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Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP Ministry)
Entertainment Media Analysis Report
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(2003), PG-13 -- ... slow, plain, unattractive and gritty ...
Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): InDigEnt (Independent Digital Entertainment), Kalkaska Productions
Distribution (US): Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corporation (MGM), United Artists
Director(s): Peter Hedges
Producer(s): John Lyons, Gary Winick, Alexis Alexanian, Jonathan Sehring, Caroline Kaplan, John Sloss, Lucy Barzun, Lucille Masone Smith, Dianne Dreyer
Written by: Peter Hedges
Cinematography/Camera: Tami Reiker
Music: Stephin Merritt
Film Editing: Mark Linolsi
Casting: Bernard Telsey, CSA, David Viccari, Will Cantler, CSA
Production Design: Rick Butler
Art Direction: Shannon Robert Bowen, Aleta Shaffer
Viewed on: MGM DVD
The "black sheep" of the family does what she can to stand out from and rebel against acceptable and respectable by the family standards. And the filmmakers made it all seem quite proper in the end with tons of loving togetherness. Well, the sins along an ignoble path are not excused by an noble destination.
Pieces of April is depressing. It is dry. It is slow, plain, unattractive and gritty. It is yet another block in the "I'm gonna do it in spite of, indeed, because of the rules", the "It ain't good enough no matter what 'it' is unless I get it my way", the "I'm gonna do it no matter what they do to me!" character foundations we give our kids in and as entertainment. [1 Sam. 15:23] We reap what we sow. [Gal. 6:7]
And indeed the Burns family reaps in April (Katie Homes) what Joy (Patricia Clarkson) the mother sowed. And that, of course, excuses April's rebellion. As if April had no mind of her own and Heaven forbid she be held accountable for her decisions or that anyone should stifle her arrogance. [Prov. 8:13; Exod. 20:12] I do rather get tired of such entertainment that tries to make the criminal the victim: that portrays someone's wrongdoing as excused and indeed justified by someone else's wrongdoing.
Twenty-something April Burns is the product not of a dysfunctional family but of parental neglect or abuse or something to do with anything that takes all the responsibility away from April. That April's mother was suffering terminal cancer and was in a stupor due to the chemotherapy and drugs is immaterial of course. And this was, of course, justification for the filmmakers to portray the pothead son Timmy (John Gallagher Jr.) as having taken pictures of his mother's nude chest (gross!), before AND after double mastectomy. Yes, there is nudity in this PG-13, too.
April left home at the first possible opportunity to escape her domineering mother to live first with a kid who changed his name to Tyrone then to live with Bobby (Derek Luke, opposite Denzel Washington in a dynamic performance as Fisher in Antwone Fisher). The key operative is "live with" as in outside of marriage. [Hebr. 13:4; 1 Cor. 6:18; 1 Cor. 7:2]
Encouraged to do so by Bobby, April sets out to reconcile differences by fixing a Thanksgiving Day meal for her family who does not know April is cohabitating with a guy let alone an African American. They know she has a new boyfriend who is a lot like dad according to April, but they know nothing else.
After Bobby and April woke up in bed together, the pair started to prepare the day's meal. After Bobby left to find, illegally I think, some clothes more traditionally suitable for a family meal, April began the arduous task of preparing the bird. In a flurry of domestic frustration, April discovered her stove would not light. While all this is going on, some guy named Tyrone was trying to contact Bobby. Bobby does not know anyone named Tyrone.
Most of the rest of the show is spent on two subplots. On April trying to find a neighbor who would let her cook her turkey in their stove in a run-down apartment building on the Lower East Side where everything that can go wrong did. And on the Burns family: Dad (Oliver Platt as Jim), mom, brother Timmy, sister Beth (Alison Pill) and grandma Dottie (Alice Drummond), mom's mother. Over the river and through the woods to granddaughter's house they go.
April's search for a working stove led her to meet several interesting people: A vegetarian who "can't stand the smell of burning flesh"; an elderly Chinese couple who could not speak English and their adult daughter; a single guy with an unusual attachment to his Pug dog who seemed willing to help but always with an air of "for a price"; an initially bigoted and racist black couple who become good friends with April.
Some of the happenings were indeed humorous but some involved sinister predatory types such as one of April's neighbors, the one with the unnatural attachment to his dog, expecting sexual favor in exchange for the good deed. What was not funny by any measuring stick was the portrayal of the son taking nude pictures of his mother. Gross! Fortunately, the film did not show the taking of the pictures, just the pictures plus dialogue explaining the taking of them.
Language included God's name in vain with and without the four letter expletive [Deut. 5:11], a single use of the most foul of the foul words, and a few of uses of the other three/four letter words which is not at all typical of PG-13 movies [Col. 3:8]. Other morally invasive elements of this film were sexual, as though filmmakers can no longer write films without some manner of sexual immorality in it. [1Ths. 4:1-5] The listing in the Findings/Scoring section will itemize the findings learned about this film.
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***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
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.
Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
Sexual Immorality (S)
Offense to God (O)
Single Christian Network
Kids, Teens and Home Vertical Portal
|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.|
|In the name of Jesus: |
Lord, Master, Teacher, Savior, God.
ChildCare Action Project (CAP): Christian Analysis of American Culture
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