RED does not mean "stop." GREEN does not mean "go." Click on the CAPCon Alert image for explanation
CAP Movie Ministry
A ministry of the ChildCare Action Project:
Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP Ministry)
A 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Christian Ministry.
Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to His little ones through you in His name by His Word


(2007), PG-13 ["Lite" R-13*] (1hr 56min)

Analysis Date
CAP Final Score
CAP Influence Density
January 12, 2007
51 out of 100

The #1 Christian entertainment media analysis service on the Internet. We give you OBJECTIVE tools NO ONE ELSE CAN to help YOU make an informed decision for yourself whether a film is fit for your family. Over 1100 analyses for parents, grandparents, pastors, youth leaders and more.
Give your visitors full access to over 1100 CAP movie analyses! Place this image on your website and link it to

Click it to try it!

PLEASE . . . . . . .

(a PayPal account is NOT required)
OR (preferred) by Check or Money Order.
The CAP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit Christian ministry (75-2607488). Donations to us are TAX-DEDUCTIBLE

Stay informed ...OBJECTIVELY...
on what Hollywood feeds your kids. SUBSCRIBE
(or unsubscribe)
to our FREE text-only email version of these reports and our COMING SOON notices.
Email this report to friends and
tell them about the CAP Ministry:

Christian Long Distance

(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 ["Lite" R-13*] -- Behavior is "catching."

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Paramount Pictures, Double Feature Films, MTV Films, Jersey Films, Kernos Filmproduktionsgesellschaft & Company
Distribution (US): Paramount Pictures
Director(s): Richard LaGravenese
Producer(s): Danny DeVito, Tracy Durning, Jordana Glick-Franzheim, Nan Morales, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher, Hilary Swank
Screenplay: Richard LaGravenese
Book "Freedom Writers Diary": Freedom Writers and Erin Gruwell
Cinematography/Camera: Jim Denault
Music: Mark Isham, RZA
Film Editing: David Moritz
Casting: Margery Simkin
Production Design: Laurence Bennett
Art Direction: Peter Borck
Viewed At: Driftwood Theater 6

I wish I could have gotten this report to you sooner. The SBCYahoo server was down for a period and the local theater did not show Freedom Writers until this week, a week after it opened on January 5th. And it is yet too expensive to drive to theaters 40 miles away that show a film on opening day.

Though Freedom Writers is a dynamic and powerfully moving film, if any movie will embolden youth into aggression by camaraderie, this one is a likely candidate. I could tell before firing up the CAP analysis model computer that Freedom Writers is another R-13. We'll see what the content of it earns as soon as the numbers are crunched. Yes, Freedom Writers is another R-13. A "lite" R-13 but R-13 nonetheless, mainly due to violence and profanity, 30 times by teens (at least, by 20-somethings portraying teens).

Freedom Writers is clearly equivalent to many R-rated films in content revealed by both the Wanton Violence/Crime (W) and Impudence/Hate (I) investigation areas. Freedom Writers is a uniquely violent film and it portrays teens as more potty-mouthed than adults ten to one. Such may be true but portraying teens as potty-mouthed spreads it and perpetuates it. God knew what He was talking about when He warned us of such influences in 1 Corinthians 15:33 "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners." and in Romans 5:19 "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners..." Every "one" of the actors and actresses who demonstrates the sinful disobedience of profanity will be seen/heard by many impressionable teens. Behavior is "catching." Especially to the young when the portrayed behavior is defiance and arrogance. Especially when the behavior intimately touches close to what the young viewer perceives as "home." And as Karan Omidvari at St. Michael's Medical Center in Newark puts it, this age stratum is the impressionable age when it is good to be bad.

Such a shame, too. This film is about a truly courageous teacher in an otherwise impossible situation with a truly noble cause finding success through the heroism of a bunch of inner city kids defeating the stigma placed on them by many before them and around them. It is one of the most moving and emotionally energizing films I have seen. But then, having fostered 38 children over 14 years and adopting eight of them, I have a little bit of a soft spot for kids from the beginning since I have a heightened appreciation for kids who break the mold of stereotype behavior and start to think for themselves as they become able to do the right thing. But the reality of it all is that a noble destination does not excuse an ignoble path. The path through this film, whether accurate to the truth or not, is certainly a bit ignoble.

From the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association comes the following findings regarding the influence of violence in and as entertainment. The agencies revealed the findings in a Joint Statement on the Impact of Entertainment Violence on Children Congressional Public Health Summit of July 26, 2000:

  • Children [which includes at-home teens] who see a lot of [entertainment] violence are more likely to view violence as an effective way of settling conflicts. Children exposed to violence are more likely to assume the acts of violence are acceptable behavior.
  • Viewing violence can lead to emotional desensitization towards violence in real life. It can decease the likelihood that one will take action on behalf of a victim when violence occurs.
  • Entertainment violence feeds a perception that the world is a violent and mean place. Viewing violence increases fear of becoming a victim of violence, with a resultant increase in self-protective behavior and a mistrust of others.
  • Viewing violence may lead to real life violence. Children exposed to violent programming at a young age have a higher tendency for violent and aggressive behavior later in life than children who are not so exposed.
    It is serendipitous that "violence" can be replaced with almost any negative or counterproductive behavior such as sexual immorality, lying, treachery, thievery. brutality... Likewise, on the flip side "violence" can be replaced by honesty, courage, integrity, compassion. Try it. In your mind insert "compassion" in place of violence in the first of the above findings:

  • Children [which includes at-home teens] who see a lot of [entertainment] compassion are more likely to view compassion as an effective way of settling conflicts. Children exposed to compassion are more likely to assume the acts of compassion are acceptable behavior.

    This film is a perfect fulfillment of the Joint findings. It gives the impression that the teens in the film experience or witness more murders in the average inner city in one day than all the murders in a year in, for example, Fort Worth and Dallas, Texas (304 in 2004). One might rationalize that with "Just watch the news if you think movies are violent." Well, at least the news does not show the murders happening.

    The above findings that reveals viewing violence in and as entertainment "...can decease the likelihood that one will take action on behalf of a victim when violence occurs" was affirmed in this story with one of the teens saying that each day he could expect a body laying on the corner. In saying that, the teen said no one cares enough to get involved. While the gravity of the portrayed situations was indeed serious, exaggeration was the rule throughout the film. The exaggeration was akin to saying "I had to do a task a thousand times" when the truth is thrice. And since, in this average town on an average Friday night, about 80% of the attendees to Freedom Writers didn't even come up to my shoulders I suspect the above public health findings apply well to wherever the film is shown.

    But one must always take movies for what they are: entertainment not liable for inaccuracy. I have never seen or heard of a "true story" movie that has not embellished the "true" to some degree to make it more attractive to the target audience, teens in this case. So, you can expect this film to amplify what Hollywood thinks is the teen attitude and milk its lure of teens for what they can. A little defense of that statement: more than half of all moviegoers are minors (ref: Loews short-take trivia). So that is where the cinematic dollars are. Why not serve the stereotype attitudes of the intended audience with tons of camaraderie? And this film does. Particularly nihilism.

    Shortly after the LA riots that changed the California culture, at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, California freshman and junior English teacher Erin Gruwell (Hilary Swank), later called "Miss G", is convinced that racial hatred can be stopped: that the best way to effect that change is to influence youth. Many social scientists and cultural change engineers realize that shaping the youth is the best way to fuel a revolution, good or bad. Mussolini. Hitler. The National Education Association. AntiChristian forces. The "gay" agenda. Many others. Erin was first going to be a lawyer but soon realized the efficacy of social change through the shaping of youth.

    To effect her goal, Erin must homogenize four social classes, better known as gangs, at Wilson HS who would rather and often did simply not show up for class: Ghetto (the African Americans); Wonder Bread (whites); Cambodians (refugees); South of the Border (Hispanic, Latino). One of the most bitter class members is Eva (April L. Hernandez) ... AY-va, not EE-va she bellows. Eva openly growls that she hates whites. Her hatred includes Erin because, for no other reason, Erin is white. Eva hates whites because of the perceived power of whites over the minorities. Eva claims such unfair and sometimes brutal domination by whites was demonstrated on her first day of school as the white police arrested her father for a murder he did not commit.

    Erin's goal and agenda for uniting the students through the education arena was not received well by the department head, Margaret Campbell (Imelda Staunton). Though all the books Erin wanted to use in her class were available and gathering dust on the school storeroom shelves, Campbell refused to supply the books because of the history of "they" destroying the books. What is meant by "they" is the new minority students due to forced integration. Even Erin's once activist father Steve Gruwell (Scott Glenn) and neglected architect wannabe husband Scott Casey (Patrick Dempsey) -- Gruwell/Casey? Go figure -- did not share Erin's enthusiasm.

    On Erin's first day as English teacher she is met with, in addition to bitter resentment, a fight in her classroom. As days progressed classroom attendance dwindled until one day the truant students were herded into the classroom. Erin started her shaping of the kids by making them step up to a line down the middle of the classroom, half the students on either side of the line and facing each other. Erin then set up a number of conditions such as "How many of you have been shot at" and "How many have lost one - two - three - three or more friend(s) to gang violence. The students were to step back away from the line when their history did not include the conditions Erin set up. This portrayal was particularly sobering and heart-breaking as some kids remained at the line after Erin asked about "three or more."

    At an opportune moment when the subject of gangs arose ... again ... Erin, in a moment of brilliance, began to equate modern gangs to the "gangs" of Hitler and the Holocaust: that if the kids were arrogant enough to think they were "big and bad" as their gangs changed neighborhoods they could not hold a candle to the Hitler "gangs" which changed countries ... indeed the world. Slowly, keen interest filled the classroom.

    By getting two additional jobs Erin was able to purchase journals for each of the students. Her instruction was for each of them to make an entry every day. They did not have to let Erin see the entries -- how can she grade the truth? She would, however, read the journals if the students left them in a special locked closet in the classroom. Soon, the closet was filled with the journals.

    Erin also was able to buy a copy of "The Diary of Ann Frank" for each of her students. Even the hardest of them became engrossed in the story. So much so that the class held fund raisers to fly Miep Gies (Pat Carroll), the Holocaust survivor Austrian secretary who harbored Ann Frank to Wilson High. In my pinion, Pat Carroll quite probably gave the best performance of the entire cast as she told stories of her involvement with Ann Frank during the Holocaust. At the end of her presentation, one of the students stood to tell Miep she was his hero. Miep turned that around in a dazzling and sharply pointed reversal to say the students were the heroes. In a capturing moment in an intensely effective way Miep told the students she simply did the right thing. Indeed, the real Freedom Writers were heroes.

    As a class year finale for the journals the students prepared, Erin had them type them into book form. It was these journals that formed the "Freedom Writers Diary", published in 1999. It is the "Freedom Writers Diary" that formed the basis of this film.

    Certainly things like those portrayed in Freedom Writers happen, but that they happen does not excuse spreading them and perpetuating them by glorifying them in and as entertainment. And granted teens have life harder than ever before in some places in some ways, but that these things happen does not mean they happen in such concentrated density ... except in movies that capitalize on them.

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
    Freedom Writers is intensely violent at times and is clearly equivalent to many R-rated films in violence content. It begins with a long sequence of civil unrest to include gunfire to kill. That the intro sequence uses actual file footage then adding a scene of a teen firing a handgun, ostensibly to kill, may be an example of Hollywood's embellishment of the truth. This, in my opinion, is the same as those whom God warns us about who add lies to the Truth to make the lies seem the Truth. [Rom. 1:25] But it is just a movie.

    There are children beating children, repeatedly, brutally; children murdering children; threats with guns and even a gun battle between teens. One of the freshman girls allowed unauthorized entry onto high school property by thugs, each obviously older than the school population and one of them her apparently adult boyfriend, for the purpose of murdering other teens in gang warfare. Child and wife beating. A young boy killed by playing with a loaded gun. The list goes on and is itemized in the Findings/Scoring section. [Prov. 16:29]

    Impudence/Hate (I)
    Of the uses of profanity, 30 were by teens, three were by adults. Now that is a touchy perspective by Hollywood. It says a lot if movies really are a reflection of real life. But at least an adult was the only one to use the most four of the foul words. And only once. Even the background songs contain profanity. [2 Tim. 2:16, Eph. 5:4, Col. 3:8] Disrespect of authority, contempt for school rules and racial hatred are rampant.

    Sexual Immorality (S)
    For the most part, issues of sexual immorality are limited to seemingly innocuous matters such as rude gazing, sexual insults, public display of affection, a sensuously placed tattoo and a teen in underwear. However, in one case a young girl accuses her father of sexually soliciting her: "There's the concrete. Pick a spot." [Matt. 25:40, Luke 17:2] No nudity was noted. And no one got in bed with anyone else.

    Drugs/Alcohol (D)
    In only one case was illegal drugs noted and then only by reference as Erin asked the class how many knew where to get drugs to which everyone affirmed they did. Erin had the class toasting with sparkling cider once. While the drink was non-alcoholic it is still toasting. A couple instances of adults drinking and a bar sum up the Drugs/Alcohol content of Freedom Writers.

    Offense to God (O)
    While the teens were portrayed as 10 times as potty-mouthed as the adults, the teens were also the only ones who use God's name in vain with the four letter expletive as well. The adults, Erin to be specific, was flippant with the three-syllable sentence with God's name trailing it, but a teen was the only one to utter the single use of God's name in vain with the four letter expletive. With or without the four letter expletive, God frowns on using His name in vain. [Deut. 5:11]

    While calling others "fool" has been and may now be popular, Jesus has something to say about doing so. [Matt. 5:22] Something about hellfire.

    Murder/Suicide (M)
    While only two murders were seen, there was much talk of murder, murdering, murderers and more.


    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.


  • Rom. 1:25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator -who is forever praised. Amen.
  • Prov. 16:29 A violent man entices his neighbor and leads him down a path that is not good. [The issue is the violence. "A violent man" can be a man, woman OR the men/women/adolescents demonstrating the violent behavior/action on the screen, too. Now you 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 since "evil communications" is not limited to speech.]
  • 2 Tim. 2:16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.
  • Eph. 5:4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
  • Col. 3:8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy (injurious speech, slander in this use), filthy communication [aischrologia: foul speaking, low and obscene] out of your mouth.
  • 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.
  • Deut. 5:11 You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. (KJV) 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.]
  • Matt. 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment [krisis: accusation, trial]: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca [senseless, empty headed: a term of reproach among Jews at the time of Christ], shall be in danger of the council [sunedrion: adjudication]: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool [moros: impious, godless], shall be in danger of hell fire.

    ***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 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.)

    Freedom Writers (2007) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
  • long sequence of scenes of civil unrest, to include gunfire by a teen, ostensibly to kill
  • children beating children physical assault, repeatedly, some graphic
  • threat with firearm
  • gun battle between teens
  • fighting in class, twice
  • teen with gun on school property, repeatedly
  • on-campus riot
  • intimidation by fear of physical assault
  • enabling unauthorized entry on school property for the purpose of murder
  • dead teen body, repeatedly
  • husband beating wife and child
  • preteen with firearm
  • preteen killed by playing with gun
  • teens in possession of firearms, repeatedly
  • long sequence of tales of street terror and horror
  • photo of double hanging
  • threat to do harm
  • theft of public property
  • threat of life of a teen with a gun to her head if she tells the truth
  • pursuit to do harm
  • photos of gore and brutality

    Impudence/Hate (I)
  • 29 uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary by teens and 3 by adults
  • one use of the most foul of the foul words by an adult
  • profanity in background songs, repeatedly
  • excusing teen violence with "fighting for our own"
  • vandalism, repeatedly
  • class-wide and individualized disrespect of teacher, repeatedly
  • racial hatred, repeatedly
  • wrongful police actions resulting in false convictions, twice
  • willingness to lie to protect the guilty
  • contempt for school/class discipline and order, repeatedly
  • many minor children admitting to seeing an R-rated film
  • older sibling teaching younger brother to commit crimes
  • "They don't see the wars we fight every day" by teen to excuse behavior
  • teen tantrum
  • teen arrogance toward mother
  • massive tattoo on teen

    Sexual Immorality (S)
  • sexual insult
  • rude gaze, repeatedly, including with sexual implication
  • public display of affection
  • teen girl dressing in her bedroom
  • sensually placed tattoo
  • teen in underwear
  • tale o a father soliciting his daughter
  • male anatomical reference before male student by female teacher

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • booze
  • drug talk admitting to knowing where and how to get drugs
  • bar
  • teacher having teens "toast" with cider
  • drinking, twice by adults

    Offense to God (O)
  • one use of God's name in vain with the four letter expletive by teen and three without it by an adult
  • "Fool" by teen, twice [Matt. 5:22]
  • "If God lets me live..."
  • marital fracture and divorce

    Murder/Suicide (M)
  • drive-by gunfire murder of teen by teen, graphic
  • another gunfire murder of teen by teen

    Interested parties, send us your proposal. Your link will appear on each new analysis report prepared during the desired period and, once placed on a page, will not be removed.

    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.

    The ChildCare Action Project (CAP) is a nonprofit Christian ministry. We rely on public support. If you wish to contribute to the CAP, please send your donations to
    ChildCare Action Project
    Post Office Box 177
    Granbury, TX 76048-0177

    Your gifts are tax deductible in accordance with Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service Tax Codes. Please feel free to write to us.

    You are welcome to go to the
    CAP Reports page
    or go to the
    Top of the CAP Home Page
    or the
    CAP Site Map (Table of Contents)
    or leave me an email message or comment at

    In the name of Jesus:
    Thank you for visiting us and may God bless you. Prayerfully, we will provide you with some of the most revealing commentary and investigative reporting you have ever read.

    Lord, Master, Teacher, Savior, God.
    Tom Carder
    ChildCare Action Project (CAP): Christian Analysis of American Culture
    100% dependent on your tax-deductible financial support

    Copyright ChildCare Action Project (CAP) Ministry

    Since December 5, 2000

    The Fundamental Top 500

    Christian Long Distance

    We exist only by your tax-deductible donations. PLEASE

    Features PayPal! You do NOT need an account to donate.

    Copyright ChildCare Action Project (CAP) Ministry
    A Nonprofit Christian Ministry EIN: 75-2607488