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Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP Ministry)
Entertainment Media Analysis Report
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|E M E R G E N C Y
H E L P
N E E D E D!!!
UPDATED September 4, 2003
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|ALERT: To fully understand this report you should first visit the topics suggested by the CAP Site Map (Table of Contents). Further, 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.|
(2003), PG-13 -- Sometimes you get the bear. Sometimes the bear gets you.
Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Warner Bros., ImageMovers, HorsePower Entertainment, LivePlanet, Rickshaw Productions
Distribution (US): Warner Bros.
Director(s): Ridley Scott
Producer(s): Sean Bailey, Gianina Facio, Ted Griffin, Jack Rapke, Charles J.D. Schlissel, Ridley Scott, Steve Starkey, Robert Zemeckis
Written by/Screenplay: Book: Eric Garcia. Screenplay: Nicholas Griffin, Ted Griffin
Cinematography/Camera: John Mathieson
Music: James Michael Dooley, Geoff Zanelli, Hans Zimmer
Film Editing: Dody Dorn
Casting: Debra Zane
Production Design: Tom Foden
Art Direction: Michael Manson
Viewed At: Loews at Keystone, Dallas, Texas
By the trailers/previews, Matchstick Men is a seemingly light and pleasant romp through a tale of daddy being united with the daughter he has never seen who is now 14 years old. Trouble is, when daddy finally gets together with his daughter he starts to build a growing bonding with her by teaching her how to be a criminal. [Luke 17:2] Even the high wattage performances of big screen veteran Nicholas Cage cannot excuse everything. While all would seem cake-n-ice cream for the daring duo's hopes for a lucrative life of crime, a twist in the plot gives meaning to an old saying that states "Sometimes you get the bear. Sometimes the bear gets you." (Mr. Wuntch, Dallas Morning News! Remember. I told you at the screening the bear line is mine! Don't you dare use it.) Another expression that fits is "There is no honor among thieves."
Roy Fen ... I think it was Fen ... he used several aliases so let us just say "Roy" (Nicholas Cage) is a con man -- err -- con artist, a matchstick man working with another con artist, Frank (Sam Rockwell) to con money from unsuspecting, innocent victims [Ex. 20:15]. Roy is also an agoraphobe. He doesn't like the outdoors. And Roy is an obsessive clean freak. No one is allowed to wear shoes in his house and one detached tuft of carpet yarn will send him into a cleaning frenzy. Roy also has a condition that causes him to display several forms of tics when he gets excited, nervous or scared. But these setbacks do not seem to impact his ability to make a living .. a living through crime. [Hab. 2:9] Oddly enough, Cage is excellent in portraying this sort of character. Better than I would have expected of the gung-ho "Rambo" type.
When Roy accidentally dumps his tic medication down the garbage disposal, he finds his psychiatrist has suddenly disappeared. Frank suggests that Roy try a new psychiatrist, Dr. Harris Klein (Bruce Altman). Dr. Klein provides Roy with a new medication so Roy soon gets back to par. During his sessions with Dr. Klein, Roy admits guilt in that he may have a daughter. Roy's wife was pregnant when she left him 14 years ago. Part of Roy's "therapy" was to contact his ex-wife and try to meet the daughter he never knew. Now shows up Roy's bright and sparkly but worldly 14 year old daughter with an attitude, Angela (Alison Lohman) who is anxious to build a relationship with her daddy. Lohman's experience in "It ain't good enough, no matter what 'it' is" from White Oleander and the acclaim she received for it served her well in Matchstick Men. Angela is a vulnerable troubled teen with a "sorted past" that made her worldly enough to understand what daddy does for a living. ... and anxious to join him. [Luke 17:2]
Angela's first job, as a test of what daddy has taught her, was to con a laundromat customer (Beth Grant) out of $300. And Angela is successful. But Roy, thinking he knew what it meant to be a father, made Angela immediately return the money he taught her how to steal (is there something wrong with this picture?). Angela now has a taste of the wine of successful crime. During one of the con jobs that landed some cash Angela muttered that she thought crime does not pay. To that, daddy told her "It does pay. Just not very well." [Hab. 2:12] while hoarding hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash.
Caper after caper led what once was a duo, now a trio, to believe they could make it big [Eccl. 8:11],. So they decided to squeeze bucks out of shady millionaire, Chuck Frechette (Bruce McGill). But this con does not go well. Not well indeed. Not well for Roy or for Frank or Angela. At least, that is what we are led to believe. But no matter the true aftermath for others, it did not go well at all for Frechette.
I am not going to spoil the whole plot for you just in case you decide that the listing of assaults on morality and decency revealed in the Findings/Scoring section of this report are not so severe that you would not take your family to see Matchstick Men. It's your call as mom/dad. We tell you what is there and we offer some of God's Word about some of the noted behaviors.
Matchstick Men is one more example of becoming conditioned to accept that which once was unacceptable. Indeed, we have become so drugged by the narcotics of immoral extremes that what once was morally unacceptable has become morally invisible. But not to God. [1 Cor. 15:33] And you may quote me on that.
The seemingly severe score Matchstick Men earned is due not to any particularly severe instances of assault on morality and decency but is due to such a massive density of lesser assaults. Matchstick Men is an example of our Rule of 1000 that states a movie with only 10 examples of extreme bad behaviors worth 100 "bads" each (such as a movie rated R) is just as bad as a movie with 100 examples of lesser bad behaviors worth only ten "bads" each (such as a PG-13 movie). They both fit the Rule of 1000. They are both R-equivalent. So is Matchstick Men. With R-rated movies earning scores of 54 and below out of 100, Matchstick Men earned a score of 24.
To summarize the Finings/Scoring section, in addition to the above, there are 29 uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary, several of them by or before a teen. God's name in used in vain many times both with and without the four letter expletive, some by or before a teen. There is a teen tantrum to her father, mentions of homosexuality, rear male nudity and admissions of sexual immoral behaviors by a teen as if acceptable and excessive teen cleavage [Rev. 22:15]. Angela even ends up cohabitating with a guy at the end of the show. In the later third or so of the film, behaviors are sometimes brutal ending up in defensive murder. The listing in the Findings/Scoring section provides all the findings 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.
***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
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.
Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
Sexual Immorality (S)
Offense to God (O)
Single Christian Network
|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.|