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


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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: April 1, 2003
CAP Score: 79
CAP Influence Density: 0.38

MinMax: -50

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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.

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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 -- ...there is another story...

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Warner Bros., Gaylord Films, Castle Rock Entertainment, DiNovi Pictures, Sloane Square Films
Distribution (US): Warner Bros.
Director(s): Dennie Gordon
Producer(s): Denise Di Novi, E.K. Gaylord, Bill Gerber, Alison Greenspan, Casey LaScala, Hunt Lowry
Written by/Screenplay: William Douglas Home (play The Reluctant Debutante and 1958 screenplay), Jenny Bicks and Elizabeth Chandler (screenplay)
Cinematography/Camera: Andrew Dunn
Music: Rupert Gregson-Williams
Film Editing: Chuck McClelland
Casting: Suzanne Crowley, Gilly Poole
Production Design: Michael Carlin
Art Direction: Karen Wakefield
Viewed At: Loews Cineplex - Keystone, Dallas, Texas. Courtesy of Levinson and Hill

What the girl wants is a chance to have the father-daughter dance from the father she has never seen.

At the exit of a special screening, comments received included awesome, excellent, really good and other positive feelings about What a Girl Wants. Rachel and Sydney, here is the promise I made to you. Rachel and Sydney, about 12 or 13 years old, felt the movie was "Great!" I tend to agree with them, with reservations, which I will provide for mom/dad later in this analysis report. One hundred eighty one miles (round trip) and nearly seven hours make for an expensive trip, but it was worth it if for no other reason than to get to you the information you need to make an informed decision on your own whether this movie is appropriate for your children before the show opens on Friday, April 4th, information rarely if ever revealed by the advertisements, promotions and the MPAA.

Since this movie has not yet been released, I will not go into the level of detail about the plot and story I usually do.

There was some concern about the sexual content and language of the movie, thus the PG rating. But there was more sexually invasive programming in the pre-show trailers than in the movie. In the trailer for How to Deal was two instances of intercourse activity, one with flash nudity, both with a young couple undressed and in bed together, resulting in pregnancy out of wedlock plus joy in drug intoxication of a grandma. The trailer for (I believe) Uptown Girls also had a scene of intercourse in it. All just before a PG movie.

The story is of a young woman, Daphne Reynolds (Amanda Bynes), 17 years old, pining for her father who was separated by trickery and deceit from her mother, Libby (Kelly Preston) before Daphne's birth. Her mother and her father, Lord Henry Dashwood (Colin Firth) were married in a makeshift Bedouin ceremony while in Morocco and had tried to make it complete when Henry brought his mini-skirted, beaded and baubled radical-looking American bride home. Seeing Libby as a liability to Lord Dashwood's political aspirations for Prime Minister, his senior political advisor, Alastair Payne (Jonathan Pryce) convinced Libby of her liability to her husband's political future and rushed her off and out of Henry's life back to America. Libby, of course, saw this as Henry rejecting her. And since she found herself to be with child (Daphne) Libby opted to keep knowledge of Daphne from Henry in fear that Henry would reject Daphne as he apparently rejected her. For 17 years Daphne knew of her father but never knew him, separated from him from birth. And there is another story I will share with you at the end of this report.

Some top-notch talent in sometimes warm and touching performances filled the 101 timed minutes of What A Girl Wants. Bynes was both bubbly and dynamic with the ability to express emotions well with facial expressions. Colin Firth portrayed perfectly the stymied and flustered father who did not know he was a father being suddenly made aware of being a father in no uncertain terms. Eileen Atkins playing Henry's mother, Lady Jocelyn Dashwood, was the perfect picture of the matronly mother with wisdom and grace and the ability to keep to herself at the appropriate times. Anna Chancellor as Henry's fiance and Glynnis Payne, her daughter played by Christina Cole were disturbingly convincing of being a conniving and sneaky mother-daughter pair out to exorcise the Dashwoods and Britain of Daphne and her mother. Both were very good at imparting images of deceitful and shallow status-hungry women. Jonathan Pryce as Glynnis' father was equally convincing as a slimy opportunist.

Along comes the inevitable. A boy in Daphne's life. Twenty-two year old singer and performer Oliver James plays teenage Ian Wallace, a local boy who spies Daphne as a fish out of water and does what he can to make her feel less rejected. Ian is a street-smart boy who fell from the graces of well-to-do life. Though somewhat cardboard and expressionless in his performances, James performs a couple rather quality songs in the show. By discussion with the promoters, James was not very comfortable in kissing 16 year old Bynes in the movie. I believe the expression the promoters said James used to describe how he felt about kissing a 16 year old girl was "yucky." Sounds like a good young man with honorable values to be uncomfortable with kissing a girl six years his junior, barely out of teenage years himself. Maybe that accounts for the lack of chemistry and energy in the kissing scene. Thankfully. Hats off to you, Oliver.

One of the sub-themes of the show involves the age-old concept of being true to one's self. Daphne, being true to herself, has an impact on the Dashwood clan ... and apparently everyone else in Britain. Loudly. Brashly. And unashamedly. Her youthful energy and sometimes disregard for what is polite and proper influences even her prim and politically correct father. Daphne makes a shambles of a hoity-toity party by introducing "western culture" to the stuffiness of the party. Several examples of getting the snooty to "let lose and enjoy themselves" are used extensively to build the plot. And Bynes is very good at it. My concern is what such programming says to the young as they develop their concepts of right from wrong. Is it okay for one to corrupt a conservative culture in favor of one's own somewhat rebellious style just because one thinks his/hers is better? Star Trek(tm) appropriately calls it violation of the prime directive of non-interference. The Native Americans are almost extinct because of their initially humble acceptance of a culture alien to their own. Wallace was the chief promoter of Daphne's "let loose" style by telling her "Why do you try so hard to fit in when you are born to stand out?" Is "standing out" a good goal? Or does it take more personal strength to foster harmony with compromise? Yes, it is always good advice to be one's self except when being one's self knowingly involves sin. And what about our own sin causing others so sin as well? [Luke 17:2]

Wallace is the one to bring Daphne to her "senses" in the show. Forced by duty to leave her licentious and rebellious mannerisms to assume a conservative personality, Daphne is clearly unhappy with her assumed character. Henry can see it but is also bound by duty and must require Daphne to abide by a certain code of ethics and behavior expected of their station in life; to accept and implement a paradigm shift from rebellious to conservative. Overnight.

One of the matters that reeks of challenging morality and wholesome ethics is the saturation of the film with scant and snug dress, mainly by Bynes. Maybe that is "the style" or "the uniform" of today's youth. "Sprayed-on" sleeveless T-shirts are daring enough, but I wonder what is so captivating about the skin three to four inches below the navel? I ask that rhetorical question for effect, not for the obvious answer. Such dress may be acceptable to you -- that is your choice -- but it makes me uncomfortable because of the "dare" and "tease" image about it among an age stratum least capable of maturely managing such rebellion against wholesome moral standards. Neither is the relentless pushing the threshold of acceptability lower and lower each year acceptable to God. [Ps. 12:8] For years we have been accepting lowered moral standards and for years we have become more and more desensitized by it. We have become so drugged by challenging of standards with extremes that what once was morally unacceptable has become morally invisible. [Jude 4] And this film is clearly targeted at the age when development of sexual responsibility is just beginning.

Another issue of the programming that may raise your eyebrows is an incident in which Daphne fell off the end of a modeling runway and ended up [apparently] face down into the lap of one of the buyers. His expression as he looked to his lap was that he was quite happy she did. Though the imagery of her final position was not seen by the viewer, I find that episode so suggestive as to warrant notifying you of it.

I know a lot of this sounds as though I am one of those "We know what you notice" people. Please understand, your kids notice them, too.

Other issues that may deserve your pre-viewing attention include two uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary [Prov. 22:11], six uses of God's name in vain but without the four letter expletive [Deut. 5:11] and additional examples of "lite" sexual immorality such as inappropriate touch, sexual comments, innuendo and talk, including lustful comments about Daphne [1 Cor. 6:18, Eph. 5:4]. Please refer to the listing in the Findings/Scoring section for an itemization of findings.

What A Girl Wants earned a CAP final score of 79 out of 100, placing it squarely within the scoring range of 86 to 68 earned by the PG-rated movies in the CAP comparative baseline database of movies. However, the proliferation of "lite" sexual matters earned the movie a score of 50 in Sex/Homosexuality, warranting a red CAPCon Alert light which calls for your somber and earnest inspection of the findings in this report before you make a decision whether this movie is fit for your kids.

Earlier I told of of "another story" that can be drawn from Daphne's emptiness caused by the separation from her father. It is of our separation from our Father in Heaven. From birth we are separated from the Father by sin. While young children are blessed, once we reach the age of accountability, when we know right from wrong by His counsel, not our own, we become accountable for seeking forgiveness in Salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. For without Salvation through Jesus' blessed Sacrifice for our sins, the ultimate destiny is eternal separation from the Father. If you have not, please consider making the decision to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior by lifting up your voice in prayer to Him, speaking from your heart the Sinner's Prayer so that you may have an eternity in the presence of the Father. I will be happy to help you if you wish.


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.

  • Prov. 22:11 He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend.
  • Deut. 5:11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain [shav' {shawv}: emptiness, nothingness, vanity]: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. [With or without the four letter expletive, the use of God's name in any way other than respect, reverence or thoughtful discussion is in vain. That includes the popular three syllable sentence with His name trailing it.]
  • 1 Cor. 6:18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.
  • Eph. 5:4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.

    ***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] 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.


    What A Girl Wamts (2003) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
  • trespassing
  • reckless driving for thrills
  • hit to the face

    Impudence/Hate (I)
  • two uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • lashout at mother
  • punk dress, repeatedly
  • lying and suggesting lying
  • teen arrogance toward fair authority
  • massive facial piercing
  • hateful/painful talk

    Sex/Homosexuality (S)
  • camera angle for force viewer on private parts
  • art nudity
  • sexual comments, talk, innuendo, repeatedly
  • dressing to maximize the female form and/or skin exposure, repeatedly
  • crude anatomical reference
  • inappropriate touch and attempted inappropriate touch
  • excessive cleavage - teen

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • booze, repeatedly

    Offense to God (O)
  • God's name in vain without the four letter expletive 6 times
  • star and crescent moon tattoo (see Back to School Special)

    Murder/Suicide (M)
  • none noted

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    NOTE: While the Summary/Commentary section of these reports is precisely that -- a summary in commentary format which can be and sometimes is subjective, the actual CAP Analysis Model (the Findings/Scoring section) makes no scoring allowances for trumped-up "messages" to excuse, for manufacture of justification for, or camouflaging of ignominious content or aberrant behavior or imagery with "redeeming" programming. Disguising sinful behavior in a theme/plot does not excuse the sinful behavior of either the one who is drawing pleasure or example of behavior or thought from the sinful display or of the practitioners demonstrating the sinful behavior. We make no attempt to quantify the "artistic" or "entertainment" value of a movie -- whether a movie has any positive value or "entertainment" value is up to mom/dad. The CAP analysis model is the only known set of tools available to parents and grandparents which give *them* the control they need, bypassing the opinion-based assessment of movies by others and defeating the deceit of those who would say anything to convince their parents otherwise. The model is completely objective to His Word. Our investigation standards are founded in the teachings and expectations of Jesus Christ. If a sinful behavior is portrayed, it is called sinful whether Hollywood tries to make it otherwise. That the sinful behavior is "justified" by some manufactured conditions does not soften nor erase the price of sin. Whether there is application of fantasy "justification" or "redemption" is up to mom/dad.

    "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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