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(2005), PG-13 [R-13*] 1hr 29min)

Analysis Date
CAP Final Score
CAP Influence Density
September 16, 2005
44 out of 100

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Christian Long Distance

(This section may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary.

(2005), PG-13 [R-13*] -- ... why doesn't it pass through the floor?

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): DreamWorks SKG, MacDonald/Parkes Productions
Distribution (US): DreamWorks Distribution LLC
Director(s): Mark Waters
Producer(s): Veronica Brooks, David B. Householter, Laurie MacDonald, Walter F. Parkes
Writing credits: Peter Tolan (screenplay), Leslie Dixon (screenplay), Marc Levy (novel If Only It Were True)
Cinematography/Camera: Daryn Okada
Music: Rolfe Kent, Robert Smith
Film Editing: Bruce Green
Casting: Marci Liroff
Production Design: Cary White
Art Direction: Maria L. Baker
Viewed At: Driftwood Theater 6

The spirit of workaholic San Francisco coma victim Dr. Elizabeth Masterson (Reese Witherspoon) of St. Matthews General Hospital is separated from her body. One evening after notice of a top promotion Dr. Masterson rushed to meet some friends, quite a rare event for such a workaholic. She never makes it. She is hit head-on by a truck and is left in a coma.

In this portrayal of an out-of-body experience, Elizabeth's spirit wanders about not realizing she is dead. But then, her body, being in a coma, is not dead. But the human soul lives on eternally. Arrrgh! I suppose that would confuse any spirit. At least this out-of-body experience film makes no pretense of authenticity or makes no "based on a true story" claim.

After checking out apartment after apartment in San Francisco, David Abbott (Mark Ruffalo), who has been moping over the loss of his wife Laura a number of years earlier, finally finds an apartment to his liking ... Elizabeth's apartment. David finds it more satisfactory than even the plush apartments because it comes with a comfy couch. Little does David know that Elizabeth's apartment is still furnished with all her stuff ... and her.

Though not realizing she is only a vaporous specter, Elizabeth tries repeatedly to convince David the apartment is hers and that he has to leave. And with each of Elizabeth's attempts to make him leave, David reciprocates with an attempt to convince her that the apartment is his and that she should leave. But when Elizabeth tries to answer the phone, err, her phone and discovers she cannot pick it up she comes to realize the truth.

Elizabeth's spirit is quick to express her dissatisfaction with David's housekeeping and personal habits. Her first encounter with her spirit status comes as she is griping about something as she walks through a dining table. As David reaches for another beer out of the refrigerator, she reminds him, from within the refrigerator with the shelves passing through her, that he can find more wholesome drink.

David tries his best to come to terms with the new experience. He even confides in his therapist friend, Jack Houriskey (Donal Logue) by telling Jack "I've been seeing someone." Jack finds this encouraging since David has been a loner for a long time after Laura's death. Little does Jack know that David is being serious about seeing someone, as in "I see dead people."

One thing about this sort of fantasy makes no sense whatsoever. If a spirit can walk through walls and fit inside a refrigerator with the shelves passing through it, why doesn't it pass through the floor? I guess one has to overlook such glaring illogic when trying to make sense of a spook film.

Just Like Heaven can be fun, warm and touching in a number of ways, but God has specific things to say about communicating with the dead, spiritism and other "undead" matters. [Rev. 22:14-15, Deut. 18:10-12]

This film is rated PG-13 for "some sexual content." Some sexual content indeed! There is enough of the "some" for the content to lose all the starting 100 points in the Sexual Immorality (S) investigation area. This clearly makes the magnitude of the influence envelope of the film equivalent to some R-rated films, not in the severity of examples of sexually immoral programming but in the sheer number of the "lesser" kind, each chipping yet a little more away from whatever solid foundation of wholesome ethics is lefty -- another example of stealing childhood from children (which includes the at-home teen). For more information, see CAP Rule of 1000.

The Offense to God investigation area also found enough material to cause the loss of all the starting 100 points. The writers' seem to have an infatuation with God's name in vain. And in Witherspoon's frequent use of it, apparently with no visible consequences, lies a strong danger of your children emulating Whitherspoon who exudes a delightful, down-home, girl-next-door, wholesome and pure appearance while flagrantly and flippantly using of the name of the One who spent three days in Hell so you would not have to spend one moment there. [Deut. 5:11]

Mystical happenings and sudden appearances plus spiritism, calling on a spiritist, (Jon Heder of Napoleon Dynamite) and calling on the dead were also very expensive to the Offense to God investigation area scoring.

While the Murder/Suicide investigation area found no programming that warrants any point loss, and while the Wanton Violence/Crime investigation area found programming equivalent to most "lite" PG films, the Impudence/Hate investigation area found enough content in foul language and a couple other issues to be equivalent to some R-rated movies. [Col. 3:8]

The number of examples of drinking alcoholic beverages and drunkenness were enough to cause the loss of almost half of the 100 starting points in Drugs/Alcohol. Though this is clearly a fantasy film, please consider that a bad influence does not have to be real to influence badly. Such was found to be true by the American College of Physicians in their study that proved such display of drink and drinking in and as entertainment encourages youth, the "PG-13" middle school age stratum especially, to experiment with and abuse alcohol. And that, my good friends, invokes Jesus' warning that s/he who teaches and/or causes our youth to sin would be better off if a millstone were tied about the offender's neck then cast into the sea [Luke 17:2], fortified by God's Word that warns of bad influences influencing badly. [1Cor. 15:33] God even explains to us the copy-cat syndrome in Rom 5:19.

That the behaviors and displays in Just Like Heaven were all presented in a light-hearted comic manner does not excuse that which is deposited in the observer by the influence of them.


If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ] or bold. 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.


  • Rev. 22:14-15 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city [Heaven]. For without [outside Heaven] are dogs, and [unforgiven] sorcerers [those who practice evil magic including witches, warlocks, wizards, sorcerers, spiritists, diviners, necromancers, etc.], and whoremongers [the sexually immoral], and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
  • Deut. 18:10 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination [witchcraft], or an observer of times [soothsayer, sorceress, enchanter, conjurer], or an enchanter [diviner], or a witch [one who practices sorcery, magical arts], 11 Or a charmer [user of magic charms], or a consulter with familiar spirits [one who invokes the dead, necromancer], or a wizard [one who has a familiar spirit], or a necromancer [consulter of gods]. 12 For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.
  • 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.

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences to younger and younger audiences every year when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, pay for it, enjoy it, want it].
  • 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 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
  • Rom. 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
  • Jude 1:4 For there are certain men* crept in unawares [secretly slipped in among you], who were before of old ordained to this condemnation [whose condemnation was written about long ago], ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [a license for immorality], and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. [*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 were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. ["Offend": skandalizo - to entice to sin; to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away. "Little ones": mikros - little;, small of age; younger which can include at-home teens].
  • Ps. 119:133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me [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. ["Evil" includes all things that are sinful.]


    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 objective heart of the CAP Analysis Model, independent of and insulated from the Summary/
    Commentary section.

    Just Like Heaven (2005) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
  • assault, twice
  • threat with blade
  • reckless driving with endangerment

    Impudence/Hate (I)
  • 17 uses of the three/four letter four vocabulary
  • child insolence at mother
  • telling someone to lie

    Sexual Immorality (S)
    LI>rude gaze
  • attempt to inappropriately touch
  • statue nudity, repeatedly
  • man in shower, repeatedly
  • exposure of below navel skin
  • dressing to maximize the human form and/or skin exposure, repeatedly
  • sexual innuendo
  • "There's nothing wrong with [sexually immoral behavior]"
  • camera angle to force viewer on private parts
  • lesbian insult
  • pose to exhibit
  • upper posterior nudity
  • stripping to entice/seduce, repeatedly
  • woman in towel only
  • attempt to seduce, repeatedly
  • sex for "last act"
  • vulgar gesture

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • drinking, repeatedly
  • booze, repeatedly
  • drunkenness
  • suggesting alcohol abuse to deal with failure

    Offense to God (O)
  • mystic behavior of inanimate object
  • sudden appearance, repeatedly
  • "God gave us alcohol as a social lubricant"
  • "undead" behaviors such as passing through walls, tables, repeatedly
  • calling on the dead/spirits, repeatedly
  • seeking the counsel of a spiritist and spiritism, repeatedly
  • spiritual possession

    Murder/Suicide (M)
  • none noted

  • Christian Educators Association International



    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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