or who have a bone to pick with a particular movie review we’ve published.  Some people think we’re too liberal while others accuse us of being rightwing nuts. In all those years, however, I’ve never had a high school freshman write to me to express concern about topic that we deal with on a daily basis – violence in media; that is until Emily Schafer wrote the following refreshingly candid letter…
Dear Mr. Dick Rolfe
Hello, my name is Emily Schafer and I am a freshman at Forest Hills Northern High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I have recently become aware of the situation of media violence in the United States, and I think it’s become a problem we need to solve.
Media violence has become a very troubling issue. Violent and action-packed movies and television programs may be what the public adults want most, but our children deserve better. Especially for kids below the age of eight, it can be hard for them to distinguish the difference between fantasy and real life.  This confusion can sometimes lead to violent behavior, thinking that it’s okay. However, violence is not okay.
Our country has released some startling statistics in the past few years that really shocked me. For instance, did you know that by the time a child reaches age 18, they will have seen 200,000 acts of violence and 16,000 murders in TV programs and movies?  It is also astonishing to me that about 82% of the American public believes that Hollywood movies are too violent.
As a concerned citizen, I was wondering what your organization, the Dove Foundation does to protect children from media violence. What have you done in the past? Do you plan on taking more steps in the future against media violence?
Thank you so much for your time and reading this letter. I would really appreciate a response!
Emily Schafer

I wrote back and thanked Emily for taking time to write me about a subject that is so vital to our society’s values.
I stated further that I was impressed by her passionate, intelligent arguments opposing violence in media, and that I read her letter to my staff and board of directors.
I went on to address her concern…
“You asked what The Dove Foundation does to protect children from media violence. One thing we do is encourage parents to teach their children about the importance of discernment when it comes to making their entertainment choices.  Obviously, your parents are doing just that, and doing it well!
I believe your words of wisdom can be an inspiration to others to think more carefully before choosing to watch violent movies or television programs.  Your point of view as a teenager can very persuasive to others of your peers.“
And this is where I extend Emily’s appeal to you parents and teenagers reading this story. Please consider seriously the research that shows a direct link between the violent media that kids are exposed to and the increased aggression they exhibit.  How many times have we read a news story where a youngster committed a crime of violence to mimic something he or she saw in a movie?
Members of the Motion Picture Association are the arbiter of the movie ratings system (G, PG, PG13, R). They admit openly to revising their ratings downward occasionally to reflect the changing (read that “degrading”) social norms of society. In other words, violence that was once considered too extreme to be portrayed is now considered as mild.
An example of this effect was explained to me by a Disney executive who compared the death of Bambi’s mother in the 1942 animated classic, to that of Simba’s father in The Lion King.  In Bambi, a mere gun shot off camera was enough to send most children into fits of tears knowing that Bambi’s mother had been killed by a hunter.  (I know, because I was one of those children.)  In The Lion King, however, animators found it necessary to show Simba nuzzling Mumphasa‘s dead body on screen in order to elicit any sympathy from youngsters in the audience.  Psychologists call that affect “coarsening.”
The Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association all three consider violence in media so serious that they’ve declared it a public health problem.
I’m grateful to Emily and others like her who are becoming aware of the seriousness of the impact of violence in entertainment on our society, and particularly today’s youth.
Let’s begin by asking ourselves the question Emily posed in her letter; “What do we intend to do to protect children from media violence?”

Friday, August 27, 2010

Toy Story 3 crosses $1 billion mark!

Well what do you know? Family films ARE profitable! 


BURBANK, Calif. – August 27, 2010 – Two weeks after becoming the highest-grossing animated film of all time, Disney•Pixar’s Toy Story 3 will cross the $1 billion mark at the global box office today,  joining Alice in Wonderland as the second $1 billion film this year from The Walt Disney Studios – the first studio in history to accomplish this feat.  Disney first crossed the $1 billion threshold with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest in 2006.  Toy Story 3 becomes the only animated film to reach this milestone and the seventh title in industry history. 
“It’s been an incredible year as we saw the Pixar team bring Buzz and Woody back to the big screen and watched Tim Burton’s vision for Alice in Wonderland take the world by storm,” said Rich Ross, Chairman, The Walt Disney Studios.  “These box office triumphs prove that creative storytelling brought to life by imaginative, inspired and talented professionals is something audiences respond to the world over.” 
As of Thursday (8/26/10), Toy Story 3 tallied more than $592.9 million internationally, Disney’s largest international animated release. Latin American audiences have contributed $138 million making Toy Story 3 the highest grossing Disney film ever released in the region.  Toy Story 3 is the most successful UK release in Disney history and currently stands as the fourth biggest title in territory history with $102.4 million in box office receipts so far.  In Japan, the film has taken in $111.2 million and spent five consecutive weeks as the #1 movie.  Toy Story 3 currently ranks as the #7 film in global box office history and domestically ranks #9 with $404.6 million in receipts to date.
Alice in Wonderland began setting records during its opening weekend (March 5-7), becoming the biggest March opening in industry history, the highest 3D opening ever and The Walt Disney Studios’ biggest opening for a non-sequel film.  Internationally, the film went on to tally more than $690 million, becoming Disney’s biggest overseas release of all time and the fourth biggest title ever released overseas.  Worldwide, the film took in $1.0243 billion, ranking it as the #5 film in global box office history.