ChildCare Action Project (CAP): Christian Analysis of American Culture


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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to our youth through you,
their parents and grandparents, in His name by His Word

City by the Sea (2002), R
Analysis Date: September 7, 2002
CAP Score: 31
CAP Influence Density: 2.70

MinMax: -84

City by the Sea (2002) CAP Mini-thermometers

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NOTE: If you do not want the plot, ending, or "secrets" of a movie spoiled for you, skip the Summary/Commentary. In any case, be sure to visit the Findings/Scoring section -- it is completely objective to His Word and is the heart of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie.


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

CITY BY THE SEA (R) -- ... every bit as R as any other R-rated movie ...

Production: Franchise Pictures
Distribution: Warner Bros
Director(s): Michael Caton-Jones
Producer(s): Matthew Baer, Don Carmody, Michael Caton-Jones, Brad Grey, Dan Klores, Roger Paradiso, Elie Samaha, Andrew Stevens, Laura Viederman
Written by/Screenplay: Mike McAlary (article - Mark of a Murderer), Ken Hixon (screenplay)
Cinematography/Camera: Karl Walter Lindenlaub
Music: John Murphy
Film Editing: Jim Clark
Casting: Amanda Mackey Johnson, Cathy Sandrich
Production Design: Jane Musky
Art Direction: Darrell K. Keister, Patricia Woodbridge

I am not going to be able to give you much on the storyline or plot since I do not remember this movie well. I do remember Robert DeNiro as Manhattan homicide detective Vincent La Marca in one of his moments as he pleaded with his drug addict son Joseph 'Joey' Nova (James Franco), who is prime suspect for a cop killing, to give up his gun: that Joey's addiction was, of course, blamed on the failure of his parents with nothing resembling accountability for his own poor choices. Joey is also prime suspect of killing a particularly nasty nickel-n-dime drug dealer named Picasso (Jay Boryea) [Hab. 2:12]. And I do remember the movie is set in Long Beach, NY, a once opulent bustling place of excitement and enjoyment but now a rotting wasteland of forgotten yesterdays. And I do remember La Marca taking his grandson by an unwed pregnancy to care for him while Joey pays his debts. And I remember how La Marca's ex-wife was a thorn in his side while his new love, Michelle (Frances McDormand) was there for him through thick and thin. Though Michelle tried to end her relationship with La Marca, she was not successful.

In a setting that looks more like a ravaged middle east city devastated by guerrilla warfare than decay from abandonment, La Marca defies not only the drug lords and other criminal elements but his boss to prove his son is innocent of killing the cop. I also remember that La Marca is the son of a cop ... a cop convicted of child killing by neglect. And that stigma was a nemesis for La Marca.

That is about all I can remember of City by the Sea and that is also about all the time I have. But fortunately, I do not need a memory to prepare the findings/scorings. They are recorded at the time of viewing a movie. This movie was every bit as R as any other R-rated movie with more uses of the most foul of the foul word than all other of the three/four letter word vocabulary combined [Is. 2:17, Titus 2:6-8]. God was not shown any respect either with four uses of His name in vain with the four letter expletive and four without [Deut. 5:11]. It was very heavy in illegal drug presence, illegal drug consumption and drug dealing, trying to teach us how the drug world is with fantasy presentation of it [Ps. 141:4, 3John 11]. There are three violent deaths, a murder by gunfire with flashbacks of it, a death from a knife fight that could have been self-defense and a defensive killing [Prov. 10:23, Prov. 10:27]. Joey contemplated and tried to implement suicide [Exod. 20:13] by firing his gun randomly while dozens of police officers had their weapons trained on him. The listing in the Findings/Scoring section will provide all that was noted.


If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ]. 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.

  • Hab. 2:12 Woe to him who builds a city [a place guarded by waking or a watch] with bloodshed and establishes a town [a collective such as a city, mob, gang or regime] by crime! [The 'city' or 'town' could even be wealth.]
  • Is. 2:17 And the loftiness [haughtiness: arrogance, impudence, even in the spoken word] of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.
  • Titus 2:6-8 Similarly, encourage the young men [and women] to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.
  • Deut. 5:11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain [shav' {shawv}: emptiness, nothingness, vanity]: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
  • Ps. 141:4 Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds with men who are evildoers; let me not eat of their delicacies.
  • 3John 11 Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.
  • Prov. 10:23 A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct, but a man of understanding delights in wisdom.
  • Prov. 10:27 The fear** of the LORD adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short.
  • Exod. 20:13 You shall not murder. [Suicide is murder of the self]
    ** As a "sub-sermon", let me address the fear of God.
    "Fear of God", one of the most misunderstood and misused expressions in the Bible. So many use it against the believers saying God demands that you be afraid of Him when it couldn't be farther from the Truth. Looking at the definition of "fear", where "fear of God" appears in the KJV there are three translations to "fear."

    - yir'ah {yir-aw'}: 1c) fear (of God), respect, reverence, piety, 1d) revered

    - pachad {pakh'-ad}: 1) terror, dread, 1a) dread, 1b) object of dread

    - phobos {fob'-os}: 2) reverence as in for one's husband

    When "pachad" is used it speaks to that which His enemies should feel such as in 2 Chronicles 20:29 "And the fear [pachad] of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries, when they had heard that the LORD fought against the enemies of Israel." But in other cases when "yirah" and "phobos" are used, it speaks to reverence, honor and respect such as in 2 Samuel 23:3 "The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear [yirah] of God", in 2 Corinthians 7:1 "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear [phobos] of God" and in Ephesians. 5:21 "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear [phobos] of God."

    So, if one opposes and rejects God one should dread (pachad) fear what He will do (and won't do). If one loves Him one should revere, honor and respect (yirah or phobos) fear Him. "Yirah" or "phobos" fear Him even in the marriage sense as we, the believers, will be collected as His Bride at the Rapture.

    *******Food for Daily Thought*******
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 (KJV) Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (NIV) Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
  • Jude 4 For certain men* whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change 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.

    City by the Sea (2002) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
  • a death from a knife fight that could have been self-defense
  • bloody injury
  • dead body
  • breaking and entering
  • theft
  • admission of criminal activity
  • fencing stolen goods
  • firearm threats to face
  • additional firearm threats, some with children present, once of father
  • knife threat
  • gunfire to kill
  • defensive killing
  • contemplation of suicide
  • gunfire injury, graphic

    Impudence/Hate (I)(1):
  • 52 uses of the most foul of the foul words
  • masive tattoos
  • arrogance at parent
  • dumping infant son to make a drug score

    Sex/Homosexuality (S):
  • sexual invitation
  • man and woman in bed together
  • sexual innuendo, talk, comments, some vulgar
  • porn shop
  • unwed preganancy
  • cohabitation

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • smoking
  • illegal drug dealing
  • illegal drug consumption
  • illegal drug intoxication
  • drinking to ease worries
  • bar
  • social drinking
  • offer of illegal drugs

    Offense to God (O)(2):
  • four uses of God's name in vain witwh the four letter expletive and four without

    Murder/Suicide (M)(3):
  • gunifre murder
  • flashbacks of gunfire murder

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    NOTE: The CAP Analysis Model makes no scoring allowances for trumped-up "messages" to excuse or for manufacturing of justification for aberrant behavior or imagery, or for camouflaging such ignominy with "redeeming" programming. Disguising sinful behavior in a theme plot does not excuse the sinful behavior of either the one who is drawing pleasure or example from the sinful display or the practitioners demonstrating the sinful behavior. This is NOT a movie review service. It is a movie analysis service to parents and grandparents to tell them the truth about movies using the Truth.

    "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 nearly seven 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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    (1) As noted in CAP Special Report-001, "Investigation Area and Scoring Trend," of the six CAP Investigation Areas, Impudence/Hate was the strongest presence in all four movie classifications. It has a strong revelation about the entertainment media.

    (2) The use of the three/four letter word vocabulary without God's name in vain is incorporated into the Impudence/Hate Investigation Area. The use of God's name with or without the four letter expletive is incorporated into the Offense to God Investigation Area. There is no duplication.

    (3) Only portrayal of successful murder or suicide are incorporated into Murder/Suicide. Portrayal of attempts to commit murder or suicide and deaths by police action or war are incorporated into Wanton Violence/Crime.

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