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


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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to parents and grandparents

Sweet and Lowdown (199), (PG-13)
CAP Score: 41
CAP Influence Density: 1.64
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ALERT: To fully understand this report you should first visit the topics suggested by the CAP Table of Contents.

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NOTE: We make no scoring allowances for Hollywood's trumped-up "messages" to excuse, or its manufacturing of justification for aberrant behavior or imagery. 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. 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 objectuve and is the heart of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie.


*Sweet and Lowdown* (PG-13) -- smoking and drinking and women and money.

*Sweet and Lowdown* is a rather dry and dull movie of the life of a fictional character, Emmet Ray (Sean Penn), the "second best guitar player in the world."

By the director and writer Woody Allen's use of big names as "interviewees" in the style of a docudrama, the viewer is led to believe Emmet Ray is a real character. But then, he was -- a "real character", or maybe a real cad. He even tried pimping to make money that slips through his fingers like sand through a sieve. Ray also enjoyed taking "his women" to the city dump to shoot rats. A real character indeed.

Ray has some bad habits. He is a womanizer. He does not handle his money well. Ray even tries pimping to make money to pay for his expensive tastes. And he is a man of optional ethics. The women in his life include the mute laundress Hattie, the British star Samantha Morton who, in my opinion, had the best talent in the movie though she spoke not a word. Her plain beauty supported well her remarkable command of expressionism and mannerism. Though Penn's part was typical of his usual ego-centric caustic genre, Morton stole the thunder of Penn's performances more than once.

Another woman in Ray's life was Blanch (Uma Thurman), a high-society flighty dame enamored by Ray's skills with jazz guitar playing. Note that while on many onscreen music performances the viewer is typically treated with cheats as the sound track is actually played by an off-screen performer, and while the actual sound track of *Sweet and Lowdown* was made by noted guitarist Howard Alden, Penn was actually playing the guit-fiddle in this movie. Alden taught Penn to play the guitar.

As Ray and one of his buddies pranced the "boardwalk" looking for women, Hattie suffers the misfortune of getting connected with Ray. With smooth arrogance and confidence, Ray "sweeps her off her feet" and into the bedroom by taking advantage of her innocence, her assumed "easy prey" status due to her disability, and her sparse diet of affection. It would be difficult for a viewer to see this movie without feeling a little sorry for Hattie and a little angry at Ray.

While atypically light in foul language, this PG-13 is another one that should have been an R if only because of the saturation of "lesser" items of moral invasion and corruption [Ps. 101:3]. Use of the most foul of the foul words was not noted and the three/four letter word usage was also atypically light [Prov. 8:13], but the use of God's name in vain was used several times, both with and without the four letter expletive, mostly with [Exod. 20:7 ]. And the sexual content, though nudity was not noted, was explicit enough to warrant the R rating when compared to movies of 1995 and earlier [Rom. 13:13]. Also equivalent to hard R movies of 1995 and earlier was the Drugs/Alcohol content. The frequency of smoking (including dope) and drinking was heavy [Gal. 5:21].

So many of our visitors seem to be relying only on this Summary/Commentary for a full assessment of this movie. This is not possible. For the best representation of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie, visit the Findings/Scoring section below.

FINDINGS / SCORING: Sweet and Lowdown (1999) CAP Thermometers

NOTE: Multiple occurrences of each item described below may be likely.

Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
  • theft
  • firearms
  • gunfire for sport
  • admission of murder
  • admission of adultery
  • robbery with gunfire
  • gun battle with the police
  • death by gunfire
  • firearm to intimidate
  • planing suicide
  • drunken assault on a woman

    Impudence/Hate (I)(1):
  • three uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • lies, including for self-glorification
  • running from fatherhood

    Sex/Homosexuality (S):
  • prostitution
  • clothed foreplay
  • adults in underwear
  • man and woman in bed together, including after intercourse (not seen)
  • cohabitation (continuous)
  • sexual talk, innuendo
  • adulterous physical affection
  • unwed pregnancy
  • sexual offer

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • smoking, including dope
  • bars
  • booze
  • drinking
  • drunkenness
  • drunk driving

    Offense to God (O)(2):
  • 5 uses of God's name in vain with the four letter expletive and three without

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

  • (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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    Thomas A. Carder
    ChildCare Action Project: Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP)

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