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(2004), PG-13 [R-13]
Analysis Date
CAP Final Score
CAP Influence Density
September 9, 2004
34 out of 100

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If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary likely using a mix of KJV and NIV.

(2004), PG-13 [R-13] -- an excellent example of the CAP Rule of 1000.

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Electric Entertainment
Distribution (US): New Line Cinema
Director(s): David R. Ellis
Producer(s): Douglas Curtis, Dean Devlin, Tawny Ellis, Lauren Lloyd, Caroline Rault, Marc Roskin
Story: Larry Cohen
Screenplay: Chris Morgan
Cinematography/Camera: Gary Capo
Music: John Ottman, Lior Rosner
Film Editing: Eric A. Sears
Casting: Roger Mussenden
Production Design: Jaymes Henckle, Jaymes Hinkle
Art Direction: Domenic Silvestri
Viewed At: Driftwood Theater 6

CAP scores earned by PG-13 movies keep getting lower and lower. This film is yet one more and even one of the most severe examples of the "R-13 syndrome". I can't wait until we can find full funding so we can afford to update our R-13 finding (with which Harvard agrees simply by echoing it four years later) using the massive data we gathered from 2003 and this year. You could be part of that trend-revealing task, dontchaknow?

This story is written by Larry Cohen who also wrote the Phone Booth story. Phone Booth, rated R, earned a final score of 24 out of 100. This film, Cellular, earned a final score of 34 out of 100. R-rated movies in the comparative baseline database earned final scores of 54 and below out of 100. That makes Cellular about as "R" as it can be. But the MPAA gave it a PG-13 rating. You "do the math." Following is a comparative scoring data display to help you "do the math."

Regarding the scoring threshold of 54 for R-rated movies, the most significant difference between the two films is the year. I am appreciative that Harvard scientists agree with us regarding the "ratings creep" even if four years after we proved it.

After a serene introduction of love between mother and child, Los Angeles realtor Craig Martin (Richard Burgi) became the target of five corrupt LA cops. Craig witnessed, indeed, video recorded a drug-related double killing by the LA cops. And, as bad guy cowards do, they targeted also Craig's family, high school science teacher Jessica Martin (Kim Basinger) and their son, Wyman School student Ricky (Adam Taylor Gordon) - the mother and child pair in the intro. Three of the bad cops came to the Martin residence, murdered the maid and abducted Jessica then took her to a secluded two-story house and locked her in a barren room on the top floor. The bad guys proceeded to force information from her about finding Charles using Ricky as leverage.

All that was in the barren room was a wall phone hanging on a wooden support beam. As Hollywood timing would have it, just as Jessica thought of maybe calling the police, one of the dirty cops came in and smashed the phone with a sledge hammer. Hoping for hope, unbound Jessica fiddled with the phone parts, touched wires together creating successive clicks on the active line, emulating a pulse dial phone until she reached someone. Little do the filmmakers know that one cannot emulate a pulse tone phone with a touch-tone phone. The phone company computer, set up for touch tone service as would be expected of a line with a touch tone phone connected to it, would never recognize pulse tones. At any rate, under the fantasy of Hollywood, Jessica did reach someone. She reached Ryan on his cell phone. Jessica spent a lot of time convincing Ryan of the urgency of her plight and convincing him that she could not make any other call: that he must take his phone to the police.

After leaving a trail of crimes and violations in his path, the cop Ryan cornered was desk Sergeant Robert Mooney (William H. Macy), a 27-year veteran who has never fired his sidearm in the line of duty -- until Ryan entered his life. Once Ryan contaminated Mooney's life, Mooney ended up killing one of the bad LA cop with the sidearm he had never fired in the line of duty.

Ryan did what he could to get help: armed robbery, reckless driving, auto theft, abduction, threat at gunpoint, a plethora of other crimes trying to thwart the plans of the kidnappers. Our hero, Ryan is now a criminal on a crime spree through the LA Basin in the name of justice. It was at least interesting to see how the filmmakers ingeniously thought of so many pieces and parts and put everything together in a somewhat neat package.

Though the story is rather predictable with a few unpredictable twists and in spite of the tons of assaults on morality and decency, this film is well written, relatively exciting and presents a couple of what I feel are stellar performances. Quite probably the best performance was by Chris Evans. Evans was quick, urgent and snappy, clearly equal to the task and quite the "counterpart" to Stu Shepard (Colin Farrell) of Phone Booth but with a much cleaner mouth than Farrell. Basinger, however, appeared to be performing for the camera in a few places, suggesting that she was trying to relive old glory and awaken dormant skills and talents. Other support characters were just that ... support characters with a job to do who maybe could have been played by anyone. Except maybe William H. Macy who stepped in at the appropriate time and reciprocated Evans' performance effectively. By the way, Cellular is a commercial for Nokia 457 Communications.

Now that the "niceties" are dutifully mentioned, please don't loose sight of the true content of this indeed morally invasive film. There are about 43 uses of profanity per hour in this 90-minute film, including the most foul of the foul words [2 Tim. 2:16 - 17]. God's name is thoroughly abused as well with about 10 uses per hour, both with and without the four letter expletive [Deut. 5:11]. Violence and/or crime of one sort or another pelts the viewer at about 46 instances per hour [Jonah 3:8, Hab. 2:9]. Though demonstrations of sexual immorality in and as entertainment are sinful enough, about the most sexual matter in this film was the ghosting of female anatomy through thin clothing and the sexual comment about it. There were a number of women flopping about in revealing swim wear, but nobody got in bed with anybody which is typical of PG-13 nowadays [Gal. 5:19]. This film is an excellent example of the CAP Rule of 1000 [Ps. 12:8].

The listing in the Findings/Scoring section reveals all that was noted.


If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ] or bold. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.


  • 2 Tim. 2:16 - 17 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker...
  • Deut. 5:11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. [Vain is shav' {shawv}: emptiness, nothingness, vanity, such as an expletive. With or without the four letter expletive, the use of God's name in any way other than respect, reverence or thoughtful discussion is in vain. That includes the popular three syllable sentence with His name trailing it AND the misuse of Jesus' name.
  • Jonah 3:8 But let man and beast be covered [hidden, concealed] with sackcloth [worn in mourning or humiliation]. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence.
  • Hab. 2:9 Woe to him who builds his realm by unjust gain to set his nest on high, to escape the clutches of ruin!
  • Gal. 5:19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences and present it to younger and younger audiences every year] when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, pay for it, enjoy it, want it, submit to it. I call attention to Ps. 12:8 to warn of the creeping desensitizing power of "entertainment."]
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 (KJV) Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (NIV) Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
  • Rom. 5:19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
  • Jude 4 For certain men* whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change [warp, distort, falsely represent, situationally redefine, counterfeit, conditionally apply] the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto [or for] one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto [or for] me.
  • Luke 17:2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. [cause by teaching or example]
  • Ps. 119:133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
    (The heart of the CAP Analysis Model)

    Cellular (2004) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
  • armed breaking and entering
  • abduction of woman at gunpoint with brutality
  • assaulting/terrorizing of a woman, repeatedly, some physical, some brutal
  • unlawful imprisonment
  • assaults of varying degrees and intensity
  • child abduction
  • reckless driving causing massive property damage likely with deaths
  • firearm for offensive
  • gunfire to intimidate
  • theft at gunpoint
  • threat to kill, repeatedly
  • threat to kill a child
  • firearm threats, some to head and neck
  • traffic incident of massive intensity
  • reckless driving with endangerment
  • grand theft-auto
  • abduction
  • repeated assaults on additional victims
  • threat to kill son, twice
  • police corruption, numerous examples
  • defensive killing, twice, once by mother before son
  • dead body
  • gunfire to kill, repeatedly
  • threat to kill family
  • order to kill child
  • attempted murder, repeatedly
  • beating, repeatedly
  • defensive gunfire to kill

    Impudence/Hate (I)
  • 58 uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • three uses of the most foul of the foul words
  • lies, repeatedly, some to protect

    Sexual Immorality (S)
  • dressing to maximize the female form and/or skin exposure, repeatedly
  • rude gaze with comment
  • ghosting of female anatomy through thin clothing with vulgar comment about it
  • sexual innuendo, repeatedly
  • crude/vulgar humor
  • gay implication by stereotyping
  • man forcing himself on a woman

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • drinking

    Offense to God (O)
  • four uses of God's name in vain with the four letter expletive and 12 without

    Murder/Suicide (M)
  • murder victim
  • double gunfire murder, cold-hearted



    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our more than eight years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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