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

(2003), PG-13
Analysis Date
CAP Final Score
CAP Influence Density
April 28, 2004
55 out of 100

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

(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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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.

  • 1 Sam. 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
  • Gal. 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
  • Prov. 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.
  • Exod. 20:12 "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
  • Hebr. 13:4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure [which includes before marriage], for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.
  • 1 Cor. 6:18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
  • 1Cor. 7:2 But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.
  • 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.]
  • 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.
  • 1Ths. 4:1-5 Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his [or her] own body [which includes control of drives, touching, seeking, lusting (even after images), promiscuity, etc.] in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God;

    ***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.

    Pieces of April (2004) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
  • breaking and entering
  • assault
  • gang intimidation with threat
  • unseen assault resulting in injury with blood

    Impudence/Hate (I)
  • four uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • one use of the most foul of the foul words
  • father barging into teen girl's room
  • teen boy's arrogance against father, repeatedly
  • tattoos for show
  • punk
  • lie to cover up
  • child abandonment
  • mother asking stranger to give her a motorcycle ride to her daughter's, leaving family without a word

    Sexual Immorality (S)
  • unmarried man and woman in bed together in underwear, obviously after sleeping together
  • adults in underwear, repeatedly
  • cohabitation
  • teen in underwear
  • woman on man making out
  • intercourse, no nudity seen
  • camera angle to force viewer on private parts
  • suggestive eye movement, repeatedly
  • female upper nudity
  • mother exposing her nudity to son's camera
  • attempted sexual favor in exchange for good deed

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • consumption of drugs
  • drug intoxication

    Offense to God (O)
  • three uses of God's name in vain with the four letter expletive and six without

    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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