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(2004), PG
Analysis Date
CAP Final Score
CAP Influence Density
July 16, 2004
61 out of 100

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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.

(2004), PG -- "Kill myself from the inside out" what you want your young ones to hear?

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Warner Bros., Gaylord Films, Clifford Werber Productions
Distribution (US): Warner Bros., Warner Bros. Pictures Inc.
Director(s): Mark Rosman
Producer(s): Susan Duff, Keith Giglio, Ilyssa Goodman, Peter Greene, Hunt Lowry, Michael I. Rachmil, Troy Rowland, Dylan Sellers, Clifford Werber
Written by: Leigh Dunlap
Cinematography/Camera: Anthony B. Richmond
Music: Christophe Beck
Film Editing: Cara Silverman
Casting: Sarah Finn, Randi Hiller
Production Design: Charles Breen
Art Direction: Gary Diamond
Viewed At: Driftwood Theater 6

A Cinderella Story is quite probably the most perfect example of the CAP Rule of 1000 I have ever seen. This film is filled with many issues of assault on morality and decency of the lesser kind to achieve the perceived power of a movie which uses more severe issues of assault requiring a more severe rating. This film even presents what appears to be a nude adult woman sliding off a tanning bed in front of her teenaged stepdaughter. There was even the squeak of flesh slipping off plastic as the woman slid off the tanning bed. Of course, we see nothing but the woman's nude shoulders but the intent and influence is clear as the stepdaughter's eyes, viewed from behind the woman, are clearly focused on the genital area of the woman's body.

A Cinderella Story is clearly a perfect example of our R-13 finding as related to PG movies regarding the lowering of moral standards within the MPAA rating system: a finding which the Harvard School of Public Health echoed a full four years after we published it.

Note that our Director - Child Psychology Support, a practicing psychologist and licensed school counselor and executive director of a behavioral modification institute, provided the following editorial input regarding our development of the CAP Rule of 1000. A film which displays many episodes of assault on morality and decency of the lesser kind is not only as influential but can be more influential than a film of the same length with fewer but more severe examples of assault on morality and decency. A Cinderella Story is a perfect example of a PG film with as much or more negative influence as many PG-13 movies.

With a final score of 61, A Cinderella Story fell squarely into the middle of the scoring cell earned by PG-13 movies (67 to 55 our of 100) in the comparative baseline database. It is prime evidence of PG sliding into PG-13 as PG-13 has slid into R. I can't wait until we have enough funding/donations to process the data we have from analyzing G (as scarce as they are) and PG movies as we did with the data from analyzing PG-13 movies and calculate the trending of all four of the MPAA classifications from our massive data collected over the recent almost ten years. We need many folks to step forward and financially help us to make the remaining findings. Then, maybe Hollywood/filmmakers will get the hint to find the apparently lost talent of making good quality family entertainment without all the assaults on morality and decency. They did before. They can do it again.

In the San Fernando Valley, happy and content Samantha Montgomery (Hilary Duff) lived with her father, Hal (Whip Hubley) who owned and operated a neat and tidy prosperous little dinner. Hal remarried to Fiona (Jennifer Coolidge) who matched well the description of the evil stepmother of the original Cinderella story, complete with the two evil stepsisters Brianna (Madeline Zima) and Gabriella (Andrea Avery). For those of you who have seen the original Cinderella, one could almost here the evil stepsisters shouting "CIN-DER-EL-LA!" as Brianna or Gabriella shouted "SA-MAN-THA!" When Hal died in a California earthquake, things for Sam got steadily worse and the changes in Sam's idyllic life accelerated to beyond imagination.

Living truly as the servant Cinderella of years gone by, even to living in the attic, humble and quite responsible Sam performed the tasks and bid her time until she could get away to college. For almost all of the story, Sam was an honor roll, straight-A North Valley High senior. She could write her own ticket as soon as she could get out from under Fiona. As Sam bid her time, she developed an Internet/Text Message romance with a secret admirer who called himself Nomad

Nomad was Austin Ames (Chad Michael Murray), North Valley high school senior, football captain, student body president and a bunch of other top of the high school totem pole things. And he liked poetry. Austin's dad was a car sales lot owner with college football and take-over-the-business hopes for Austin which Austin did not share with his dad. To Sam, Austin was out of her social class. Sam thought of herself as less than Austin's position in the high school pecking order.

For the evening of the home coming costume dance, Nomad convinced Sam to meet him at precisely 11:00 at the center of the dance floor. But Sam had to work for Fiona and close the diner which would be long after the dance would be over and, typical of Fiona's character, because it would be long after the dance was over.

Not to worry. Sam's good friends and coworkers finally convince Sam they would cover for her and that she should go to the dance against her typical self-sacrificing duty-bound indebtedness that made her want to follow Fiona's orders. But it was too late to get a costume. Well, it would have been too late for ordinary customers of the neighboring costume shop but not for "fairy godmother" Rhonda (Regina King). Suffice it to say Rhonda came to the rescue and Sam had a costume. And transportation thanks to best friend Carter (Dan Byrd).

Sam's opponents in social warfare got wind of Sam and Nomad's plan and invaded the plan by blabbing it around. And now it is 11:00 o'clock. As Sam stood on the center of the dance floor as agreed, a number of undesirables who heard of Sam and Nomad's plans showed up to torment Sam. Among them were the trio of Sam's opponents in social warfare - the ones who let loose knowledge of Sam and Nomad's plans. Another was Terry (Simon Helberg) who was a Matrix "Mr. Anderson" wannabe.

Through it all was Samantha's best, true and reliable friend, Carter. Carter ran interference, served as gopher and chauffeur plus a number of other things that only true friends would do, even saying "No." Carter showed up as Zorro and was indeed a good protector for Samantha.

Finally, Sam met Austin. With Sam in a Cinderella ball gown costume (which was Rhonda's old wedding dress) with a mask that made Hilary Duff look like Hilary Duff in a mask, Austin convinced Sam to give him ten questions to figure out who she was. Failing the ten-question test, Sam's time ran out at a quarter to midnight and she ran off, leaving her "glass slipper" cell phone in her wake. It was that cell phone that led Austin to Samantha.

In the end, that which Sam's father taught her - "Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game" stayed with Sam and served her well. There is much more detail and subplot connectivity to the story but I do not want to spoil the whole film for those who decide it is acceptable for their family.

A Cinderella Story is a nice story emulating somewhat the original Cinderella story but with a myriad of new age morality embedded within a number of noble and honorable deeds and personages. Noting the CAP Thermometers for this film, one can easily discern the concentration of ignominy as being in Impudence/Hate and Sexual Immorality ... two of the strongest presences in modern entertainment and two of the strongest behavioral templates.

The "lesser issues" of assault on morality and decency are many and quite varied, too many to even summarize them in this Summary/Commentary. But most of them fall well within the parameters of Impudence/Hate and Sexual Immorality. Many of the behaviors addressed in Mark 7:21 -22 were demonstrated but at what might be thought of as at a "kiddie or adolescent severity." But when the young learn of such behaviors, as they grow the learned behaviors amplify. Every one of you parents and grandparents know what I am talking about. So, the film industry teaching such behaviors to our youth screams of violating Luke 17:2 as well. It should be up to you, mom/dad, not a filmmaker as to when, where, by whom, how, and to what extent your youth learn of such matters.

Even psychologists and psychiatrists agree that such imprinted addictive behaviors that garner such gratification in the fantasy world of movies can be of very long retentivity. And remember, Harvard educated university professor and child development expert Dr. Karen Nelson and even practicing 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 and to be able to fully anticipate the consequences of behaviors: that such abilities typically do not plateau until the early 20s.

Please consider reading thoroughly the listing in the Findings/Scoring section before you make a final decision whether to take you young ones to this film. For example, is "Kill myself from the inside out" what you want your young ones to hear?


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.

  • Mark 7:21 - 22 For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.

    ***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 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, pay for 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 (KJV) Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (NIV) Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
  • Rom. 5:19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
  • 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, situationally redefine, counterfeit, conditionally apply] 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.
    (The heart of the CAP Analysis Model)

    A Cinderella Story (2004) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
  • death due to earthquake (unseen)
  • boy knocked out with bar counter swing-up door
  • daughter forcing mother to speed and drive recklessly by stomping the mother's foot deeper on the car's gas pedal, repeatedly
  • "slapstick" comedy violence
  • threat of physical harm at extort service

    Impudence/Hate (I)
  • familial favoritism and abuse from it including a degree of slavery, repeatedly
  • "Kill myself from the inside out" in a background song
  • a single use of the three/four letter word vocabulary in a background song
  • flatulence, rather crude
  • gluttony and excessive lust for social grandeur
  • punk dress with facial piercing, repeatedly
  • rude driving
  • "Sometimes fantasy is better than reality"
  • two uses of rude conversational snippets
  • hatred expressed by burning effigy
  • "What are you doing in my room" due to father inspecting son's room
  • emotional abuse
  • social warfare
  • sexual harassment
  • lies of omission
  • cheating with arrogance, as though it is quite acceptable
  • lie to daughter
  • teen arrogance at father, repeatedly
  • social cruelty with pleasure taken in it, repeatedly
  • lie in deceit
  • lie to implicate
  • additional lies, repeatedly

    Sexual Immorality (S)
  • "bite me"
  • dressing to maximize the female form and/or skin exposure, repeatedly
  • camera angle to force viewer into an anatomically private view of the body
  • Internet romance
  • adult woman exposing herself nude to a teen girl (nudity unseen)
  • stereotypical mannerisms to suggest homosexuality
  • displaying below navel skin threatening exposure of that which follows, repeatedly
  • open mouth kissing, repeatedly
  • woman handling her own anatomy
  • crude humor of woman's hands nearly on another's breasts
  • rude leering
  • revealing swim wear
  • unnatural interest of a teacher in a student
  • girl in boy's locker room with teens in towels only

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • none noted

    Offense to God (O)
  • eight uses of God's name in vain but without the four letter expletive

    Murder/Suicide (M)
  • none noted


     Artist:   Album:   Title:   Lyric:  

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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 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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