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


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

Hearts in Atlantis (2001), PG1-3
Analysis Date: September 29, 2001
CAP Score: 57
CAP Influence Density: 0.77

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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 purely objective 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.

HEARTS IN ATLANTIS (PG-13) -- ...watching them as entertainment does NOT make the child wise...

Hearts in Atlantis is a tale of a successful photographer, fifty year old Robert Garfield (David Morse) reminiscing about his experiences as 11 year old "Bobby-O" (Anton Yelchin). Learning of the deaths of two of his childhood friends Robert returns to the small New England town of his childhood for the funeral of one of his best friends, John 'Sully' Sullivan (Will Rothaar). The story fades from the funeral into Robert's past of 39 years earlier during the cold war of 60s.

As widowed mom, Liz Garfield (Hope Davis) struggled to make ends meet, she let out the upstairs of her home to Ted Bruatigan (Anthony Hopkins). Ted was trying to avoid the Low Men (low profile officials). It seems Ted had something the government wants - a special power to sense the unknown [Eccl. 8:7]. And Ted's "power" could be transmitted to anyone he touches, including 11 year old Bobby-O. Ted tried his best to keep Bobby from touching him, but living upstairs from Bobby and befriending him did make for a completely platonic relationship.

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Bobby's best friends Sully and Carol Gerber (Mika Boorem) spent their summer doing the things that 11 year olds do. Until Ted showed up. Now Bobby was Ted's lookout man, always watching for new and unusual things such as bills on fences and telephone poles and men in big fancy cars not typical of the small New England town. Bobby also became Ted's newspaper reader since Ted's eyes were not what they used to be.

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While Bobby and company enjoyed their summer, Liz suffered one of the most vile jobs women must sometimes tolerate - a job with sexual harassment. Daily, Liz's boss made those comments and suggestive eye movements clearly focusing on her attractiveness. As the result, Liz was often bitter and short with Bobby. One day, the Boss invited Liz and two other men of the office to accompany him to a special convention reserved only for the best performers. But as it turns out, it is Liz's "best performance" the boss was after. And he got it. Against her will.
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All characters indeed seemed to resonate well with their counterparts. Hopkins was, as usual, masterful at imparting authority and wisdom. Davis' reciprocation with Hopkins was flowing. Boorem's playful yet serious cooperation with Yelchin and , for short time, with Rothaar was convincing. Her thespian talents competed with Hopkins' mastery of exuding authority as Hopkins warded off a sexual attack by older boys who was, by the way, a latent homosexual teen or at lest by a teen boy who liked to dress up in girls clothes in secret (which was revealed by Ted's "psychic powers").

Boorem's talents were also evidence of a long career in the performing arts in her convincing portrayal of a young girl having her dislocated shoulder reset by Ted. Lets us pray she is not reduced to believing sexual performance is a necessary part of the thespian world. My lauding of Boorem's talents are by no means meant to shadow Yelchin's talents and all others which are good as well. My lauding of Boorem is more likely fear and wishful protection of what probably awaits her in tinsel town. Even Shirley Temple can tell you a thing or two about being victimized by Hollywood men -- all in the name of entertainment, all in the name of radical cultural and moral relativism, non-judgmentalism, inflated tolerance and modern conviction that there are no moral norms or truths worth defending, indeed no moral absolutes at all.

While Hearts in Atlantis was, to be sure, a quality performance by truly talented performers, there are things in it to be of concern to the parent of the target audience, maybe 11 to 16. In addition to the sin of "filthy communication" [Col. 3:8] by adults some of the foul words were uttered by children [Luke 17:2]. In addition to the rape of an adult woman, a fourteen year old boy sexually threatened an 11 year old girl [Ps. 101:3]. Ted introduces Bobby to illegal gambling not only by exposure to it but by enlisting his help as a runner for the gains. A child sneaked out of his house with no consequences [1Pet. 2:1]. Sexual humor was spoken to a child and children spoke sexual humor. And portrayal that it takes "adult" matters to open a child's eyes put the cherry atop the childhood-stealing sundae.

That these things "happen in real life" does NOT excuse the sin of them nor does them happening in real life excuse a movie writer teaching your kids about them without your permission or knowledge. It is your job as parent to teach your children about these things when, how and where you decide. And watching them as entertainment does NOT make the child wise, it just makes him/her worldly. It just steals the childhood right out of the child. It takes more than filth in film to teach one about real life. It takes real life. Mom and dad are real life. Very real. Really!


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.

  • Eccl. 8:7 Since no man knows the future, who can tell him what is to come?
  • Col. 3:8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
  • 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. 101:3 I will set before my eyes no vile thing.
  • 1Pet. 2:1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.

    *******Food for 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]

    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.

    FINDINGS / SCORING: Hearts in Atlantis (2001) CAP Thermometers

    NOTE: Multiple occurrences of each item described below may be likely, definitely when plural.

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
  • explosive startle
  • sexual abuse of an 11 year old girl by a 14 year old boy
  • illegal gambling and exposing a child to it as if it is acceptable to gamble
  • enlisting a child in help with delivering illegal gambling proceeds
  • rape (act hidden)
  • rape
  • injury from rape
  • assault of a child by a child with injury
  • bullying
  • beating with a bat

    Impudence/Hate (I)(1):
  • eleven uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary, f by a child
  • trespassing
  • mother lying to son
  • disregard of mother's teaching
  • sneaking out of house by a child
  • adult arrogance against mother's authority over child
  • portrayal that it takes "adult" matters to open the eyes of a child

    Sex/Homosexuality (S):
  • camera angle to force viewer on private parts
  • sexual comment by a child
  • sexual humor to a child
  • suggestion of sexual interest in a co-worker
  • 11 year old girl using sexual appeal to manipulate a boy's decision
  • prostitution

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • smoking
  • drinking
  • bar scene
  • drunkenness

    Offense to God (O)(2):
  • three uses of God's name in vain without the four letter expletive, all by a child

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

    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 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 five-year 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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    (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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