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Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP Ministry)
Entertainment Media Analysis Report
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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.|
(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"
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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***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
|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.|