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


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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to our youth though you,
their parents and grandparents, in His name by His Word

Riding in Cars with Boys (2001), PG-13
Analysis Date: October 21, 2001
CAP Score: 53
CAP Influence Density: 1.02

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NOTE: 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 purely objective 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.

*RIDING IN CARS WITH BOYS* (PG-13) -- the title paints the picture.

Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Director(s): Penny Marshall
Producer(s): Morgan Ward (exec.), Sara Colleton (exec.), Bridget Johnson (exec.), Timothy M. Bourne (co), Julie Ansell, James L. Brooks, Amy Lemisch, Laurence Mark, Richard Sakai, Beverly D'Onofrio (co)
Screenplay: Morgan Upton Ward
Cinematography/Camera: Miroslav Ondricek
Music: Hans Zimmer
Written by: Beverly D'Onofrio (based on her book Riding in Cars with Boys)

If anyone needs emboldenment for blaming all your ills on someone else, *Riding in Cars with Boys* is a template. Beverly Donofrio (Drew Barrymore) does nothing but blame all her shattered dreams on her son, Jason (age 20: Adam Garcia; age 8, 9: Logan Lerman; age 6: Cody Arens; age 3: Logan Arens; age 2: Patrick Salerno; age 1: Skye Arens), on her parents, on her husband, on anything but herself. With Beverly's attitude at the time, seems to me that she (and Ray) created the destruction of her dreams. But then, why is not a young baby a dream? To place me in a position to make a determination whether achievements and material goals are more important than kids would be devastating to those who think that way. Twenty-four kids have called me "Daddy", eight of them permanently.

At 15 years old, Beverly decided it is okay to take a chance ... a chance with Ray Hasek (Steve Zahn) who starts out as a teen drinker then becomes an alcoholic and a drug addict. They lost the gamble. They did the right thing - they got married. Which is another thing Beverly blamed for her shattered dreams. Being intellectually fit for a scholarship, she blamed her then three year old Jason for losing it since she had to take Jason with her on the interview. Loss of the scholarship actually says more about the interviewer than about Beverly: as though he had never made any poor choices in his life, like having a toddler son has anything to do with intellectual ability or capacity [John 7:24]. Beverly hated being a mother.

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God gives us many loving admonishments against sexual immorality and intoxication (which includes illegal drugs). All the admonishments against sexual immorality -- at least 23 of them in both the Old Testament and the New -- can be summed up as any sexual contact (including visual), conduct or activity outside of a monogamous heterosexual marriage is sinful. Doesn't leave us much room, does it? Well, it shouldn't. God reserved sexual relations and pleasures for the heterosexual married couple. Whether we believe it or not. [1Cor. 6:18 - 20, Eph. 5:3, 1Ths. 4:3, 1Cor. 7:2]

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Beverly had plans. She was a gifted writer and wanted to write a book of her life. She made it known that the baby shattered her plans. She even made sure her baby knew it as he got older, blaming all her ills on him, her parents, her husband and just about anything else she could think of to absolver herself of any accountability to the pregnancy. Sound familiar? A common thread in these matters of blame-finding is "everyone else." Never herself. She could do no wrong. She even believed it was acceptable that no boy "got past second base", which was nothing below the waist ... of either she or the boy. Beverly found out how vulnerable sex can make her to the one who is standing on second base.
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One of the things that bothered me the most about this film (about most modern films) was that it seemed to further to the misguidance that love equals sex and sex equals love: that one is not possible without the other. All this shows is that they who believe that evidently do not really know what love is. But then, to try to define love would take megabytes of cyberspace. In a simple sense, love is wanting the best for another. Sex is but a tool of love, a beautiful tool to be sure - God made it that way, on purpose - but a tool nonetheless for the heterosexual married couple. There are many, many other ways to give the best: many, many other ways to give and show love. True love waits.
Gradually through a number of years of poverty and divorce, Beverly did pick herself up and finished school and the book she had been trying to write for 16 years. As if to say that sort of "success" excuses whatever happens along the way: the "Go ahead and do the wrong as long as you are sorry for it afterwards" rationale. No amount of sorry will make a pregnancy go away. Sorry may make corporal punishment and discipline go away for some, depending on the strength of the authority, but it won't make a baby go away. And it won't make disease go away. Though not mentioned in the story, neither will being sorry bring back babies murdered for convenience [Exod. 20:13]. I wonder if Beverly experienced the "empty nest" syndrome mothers typically feel when her last baby strikes out on his/her own?


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.

  • John 7:24 Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.
  • 1Cor. 6:18 - 20 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
  • Eph. 5:3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people.
  • 1Ths. 4:3 It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality;
  • 1Cor. 7:2 But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.
  • Exod. 20:13 You shall not murder.

    *******Food for Thought*******
  • 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 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]

    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.


    NOTE: Multiple occurrences of each item described below may be likely, definitely when plural.

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
  • reckless driving

    Impudence/Hate (I)(1):
  • seven uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • young girls pretending to participate in love-making with open mouth kissing
  • violent aggression due to heartache
  • "Nothing below the waist."
  • "I wanna die."
  • speaking of suicide due to pregnancy
  • "No matter what he [dad] does to me."
  • flatulence
  • much about motherhood being in the way
  • much of the "It ain't good enough no matter what 'it' is" rationale
  • vulgar gesture by a child
  • acting insane to excuse a bad habit
  • child screaming at his mother
  • mother screaming at her child
  • child saying hateful things for pay
  • child throwing things at a house
  • child lying to the law
  • "I have no one" to son
  • tattoos
  • a mother hating to be a mother

    Sex/Homosexuality (S):
  • young girl talking to sexual matters
  • girls undressing in a car
  • open mouth kissing
  • wild necking
  • sex poem
  • teen sex in a car, multiple (underwear seen but genitals unseen)
  • teen pregnancy out of wedlock, multiple
  • adults in underwear vulgar anatomical reference
  • adulterous relationship developing

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • smoking, including teens, multiple
  • teen drinking, multiple
  • drunkenness
  • illegal drug use, multiple
  • illegal drug preparation
  • illegal drug matters, multiple
  • drug addiction, multiple

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

    Murder/Suicide (M)(3):
  • none noted

    NOTE: The CAP Analysis Model makes no scoring allowances for trumped-up "messages" to excuse or for manufacturing of justification for aberrant behavior or imagery, or for camouflaging such ignominy with "redeeming" programming. Disguising sinful behavior in a theme plot does not excuse the sinful behavior of either the one who is drawing pleasure from the sinful display or the practitioners demonstrating the sinful behavior. This is NOT a movie review service. It is a movie analysis service to parents and grandparents to tell them the truth about movies using the Truth.

    "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 five-year 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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    (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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