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ChildCare Action Project:
Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP Ministry)
Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to His little ones (which includes at-home teens) through you, their parents and grandparents, in His name by His Word

(2002), PG-13

Analysis Date
CAP Final Score
CAP Influence Density
December 29, 2003
73 out of 100

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ALERT: To fully understand this report you should first visit the topics suggested by the CAP Site Map (Table of Contents). Further, 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.

(2002), PG-13 -- ... a unique one when fed to the CAP model.

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Distribution (US): 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Director(s): Jim Sheridan
Producer(s): Nye Heron, Arthur Lappin, Paul Myler, Jim Sheridan, Meredith Zamsky
Written by: Jim Sheridan, Naomi Sheridan, Kirsten Sheridan
Cinematography/Camera: Declan Quinn
Music: Coldplay, Gavin Friday, Maurice Seezer
Film Editing: Naomi Geraghty
Casting: Joyce Gallie, Avy Kaufman, Frank Moiselle, Sally Osoba
Production Design: Mark Geraghty
Art Direction: Susie Cullen

After the death of his first son who died in Ireland of a brain tumor, Irish immigrant Johnny (Paddy Considine) brought to New York in the early 1980s his family, wife Sarah (Samantha Morton) and daughters Christy (Sarah Bolger) and Ariel (Emma Bolger, Sarah Bolger's real life sister) to escape from the past and try a new start.

In America is a deeply human movie portraying a plethora of emotions and trials of the immigrant family trying to survive in a strange land. Johnny is an actor-wannabe trying to get that one special audition to break into film. Failing to find it, Johnny ended up driving a taxi but did not lose sight of his dream in spite of all the hardships. And Sarah was right there with him through it all supporting him always, even as Johnny gambled with the family's money to win Christie an ET doll at a street carnival.

One day, in the sweltering heat of New York Johnny could not take what the heat was doing to his family any more and located an old air conditioner. The heroic effort came as he carried the air conditioner up several flights of stairs. As a sample of the desperation and consuming disappointment portrayed quite well in this movie, the family enjoyed a few moments of comfort from the air conditioner until it blew the electrical circuits to the whole multi-floor apartment building.

In a subplot, the girls meet one of the other tenants, Mateo (Djimon Hounsou), a painter dying of AIDS. Mateo, a gentle man who gave the impression of being dangerous, was portrayed as having spiritual powers that miraculously healed a fourth baby Johnny and Sarah started in New York in spite of the fears they shared whether this new child would suffer as did their son who died of a brain tumor. Indeed, the child was infirm for a reason I cannot recall but by some spiritual connection by Mateo the child survived. Such is a mockery of the healing power of Christ. God cannot be mocked. If a "miraculous" power is not from God, it is from the unholy realm. [Gal. 6:7]

In America is nothing grandiose nor is it likely to be award-winning, but it is somber and may be true to the plight of the immigrant trying to make it in America. But there is more.

This movie was a unique one when fed to the CAP model. The issues of assault on morality in the name of entertainment were comparatively few for the typical PG-13 but some were quite bold. Due to the comparatively few assaults on morality and the objectivity of the CAP model, In America earned a final score in the range of scores earned by some PG movies (68 to 86 out of 100) in the comparative baseline database. The CAP model does not attempt to "measure" which sin is more sinful than another. While the MPAA considers many subjective contemporary and liberal social values and mores when assigning their ratings, we do not. However, not to worry. The listing in the Findings/Scoring section provides added detail for your consideration when making a decision whether a film is fit and is provided specifically for such cases as In America. We have all the bases covered for you.

Another issue portrayed in this movie which I feel you should be warned of is what the movie said when little Christie gently and innocently kissed Mateo on the mouth. Mateo was dying of AIDS. Mateo's body hosted HIV which caused his AIDS. The movie had the father, Johnny telling his daughter that she would not catch the "Mateo disease." I can tell you as an ex-medic and having attended numerous foster care training sessions that corroborate the following; that the anaerobic HIV that causes the development of AIDS can be transmitted by the exchange of ANY body fluids except sweat. If anaerobic viruses can be transmitted by even a drinking glass, mouth kissing can do likewise. It is a awful chance to take to mouth-kiss with someone who suffers AIDS. There are many other ways to show our love for the sufferers of AIDS that do not invove body fulids. I believe that health professionals telling the general public that HIV cannot be spread by, e.g., saliva is trying to protect us from hysteria through minimizing certain vehicles and parameters of the communicability of HIV ... at the expense of the few who are victimized by such "protection."

There is side female nudity, foreplay and flashes of intercourse with brief nudity, but that is all regarding the immorality of sexual behaviors in and as entertainment. There are none of the usual PG-13 plethora of sexual innuendo, conquest, talk and comments. It uses "routine" sexual activities of a couple portrayed as married, but that does not excuse such display in and as entertainment. Such matters are completely private and are not for public display. While Johnny and Sarah were married in the movie, Considine and Morton were not. Even if they were it is up to you, not the MPAA, to decide whether such exposure is acceptable for your kids, 13 or otherwise. Such display was immoral. [Hebr. 13:4]

One instance of morality concern was a husband/wife fight in front of the kids. While it is never "okay" to fight, to do so in front of the kids can be devastating for the kids and cause the fractionation of dissonance between them, between them and one or both parents and between the kids, viciously. Parental fighting and name-calling in front of the kids will almost always cause the child(ren) to choose between the two parents and have animosity toward the other, all because the parents would not keep their mouths shut when the kids are around. But note that fighting does not have to be physical or verbal to be devastating for the kids. If you have the time to read an article equivalent to 20 typewritten pages, read our Spare the Rod...Spoil the Child: A Parental Perspective regarding parental arguing in front of children.

Additional matters that caused the loss of a starting 100 points included worldly talk by young girls clearly beyond their morally appropriate development. As the mother and father were having sexual relations Christie was narrating as if she were watching, saying "And that was the moment the baby was conceived." Another matter of portraying young girls with overly worldly experience was regarding transvestism. As Ariel observed a homosexual practitioner in drag, she asked Christie why those people dress that way. Christie replied with "It's just what they do here, okay?" Maybe that was rather reflective of our culture? Or at least what Hollywood apparently wants our kids to see as our culture. [Luke 17:2; Matt. 18:10]

Language included the use of the four letter word vocabulary, the most foul of the foul words [Col. 3:8] and God's name in vain but without the four letter expletive [Deut. 5:11]. The listing in the Findings/Scoring section will provide all that was noted.

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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.

  • Matt. 18:10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. ["despise" is contemn, disdain, think little or nothing of. What do you want the angels for your kids to say to God?]
  • Gal. 6:7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked [mukterizo {mook-tay-rid'-zo}: to turn up the nose or sneer at, deride]. A man reaps what he sows.
  • Hebr. 13:4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. ["Marriage bed" includes before marriage and when it is not yours.]
  • Col. 3:8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
  • 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.]

    ***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.

    In America (2003) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
  • gambling
  • bloody knife injury
  • dementia tantrum
  • knife assault to rob for money to support drug habit

    Impudence/Hate (I)
  • 6 uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • one use of the most foul of the foul words
  • adult tantrum
  • influencing children with transvestism
  • parental fight and in front of the kids
  • child setting on the outside sill of a window several stories above ground
  • "If the baby dies just don't wake me."
  • repeated portrayal of children clearly above the social and developmental status of the target audience, likely causing dissonance

    Sexual Immorality (S)
  • brief partial nudity as woman gets dressed after sex
  • woman stripping for sex
  • sex games/foreplay
  • side female nudity
  • flashes of intercourse with nudity

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • smoking
  • booze, repeatedly
  • drug addiction

    Offense to God (O)
  • one use of God's name in vain without the four letter expletive
  • implication of spiritual healing of a baby by the death of a man

    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 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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