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


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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
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Magnolia (1999), (R)
CAP Score: 22
CAP Influence Density: 4.17
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ALERT: To fully understand this report you should first visit the topics
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*MAGNOLIA* (R) -- very definitely an R.

A great many "false prophet" theatrical devices appeared giving the image of acceptability of aberrant behavior and even fatal behavior "justified" by a message of reconciliation and compassion. And, in this 181-minute movie, there were 171 occurrences of the most foul of the foul words, 63 occurrences of the three/four letter word vocabulary, and 22 uses of God's name in vain with the foul letter expletive -- which put *South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut* "to shame."

In an attempt to connect nine lives, the screenplay writer, Paul Anderson uses many human interest tricks embedded in a landfill of vulgarity and obscenity with many pivotal points to connect nine lives. At the beginning Elderly Earl Partridge (Jason Robards), dying of cancer, connects four of the characters. Partridge wishes to see his son whom he hasn't seen since who knows how long. Partridge's nurse, Phil (Phillip Seymour) patronizes Partridge and locates Partridge's son, sexual conquest teacher Frank T. J. Mackey (Tom Cruise). Mackey conducts extremely vulgar self-help sessions to teach men how to conquer women sexually. Mackey also curses his father with extremely hateful and profane monologue while his father lies dying in bed. Phil and Partidge's vulgar and wired wife, Linda (Julianne Moore) who hates her past abuse of and infidelity with Partridge orchestrate a behavior made popular by Kevorkian.

Game show host Jimmy Gator (Philip Baker Hall), also dying of cancer is used to connect a whiz kid of the sixties, Donnie Smith (William H. Macy) who is struggling to make it day to day with a contemporary whiz kid, Stanley (Jeremy Blackman). As a pathetic example of a fathering, Stanley's father uses vulgar threats to make him perform in a game show and proceeds to do no more than cause the boy to urinate in his pants on nationwide TV. And two of the three adolescents in the game show are nearly as foul-mouthed as the adults. In a minute-to-minute comparison, I'd bet the few monutes of airtime of the two kids was as filled with cussing as a few minutes of airtime as any one of the adults.

Partridge's daughter, Claudia (Melora Walters) is brought into the fold by a very fine example of a city cop, Jim Kurring (John C. Reilly). Kurring develops a tender relationship with Claudia even though she is continuously strung out on drugs. Consumption of illegal drugs is portrayed -- often. Reilly, as near as I can tell, was the only story character who did not spew filth in every other breath. In fact, I cannot say he cussed at all. In fact, Reilly brought Jesus into the script in righteous servitude to His love.

And, yes, there was nudity and intecourse.

The whole of the story is much more complex than this and is, in its own way, a masterpiece of theatrical art. However, the "art" status of this film was totally smothered by the vulgarities, profanities, and other portrayals of sinful behavior with no more concern that getting a popcorn shell stuck in your gums.

So many of our visitors seem to be relying only on this Summary/Commentary for a full assessment of this movie. This is not possible. For the best representation of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie, visit the Findings/Scoring section below.

FINDINGS / SCORING: Magnolia (1999) CAP Thermometers

NOTE: Multiple occurrences of each item described below may be likely.

Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
  • footage of men being hanged by the neck, apparently actual file footage but not for reality
  • thug beating a man
  • gambling
  • physical attacks
  • attempted suicide
  • threat with shotgun
  • offering assistance with murder of frail husband
  • dead body
  • attempted murder by gunfire
  • contemplation of suicide
  • breaking and entering
  • attempted suicide by prescription drugs
  • theft
  • adolescent theft of unconscious woman's money
  • contemplation of suicide with gun at head
  • car wrecks
  • graphic fall injury
  • insane mannerisms in aggression

    Impudence/Hate (I)(1):
  • 171 uses of the most four of foul words
  • 63 uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • "So much violence -- that's the way of the world."
  • wishes of death on parents by child
  • Lies to police officer
  • exceptionally hateful screaming
  • "I am firing pearls at you" when spouting boasts of sexual conquest
  • several profane words by an adolescent
  • adolescent arrogance against fair authority
  • exceptionally stupid and shallow father
  • lying = natural
  • excusing lies, rationalizing them
  • "Strong language (profanity, cussing) is fine."
  • yelling extreme hate at father while he was in his death bed incapacitated: cowardice

    Sex/Homosexuality (S):
  • masked and hidden intercourse and intercourse with nudity and with clothing
  • male in shower
  • pelvic thrusts
  • man and woman in bed together
  • ordering porn mags
  • adult in underwear
  • homosexual suggestion
  • porn mag pictures
  • vulgar references to human anatomy
  • vulgar talk
  • admission of adultery with oral sex and other sexual improprieties
  • homosexual approach
  • shower nudity - female
  • shower nudity - male

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • smoking
  • drinking
  • illegal drug consumption
  • drunkenness
  • bars
  • booze

    Offense to God (O)(2):
  • 22 uses of God's name in vain with the four letter expletive and 7 without

    Murder/Suicide (M)(3):
  • suicide with shotgun with blood splatter
  • murder by firearm
  • mercy killing by home nurse

  • (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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    Thomas A. Carder
    ChildCare Action Project: Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP)

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