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


Click on CAPCon Alert
image for explanation
Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to our youth through you,
their parents and grandparents, in His name by His Word

The Emperor's Club (2002), PG-13
Analysis Date: November 30, 2002
CAP Score: 62
CAP Influence Density: 0.69

MinMax: -100

The Emperor's Club (2002) CAP Mini-thermometers

ALERT: To fully understand this report you should first visit the topics suggested by the CAP Site Map (Table of Contents).

NO service charges.
All donations are tax deductible.
To subscribe to (or unsubscribe from) our FREE text-only versions of our Entertainment Media Analysis Reports as they are calculated, visit our Mailman. If you experience difficulty with Mailman, send us your request. Your email address will NOT be given or sold to other parties.

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.

THE EMPEROR'S CLUB (PG-13) -- Honor, respect and discipline are positive motives rather than obstacles. But...

Production: Beacon Communications LLC, Fine Line Features, Liveplanet
Distribution: MCA/Universal Pictures
Director(s): Michael Hoffman
Producer(s): Marc Abraham, Sean Bailey, Armyan Bernstein, Thomas A. Bliss, Lisa Bruce, Andrew S. Karsch, Sidney Kimmel, Cooper Layne, Eric Newman, Michael O'Neill
Written by/Screenplay: Ethan Canin (short story "The Palace Thief"), Neil Tolkin (screenplay)
Cinematography/Camera: Lajos Koltai
Music: James Newton Howard
Film Editing: Harvey Rosenstock
Casting: Sheila Jaffe, Georgianne Walken
Production Design: Patrizia von Brandenstein
Art Direction: Dennis Bradford

I though for sure this would be mathematically equivalent to a PG in the comparative baseline database, but I was wrong. With a final score of 62, it is well founded in the PG-13 scoring range (67 to 55 out of 100) as it can be. I guess that just shows to go you how even I can be fooled by a righteous-looking picture saturated with noble ethics. And it makes me thankful for the objectivity of the CAP analysis model.

In terms of ethical balance and presence, this movie is not afraid to touch the poisonous questions. Nor does it force answers. Nor does it give all the answers. And one cannot check one's brain at the door and expect to be entertained for 105 minutes. Integrity is a leading presence. Honor, respect and discipline are positive motives rather than obstacles as in much popular entertainment. Defiance and other human failings are not swept under the rug. Honest and life-changing regrets are explored. Deceit and dishonesty are punished without punishment in a truly ingenious way using the most devastating and powerful instrument - a man's son.

St. Benedict's Academy for Boys is the professional home of Professor William Hundert (Kevin Kline). Hundert is loved by all and is hailed as the best teacher St. Benedict's has ever had. He possesses the skills of being able to shape and nurture obedience and honor and still control rebellion and defiance using the offender's own ploys and tactics. His passion for teaching with integrity and excellence is unparalleled in the history of St. Benedict's.

The story opens as Mr. Hundert is welcomed by a group of St. Benedict's alumni, all ready to reenact an encounter of dazzling intellect and mental prowess given to the hosts by Mr. Hundert so long ago. But we are almost immediately taken into the past.

Twenty-five years ago, in 1976, Mr. Hundert receives a new class of boys to teach the Roman classics of Caesar and other Roman rulers and the history of Rome. Each boy seems well suited to honoring the rigorous and disciplined structure and performance demanded and nurtured by Mr. Hundert ... each boy except one, Mr. Sedgewick Bell (Emile Hirsch), a bright and active young lad and son of grim and opportunistic Senator Bell (Harris Yulin). Sedgewick had brought his father to class with him, figuratively.

Sedgewick was one of they who constantly defied order and discipline. His footlocker was crammed with items not permitted to youth: cigarettes, booze, porn magazines and other paraphernalia of restricted nature. Sedgewick was always the one with the smart mouth toward the authority of Mr.Hundert. Always disrespectful of others. Always looking to lead others into defying the rules and any authority: the typical "bad attitude" [Rom. 5:19a]. Sedgewick was the kind of boy who would feel okay with calling his father a foul name as long as there was an audience to hear it [Matt. 15:4]. But little did Sedgewick know that Mr. Hundert was ready for him [Rom. 5:19b].

And make righteous of all did he, the Mr. Hundert. All except one. How he did I will leave up to you to discover if you decide the degree of ignominy we reveal in this film is acceptable for your family. I will, however, share with you the "Mr. Julius Caesar" contest held every year. The one who can answer the most questions about Roman history before an assembly of the student body and faculty will win the coveted and noble badge of being Mr. Julius Caesar.

And after the concerted efforts of Mr. Hundert and Sedgewick's father, Sedgewick indeed started to make the grade to be in the running for the contest. Come time for the finals which determine the only three contestants, four appear to have made the grade, including Sedgewick. Now comes a bitter dissonance for Mr. Hundert-dissonance between his desire for Sedgewick to earn a reward for hard work and his own integrity.

Sedgewick had grown up considerably in a few months and had applied himself enough to a-l-m-o-s-t make the grade for the Mr. Julius Caesar contest. Mr. Hundert, thinking his next decision might fortify Sedgewick's amazing transformation of attitude and academic prowess, decided to reevaluate again Sedgewick's final exam results. Why? Because three others had made the grade to compete in the Mr. Julius Caesar contest: Deepak Mehta (Rishi Mehta), Martin Blythe (Paul Franklin Dano) and James Ellerby (Rob Morrow) who form the core of the show with Kline and Hirsch. Sedgewick is a hair's breadth below the grade because of an A- instead of an A+. But if Sedgewick could be given the honor of competing, maybe it would ...?

Freckled in all this is a close relationship between Mr. Hundert and Elizabeth (Embeth Davidtz), the wife of an associate. Indeed, Elizabeth was Mr. Hundert's only female interest. His day was completely absorbed by his zeal for teaching and the Roman classics. Though the relationship between Mr. Hundert and Elizabeth was not physical, the relationship was adulterous. And as far as the sin of adultery is concerned, it does not have to be physical to be sinful [Matt. 5:28].

That is all the spoilers I will reveal. What follows in the movie and in the myriad of minute details that built the above scenario are indeed moving and sobering. The "finale" is a dazzling presentation of justice of which few would think. I itch to tell you because I am so impressed with the caliber of this film, when fed through a filter to eliminate cursing and God's name plus looking away just before the porn mags show up, might very well be used as a teaching tool by parents, but I'll bite my tongue and stop here.

But beware, there are "PG-13" ignominies within this work of art. God's name in vain is used, though without the four letter expletive, 19 times [Deut. 5:11]. There is picture nudity and adolescent discussion of the pictures plus one of the adolescents kissing a porn picture. A group of teens start to strip. An adulterous relationship is obvious. [Gal. 5:19] An adolescent is noted smoking. There is also defense of cheating and lying to get what is wanted with "Why not" when confronted. The largest contributor to the loss of points is the adolescent arrogance toward rightful authority [Prov. 8:13, Isa. 13:11, 1 Sam. 15:23].


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.

  • Rom. 5:19a For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners,...
  • Matt. 15:4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth [to speak evil of, revile, abuse] father or mother, let him die the death [the implied idea of future misery in Hell. This does NOT mean to kill the son/daughter. Eternity in Hell is "the death", eternal separation from the Father].
  • Rom. 5:19b ... so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
  • Matt. 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
  • Deut. 5:11 You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
  • Gal. 5:19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;
  • Prov. 8:13 To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.
  • Isa. 13:11 I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless.
  • 1 Sam. 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry...

    ***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."]
  • 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.

    The Emperor's Club (2002) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
  • irresponsibility with fireworks

    Impudence/Hate (I)(1):
  • seven uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • an adult running to avoid discovery and in doing so encouraging youth to do the same
  • adolescent encouraging defiance of rules, order and discipline, repeatedly
  • adolescent arrogance against authority
  • cheating, repeatedly
  • ignoring cheating for political/financial security
  • "Why not" when confronted with cheating
  • an adolescent calling his father a foul name

    Sex/Homosexuality (S):
  • porn mag pictures, picture nudity
  • adolescent discussion of porn pictures
  • adolescent kissing porn picture
  • sexual innuendo by adolescents
  • sexual request
  • teens starting to strip
  • vulgar gesture
  • suggestions of adulterous relationship, repeatedly

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • adolescent smoking
  • drinking

    Offense to God (O)(2):
  • 19 uses of God's name in vain without the four letter expletive

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

  • Please help keep this free service free by making generous tax-deductible donations to the CAP ministry (TIN: 75-2607488) by visiting Network for Good to give a tax-deductible monthly gift of $5, $10 or even $25 or greater or to make generous one-time or semi-regular donations.


    NO service charges!!!
    Donations to the CAP Ministry are Tax Deductible!!!

    Or feel free to send your gift(s) by check or money order in US dollars to:

    CAP Ministry, PO Box 177, Granbury, TX 76048-0177

    Thank you each for your support of this ministry. Please be in earnest prayer for funding that we may continue for many years and to keep this free service free.

    Please visit our sponsor:


    And please visit also these reciprocal links.


    Christian Media News

    A Singles
    Christian Network

     Click Here for a Quality Christian Site

    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.

    Join Christian Banner Exchange Network Today!

    (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.

    The ChildCare Action Project (CAP) is a nonprofit Christian ministry. We rely on public support. If you wish to contribute to the CAP, please send your donations to

    ChildCare Action Project
    Post Office Box 177
    Granbury, TX 76048-0177

    Your gifts are tax deductible in accordance with Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service Tax Codes.

    Please feel free to write to us.

    You are welcome to go to the

    CAP Reports page

    or go to the

    Top of the CAP Home Page
    or the
    CAP Site Map (Table of Contents)

    or leave me an email message or comment at

    Thank you for visiting us and may God bless you. Prayerfully, we will provide you with some of the most revealing commentary and investigative reporting you have ever read.

    In the name of Jesus:
    Lord, Master, Teacher, Savior, God.

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

    Copyright ChildCare Action Project (CAP) Ministry

    Since Deember 5, 2000