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A service to His little ones (which includes at-home teens) through you, their parents and grandparents, in His name by His Word
Antwone Fisher (2002), PG-13
Analysis Date: January 26, 2003
CAP Score: 64
CAP Influence Density: 72
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Production: Antwone Fisher Productions, Hofflund/Polone, MDP Worldwide, Mundy Lane Entertainment
Distribution: 20th Century Fox Film Corporation
Director(s): Denzel Washington
Producer(s): Todd Black, Antwone Fisher, Randa Haines, Nancy Paloian, Chris Smith, Denzel Washington, Gina White
Written by/Screenplay: Antwone Fisher (written by)
Cinematography/Camera: Philippe Rousselot
Music: Mychael Danna
Film Editing: Conrad Buff
Casting: Robi Reed-Humes
Production Design: Nelson Coates
Art Direction: David Lazan
Viewed At: United Artists/Regal Entertainment - Hulen. Fort Worth.
WOW! One of the finest movies I have ever seen! The true story of Antwone Quentin Fisher. A tender love story. A story of brutal defeats being managed into humble and powerful victory by a giant among men. A story of courage beyond description. An emotional powerhouse. Outstanding performances and direction. Newcomer Derek Luke as Antwone Fisher is as dynamic as his veteran co-star Denzel Washington. If the film is true to your story Mr. Fisher, I salute you. And I am proud of you.
But Antwone Fisher depicts and speaks somewhat graphically to one of the most severe plagues in America - child abuse; verbal, physical and sexual. For that reason, it is questionable entertainment fare for the "permissible" audience. How the MPAA reasons that frank, audibly graphic presentation of child physical and sexual abuse is acceptable for 13 year olds is beyond me. Harvard educated child development expert Dr. Karen Nelson and professional counselor Dr. Larry Gilliam agree with me that it would be unusual for even a 16 year old to be able to fully separate fantasy from reality. In matters of brutal reality such as child physical and sexual abuse, experiential maturity is vital to put and keep the evil acid of such abuse in the proper light and prevent it from becoming a behavioral template. Such abilities do not typically plateau until the early 20s. Maturity from experience just isn't there for most 13 year olds ... by no fault of their own. Not yet. Why rush it with such an extreme degree in and as entertainment? Yes, child abuse is real. Twenty eight children have called me "daddy" through the fostercare system with seven adoptions through the same. I know about the effects, both immediate and lingering of child abuse. But does the reality of child abuse excuse planting such often indelible behavioral templates in and as entertainment, templates which may be falsely applied to events in real life? Or worse yet, ignored as did Antwone until he was 25? Mom and dad need to present such information to their children when they think their kids are ready. Not a filmmaker.
The story opens with Antwone at seven years old (Malcolm David Kelley), dreaming of a large family with a huge feast in his honor. Then reality sets in as we discover Antwone was abandoned by his incarcerated mother, Eva Elkins (Viola Davis). He was born in prison and given into an orphanage and into foster care and on the streets because his mother just did not claim him when she was released. Antwone was given into the care of a despicable two-faced woman, Mrs. Tate (Novella Nelson) who was a model "Christian" in church but a horrendous child abuser at home. Mrs. Tate was violently abusive of Antwone. In addition to vicious verbal and emotional abuse she would beat him and another boy with a wet towel and threaten Antwone with a burning rolled-up newspaper. It was Nadine (Yolonda Ross) in Mrs. Tate's house who raped Antwone and forced him to perform sexual favors for her. Where is Antwone's father, Edward Elkins (Sean'e La'Dae)? Dead. One of his girl friends killed him with a shotgun while Eva was in prison and before he even met Antwone.
At 25 years old and after time in reform school, Antwone joins the Navy. He is now a sailor who is always in trouble for not being able to control his anger. Imagine that! Any goading or tormenting would set him off. For one of the times Antwone blew up he was committed to the treatment of Commander Dr. Jerome Davenport (Denzel Washington). At first, Antwone refused to talk. Dr. Davenport told Antwone "Okay, I'll just do some work while you sit there." This happened several times until Antwone finally decided to open up.
After hearing of Antwone's history, Davenport surmised the only way Antwone would come to terms with his horrible past would be to confront those responsible. Fortunately, a solid and compassionate female sailor Cheryl (Joy Bryant) came along and helped Antwone through it all as he finally mustered the strength to travel back to Cleveland to look up his mother and father. The relationship between Antwone and Cheryl is warm, even-paced, responsible and comfortable until they cohabitate in Cleveland. And as with most cohabitating couples, they end up in bed together (if the filmmakers have it right). Though unseen and unheard, intercourse is obvious. Antwone was a virgin until then. A condition that was a nemesis for him and his relationships with his fellow sailors who taunted him about it, as if virginity is disease.
There is much more to the story but I want to spend a paragraph on the ending because it really identified "family." After hundreds of phone calls in Cleveland by Antwone and Cheryl, Antwone found one who was his aunt. Arriving at his aunt's, his uncle, I believe it was Duke (O.L. Duke), knew Antwone's mother and took him to meet her. Though Antwone was man enough to forgive his mother and kiss her cheek, that was not the greatest jewel in this subplot. The next part is. By the time Antwone got back to his Aunt and Uncle's house, about 30 relatives were there to greet Antwone. It was a joyous event for even me who is alien to the whole story. And to top off the reunion of all the loving kinfolk, Antwone's aunt asked two young boys to open the French doors to the dining room and there was ... a feast. Just like in his dream from the beginning. And in Antwone's honor. At the end of this grand event an elderly woman who appeared to be blind took Antwone's hands in hers. And that was the image of age and wisdom welcoming and embracing a lost child: 50 or 60 years of emptiness immediately overflowing with safety, warmth and fulfillment; an image of true and deep love. Well done, Washington and Luke. And well done, Antwone. I hope I get to meet you someday and shake your hand.
While there is much good in this film there is, inherent to the story, quite a bit of programming that you might find unfit for your little ones (which includes at-home teens). The greatest of the questionable programming is the child abuse. God is very direct and specific about abuse of children [Matt. 18:10, Matt 25:40]. And He is equally direct and specific about our kindness to them [Matt. 10:42]. Probably the most severe of His admonishments against abuse of children is found in Luke 17:2 where Jesus Himself warns that s/he who teaches/causes a child to sin would be better off with a millsone tied about his/her neck then cast into the sea. There are also a number of foul language uses including the most foul of the foul words [Col. 3:8] but no uses of God's name in vain with the four letter expletive, only without. But it is still sinful to use His name in vain whether with or without the four letter expletive [Deut. 5:11]. Though I fully believe in the healing power of Jesus Christ, I am neither sanguine nor distrustful of faith healing by the laying on of hands by modern man nor am I yet to be led either way but Antwone was noted to mock such practices. Though there is no nudity or other graphic sexual programming in Antwone Fisher as is typical of most PG-13 movies, there are a few matters of sexual immorality [Eph. 5:5. Hebr. 13:4]. Please look to the listing in the Findings/Scoring section for specifics.
If it were not for the graphic extremes in depiction of child abuse, the use of foul language and the sexual immorality plus a few other issues of cinematic ignominy, this would have been quite probably the finest film I have ever seen. I was that moved by it and I have sat through nearly 700 of these things. Yes, it is a story of vicious and ruthless child abuse and cannot be told without including depictions of it, but the extent which was used might well have been a smidgen less graphic and still be as powerful.
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***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
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.
Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
Offense to God (O)(2):
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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.|