ChildCare Action Project (CAP): Christian Analysis of American Culture


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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to our youth though you,
their parents and grandparents, in His name by His Word

Serendipity (2001), PG-13
Analysis Date: September 28, 2001
CAP Score: 69
CAP Influence Density: 0.56

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NOTE: 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 purely objective 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.

SERENDIPITY (PG-13) -- objectivity fights subjectivity.

This movie is an example of the fight between the objectivity of the CAP analysis model and the subjectivity of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). There is hidden nudity with intercourse in this PG-13 but no gender-specific areas are seen. To many, that sin is paramount. But that is subjective. As far as the CAP analysis model is concerned sin is sin, the same way God sees sin. Specifically, any unforgiven sin can condemn the sinner to Hell. An unforgiven lie [Rev. 21:8] can send the sinner to Hell as surely as unforgiven convenience murder of babies. Likewise, the sin of unforgiven use of foul language bears dire consequences and this movie had its share of foul language [Matt. 12:36].

This movie earned a CAP score of 69 which is two points into the 18-point spread for PG movies (68 to 86) simply because the amount of ignominy in the rest of the show did not cost the picture enough points to earn it a score typical of PG-13 movies (55 to 67). This should point to the utility of the CAP thermometers and the listing in the Findings/Scoring section. If any one of the CAP thermometers shows a low score, consider the entire movie equivalent to that one score. There are so many features to the CAP analysis model. All bases are covered. Serendipity was clearly equivalent to R-rated movies (54 and below) in Impudence/Hate which includes foul language and in sexual content. It was PG or G (87 to 100)in everything else.

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Set in New York City around Christmas time (without the reason for the season, of course) Jonathan Trager (John Cusack) and Sarah Thomas (Kate Beckinsale) met at a sale at Bloomingdale's, a department store. A single pair of unsold black gloves caught her eyes and his. Jonathan wanted the gloves for his girlfriend and Sarah wanted them for her boyfriend. A lengthy session of white lies ensued as each came up with reasons why s/he should have the only pair of black gloves left.

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Push comes to shove and the two, enamored by each other, partook of a pastry cafe called Serendipity to feed the relationship. The conversation was about how she leaves any commitments to fate and destiny: a detailed presentation of how folks can improve their lives by leaving everything to fate and destiny.
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Once outside the store, Sarah finally decided to give Jonathan her name (which she had not yet revealed to Jonathan) and phone number. But as fate would have it, before Jonathan could read the writing on a tiny slip of paper a gust of wind blew it out of Jonathan's fingers and mixed it well with other dancing debris. Sarah decided it was fate that this should happen.

Jonathan's name and phone number ended up on a five dollar bill which goes back into circulation before Sarah read it. After much pressure by Jonathan for her name and phone number, Sarah wrote her them in an old used book, "Love in the Time of Cholera" which was returned to circulation Sarah decided if it is their destiny to get back together, fate will bring that book to Jonathan or the five dollar bill to her.

The rest of the show is more chance and happenstance with the ultimate hopes of getting the two back together. There are some additional romantic and heart-warming moments in this romance story and some good quality thespian chemistry which I do not want to reveal, but I will tell you, mom and dad, what is in store if you let your kids watch it AND in store for you if you watch it.

As mentioned above there is a strong sexual content which the connectivity provided by it to subplots could have been as effectively served with a sneeze. In addition, the three/four letter word vocabulary sounded at about 12 times per hour. The listing on the Findings/Scoring section will reveal all I could find.


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.

  • Rev. 21:8 But the fearful [cowardly], and unbelieving, and the abominable [vile], and murderers, and whoremongers [sexually immoral], and sorcerers [practitioners of witchcraft, magic], and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
  • Matt. 12:36 But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.

    *******Food for Thought*******
  • 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 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]

    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.

    FINDINGS / SCORING: Serendipity (2001) CAP Thermometers

    NOTE: Multiple occurrences of each item described below may be likely, definitely when plural.

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
  • physical roughing

    Impudence/Hate (I)(1):
  • 16 uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • series of white lies

    Sex/Homosexuality (S):
  • sexual comment, innuendo
  • extrmely short skirt
  • homosexual jokes, insult, suggestion
  • open mouth kissing
  • cohabitation, repreatedly
  • nude dancing with drinking (gender-specific nudity hidden by convenience objects)
  • nude necking (also with gender-specific nudity hidden by convenience objects)
  • intercourse with nudity (again with gender-specific nudity hidden by convenience objects))

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • smoking
  • drinking

    Offense to God (O)(2):
  • much faith in fate and destiny 15 uses of God's name in vain without the four letter expletive and once with

    Murder/Suicide (M)(3):
  • none noted

    NOTE: The CAP Analysis Model makes no scoring allowances for trumped-up "messages" to excuse or for manufacturing of justification for aberrant behavior or imagery, or for camouflaging such ignominy with "redeeming" programming. Disguising sinful behavior in a theme plot does not excuse the sinful behavior of either the one who is drawing pleasure from the sinful display or the practitioners demonstrating the sinful behavior. This is NOT a movie review service. It is a movie analysis service to parents and grandparents to tell them the truth about movies using the Truth.

    "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 five-year 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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    (1) As noted in CAP Special Report-001, "Investigation Area and Scoring Trend," of the six CAP Investigation Areas, Impudence/Hate was the strongest presence in all four movie classifications. It has a strong revelation about the entertainment media.

    (2) The use of the three/four letter word vocabulary without God's name in vain is incorporated into the Impudence/Hate Investigation Area. The use of God's name with or without the four letter expletive is incorporated into the Offense to God Investigation Area. There is no duplication.

    (3) Only portrayal of successful murder or suicide are incorporated into Murder/Suicide. Portrayal of attempts to commit murder or suicide and deaths by police action or war are incorporated into Wanton Violence/Crime.

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