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Phone Booth (2003), R
Analysis Date: April 4, 2003
CAP Score: 24 out of 100
CAP Influence Density: 7.19
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Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Zucker/Netter
Distribution (US): Fox 2000 Pictures
Director(s): Joel Schumacher
Producer(s): Ted Kurdyla, Gil Netter, Eli Richbourg, David Zucker
Written by/Screenplay: Larry Cohen (written by)
Cinematography/Camera: Matthew Libatique
Music: Harry Gregson-Williams
Film Editing: Mark Stevens
Casting: Mali Finn
Production Design: Andrew Laws
Art Direction: Martin Whist
Viewed At: Loews Cineplex Cityview, Fort Worth, Texas
Of the millions of phones in New York and of the billions of phone connections made, there is but one phone booth on 53rd and 8th streets of Manhattan. Stu Shepard (Colin Farrell) uses it for less-than-honorable reasons.
Note that while the poster shows a November 15 release date, release was postponed for profiling reasons regarding Minority Report in which he starred as Federal cop Ed Witwer, then postponed again due to last fall's sniper attacks in DC.
Stu Shepard is a hustler and liar. He makes his living as a "press agent" promoting celebrity affairs, promising truckloads of celebrities in exchange for favors and money. Stu is married to Kelly (Radha Mitchell). Stu also has on the hook younger and prettier Pamela McFadden (Katie Holmes). That is why he uses the public phone booth - to avoid calls to Pamela appearing on his cell phone bill so Kelly wouldn't find out. But someone with a god complex knows. He knows all about Stu's behaviors. One day, from that lonely phone booth on 53rd and 8th, Stu gets a call from the Caller (Kiefer Sutherland).
At this point I want to mention Sutherland's oratory skills were exemplary and convincing. It was easy to paint a mental picture of the Caller just by Sutherland's voice and his inflection skills. Together with Farrell's skills the entire episode, as vulgar as it was, was indeed attention-keeping. It was so thorough and detailed it would be easy for almost anyone to imagine themselves in the position of Shepard ... or the Caller. And that is a problem.
The Caller with his god complex was out to force Shepard to repent and redeem himself of his sins against all those to whom he had lied, especially to Kelly and Pamela. The Caller told Shepard that if Shepard hung up he would kill Shepard -- with a "30-ought 6" rifle from a nearby window. So, Shepard had to repent and redeem himself or die. Redemption of our sins is possible only through the Saving Grace of Jesus Christ, but at least it is a choice [Heb. 5:9]. Redemption, as vain as it might be, at gunpoint is not.
Stu was not convinced. Even though the Caller explains to Stu that an exit wound from that distance would be about the size of a small tangerine, Stu was not convinced. A demonstration is provided as the Caller blows apart a street vendor's small wind-up toy robot near the base of the phone booth. Now convinced, Stu picked up parts of the toy, making it appear Stu destroyed the toy. The vendor demanded Stu pay for the toy. To avoid the vendor getting involved and possibly killed, Stu paid for it. Though he did not have to pay, he did. For the vendor's sake, not his own. Much like Jesus paid for our sins without ever having sinned Himself. Jesus did not have to pay the price of our sins, but He did [Matt. 26:53]. For our sakes, not His own. Whose the man?
As the terrorism continues, a gaggle of prostitutes and their pimp become involved. One of them was tired of waiting to use "her phone" and demanded Stu leave her phone booth. After some name-calling and other colorful discussion between Stu and the prostitute, she whined to her pimp who decided to force Stu out of the phone booth with a baseball bat. During the flurry of swings and glass flying (which is odd since phone booths use plastic panes, not glass), the Caller kept asking Stu if he wanted some help. Finally Stu muttered "Yes" and the Caller took out the pimp with one shot. Now the prostitutes think Stu killed their pimp. And by their accounting of the shooting, the world also thinks Stu shot the pimp. And so do the police.
Now the law becomes involved as Capt. Ramey (Forest Whitaker) brings his gentle giant presence to the plot. While quite capable of taking out the accused shooter in an instant, Ramey felt there was more to the picture than what was obvious.
There is much more to this episode of "angry god" redemption, but I'll leave that to those who decide to watch this show even after knowing that which we reveal in the Findings/Scoring section. Suffice it to say that aside from the constant use of threats to intimidate, the saturation of the plot with prostitutes clearly dressed as prostitutes [Prov. 6:25 - 26] and the two graphic murders, this movie is one of the most vulgar available in terms of the use of foul, filthy language [Col. 3:8, Prov. 8:13]. At least 122 uses of the most foul of the foul words in 74 minutes peppered this film plus 44 uses of other examples of the three/four letter word vocabulary [Prov. 22:11] plus 19 uses of God's name in vain, six with the four letter expletive and 13 without [Deut. 5:11].
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***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)
Offense to God (O)
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|NOTE: While the Summary/Commentary section of these reports is precisely that -- a summary in commentary format which can be and sometimes is subjective, the actual CAP Analysis Model (the Findings/Scoring section) makes no scoring allowances for trumped-up "messages" to excuse, for manufacture of justification for, or camouflaging of ignominious content or aberrant behavior or imagery 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 of behavior or thought from the sinful display or of the practitioners demonstrating the sinful behavior. We make no attempt to quantify the "artistic" or "entertainment" value of a movie -- whether a movie has any positive value or "entertainment" value is up to mom/dad. The CAP analysis model is the only known set of tools available to parents and grandparents which give *them* the control they need, bypassing the opinion-based assessment of movies by others and defeating the deceit of those who would say anything to convince their parents otherwise. The model is completely objective to His Word. Our investigation standards are founded in the teachings and expectations of Jesus Christ. If a sinful behavior is portrayed, it is called sinful whether Hollywood tries to make it otherwise. That the sinful behavior is "justified" by some manufactured conditions does not soften nor erase the price of sin. Whether there is application of fantasy "justification" or "redemption" is up to mom/dad.|
|"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.|