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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
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(2011), PG [PG*] (1hr 42.5min)

Final Score
Analysis Date
Date Posted
Influence Density
Augut 2, 2011
August 3, 2011

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(While the Scriptural references are certainly not subjective, my commentary may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary.

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(2011), PG [PG*] -- close to death ... a living miracle.

Production (US): Tri-Star Pictures, Filmdistrict, Enticing Entertainment, Mandalay Vision, Brookwell McNamara Entertainment, Island Film Group, Affirm Films, Life's a Beach Entertainment
Distribution (US): Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Director(s): Sean McNamara
Producer(s): Noah Hamilton, Becky Hamilton, Shelley Trotter, Christina Lambert, Ron Bass, Jennifer Smolka, Joey Paul Jensen, Susie Singer Carter, Corey Schwartz, Ricardos, S. Galindex, Roy J. Tjioe, David Tice, Dominic Ianno, David Zelon, Douglass Schwartz, Dutch Hofstetter, Sean McNamara, David Brookwell
Screen Story by: Sean McNamara, Deborah Schwartz, Douglas Schwartz, Michael Berk, Matt R. Allen, Caleb Wilson, Brad Gann
Screenplay by: Sean McNamara, Deborah Schwartz, Douglas Schwartz, Michael Berk
Based on book Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton with Sheryl Berk and Rick Bundschuh
Cinematography/Camera: John R. Leonetti
Music: Marco Beltrami
Film Editing: Jeff W. Canavan
Casting: Joey Paul Jensen, Niner Parikh
Production Design: Rusty Smith
Art Direction: Rosario Provenza
Viewed on Sony Pictures Home Entertainment DVD

Wow! I don't think I have ever seen in any of the over 1400 films I've analyzed any special photography as fine as in Soul Surfer. Incredible photography! Incredible indeed. If I didn't know otherwise I would believe AnnaSophia Robb has only one arm. One has to look v-e-r-y closely and only at certain times such as a left-side shot while she wears a tank top to even get a hint that AnnaSophia Robb actually has two arms. And the "trick photography" (I think it is her wearing a green sleeve and is electronically edited out) is perfect. Hats off to the filmmakers.

And hats off to the writers. In two aspects anyway. No one is afraid to admit and express their faith in God. Much credit is given to the One who gives us life (and Life). God is never blamed for Bethany Hamilton's misery and misfortune. Bethany once wonders why such terrible things happen but she does not blame God. Hats off also to the writers for proving a film can be just as powerful without profanity. I found not a single utterance of any form of profanity or euphemisms of it. It would have been nice if the filmmakers had not depended so much on female skin and the female body (see the Sexual Immorality investigation area discussion below).

Now a little to the caliber of performances. AnnaSophia Robb as Bethany Hamilton was not nearly as cardboard as she seemed to be in performances such as Because of Winn-Dixie and Bridge Over Terabithia. AnnaSophia actually seemed perfect for the part and was good at it. Academy award winners Helen Hunt as Cheri Hamilton and Dennis Quaid as Tom Hamilton, Bethany's parents, were the perfect parents. Helen has that mother look in some of the scenes while Dennis portrayed very well the supportive father, maybe too supportive.

Bethany says she thinks she spent more time wet than dry. Her love is surfing. She is good at it and is getting better. So much better she is good enough to try professional surfing. That is what she is going to do.

One day as Bethany and posse, including her surfing coach Holt Blanchard (Kevin Sorbo), her BFF Alana Blanchard (Lorraine Nicholson) and Alana's brother, Byron (Jeremy Sumpter), tried to catch an early couple hours of surfing practice in an inlet when a shark took a piece of Bethany's surfboard ... her left arm with it. And almost her life. Bethany quickly succumbs to hypovolemia (low blood volume) and then cardiac arrest. Bethany was close to death for a time. The medics keep her alive until Dr. David Rovinsky (Craig T. Nelson) can save her life with surgery who said "She is a living miracle."

Now itis time to relearn life. Everything she did with two hands must now be done with one hand -- or not done at all. But was surfing one of the two-handed activities she was going to give up? No way. Bethany said one of the most courageous things I have ever heard anyone under disability say: "I don't need easy. I just need possible."

Is Bethany successful in her quest to continue surfing? Can she compete with only one arm? What Bethany does is up to your discovery. I do not want to spoil the film any further.

Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - 77 out of 100
This is not a violent film ... except for the tragedy to Bethany. The shark attack and the loss of her arm to the shark is the gist of the violence content. There is no portrayal of criminal matters noted.

While the violence in this film is not violence perpetrated by man, it is still violence and God warns us in many ways, particularly in Prov. 16:29, that violence may be "catching" and may lead us into "a way that is not good." Man has even plagiarized God's Word by four professional public health agencies jointly publishing their findings which state "viewing violence may lead to real life violence", "children who see a lot of violence are more likely to view violence as an effective way of settling conflicts" plus other warnings about viewing violence in and as entertainment.

Impudence/Hate (I) - 67 out of 100
Matters of the impudent and/or hateful nature include two teen girls sneaking out at night, deceiving their parents. It also includes a son's arrogance toward his father and defiance of his father's authority. [Deut. 5:16] There is an episode of a mother glaring at the father who was upset at his son's arrogance and defiance to imply the friction was the father's fault and a couple instances of poor sportsmanship [2Tim. 2:5]. Those matters are the most of the impudence and/or hateful content. Not one use of profanity was found.

Sexual Immorality (S) - Zero out of 100
I may as well get this next part over with. Be patient with me. I sound as though I am defending my position when it is not my position.

Before I started watching the DVD, one of our "congregation" wrote me with a comment about Soul Surfer who said "I've heard too much skin." I didn't recognize the gentleman and suspected he was just one of those Bible-thumpin' types. I thought to myself "How could what I understand to be a 'good Christian film' display too much skin?" Well, after watching it I found he was right. The film has a strong and dynamic basis in the Christian faith and boundless courage but it also has a strong basis in skin. Female skin, of course. The issue is best revealed by noting that the male characters mostly wear tee shirts or sweaters and long shorts even when surfing but the quintessential female characters wear less, much less. And the camera focuses the viewer on it a lot. Granted, the setting is in Hawaii. And granted it is summertime. And granted it is surfing. And granted -yada yada yada. But why still did the girls not wear as much as the boys? Though I may risk copyright infringement, this aspect of the film could have easily been titled "Soul Surfer: Swimsuit Edition" and with the same focus. (No, I've never bought a Swimsuit Edition magazine but I've seen their commercials.) And from another perspective, why in one scene of two girls setting on their surf boards in the water did the boards float atop the water placing their open legs above the water line when in another scene of them setting on their boards in the water did the boards sink to where the water line was at their waists? There are other examples of subliminal posing (such as on the back of the DVD case insert) but I suspect you .. er ... get the picture. What do you suppose the film's strong content of skin/body will do to its strong message in faith?

The content of this film is G- or PG-equivalent in four of the six CAP investigation areas, one point under PG barely into PG-13 equivalent in one investigation area but R-equivalent in Sexual Immorality. There, it is clearly R-equivalent and only because of all the filmmaker maneuvers to have a camera angle and/or pose to force the viewer on private parts, the dressing to maximize the female form and/or skin exposure and swimwear that exposes lower glutei and below navel skin that threatens to expose that which follows.

The R-equivalence in this investigation area is clearly not due to any one or a few individual displays or acts of extreme sexual immorality as may be typical of many R-rated films, rather because there are s-o-o many "lesser" instances of pushing the sexual humility envelope that they all add up to create a combined magnitude equivalent to many R-rated films. For more information about such loading of the content of films (whether intentional) please see our CAP Rule of 1000 publication.

While Soul Surfer is indeed a great film in many ways, it is not a great film in terms of skin/body exposure. The file footage of Bethany and her life at the end of the movie does not support such an extent of exposure to skin as is presented in the film.

Drugs/Alcohol (D) - 100 out of 100
While there is a toast with the lifting of glasses at a Thanksgiving feast, there is no evidence it is an alcoholic toast. I could have been cranberry juice for all we could tell.

Offense to God (O) - 93 out of 100
God's name is used in vain twice. Each time is without the four letter expletive. But does leaving off the four letter expletive make the sin of abusing His name any less? I doubt it. [Deut. 5:11] But there were no examples found of any witchcraft, voodoo, satanism, demonism, occultism or anything even approaching them.

Murder/Suicide (M) - 100 out of 100
There are no murders or suicides noted.


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  • Prov. 16:29 A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good. [The issue is the violence, the 'way that is not good' no matter how "small" or "justified" the violence might seem, and its "leading" effect on the observer. "A violent man" can be any character of any age, any gender, human or not in the act of committing (demonstrating in the case of entertainment) violent behavior/action whether for good or evil OR the violent behaviors/actions themselves. Such exposure can and does embolden the viewer into aggression, especially youth. It took years for the American professional health community to finally affirm, probably without knowing it, that which God told us in 1 Cor. 15:33 below. See also Joint Statement on the Impact of Entertainment Violence on Children: Congressional Public Health Summit for more information. Further, God speaks darkly of violence 56 times in the Old and New Testament of the KJV.]
  • Deut. 5:16 "Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
  • 2Tim. 2:5 Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules.
  • 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 responsible discussion and in praise and prayer is in vain. That includes the popular three syllable sentence with His name trailing it AND the misuse of Jesus' name or title. So, trying to excuse such expressions with "I was talking TO God/Jesus when I said that" or It's just words" or "I was acting" will not work with Him. Nor will "Everybody says that" excuse the sin of using His name in vain. If everyone on the planet who has ever drawn a breath used His name in vain, it would still be a sin to do so. If no one ever did, it would still be a sin to do so. Whether we believe it or not. Whether we like it or not. Whether we care or not.]

    Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry

  • Jer. 37:9 This is what the LORD says: Do not deceive yourselves, thinking, 'The Babylonians [the destroyers from within] will surely leave us.' They will not!
  • 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, 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 Be not deceived: evil [kakov: of a bad nature, not such as it ought to be] communications corrupt good manners.
  • Rom. 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
  • Jude 1:4 For there are certain men* crept in unawares [secretly slipped in among us], who were before of old ordained to this condemnation [whose condemnation was written about long ago], ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [a license for immorality], and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. [*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 one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
  • Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. [Offend: skandalizo {skan-dal-id'-zo} - scandalize; to entice to sin; to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away.]
  • Ps. 119:133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me [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. ["Evil" includes all things that are sinful.]


    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.
    (The objective heart of the CAP Analysis Model, independent of and insulated from the Summary / Commentary section.)

    Soul Surfer (2011) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - 77 out of 100
  • animal attack
  • graphic injury, repeatedly

    Impudence/Hate (I) - 67 out of 100
  • two teen girls sneaking out after dark, deceiving their parents
  • son's defiance of father's instruction, animated arrogance
  • mother glaring at father as if son's defiance is the father's fault
  • poor sportsmanship
  • social warfare, repeatedly
  • massive tattoos on crowd member

    Sexual Immorality (S) - Zero out of 100
  • camera angle/pose to force viewer on private parts, brief swim wear exposing lower glutei and pre-pubic skin, dressing to maximize the female form and/or skin exposure, frequent

    Drugs/Alcohol (D) - 100 out of 100
  • none noted

    Offense to God (O) - 93 out of 100
  • two uses of God's name in vain

    Murder/Suicide (M) - 100 out of 100
  • 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 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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    * CAP Equivalence to MPAA Rating Scale:
    Please note our new manner of indicating a film's Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rating in comparison with the CAP equivalence such as "PG-13 [R-13]." The first term is the Motion Picture Association of America's (MPAA) rating. The second term [in brackets] indicates that which the film earned under the CAP analysis model. In the example, "PG-13 [R-13]" indicates the MPAA rated the film PG-13 but the film earned a CAP final score in the scoring range earned by R-rated movies in the comparative baseline database. Other comparative terms used might be "PG [13-PG]", "G [PG-G] or even 'PG-13 [PG]" as was the case for Alien vs Predator. I doubt there will ever be a "G [R]" used, but only time will tell. The CAP analysis model is Rock-solid. The MPAA is not.

    The current CAP to MPAA** nomenclature is:

    For G rated Films with
    G equivalence: G
    PG equivalence: PG-G
    PG-13 equivalence: 13-G
    R equivalence: R-G<
    For PG rated Films with
    G equivalence: G-PG
    PG equivalence: PG
    PG-13 equivalence: 13-PG
    R equivalence: R-PG
    For PG-13 rated Films with
    G equivalence: G-13
    PG equivalence: PG(13)
    PG-13 equivalence: PG-13
    R equivalence: R-13
    For R rated Films with
    G equivalence: G-R
    PG equivalence: PG-R
    PG-13 equivalence: 13-R
    R equivalence: R
    For NR rated Films with
    G equivalence: G-NR
    PG equivalence: PG-NR
    PG-13 equivalence: 13-NR
    R equivalence: R-NR
    ** G, PG, PG-13 and R are registered trademarks of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

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