How to Find a Movie by Description

By Timothy Edmond

Updated September 22, 2017

Find out the 411 on what's playing before you make a choice of what movie to see.
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For many people, there are few things better than checking out a new movie release in theaters. If you know what you're in the mood for -- thriller, action comedy, family film, or tear jerker -- but aren't sure of the title, there are a number of ways to find a movie by its description.

With a Click

The Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB) is a source of industry information for insiders as well as film reviews, showtimes and movie trailers for the general public. Check their website for a list of current showings with descriptions. If you're feeling particularly daring, you can even use their little-known advanced search feature. There, you can search their complete catalog of past and present movies by plot, filming locations and even quotes. You can even find fun facts and trivia about your favorite actors, such as their zodiac sign, birthplace, birthday and awards and nominations.

New York, New York

Consult the arts section on "The New York Times" website for succinct descriptions of movies playing nationwide. If the brief descriptions don't jog your memory, click the film's title for a full review. While you're at it, avail yourself of lists like the box office top 5, the top 5 among "Times" readers and the paper's critics' picks. To narrow your movie search to your area, plug in your zip code in the search bar before you begin.

Insider Advice

Publications that report on industry news for industry insiders are referred to as "trade" publications. Two of the biggest trade publications for the film and entertainment biz are "The Hollywood Reporter" and "Variety." Their pages are chock-full of box office numbers, agent switch ups and the most recent movie deals. They also include an ample dose of interviews, interesting features and, of course, film reviews. Feel like an insider and browse their websites for behind-the-scenes info and the latest box-office films, with descriptions included on the website for "The Hollywood Reporter." If you're interested in global releases or the movie you're searching for is an old classic, you can search for a film by keyword on "Variety's" website and access its decades-old archives by subscribing for premium service.

The Old-Fashioned Way

When all else fails, there's always the old-fashioned way to find a movie with limited information. You can call theaters in your area and listen to the full movie descriptions or avoid the long wait by visiting the theater's website. Many theater chains have aids to help you narrow your search. Regal Cinemas, for example, lists categories such as "Family Picks," "Limited Engagement" and "Summer Movies," just to name a few.