Asking other parents or going by my own memory isn't the best way to decide. There's a huge difference between just watching a movie for fun and watching it to decide whether or not it's appropriate for a seven year old. Especially if it's been several years. And the movie ratings are, in my opinion, worse than useless. Is everything PG or PG-13 these days?
But I think I've got this figured out!
I check the ratings on Netflix. I don't always agree with their suggested ages, but it gives me a place to start. If you follow the movie's link, it'll tell you what they found objectionable about that particular movie.
Of course that only works if you've got a Netflix subscription. The information comes from Common Sense Media. The IMDB also has a Parents Guide section in their movie listings.
I tend to disagree with the suggestions of both sites, especially when it comes to consumerism -- is it really going to scar my kids for life if a character gets coffee from Starbucks? -- but they do give me something to base my decisions on. What's really helped to decipher their system is to read their ratings for movies that I've recently watched. Sometimes they miss things that I find objectionable. Sometimes they object to things that I wouldn't have thought twice about.
This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family