She often says that she prefers to see a movie with a (n) ______.

  • A. message
  • B. thought
  • C. idea
  • D. comment

It seems that the four choices all work well for me. The exam question therefore puzzles me and pushes me to raise it as a question. I have however found "a movie with a message" in a corpus, so does it look as familiar as an idiom? PlUS: The teacher hasn't showed me the correct answer, and it is beyond my knowledge to put it for you now.

  • There has to be context before this question is asked. What is the context? A movie with an idea could be as idiomatic as a movie with a message and I don't think the question is helpful for learners without any context.
    – user24743
    Apr 26, 2016 at 6:33

3 Answers 3


A movie with a message

This is a very common usage in English. This simply means that the movie has a particular moral for its story, or a social value that we can use everyday. It simply means that the movie isn't just a couple of hours worth entertainment, but also offers something that we can take away from it. It means the same as a "story with a moral".

  • Thanks for your comment about the expression. It works great for me, although I haven't found it in dictionaries. The example sentence I have searched out in corpus is: Nobody in Hollywood sets out to make a movie with a message. Message movies are box-office poison. Apr 26, 2016 at 6:30
  • Okay, do check out the definition 2 for "Message" in The Free Dictionary, which defines it as - "an implicit meaning or moral, as in a work of art". Also, check out this Ngram, which shows the usage of "Movie with a message" in books, no matter how rarely they are used.
    – Varun Nair
    Apr 26, 2016 at 6:35

Any of the four would make a grammatically correct, coherent sentence. But as VarunKN says, it's fairly common to talk about a movie having a "message", that is, some moral lesson or insight into humanity that it is trying to convey. The others are not common phrases.

We do sometimes talk about the ideas in a movie, meaning original or unusual concepts that go into the movie. If someone said she likes "movies with ideas", I'd understand her to mean that she likes movies that are original and creative rather than yet another story about villains chasing somebody and blowing things up.

I don't think I've ever heard someone say "a movie with a comment". Maybe that would mean a movie that makes a value judgement about something? Well, I suppose I could see someone saying it in the right context. Like, "Here's a list of movies that we could watch. There's a place for people to write reviews, but I don't see any. Oh, wait, here's a movie with a comment about it ..."


I also agree with 'message'. Movies can't have thoughts or ideas per se (which are generally reserved for animated beings), but they can have a message. In fact, consider an actual definition of 'message': a significant political, social, or moral point that is being conveyed by a film, speech, etc.

'Comment' is a little more debatable, but the better noun in this context would be commentary.

i.e. She often says that she prefers to see a movie with a commentary.

"Key Difference: A comment is considered as an observation or a statement that expresses a fact or an opinion on a matter. A commentary is usually a detailed explanation of a discussion about a certain event, on a specific topic or a piece of writing." Source: Difference between comment and commentary

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