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Writing: Formats

Movie Review


Today's Snack: Pop some popcorn, pour yourself some ice-cold apple juice, and enjoy the show!





Cut out or print out age-appropriate movie reviews from newspapers, magazines

or online sources (note: many families don't let their kids see PG movies, so avoid reviews of movies that the kids couldn't see)

Cut out or print out movie ads

2 pieces of lined paper per student | pens, pencils

1 piece of drawing paper per student | markers, colored pencils



Everybody loves movies. If you give them a chance, kids love to write about them. Movies are an important part of this generation's culture. It is a great idea to teach them how to be better consumers of, and critical thinkers about, motion pictures.


First, lead a discussion about movies in general. Which ones are the students' favorites? What did they like about them?


Now talk about movie reviews in general. Movie reviews are an example of persuasive writing. The writer is trying to persuade the reader to like, or not like, the movie. It's not very persuasive unless you have a lot of facts and opinions to back up your view. So you can't just write that a movie is "lame" or "stupid." You have to write down WHY you feel that way.


Do the students' parents read reviews in deciding which movie to see? Or do they go by what their friends and family recommend?


Read one movie review aloud. Ask the students if it helped them make up their mind about whether to see that particular movie. If there is a "five star" or "thumbs up/down" rating graphic, point that out. Many people only go by those little graphic ratings, rather than reading reviews. But with the cost of a movie ticket these days, it's important to make sure you are going to be happy spending your movie on a particular movie. There are so many to choose from!



On one sheet of paper, they can write down all the things that a good movie review might mention. They can use this list when they write their own movie review in a minute. Brainstorm for these, and any that the kids don't mention, you can list for all to write down:


Title of the movie

At least one strength and one weakness about the movie

Main actor(s) and actress(es)

Brief plot description - but don't give away the ending!

Location or setting

Cartoon or animation used?

Special effects

How it might tie in to current events or teach about history

Running time

Where it is playing or how you can buy it on DVD / NetFlix, etc.


Now, on the other piece of lined paper, they can write a movie review about their favorite movie, the last movie they've seen, or one that they thought was terrible. They might want to draw five stars and color in as many stars as they want to give this movie, or draw a thumb's up or thumb's down, or invent their own rating graphic.


They can use their brainstormed checklist to write their review. Tell them that a satisfying movie review will include many of those features, and have at least three paragraphs - an introduction, a body with at least three reasons to back up their opinion about the movie, and then their conclusion. But they can make their movie review as long as they would like.


On the blank piece of drawing paper, they can create a movie poster with the main characters in a dramatic scene, and the title, to serve as an ad for the movie.


When they are finished, trade their reviews and posters with each other, and discuss what they learned from each other's writing.


It's a really fun idea to have the students vote for who wrote the best movie review, and then show that movie to the group when you have time! You can also do this over and over, and create a big notebook of movie reviews to share with other students and their families.


By Susan Darst Williams Writing 2012


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