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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

(2003), PG

Analysis Date
CAP Final Score
CAP Influence Density
September 18, 2003
56 out of 100

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UPDATED September 15, 2003
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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.

(2003), PG -- .That which happened to PG-13 is happening to PG.

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): New Line Cinema, David Kirschner Productions, Digital Domain, Avery Pix Distribution (US): New Line Cinema
Director(s): Tim McCanlies
Producer(s): Janis Rothbard Chaskin, Kevin Cooper, Joe Dishner, Toby Emmerich, Mark Kaufman, David Kirschner, Karen Loop, Scott Ross, Amy Sayres, Corey Sienega
Written by/Screenplay: Tim McCanlies
Cinematography/Camera: Jack N. Green
Music: Patrick Doyle
Film Editing: David Moritz
Casting: Ed Johnston, Emily Schweber
Production Design: David J. Bomba
Art Direction: John R. Jensen
Viewed At: Drtifwood Theater 6

"Seeing is believing." "Believing by faith." Opposite ends of the faith spectrum. Always doing battle with each other. Fourteen year old Walter (Haley Joel Osment - "I see dead people") enters the plot as "seeing is believing" but slowly begins to discover "believing by faith."

Walter is a 14 year old boy trying to become a young man. With a vulnerable, selfish, lying mother, Mae (Kyra Sedgwick) and without a father, Walter hasn't had much of an example by which to develop into manhood [Luke 17:2, Matt. 18:10]. Until Walter is herded to his grandmother's two brothers -- his two great uncles -- Hub (Robert Duvall) and Garth (Michael Caine), he hasn't had much of a chance to know what it is to be a man. On the surface even these two geriatric goons do not seem to hold much promise as examples of manhood for Walter.

Mom's intent in leaving Walter with his two great uncles was not to help Walter learn what it means to be or how to become a man. Her two purposes of leaving Walter with his great uncles was for Walter to locate his uncles' huge stash of cash and to give her an opportunity to be free of Walter. The dissonance Walter suffers due to uncertainty and lack of self confidence brought on by a young life of mistrust and skepticism wreaks havoc with Walter's self respect and ability to bond. Walter has learned to reject love. His faith/trust in anyone but himself was never given a chance to grow. And the fires of puberty aren't helping much. The situation does not look good for Walter.

But Walter is not stupid. Even Walter's bitterness and constantly defensive attitude do not prevent him from being able to see through the rough, gruff exterior of Hub and Garth. The longer Walter lives with the brothers, the deeper into their character Walter sees. Walter slowly witnesses the strength and assuredness that comes from honor, courage and virtue. Once Walter finds an old picture of a beautiful young woman (Jasmine - Emmanuelle Vaugier) who seems to fit into the slivers of the lives of Hub and Garth they have revealed to Walter so far, Walter begins to ask questions and learns much through the story-telling of Garth.

I know I have been trying to shorten these Summary/Commentary sections to hold down costs, but I feel a sermon coming on.

"Seeing is believing" speaks to accepting the existence of something because of proof through the five senses. It also speaks to *not* being able to believe in something unless one can empirically prove it. Such is Walter's empiricistic life. Having been lied to so often for so long, Walter has been forced into relying on his five senses for what to believe in. Many of us who are not capable of escaping the box of the empirical world use "seeing is believing" to disbelieve the existence of God since no one can see Him. I wish I had a dollar for every teen and young adult I have tried to help out of the empirical box and into the non-empirical world of faith which is just as real as the empirical world.

"Believing by faith" speaks to assurance by a special strength to accept without empirical proof. An example of faith is trusting without measure or expectation in a relationship with those who love you even if you don't love them ... or don't know *how* to love them. Another example of faith is trusting in a relationship with the face we cannot see, the hand we cannot hold and the voice we cannot hear ... trusting in Jesus.

As Jesus said to the disciple Thomas, "...Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed [John 20:29]. Jesus was speaking to how much easier it is to believe in that which one can see and to how much more blessed are they who have not seen but yet believe. Jesus was praising the power of faith and the believers who will believe even after His mortal death and Ascension to the right hand of God. Faith is *very* powerful. And only those who have faith can see the Truth of God ... believing by faith. It is sad that many have fallen to trusting only the empirical, Newtonian world and know not the immense peace, strength and joy that comes through faith in Jesus; in the face we cannot see, the hand we cannot hold, the voice we cannot hear.

If we don't first believe in God and His Word of promises and eternal life, we'll never find them. The Truth is promised to they who first believe. Consider Martha, sister of Mary, and sister of Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead. [John 11:1 - 44] As Jesus arrived in Bethany and ordered the stone to be moved from Lazarus' tomb, Martha questioned "Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days." [John 11:39] To that, Jesus told her "Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest [first] believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" [John 11:40 ] Earlier, in John 11:27 Martha had told Jesus she believed in Him as the Christ and Son of God. In reminding Martha Jesus told her that because of her belief in Him ... because of her faith ... that she would see the glory (the power) of God. Jesus then commanded that Lazarus arise. And he did. Martha saw the glory of God raise her brother from the dead. How wonderful it is to have the assurance of faith.

I am impressed with one part of this movie in particular -- the part after Walter is subjected to abuse and misuse but still finds the strength to honor his mother's parental authority as do his great uncles. Though, by man's standards under the scenario of the movie the mother certainly does not deserve her parental authority, Walter and his great uncles openly honor her authority and ask their desires rather than force or steal them. Though Walter takes rather drastic and potentially fatal steps to ask, he does ask. [Exod. 20:12] But unfortunately, when mom tells Walter she has no choice he retorts "Maybe you don't but *I* do" in defiance. As it turns out, all is well among Walter and his great uncles. But here I must remind us that a noble destination does not excuse an ignoble path.

While there were many good "messages" in *Secondhand Lions*, it is apparently now acceptable for there to be 31 uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary in PG-rated movies [Col. 3:8]. And I guess it is now acceptable in PG movies to expose little kids to a woman rubbing the inside of man's leg [1Ths. 4:2-5]. It's happening. folks. That which happened to PG-13 (see "R-13" ) is happening to PG [Ps. 12:8]. The CAP scoring range earned by PG-13 movies in the comparative baseline database is 55 to 67 out of 100. *Secondhand Lions* earned a final score of 56 which makes it a equivalent to a "hardcore" PG-13. Again, the low score is not due to any particularly severe examples of aberrant behavior or invasive imagery, but due to so many examples of behavior and imagery of lesser severity. Another example of the CAP Rule of 1000.

The CAP Rule of 1000 states a movie with 100 examples of assaults on wholesome morals and ethics worth only ten "bads" each is just as morally influential as a movie with only 10 examples of extreme bad behaviors worth 100 "bads" each. Both movies fit the Rule of 1000. *Secondhand Lions* is an example of the Rule of 1000 -- many "lesser" assaults on morality and ethics to garner the same magnitude as a movie with fewer but more severe assaults. While the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) targets specific examples of behavior as a threshold of immorality, which *they* decide whether fit or not, to make their rating determination (which, by the way, gives them "justification" for changing their standards to accommodate the tides of morality in the modern world), the CAP accounts for ALL issues of assault on morality and ethics by God's standards, not man's. God's standards don't change. Not one itty, bitty bit. Inherently, neither do ours since ours come from His.

Please read the listing in the Finings/Scoring section before you decide whether this film is fit for your kids.

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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 (which includes abuse). What do you want the angels for your kids to say to God?]
  • John 20:29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
  • [NOTE: I know this is a long reference, but it is key to belief and faith. My hopes are that you will read it all.] John 11:1 - 44 Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. [2] (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) [3] Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. [4] When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. [5] Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. [6] When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. [7] Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again. [8] His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? [9] Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. [10] But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. [11] These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. [12] Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. [13] Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. [14] Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. [15] And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. [16] Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him. [17] Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already. [18] Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: [19] And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. [20] Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. [21] Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. [22] But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. [23] Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. [24] Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. [25] Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: [26] And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? [27] She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. [28] And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee. [29] As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him. [30] Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him. [31] The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. [32] Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. [33] When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, [34] And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. [35] Jesus wept. [36] Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! [37] And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? [38] Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. [39] Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. [40] Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? [41] Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. [42] And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. [43] And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. [44] And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. FYI: Though many Jews had come to believe on Jesus by the resurrection of Lazarus [John 11:45], it was from that day on others plotted to take Jesus' life. [John 11:53].
  • Exod. 20:12 Honor your father and your mother,...
  • Col. 3:8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.

    ***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 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]. [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.
  • 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.


    Secondhand Lions (2003) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
  • reckless endangerment
  • firearm threat
  • gunfire to intimidate
  • battles and battles with deaths
  • swordplay, repeatedly, some with deaths
  • threat of suicide
  • character poised for suicide
  • knife threats, repeatedly
  • "good time" fistfight to teach punks
  • irresponsible handling of firearms, including by young children
  • fighting with deaths
  • child beating, twice, once with threat to kill
  • animal attack
  • child jumping out of a moving vehicle

    Impudence/Hate (I)
  • 31 uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • parental lying to be rid of child
  • additional lying of parent to child
  • more parental lying to child to manipulate his allegiance

    Sexual Immorality (S)
  • old time burlesque in a bar
  • crude anatomical reference
  • inappropriate touch, twice, once by mother to boyfriend on the inside of his leg

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • smoking, repeatedly
  • bar
  • booze
  • drugging to abduct, twice
  • chewing tobacco
  • giving chewing tobacco to a child
  • drinking

    Offense to God (O)
  • four uses of God's name in vain but without the four letter expletive

    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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