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ChildCare Action Project:
Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP Ministry)
Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to His little ones (which includes at-home teens) through you, their parents and grandparents, in His name by His Word

(2003), R

Analysis Date
CAP Final Score
CAP Influence Density
September 13, 2003
31 out of 100

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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.


If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary likely using a mix of KJV and NIV.

(2003), R -- ... the strongest impression most folks get of "most folks."

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Warner Bros., Village Roadshow Pictures, NPV Entertainment, Malpaso Productions
Distribution (US): Warner Bros.
Director(s): Clint Eastwood
Producer(s): Bruce Berman, Clint Eastwood, Judie Hoyt, Robert Lorenz
Novel: Dennis Lehane
Screenplay: Brian Helgeland
Cinematography/Camera: Tom Stern
Music: Clint Eastwood, Lennie Niehaus
Film Editing: Joel Cox
Casting: Phyllis Huffman
Production Design: Henry Bumstead
Art Direction: Jack G. Taylor Jr.
Viewed At: Loews Cineplex Park 16, Dallas, Texas

My goodness! I wonder if this character-based film is an example of director Clint Eastwood's favorite word? Apparently it is of the writer, Dennis LeBane. The most foul of the foul words outnumbered all others by more than two to one! No wonder most folks think that is the way most folks talk. The movies seem to nowadays be the strongest impression most folks get of "most folks." Especially youth, who were well represented in the special screening, of course. Well? More than half of all moviegoers each week are non-adults (from a Loews movie trivia slide) and more than half of all movies made are rated R (our study Where's the G?). You do the math.

Eleven year old Jimmy Marcum (Sean Penn), Dave Doyle (Tim Robbins) and Sean (Kevin Bacon) of Buckingham Flats, Boston are playing street hockey and lose their "puck" to the sewer. Setting on the curb most disappointed since that sewer has eaten just about every play ball they've had, the boys wander off to mischief land by writing their names in a freshly poured concrete sidewalk panel. They are approached by a "cop" with handcuffs and a badge hanging off his belt for defacing public property. The "cop" asked Jimmy and Sean where they lived. "Right there", pointing to two locations within eyesight. Dave told the "cop" he lived over on another street around the corner. The "cop" told Jimmy and Sean he would be talking to their parents later and forced Dave into his car to go talk to his mother. Dave was not seen again for four days until he escaped the clutches of the pedophile pretending to be a cop. The other man in the "cop's" unmarked car, ostensibly the "cop's partner", had all the appearances of a Catholic priest. Of course.

Over the next 30 years, the boys go their separate ways. After a stint in prison for robbery 16 years ago, Jimmy became a convenience/grocery store owner and has three daughters by two wives. Nineteen year old daughter Katie (Emmy Rossum) by his first wife is his heart of hearts, Jimmy's two other daughters are by Annabeth (Laura Linney), his second wife. Sean became a State Police detective whose wife left him with their child. Dave never recovered from the horrors of the homosexual abuse he suffered as a child but was able to build a loving family with his wife, Celeste (Marcia Gay Harden) and a young son.

The separate worlds of the boys' lives again intertwine as Sean is called to investigate the murder of Jimmy's daughter, Katie. Dave is brought back into the mix since on the same night Katie was murdered he came home covered in blood -- most of which was not his own. Type O blood. Katie's type. But was it her blood? Jimmy thought so and launched his own "investigation" Godfather style to find the killer of his favorite daughter hopefully before the police. [Rom. 12:19]

While I won't spoil the plot details any further, I will tell you that the reason Dave is covered in blood which is not his own the night Katie was murdered is bitter sweetly related to his past, bitterly regarding good moral standards and sweetly regrading our thankfully forgivable sinful nature [Rom. 8:3], forgivable IF we humble ourselves and repent and ask forgiveness. Given the same circumstances, you or I may have done the same sinful thing. I probably would have. The story will tell whether the blood on Dave was Katie's blood if you find the listing of assaults on decency and morality in the Findings/Scoring section somehow acceptable.

The show is engrossingly absorbing and consumes well its 2 hours and 12 minutes of runtime (first scene to last, credits not included). It shows masterful attention to detail, almost flawless flow and dynamic connectivity across its many subplots. Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon and Tim Robbins (with the help of a likewise talented supporting cast) were quite probably in their most challenging roles in this deeply textured psychological story. The anguish and pain Penn portrayed at discovery of his daughter's murder and when identifying her body was delivered (with the help of Rossum's talents in building the base) with such power and authority it would have been believable if seen in real life. Mystic River will likely be a strong contender for the Oscars because of its dynamic quality and outstanding performances. But then almost all Oscar winners are rated R, aren't they? What does that say about our entertainment diet? At least, of those who decide which film wins an Oscar ... and why.

While I won't spoil any more of the movie, I will provide that for which most of you come to our website. The movie is quite vulgar and offensive, befitting an R rating. But that it is rated R does not excuse those who demonstrate the sinful behaviors nor of those who draw pleasure or example of deed or thought pulled up from the shadowy recesses of our hearts by such display. Nor does the R rating excuse the planting of such examples for behavior or thought in our hearts and minds. [1 Cor 15:33]

The flippant and arrogant use of the most foul of the foul words is pathetic. About one utterance per each two minutes of film. Foul language of all brands ooze out of the speakers at nearly one per minute [Col. 3:8]. Drinking and drunkenness are shown as both a relief and a flippant beverage, abuse of which is shown as acceptable when "things" get bad enough. I emphasize the use of alcohol in this movie due to a recent study conducted by the American College of Physicians (a synopsis of the report follows this Summary/Commentary in a textbox). In the report, the APC revealed not just that only 16% of middle school kids are completely restricted from viewing R-rated movies but that of the R-saturated survey population 46% of the kids (90% under 14 years old) had tried alcohol without parental knowledge. It is a serious concern, mom/dad. Think about it if you decide to take you kids to this or any other R-rated movie. It may be your business if you take your underage kids to see R-rated films, but it is God's business, too. And it becomes my business and everyone else's business if your child grows to be a social liability because of the freedoms you gave the child in the name of your entertainment. The issue of emboldening adolescent abuse of alcohol reminds me of the song, I think it was "Okie (Oklahoman) from Muskogie (OK)", that has its characters saying "Where white lightning is still the biggest thrill of all." The song tries to roast the drug culture. Well, which are they, the pot of the kettle? And if the recreational viewing of alcohol abuse emboldens youth to do likewise, what makes you think the same does not happen with other aberrant behavior templates demonstrated in and as entertainment? There is a whole lot more to that "story" (here and here if you want to know) but I do not want to make any more of a tome of this analysis report than I already have. Think of it this way. If we teach and/or cause our kids to sample or experiment with abuse of alcohol because of our entertainment diets, we invoke Luke 17:2. And since each of our children has an angel who beholds the face of God, what do you the angels for your children to say to God? [Matt. 18:10, Gal. 5:21]

In addition to the above issues of moral and ethical assaults, there are a few scenes of incredibly cold and murderous brutality, one on a child, and two scenes of homosexual pedophilia [again 1 Cor. 15:33].

After you've read this Summary/Commentary section, please read the listing in the findings/Scoring section before you decide not only whether to see this film yourself but whether to take your kids with you as many parents apparently have done regarding other R-rated films. Even I, a long time ago, have regrettably taken our eldest son to see R-rated movies when "R" was more like "PG-13" ... err ... R-13 of today. Now I don't let them watch a PG unless I or my wife see it first and then only through a curse filter.

NOTE: While the Findings/Scoring section gives you the objective facts and the Summary/Commentary section uses words to try to describe many things, nothing in words can describe the horrors of brutal murder or homosexual abuse of young boys and what they must go through as the perpetrators have their way with the boys. This film directly addresses the writer's perception of homosexual pedophilia, not only their immediate atrocities but the probably lasting effects of such abuse. Realizing that much of modern entertainment has been proven to have an undeniable negative effect on some viewers, please take great care in deciding whether to watch this film. While it is a cinematic masterpiece, such grandeur may serve undesirable things as well as entertainment recreation.

A recent study by the American College of Physicians (ACP) revealed that adolescent exposure to drinking and smoking in entertainment leads to an undeniable increase in alcohol and tobacco abuse. The finding entitled Relation Between Parental Restrictions on Movies and Adolescent Use of Tobacco and Alcohol reports that of 4544 youths from grades 5 through 8 of fifteen Vermont and New Hampshire middle schools (90% were under fourteen years old) only 16% were completely restricted from viewing R-rated movies. The report further states the prevalence of having tried smoking without parental knowledge was 35% for those with no restrictions on viewing R-rated movies, 12% for those with partial restrictions, and two percent for those with complete restrictions. The prevalence of having tried alcohol without parental knowledge was 46% for those with no restrictions, 16% for those with partial restrictions and four percent for those with complete restrictions. Rather revealing of the influences of the entertainment industry wouldn't you say? Whether the movie is rated R or not, the focus is the influence of adolescent exposure to drinking and smoking in and as entertainment. And influencing children to sin with drink in and as entertainment screams of violating Luke 17:2.


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.

  • Rom. 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
  • Rom. 8:3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, ...
  • Col. 3:8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
  • Matt. 18:10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. ["Despise" is kataphroneo: to contemn, disdain, think little or nothing of (which includes abuse and neglect)]
  • Gal. 5:21 [Unforgiven] Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences to younger and younger audiences every year] when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, pay for it, enjoy it, want it. I call attention to Ps. 12:8 to warn of the creeping desensitizing power of "entertainment."]
  • 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 (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 [warp, distort, falsely represent, situationally redefine, counterfeit, conditionally apply] 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.


    Mystic River (2003) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
  • impersonating a police officer
  • child abduction
  • physical torment of a child involving homosexual abuse
  • contributing to the delinquency of minors
  • bloody injuries, several
  • assault on police, twice
  • scenes of murder victims, four views
  • "Godfather" goon services
  • admission of murder by gunfire, with pride and no consequences
  • threat with knife
  • "Admit it and I'll give you your life", repeatedly
  • bloody child beating
  • attempted murder by child: "I want him DEAD!" by child
  • excusing murder with love for children

    Impudence/Hate (I)
  • 29 uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • 66 sues of the most foul of the foul words
  • adolescent mischief (defacing sidewalk concrete)
  • sneaking to avoid discovery by father
  • teen arrogance to police
  • lies

    Sexual Immorality (S)
  • sexual suggestions/talk
  • adults in underwear
  • anatomical reference
  • pedophilia
  • woman on man in bed

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • drinking, repeatedly
  • bar
  • teen drinking
  • booze
  • liquor store
  • smoking, repeatedly
  • heavy drinking, repeatedly
  • drunkenness, multiple

    Offense to God (O)
  • three uses of God's name in vain with the four letter expletive and 10 without
  • mockery of Christian faith/priests with priest as pedophile
  • murder to get vengeance, twice
  • mockery of God's love

    Murder/Suicide (M)
  • exceptionally graphic beating murder
  • murder by knife and gunshot

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    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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