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ChildCare Action Project:
Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP Ministry)
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
CAP Final Score
CAP Influence Density
November 7, 2003
84 out of 100

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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.


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 -- ...the writer having Buddy contemplate suicide ... is unconscionable.

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Shawn Danielle Productions Ltd., Gold/Miller Productions, Guy Walks into a Bar Productions, Mosaic Media Group
Distribution (US): New Line Cinema
Director(s): Jon Favreau
Producer(s): Kent Alterman, Jon Berg, Cale Boyter, Toby Emmerich, David B. Householter, Todd Komarnicki, Jimmy Miller, Shauna Robertson, Julie Wixson Darmody
Written by: David Berenbaum
Cinematography/Camera: Greg Gardiner
Music: John Debney
Film Editing: Dan Lebental
Casting: Stuart Aikins, Susie Farris, Howard Feuer
Production Design: Rusty Smith
Art Direction: Kelvin Humenny

What was the writer, Berenbaum thinking? Buddy, the Elf, dejected and hurt by some things his biological father said to him, walked a tall bridge contemplating suicide! In a PG movie! For kids! What a signal to send kids let alone in a Christmas time movie! [Luke 17:2} A Christmas time movie without the Reason for the season, I might add.

Except for instances like the above and its indeed warm and touching ending, Elf is one of those movies with a plot that is revealed enough by the trailers that discussion of the plot is somewhat redundant but I'll do it anyway.

Buddy Elf (Will Ferrell) was adopted by the senior Elf (Bob Newhart) of Santa Claus' staff and raised to adulthood after Buddy climbed into Santa's sack of toys during a Kringle stop at a New York Catholic orphanage and was unknowingly transported to the North Pole. Why a baby with two living parents was at an orphanage makes me wonder, but I may have missed something.

Finally accepting that Buddy is not Elf but is human, Santa (Ed Asner) decided that Buddy must return to his own: that a six-foot elf is conflict of interest among three foot elves. The duty of telling Buddy to go back to New York fell on Buddy's mentor and adopted elfin father, Daddy Elf (Bob Newhart).

Buddy's biological father was Walter Hobbs (James Caan), a troubled New York publishing executive trying to find that one child's book that will rescue the company from failure. Buddy's biological mother was Susan Welles (Jane Bradbury) and I missed any of the story about her other than her name. Walter lives with his wife (Mary Steenburgen), whom I am sure had a name but I missed it, too and young son, Michael (Daniel Tay). Walter and his family were not close. Walter was always too busy and too detached. As is typical of movies with adolescents in the cast, the writers made sure the adolescent in the film was able to express arrogance and hatred toward somebody by having Tay speak of hating 'parent', whomever that might be.

After Buddy found Walter, his father, Buddy found also that Walter wanted nothing to to with Buddy and only out of a sense of duty and coaxing by his wife did Walter agree to let Buddy come live with them. Michael and Buddy got along fabulously. Walter's wife was about as compromising and sensitive as a mother can be. The only obstacle in becoming a solid family unit was Walter.

But all things of the world change. And this story changes from the "picture" I have painted above. How is up to your discovery. But let me tell you of the matters for which millions of parents have visited our service.

While not a violent movie, Buddy is bounced off the hood of a taxi and almost hit a second time. While not violent in the literal sense, the matter of Berenbaum, the writer having Buddy contemplate suicide because of the things Walter said to Buddy is unconscionable, especially in a "kids movie" where the target audience is least capable of managing such emotional fire or the signal it gives. [again Luke 17:2] There were five uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary [Prov. 22:11] plus three uses of God's name in vain though without the for letter expletive [Deut 5:11].

The sexual content of the PG movie was present but not graphic. Twice adults were seen taking a shower. The views were seen once from outside the shower and once inside the shower with adults obviously dressed, rather undressed, for taking a shower. While there is nothing wrong with nudity in and of itself, there is in the display of it. [**] Though no gender-specific areas were seen (except the upper curvature of the woman's anatomy), the imagery is there. We all know that people take showers nude. Even little kids know this. And to see someone in the shower in and as entertainment gets them to thinking about such. In one instance of sexual immorality, Buddy drops his leotards in front of his father as his mother walks in. We see nothing but Buddy taking his pants down, but that is enough to identify an infatuation with crude humor by the writer and his willingness (and of the MPAA) to expose little kids in the audience to it.

The rest of the rather short list of items that may raise your eyebrows are provided in the Findings/Scoring section. The most serious of offenses one might draw from this film is the teaching and/or causing of the target audience youth to emulate the sinful behavior whether in deed or thought. From where do you think kids get such ideas? You might say "From other kids." Well, from where do you think they get ideas? And in a secular sense, if you find nothing wrong with this movie, why was it rated PG instead of G?

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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: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. [Vain is shav' {shawv}: emptiness, nothingness, vanity, such as an expletive. 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 AND the misuse of Jesus' name.] ** "Nakedness" (display of nudity) is spoken of as dark, restricted, undesirable, shameful, etc. 47 times in the KJV from Genesis to Revelation.

    ***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, 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.


    Elf (2003) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
  • animal attack
  • hit by car
  • near hit by car
  • contemplating suicide by jumping of a bridge

    Impudence/Hate (I)
  • five uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • flatulence
  • slight tormenting
  • child speaking of hating his father
  • mischief in department store
  • "I don't care that you're my son. Get out of my life"
  • "All you care about is yourself" from son to father.

    Sexual Immorality (S)
  • man in shower
  • repeated display of provocative women/s underwear, once in an implication of perversion
  • woman in shower
  • flash nudity (unseen)

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • reference to drinking
  • clinking of whiskey glasses together in celebration
  • smoking
  • drinking

    Offense to God (O)
  • Christmas without Jesus

    Murder/Suicide (M)
  • none noted

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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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