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


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

John Q (2002), PG-13
Analysis Date: February 16, 2002
CAP Score: 43
CAP Influence Density: 1.19

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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 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.

JOHN Q (PG-13) -- "I would tell you what I think of you but I am a Christian woman."

Distributed by: New Line Cinema
Director(s): Nick Cassavetes
Producer(s): Mark Burg, Howard Burkons, Dale De La Torre, Michael De Luca, Mathew Hart, Avram 'Butch' Kaplan, James Kearns, Oren Koules, Richard Saperstein, Hillary Sherman
Written by/Screenplay: James Kearns
Cinematography/Camera: Rogier Stoffers
Music: Aaron Zigman
Editing: Dede Allen

I am disappointed. And dismayed. Out of more than 500 movies, John Q is quite probably one the best movies I have seen. But it is R-13. With a final score of 43 it is hardcore R-13. I would love to recommend this film but can't because of all the language filth in it and some of the possibly devastating suggestions made by it. John Q is NOT for your 13 year old kids. In the volatile and fragile state of childhood today a simple suggestion of suicide, even if for a noble and unselfish cause, could be devastating. Eternally devastating. How many 13 year olds do you know have the experiential maturity to know what is best? How many 13 year olds do you know have the wisdom to know when self-sacrifice for the sake of another is warranted? How about even 16 year old kids? Seventeen? Be warned, this analysis is a spoiler. In it, I will tell you key steps in the movie beyond the usual introductory synopsis of the movie because of the gravity of the subject this movie deals with and the chances of it rubbing off on to your kids.

In one of Denzel Washington's most dazzling performances, he portrays the father of a boy dying of a failing heart and victim of health insurance games. John Q. Archibald (Denzel Washington) is a loving and dedicated father caught up in downsizing, layoffs and other corporate maneuvers to keep the working man in submission under the corporate thumb. As the result of the step by step crushing of John by the steel mill he works for, John's health insurance is selectively chopped down until he has only a pittance left. All because he was "temporarily" reduced to 20 hours per week. Of course, John was not told of the reduction in his insurance OR his reduction to part time status.

One of the beginning sequences of John Q was in a small Gospel-preaching church. In it they sang praise to Jesus and actually spoke His name. Even John spoke it as the congregation sang "Yes. Jesus loves me..." But that is just one point of breaking with Hollywood tradition There's more which I will tell you as we proceed. Another point of preciousness in that scene was Michael (Daniel E. Smith), John's young son told his father that the baseball game starts in fifteen minutes and that they were not going to make it. Michael was playing in the game.

The next sequence is of the family arriving at the game and Michael is up to bat. Michael makes a base hit with a sweet-spot connection with he ball. Then, on his way to second base after the next batter got a hit, Michael collapses. Hope Memorial Hospital cardiovascular surgeon Dr.Turner (James Woods) informed John and his wife Denise (Kimberly Elise) that Michael has a heart three times too large and that without a transplant he will die.

The hospital administrative supervisor, Rebecca Payne (Anne Heche) informs the Archibalds that a transplant would cost about $250,000 and that John's insurance would not cover a procedure of such magnitude. With tact and finesse the devil would be proud of, Payne told the Archibalds they should consider alternatives such as making Michael's remaining time happy time and let him die at home. Payne further tells the Archibalds she will not place Michael on the list of eligible recipients for donated hearts because they cannot come up with enough money to be an acceptable financial risk for the hospital.

"I will not bury my son. My son will bury me." Trying everything possible from selling all their worldly goods to accepting donations, the Archibalds come up with about $20,000 which is not even enough to cover the 30% ($75,000) required to proceed under cash patient status. Denise screams at John to do something when the hospital decides to release Michael as is. And do something John does. Armed with a semi-automatic handgun, John seizes the hospital emergency department and takes 12(?) hostages starting with Dr. Turner, demanding his son be placed at the top of the list of recipients for a donated heart. The Chicago Police Department swarms Hope Memorial Hospital like ants on a piece of dropped candy.

Much happens in this two-hour movie between and connective for these things I tell you about. Such as the spitting contest between crime scene commander Lt. Frank Grimes (Robert Duvall) of the Chicago police department and Police Chief Monroe (Ray Liotta); the unconditional support of coworker and friend Jimmy Polombo and his wife Gina (David Thornton, Laura Harring); the connivings of the key reporter Tuck Lampley (Paul Johansson). Even Hillary C. is in the picture. So, though I reveal much, it is not so much as to cheat your viewing of it if you decide to watch this movie.

Another of the scenes which I spoke about earlier regarding breaking with Hollywood tradition was when one of the emergency department patient hostages tried to counsel John's desperation with "Let go - Let God", advising John to accept what has happened to his son and let God handle it. Another of the breakings with tradition by Hollywood was when Lt. Grimes and the hospital viper (Payne) visited Denise at her son's bedside trying to manipulate Denise into giving them information they could use to get to John. Denise said to Payne "You don't talk to me! I would tell you what I think of you but I am a Christian woman." The intent to present the Christian faith was obvious. I applaud Nick Cassavetes (director) and James Kearns (writer) for it and thank the stars for presenting it. By the way, when Denise said that, one of the women in the back of the audience uttered some monosyllabic disgust with it. If the "enlightened and progressive" population thinks "Christian" is now a dirty word, Jesus will have a Word (or two, or three or... ) with them One Day. Though many would have us do so, we do NOT have to forsake our faith to suit the nonbelievers.

Another case of at least trying to present our Father as sovereign was calling a traffic fatality an act of God. God will use every event that happens for someone's good somewhere somehow according to His Will. But it is NOT His Will that anyone should die, rather, that we have life abundantly [John 10:10]. It was the [movie] choice of the driver to drive recklessly that cost her life, not God's Will. Like the times when little kids are killed by drunk drivers, it is not God's Will that the children die. It is the choice of the drunk to kill by driving drunk. And God will not take away our freedom of choice, a freedom He gave us, for any reason. He does not want puppets. By the way, the freedom of choice He gave us does not give us any freedom to decide on our own what is or is not right. It only gives us the freedom to choose whether to obey Him or to disobey Him.

Now, to get right to the issue you likely need to know most about in this movie. After all efforts to find a transplant for Michael were fruitless, John offers his own heart by opting to commit suicide to make his heart available for his son. As it turns out, the gun is not for offensive action but for suicide. Doctor Turner, the best available cardiovascular surgeon is there. They are in a fully equipped and staffed cardiovascular hospital. By this time all who remain are there willingly and agree to perform the most unethical operation and to act as decoys to keep the police out of their hair as the operation is performed. Now is the perfect opportunity to kill himself with perfect support and with a perfect cause.

John spends a few last moments with his son and the tears flow freely, onscreen and off, then returns to the operating room where he holds his gun to his head and pulls the trigger ... misfire. "The safety was on." Now he clears the safety and holds the gun to his head again and [apparently] pulls the trigger as the camera immediately snaps off to other scenes as the sound of a gunshot explodes.

In this movie, Washington holds a gun to his head three times and once in his mouth and does so with a "noble cause." Again I ask, how many 13 year olds do you know have the experiential maturity to know what is best? How many 13 year olds do you know have the wisdom to know when self-sacrifice for the sake of another is warranted? How about even 16 year old kids? Seventeen? Granted, the Bible says what greater love is there than to sacrifice one's life for another [John 15:13], but ....... what if it is your son or daughter who emulates this movie. This is suicide, folks. Suicide made to look like sacrifice. Suicide is murder of the self [Deut. 5:17]. And it is final. There is no medicine or operation that can cure suicide. "Bad company corrupts good behavior." [1Cor 15:33] Can you be assured the "bad company" of this movie making suicide "noble" will not plant a behavioral template in your children?

While "Christian" was an integral part of the plot and script, "nonChristian" shadowed it all: more than 40 uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary [Col. 3:8]; many uses of God's name in vain both with and without the four letter expletive [Deut. 5:11]; vulgar positioning of a prostitute in hot pants and a camera angle to maximize it [Col. 3:5]; much violence. These are just a few examples. All in and as entertainment. The listing in the Findings/Scoring section tells all that was noted.


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.

  • John 10:10 The thief [Satan] cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
  • John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
  • Deut. 5:17 You shall not murder.
  • Col. 3:8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
  • Deut. 5:11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain [vain: shav' {shawv}; false, emptiness, nothingness, lying, worthlessness (of conduct)]: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
  • Col. 3:5 Put to death [defeat, expunge], therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

    *******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]
  • 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.

    John Q (2002) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
  • driving without consideration of the safety and property of others
  • reckless vehicular endangerment resulting in a fatality
  • kidnapping at gunpoint
  • abduction of about 12 people
  • firearm threats
  • gunshot injury, bloody
  • threats to kill
  • death in hospital with extreme emotional reaction
  • beating
  • fighting
  • offer to commit suicide to save son
  • irresponsibility with a firearm
  • gun to the head, repeatedly, with trigger pulled
  • gun in the mouth
  • systematic preparations to commit suicide
  • loading firearm for suicide
  • open heart surgery procedure

    Impudence/Hate (I)(1):
  • 43 uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • two uses of the most foul of the foul words
  • marital argumentation
  • police lie to manipulate
  • suggesting a lie to manipulate
  • lying to manipulate

    Sex/Homosexuality (S):
  • man and woman in bed together in underwear
  • ghosting of female anatomy through clothing
  • inappropriate touch
  • prostitution and yielding to it
  • anatomical references
  • dressing to maximize female form and/or skin exposure
  • crotch kick
  • vulgar positioning of a prostitute in hot pants and camera angle to maximize it
  • sex insults
  • vulgar gestures
  • adult in underwear

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • smoking
  • drinking
  • physical abuse as the result of drunkenness

    Offense to God (O)(2):
  • five uses of God's name in vain with the four letter expletive and 8 without
  • Yin yang on tee shirt
  • suggesting a traffic fatality was an act of God

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

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    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.

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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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