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


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

Signs (2002), PG-13 [PG-13]
Analysis Date: August 2, 2002
CAP Score: 60
CAP Influence Density: 0.79

MinMax: -100

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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 completely objective to His Word 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.

SIGNS (PG-13) -- ...see how many clues from other sci-fi flicks you can find...

Production: Blinding Edge Pictures, Touchstone Pictures
Distribution: Buena Vista Pictures
Director(s): M. Night Shyamalan
Producer(s): Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Sam Mercer, M. Night Shyamalan
Written by/Screenplay: M. Night Shyamalan
Cinematography/Camera: Tak Fujimoto
Music: James Newton Howard
Film Editing: Barbara Tulliver
Casting: Douglas Aibel
Production Design: Larry Fulton
Art Direction: Keith P. Cunningham

If you find the ignominious content of Signs we reveal acceptable and decide to watch this film, see how many clues from other sci-fi flicks you can find: the old TV series V, Independence Day, Soylent Green, Close Encounters of the Third Kind or any others. I think there were clues from both Star Wars and Star Trek and possibly "they're here!" from Poltergeist but I won't swear to it. The introductory score of polyphony styled after Psycho successfully set the mood. The mixing of moving immediately into the plot with building characters with the plot was masterful. The use of plot to build the characters was as dynamic as the use of characters to build the plot. This was even clear to me and I have no experience in filmmaking.

Father Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) is a Father no more. He renounced both his pastoral position and faith because of the loss of his wife in a very heart-ripping way. While his wife, Colleen (Patricia Kalember) was pinned between a tree and a truck with injuries not compatible with life causing pseudo-euphoria, she dies while talking to him. Hess felt that was excuse enough to say things like "I am not wasting one more minute of life on prayer" and "I hate you! I hate you!!" to God [Matt. 22:37].

All too often we tend to blame God for our suffering. While God is certainly in control, He has given each of us the freedom of choice. The freedom of choice gives us the freedom to choose whether to obey God or to disobey Him, NOT to give us the freedom to decide on our own whether a sin is or is not sinful. Where am I going with this? Since you've asked, I tell you.

The freedom of choice (or freedom will if you wish) is what is responsible for our ills, not God. Take, for example, the little girl getting killed by the drunk driver. It is certainly not God's will that the little girl get killed. It is the freedom of choice of the drunk (drunkenness is a sin [1Cor. 6:9-10]) to drive while drunk that killed the little girl. It was the drunk's choice to drive while drunk that killed the little girl. God certainly could have stopped it but he will not take away our freedom of choice for any reason we can fathom. He does not want puppets. He wants us to love Him of our own free will. And if He were to take away the freedom of choice, it would create a mechanical and insincere love. So, if you have problems, it is by someone's choice, maybe your own. Not His. And the choice that caused you trouble may have been made a thousand choices down the line.

Graham's younger brother Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix) came to live with his brother after his sister-in-law's death to help out with the large farm. And help Graham needed. In spades. Besides a large corn farm, Graham and his wife brought two children into this world: Morgan (Rory Culkin) and Bo (Abigain Breslin). Life in Bucks County, PA was a little tough but manageable -- until one morning when "they" were discovered.

Graham escorted Bucks County Sheriff Caroline Paski (Cherry Jones) to the discovery. Neatly pressed out of the rest of Graham's corn without breaking the stalks was a perfect large, 500-foot circle of downed corn. So neatly was the deed done that not one stalk ws broken. This pattern was accompanied by several other geometric shapes pressed out of the corn. Along with this odd development was another ... animals seemed to take on the character of being prey for a predator. Even one of the family German Shepherds tried to hurt and maybe kill Bo. That's what Morgan said anyway. So Morgan killed the dog. Things were getting weird. Even strange signals were being picked up on a baby monitor. Similar reports were being heard from all over the world. And that upset Graham so much he put the TV in a closet under a staircase.

It became clear with the appearance of lights in the sky, as many as 24 over each major city, that the crop patterns were likely the handiwork of aliens from outer space. But what was their intent? Were they benevolent or were they here to conquer? Or worse?

With that I sill stop spoiling the plot and story and let you know about the content we found.

The most significant presence in Signs was violence and violent matters such as an animal threat of two kids, reckless driving and a constant threat of the unseen. Further issues of violence/violent matters were quite effective explosive startles, sounds of animal death, attack of a small boy by an alien and a sequence of a mother doomed to death due to a traffic incident dying while talking to her husband. Language was typical of PG-13 movies except none of the most foul of the foul words and no uses of God's name in vain of any kind were noted. There was an "excuse to cuss" presented in "You don't mean it. It's just for show." [Is. 30:1] In addition to some foul language which stole almost all of the starting 100 points in Impudence/Hate, Morgan was noted to be most disrespectful of his father twice [Eph. 6:2, Col. 3:20, Prov. 22:15] and Graham was noted as yelling at his toddler daughter [Eph. 6:4]. Additional matters that may concern parents, especially Christian parents include "There is no one watching out for us, Merril. We are all on our own." regarding the omnipotence of God. [Heb. 13:5] A complete listing of findings is provided in the Findings/Scoring section.


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.

  • Matt. 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
  • 1Cor. 6:9-10 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
  • Is. 30:1 Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin:
  • Eph. 6:2 Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;
  • Col. 3:20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.
  • Prov. 22:15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. [The "rod" does NOT mean physical abuse]
  • Eph. 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
  • Heb. 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

    *******Food for Daily 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]
  • 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.

    Signs (2002) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
  • animal threats, including of two kids
  • reckless driving
  • constant threat of the unseen with several individual instances of amplified threat
  • explosive startles
  • sounds of animal death
  • attack by an alien to a boy's throat
  • alien threat to kill a little boy
  • mother talking with fatal injuries then dying
  • battle with an alien

    Impudence/Hate (I)(1):
  • 12 uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary, once by a preteen
  • "You don't mean it. It's just for show" to excuse cussing
  • child arrogance against father, multiple times, once explosively animated
  • child demanding his "vote" outweighs his father's authority
  • "I HATE you. You let mom die" from son to father
  • father yelling at toddler daughter

    Sex/Homosexuality (S):
  • toilet humor by child
  • sex humor
  • story of immoral behavior
  • adult in underwear

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • smoking
  • alien attempt to drug a young boy

    Offense to God (O)(2):
  • "There is no one watching out for us, Merrill. We are all alone."
  • "I hate you. I HATE you" to God

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

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    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 or example 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 nearly seven 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.

    (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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