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(2007), PG-13 [Hard PG(13)*] (1hr 35min)

Final Score
Analysis Date
Date Posted
Influence Density
October 25, 2007
NOvember 2, 2007

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(While the Scriptural references are certainly not subjective, my commentary may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary.

(2007), PG-13 [Hard PG(13)*] ... "evil communications."

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Focus Features, Touchstone Pictures
Distribution (US): Buena Vista Pictures, Touchstone Pictures
Director(s): Peter Hedges
Producer(s): Ginny Brewer, Darlene Caamano, Dianne Dreyer, Brad Epstein, Noah Rosen, Jonathan Shestack, Natalie Wright
Written by: Pierce Gardner, Peter Hedges
Cinematography/Camera: Lawrence Sher
Music: Sondre Lerche
Film Editing: Sarah Flack
Casting: Tiffany Little Canfield, Bernard Telsey
Production Design: Sarah Knowles
Art Direction: Mark Garner
Viewed At: Driftwood Theater 6

Members of our distribution received the scoring for this film before the first showing. If you would like to be included in our service which provides those occasional notices of the scoring of a film before its first showing, sign up for our enewsletter. I wish I could get the full report to everyone in a more timely manner but until we can find funding to support this ministry fulltime and dedicated such delays are inevitable.

Analysis of Dan in Real Life  has been a good opportunity to demonstrate some of the great features of the CAP analysis model and I am going to use this analysis to do a plug for the CAP analysis model. A somewhat in-depth discussion of a few of the CAP analysis model features follows. The commentary of the film follows the model discussion.

Dan in Real Life  earned a CAP final score of 70. The CAP final score is an excellent "big picture" or ballpark figure for use in gross comparisons. A final score of 70 places this film near the bottom of the scoring range earned by PG films (68 to 86 out of 100) in the comparative baseline database of films, making Dan in Real Life  equivalent to a "hardcore PG" film, a hard PG(13). From a different perspective the final score of 70 places this film only three points out of 14 above the top of the scoring range earned by PG-13 films (67 to 55 out of 100).

While the CAP final score is a very useful comparative figure, it is an average and like any average figure it cannot reveal the minimum and maximum figures in the set of numbers that yielded the average. The CAP final score averages the six investigation area scores (with additional mathematical operations I will not discuss to protect the copyright of our analysis model). Thus, the CAP final score cannot reveal the high and low investigation area scores. That is the reason for the scoring distribution and display (the thermometers).

By closer inspection possible only through the CAP analysis model, the scoring distribution the builds CAP thermometers for Dan in Real Life  show five of the investigation area scores earned are equivalent to films rated PG (68 to 86 out of 100) up to G (87 to 100 out of 100) [W - 96 (G); S - 68 (hard PG); D - 86 (lite PG); 0 - 68 (hard PG); M - 100 (G)] in the comparative baseline database. However, Dan in Real Life  earned an Impudence/Hate (I) investigation area score of zero, revealing the content found by that investigation area to be fully equivalent in magnitude or envelope to many R-rated films. The one "bad apple" score of zero revealed by the Impudence/Hate investigation area is due mainly to teen rebellion, arrogance and hatred.

The CAP scoring distribution is the best numeric feature on the planet for comparing the morality content of entertainment. In fact, the CAP analysis model is the only  known such set of tools for parents, grandparents, pastors, youth leaders and others -- indeed for anyone -- Christian or otherwise who care about the spiritual and moral health of their children. While the numeric comparative tools are quite useful, being numeric they cannot specify behavior and imagery content. Another great feature of the CAP analysis model is the listings in the Findings/Scoring section. In them are provided descriptive findings regarding the assaults on morality and decency not typically exposed in trailers/previews or advertisements.

After viewing the film it subjectively "felt" not at all like most PG-13 films. There were only three uses of profanity and none of the most foul of the foul words. But there was nudity. The MPAA label for this film tells us "PG-13 for some innuendo." That says nothing to the discerning parent, grandparent or youth leader. The MPAA doesn't mention the language, the nudity, the bitter rebellion or anything of the kind: details which are important to making an informed moral decision whether a film is fit. We do -- in detail. The nudity in Dan in Real Life  is upper side female nudity. And there is implied nudity of the same woman (implied by her having just disrobed and seen nude from the upper chest up) in the shower with a clothed man plus  her display of it to him. But therein lies another useful feature of the CAP analysis model. The nudity scene is not included in the previews/trailers, advertisements, promotions, etc. as well it shouldn't be but now you know what you would not know by the MPAA methodology, advertisements, etc.

Popular advice columnist and fiction writer, Dan Burns (Steve Carell) is in line for becoming nationally syndicated. Since his wife's death four years ago Dan has raised his three girls: little Lilly (Marlene Lawston), 15- year old Cara (Brittany Robertson) and 17 year old Jane (Alison Pill). It hasn't been easy and it shows. While Jane seems somewhat mature and level-headed for her age, Cara is the very image of rebellion and arrogance. Little Lilly is absorbing it all. Jane, while she keeps herself removed form the fray for the most part, clearly sides with Cara and advises their father on sexual responsibility. She, at 17, assures Dan she knows all there is to know about sex.

The annual fall gathering at the home of Dan's parents, Nana (Dianne Wiest) and Poppy (John Mahoney) rolls around and the Dan clan descends on the elderly Burns abode along with a plethora of others of the Burns family and their guests. One of the guests is Ann Marie (Juliette Binoche). Unknown to Dan, Marie is the girlfriend of Dan's Brother, Mitch (Dane Cook).

In an effort to escape family warfare launched by his older daughters, Nana "orders" Dan to take a break and go to town to fetch this or that. In a chance meeting Dan strikes up a bookstore romance with Marie who has not yet arrived at the Burns' homestead.

In the background but yet amidst it all is teen Italian Marty Barasco (Felipe Dieppa) who is the flame to end all flames for Cara. She is deeply in love with Marty and insists she knows all about love. So much so that she ends up screaming at her father for wisely not letting her have the freedom she wants with Barasco. Before the Dan clan leaves for Grandma's, Dan catches Cara and Barasco involved in a lustful kiss and embrace in a local soda shop. From that point there is not likely one sentence Cara utters that is not about Barasco, her "love" for him or some form of hateful remark about her father. Barasco even shows up at Grandma's. And when dad kicks him out Cara screams to him and runs after him as he is driven away. On her slow trek back to Grandma's house Cara screams "You are a murderer of love" at her father.

Dan in Real Life  may have some measure of accuracy with modern life and the way teens handle parental authority (which may be, in part, because  of films like this). Maybe this film accurately portrays the intensity of teen [hormonal] "love" but it in turn accurately portrays the apparent general lack of coping skills of the modern teen. Yes, this film is a fantasy, but a bad influence does not have to be real to influence badly.

While this film is a fantasy, Drs. Karen Nelson, a top-ten university psychology department head and Larry Gilliam, a practicing mental health counselor agree with me that it would be unusual for even a 16 year old to be able to fully separate fantasy from reality or to fully anticipate the consequences of their actions: that such skills usually do not plateau until the early 20s; that such a person is more of a "I want it all and I want it now" instant gratification being. Why do you suppose this age stratum are not permitted to serve in high liability and high security positions? With limited wisdom it is no wonder why films like these fan the flames of dissonance between teens and parents and plant aberrant behavioral templates in teens.

Why do I bring this up? Because such behavioral demonstrations of defiance and rebellion in and as entertainment embolden teens, usually the most morally vulnerable age stratum, to "try it for themselves" since it works in the movies. God put it most succinctly in 1 Cor. 15:33 where he warns that "evil communications corrupt good manners." And such demonstration of behaviors, whether onscreen or real, which fly in the face of God's Will in defiance of parental authority and wisdom is certainly "evil communications."

End of "sermon."

Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
This is not a violent film at all. The only violence was Mitch hitting Dan in the face. But that in and of itself is enough to merit mention since onscreen behaviors can and do embolden the observer to lower his/her inhibition against such behavior. If such "evil communications" (in the form of sensory experience) did not influence people to lower inhibitions, why would God tell us it does? [Prov. 16:29]

Impudence/Hate (I)
Dan in real Life  is replete with adolescent arrogance, rebellion and defiance. This is a film worthy of your parental intervention and control. I've seen first hand too many times the direct influence of onscreen behaviors on the behavioral choices of the teen viewer. For example, after showings of the Fast/Furious  films I couldn't count on fingers and toes the number of screeching tires in the parking lot of the theater, nearby and off in the distance (and police sirens). And you can trust as much as the Babylonians won't leave [Jer. 37:9], as long as such onscreen behavior is accepted and embraced, it will keep coming and coming ... [Ps. 12:8, Eccl. 8:11, 3 John 11] As long as we let filmmakers feed this stuff to our kids, the filmmakers will produce it.

Sexual Immorality (S)
As noted above, there is nudity in this PG(13) film. Brief and partial nudity but nudity nonetheless. And there is a woman (the same woman) exhibiting herself to a man in a shower. Remember, context does not excuse content. And the MPAA does NOT have the authority to decide for your kids what is and is not morally acceptable. YOU do! In addition, a number of other sexually oriented behaviors and displays freckle the script: a teen girl with a sexually suggestive word on the seat of her pants; innuendo about intercourse; a teen girl showing the skin below her navel threatening exposure to that which follows; more. [Mark 7:21, Gal. 5:19, 1 John 2:26]

Drugs/Alcohol (D)
There is booze, drinking and drunkenness in this film targeted at adolescents. And that is a danger indeed.

The American College of Physicians (ACP) has found that exposure to booze and drinking in and as entertainment emboldens the viewer, in particular the middle school age stratum, the PG and PG-13 age stratum, to challenge and experiment with alcohol.

Though the ACP study used R-rated films since it was believed R-rated films contained the most drinking, the focus is on the influence of exposure to alcohol in and as entertainment regardless of the film rating. Besides, the ACP researchers were not aware of R-13 which defeats the assumption that R-rated films present the most drinking and drunkenness. A finding by Harvard University agreed with our R-13 finding, four years after our finding. As a sidebar note, consider this, too. The MPAA is apparently going to consider all films with smoking in them as R-rated, clearly announcing without trying that smoking in and as entertainment is indeed a negative influence. If so, why not make R-rated any films which present booze and/or drinking and/or drunkenness? [Eph. 5:18] We incorporated smoking into a film's scoring distribution long before  the MPAA. Even other film rating websites have plagiarized our methodology. Might that imply others are following our lead? That we are doing something right?

Within the ACP study population of 4544 middle school students (90% were under fourteen years old), the prevalence of having tried alcohol without parental knowledge was

  • 46% for those with no restrictions on which rating may be viewed
  • 16% for those with partial restrictions on which rating may be viewed
  • four percent for those with complete restrictions.

    Rather revealing of the influences of the entertainment industry wouldn't you say? And emboldening children to sin with drink in and as entertainment screams of violating Luke 17:2.

    I can add to the ACP study that reveals films which present drinking and drunkenness contribute to underage alcohol abuse. I submit that it is not so much the presence of alcohol in films or the rating of the film(s) that embolden youth to abuse it, but is rather the attitude portrayed: the attitude of freedom from authority, freedom from accountability and freedom from consequences. PG-13 and R-rated films, even lesser rated films, are typically heavy with attitude. Our report on this, ATTITUDE: In Perspective -- Investigation Area Scoring and Trend in CAP Entertainment Industry Investigations, Special Report-001 may provide more understanding of the point.

    Offense to God (O)
    God's name was used seven times, all without the four letter expletive. Twice by a teen. [Deut. 5:11]

    Murder/Suicide (M)
    There were no murders or suicides noted in the entire 95 minutes of this film.


    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.


  • Prov. 16:29 A violent man entices his neighbor and leads him down a path that is not good. [The issue is the violence and its effect on an observer. "A violent man" can be a man, woman OR the men/women/characters demonstrating the violent behavior/action on the screen. Knowing of Prov. 16:29 you now know why violence, especially in and as entertainment, can embolden the viewer into aggression, especially youth. See also Joint Statement on the Impact of Entertainment Violence on Children Congressional Public Health Summit. Further, God speaks darkly of violence 56 times in the Old and New Testament of the KJV. And see 1 Cor. 15:33 below.]
  • Eccl. 8:11 Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.
  • 3 John 11 Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil [violent, immoral, debaucherous - all sin] but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.
  • Mark 7:21 For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, ...
  • Gal. 5:19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;
  • 1 John 2:26 These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. ["These things I have written" includes lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes from 1 John 2:16. An example of "them that seduce you" includes they who demonstrate sexual sin, however innocuous it may seem, in and as entertainment which can morally "seduce" the viewer, can lead one astray by desensitizing one and emboldening him/her to believe sexually immoral deeds, thoughts and display are acceptable OR by eroding one's natural inhibition against sexually immoral deeds and thoughts. And anything in and as entertainment that draws the viewer's attention to sexuality, sexual deeds, nudity and the private parts clothed or not, seen or not, is sexual.]
  • Eph. 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. [Since "drunk" is methusko {meth-oos'-ko}: to intoxicate; make drunk; to get drunk; become intoxicated, "wine" can be any intoxicating substance including illegal drugs or abuse of prescription drugs. The issue is do not abuse the body by intoxicating it. Though it is not a sin to drink, it is a sin to get drunk OR to influence to get drunk OR to drink in defiance such as underage drinking.]
  • 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 responsible discussion is in vain. That includes the popular three syllable sentence with His name trailing it AND the misuse of Jesus' name or title.]

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Jer. 37:9 This is what the LORD says: Do not deceive yourselves, thinking, 'The Babylonians [the destroyers from within] will surely leave us.' They will not!
  • 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, 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 Be not deceived: evil [kakov: of a bad nature, not such as it ought to be] communications corrupt good manners.
  • Rom. 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
  • Jude 1:4 For there are certain men* crept in unawares [secretly slipped in among us], who were before of old ordained to this condemnation [whose condemnation was written about long ago], ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [a license for immorality], and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. [*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 one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
  • Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. [Offend: skandalizo {skan-dal-id'-zo} - scandalize; to entice to sin; to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away.]
  • Ps. 119:133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me [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. ["Evil" includes all things that are sinful.]


    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 objective  heart of the CAP Analysis Model, independent of and insulated from the Summary / Commentary section.)

    Dan in Real Life (2007) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
  • hit to the face

    Impudence/Hate (I)
  • three uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • arrogance at the father, repeatedly, frequent
  • teen lie to father, repeatedly
  • teen confrontation with father, repeatedly
  • teen defiance of father, repeatedly
  • portrayal of the teen child as "mentor" to the father
  • teen exaggerating romantic attraction to manipulate father
  • teen hatred of father
  • deception of father by child
  • teen child thinking she is the sexual authority over father's wisdom

    Sexual Immorality (S)
  • sexually suggestive word on seat of teen girl's pants
  • opening woman's bedroom door WHILE knocking
  • side nudity - female
  • clothed man in shower with nude woman (genitals not seen)
  • pose/camera angle to force viewer on private parts
  • innuendo re: intercourse
  • teens making out
  • teen below navel skin

    Drugs/Alcohol (D)
  • booze
  • bar
  • drinking

    Offense to God (O)
  • seven uses of God's name in vain without the four letter expletive, twice by a teen

    Murder/Suicide (M)
  • none noted

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    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 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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