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(2006), PG-13 [Hard PG-13*] (1hr 44min)

Analysis Date
CAP Final Score
CAP Influence Density
March 7, 2007
55 out of 100

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(While the Scriptural references are certainly not subjective, my commentary may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary.

(2006), PG-13 [Hard PG-13*] ...right at the bottom of the scoring range earned by PG-13 films...

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Crick Pictures LLC, Mandate Pictures, Three Strange Angels
Distribution (US): Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment
Director(s): Marc Forster
Producer(s): Lindsay Doran, Joseph Drake, Aubrey Henderson, Nathan Kahane, Eric Kopeloff, Jim Miller
Written by: Zach Helm
Cinematography/Camera: Roberto Schaefer
Music: Britt Daniel, Brian Reitzell, Max Richter
Film Editing: Matt Chesse
Casting: Francine Maisler
Production Design: Kevin Thompson
Art Direction: Craig Jackson
Viewed on Sony Entertainment Home Video

This is another analysis of a film recently released on DVD. It won't help much except for they who wait for a film to come out on video and our overseas friends who do not get US new releases for months. At any rate, it also provides yet one more datapoint for our R-13 and other "ratings creep" research.

With a final score of 55, Stranger Than Fiction  is right at the bottom of the scoring range earned by PG-13 films in the comparative baseline database of films (55 to 67 out of 100) and only one point above the R-13 films. R-13 films are PG-13 films which earn final scores of 54 and below out of 100 -- the same scores R-rated films earn. And, yes, it contains God's name in vain with the four letter expletive ... twice ... plus many without it. Stranger Than Fiction  also contains one of the most foul of the foul words plus a smear of three/four letter words. These matters are in addition to a man and a woman making out with gaping-face kissing, co-stripping each other and in bed together for sex. More than once. Plus shower room full rear nudity of multiple males. All for your 13 year old kids. So sayeth the MPAA anyway. But guess what? They do not have the authority to say what is fit for your kids in spite of their implied approval with their "PG-13" stamp. Only God and you  (in that order) have the authority to decide what is fit for your kids.

IRS agent Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) becomes the living character in a book being written by Karen Eiffel (Emma Thompson). Harold discovers this oddity one day as a narrator begins to narrate his daily activities ... and he hears her. Only Harold hears her. No one else. The narrator speaking is Eiffel as she writes the book. Everything she speaks is true and happens. The trouble is she has killed the main character (hero) in every one of her eight previous books. But Eiffel has yet to find the right finish of her newest book ... and of Harold. Harold is on pins and needles about his coming cosmic literary homicide.

One day, Harold hears that voice, not as it narrates his life but on a TV interview with the woman behind the voice. It was Eiffel herself! Harold then searches far and wide to find Eiffel to beg her not to finish her new book. Or at least not kill the Harold Crick character in it.

Mentoring Harold through the times until his literary death when Eiffel makes the last two keystrokes to complete the murderous word "d-e -_-_" is Professor Jules Hilbert (Dustin Hoffman) who devises an intricate testing system to find out what is happening to Harold who is by now perplexed, bewildered and quite put out at hearing everything he does. Dr. Hilbert and Harold eventually connect with Eiffel and read the manuscript of her new and almost complete novel which threatens to kill Harold. Hilbert finds the novel to be a masterpiece that would not be a masterpiece if the Harold Crick character is not killed in it. Even Harold agrees with Hilbert's assessment of the book. Arrgh! Sound confusing? It is. Sometimes.

But the film is filled with enough modern immorality to keep it par with, or at least bring it back down to a primal hedonist level of understanding, as if the very fabric of all male/female relationships absolutely must be woven in bed ... unmarried with knits and pearls of profanity, all strategically embedded within goodness and warmth in an attempt to dull the edge of sin and make it appear not sinful -- including the budding romance between Harold and Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a tattooed bakery owner whose business Harold is auditing. Ana refuses to pay 22% of the taxes she owes since that 22% is used for things with which she will not abide. Soon, Harold audits the contents not only of Ana's files but of her apartment ... with emphasis on her couch and bed when a well-performed guitar/vocal solo by Harold becomes an aphrodisiac for Ana.

Following is further discussion of the contents of Stranger Than Fiction  by investigation area.

Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
As part of literary experimentation, Eiffel stands on the ledge of a skyscraper as she fantasizes about suicide. [Ex 20:13] She does jump and we see her body falling through space but since the scene is a "dream state" as Eiffel fantasizes about suicide to "experience it", it is absolved of any culpability (in a pig's eye). In a rather graphic display Harold is hit by a bus. A lot of talk of killing and suicide may contaminate wholesome thinking of the target audience of middle schoolers who, by their stage of development, are yet unable to fully separate fantasy from reality or fully anticipate the consequences of their actions. [Rom. 16:17 -18]

Impudence/Hate (I)
Ten uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary plus one use of the most foul of the foul words [Prov. 8:13]. Such lack of wholesome inhibition on the part of the performers and writers (the "wicked" - Ps. 12:8) will undoubtedly conjure emboldenment in the youthful observer as will the massive tattoos on Ana. [Jer. 37:9, 2 Pet. 2:1] A child on a bike causing a car wreck by his rudeness with no consequences to himself may paint the wrong understanding of personal accountability. These little pieces and parts of cinematic behavioral aberration may play as large a part in the development of our behavior skills as direct teaching. Impudence and arrogance are contagious, especially among the young. [Prov. 22:15]

Sexual Immorality (S)
In addition to the matters noted above of sexually immoral behavior demonstrations in this film, an adult in his underwear, narration of sexual fantasies, use of the camera to force the viewer on private parts and rude stares all work together to alter and redefine wholesome respect for sex. "An adult in his underwear? Gimme a break!" If such behavior is acceptable, I wonder what the police would do if one were to stroll past a police station wearing only underwear? Through a shopping mall? In an elementary school classroom? Would you want a teacher to teach your kids while standing in front of the class wearing only his/her underwear? If your kids watch this show, Ferrell does. And what he "teaches" is not good. [Eph. 5:5]

Drugs/Alcohol (D)
Numerous instances of smoking and one of drinking an alcoholic beverage in and as entertainment do tend to start the youthful mind to thinking about such behaviors. Experimenting. Challenging. We have been warning of such for years. The American College of Physicians (ACP) proved it. In a study involving 4544 "PG-13" elementary school kids grades 5 through 8, 90% under 14 years old, the ACP found an undeniable, inarguable link between the presentation of alcoholic beverages and tobacco in and as entertainment and abuse of them and arrogance/defiance with them by adolescents. Teaching/causing youth to abuse alcohol/tobacco (or drugs) by emboldening youth with them in and as entertainment invokes Luke 17:2. If alcoholic beverages in entertainment were not a problem for our young, why is there and why has there been such a push to get and keep booze commercials off prime time broadcast TV? Even the University of Connecticut corroborates the ACP finding. [Eph. 5:18]

Regarding smoking, doing so is, as is getting drunk, abuse of the body. The body is the temple of the Holy Ghost. 1 Cor. 6:19 "What? know ye not that your body is the temple [naos {nah-os'}: metaph. the spiritual temple consisting of the saints of all ages joined together by and in Christ] of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?"

Offense to God (O)
Two uses of God's name in vain with the four letter expletive plus eleven without it freckled the story, one of them by an adolescent. God is adamant about using His name in vain. [Duet. 5:11] And who do we think we are to think we are free to abuse His name when He spent three days in Hell so we would not have to spend one moment there? And yes, the teen-popular three-syllable sentence with his name trailing it is using His name in vain. In addition, the pretense of acting does not excuse it. Whether we believe it or not. Whether we like it or not. Whether we care or not.

Murder/Suicide (M)
Eiffel jumps off a skyscraper to commit suicide. Though it is presented as a imaginary event, the sight of her body falling through space is not.


If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ] or bold. 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.


  • Ex 20:13 Thou shalt not kill. (NIV) You shall not murder. [Suicide is murder of the self.]
  • Rom. 16:17 - 18 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. ["Simple" as used in this verse is akakos {ak'-ak-os} - simple, harmless; without guile or fraud, free from guilt; fearing no evil from others, distrusting no one. Oh, what an apropos description of the minds of children.]
  • Prov. 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate. ["Froward" is perverse. "Perverse" is aside from the right path, to pervert, to corrupt. "Froward mouth" then includes profane speech. And arrogance is what emboldens and propels one to use profane speech.]
  • 2 Pet. 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. ["False teachers." Little do many understand that the performers and writers are "teachers" but often of heresies. "Heresies" in this verse is hairesis {hah'-ee-res-is}: dissensions arising from diversity of opinions and aims. It may be your "opinion" that such language is sinful but the "opinion" of the performers speaking them and of the writers who wrote the script them say otherwise.]
  • Prov. 22:15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. [Note that the "rod" (of correction) does not have to be punishment and must never be physically harmful. A simple "good job" when warranted can serve as the "rod" as well. If you would like to know more, please visit our Spare the Rod ... Spoil the Child: A Parental Perspective article. It is rather long though.]
  • Eph. 5:5 For of this you can be sure: No [unforgiven] immoral, impure or greedy person -such a man is an idolater -has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Eph. 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. [Since "drunk" is methusko {meth-oos'-ko}: to intoxicate; make drunk; to get drunk; become intoxicated, "wine" can be any intoxicating substance including illegal drugs or abuse of prescription drugs. The issue is do not abuse the body by intoxicating it. Though it is not a sin to drink, it is a sin to get drunk OR to influence to get drunk or to drink in defiance such as underage drinking. A study by the American College of Physicians (ACP) has found an undeniable, inarguable link between the presentation of alcoholic beverages and tobacco in and as entertainment and abuse of them and arrogance/defiance with them by adolescents. And teaching/causing youth to abuse alcohol/tobacco (or drugs) by emboldening youth with them in and as entertainment invokes Luke 17:2. If alcoholic beverages in entertainment were not a problem for our young, why is there and why has there been such a push to get and keep booze commercials off prime time broadcast TV? Even the University of Connecticut corroborates the ACP finding.]
  • Deut. 5:11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. [Vain is shav' {shawv}: emptiness, nothingness, vanity, such as an expletive. With or without the four letter expletive, the use of God's name in any way other than respect, reverence or thoughtful discussion is in vain. That includes the popular three syllable sentence with His name trailing it AND the misuse of Jesus' name.]

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Jer. 37:9 This is what the LORD says: Do not deceive yourselves, thinking, `The Babylonians [the destroyers from within] will surely leave us.' They will not!
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences and present it 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, submit to 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 Be not deceived: evil [kakov: of a bad nature, not such as it ought to be] communications corrupt good manners.
  • Rom. 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
  • Jude 1:4 For there are certain men* crept in unawares [secretly slipped in among us], who were before of old ordained to this condemnation [whose condemnation was written about long ago], ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [a license for immorality], and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. [*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 one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
  • Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. [Offend: skandalizo {skan-dal-id'-zo} - scandalize; to entice to sin; to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away.]
  • Ps. 119:133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me [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. ["Evil" includes all things that are sinful.]


    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.
    (The objective  heart of the CAP Analysis Model, independent of and insulated from the Summary / Commentary section.)

    Stranger Than Fiction (2006) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
  • woman standing on the ledge of a tall building contemplating suicide
  • fantasizing suicide
  • graphic tale of suicide
  • talk of suicide
  • talk of killing, repeatedly
  • hit by bus, somewhat graphic and with blood

    Impudence/Hate (I)
  • ten uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • one use of the most foul of the foul words
  • massive tattoos, repeatedly
  • rude child
  • child rudely riding a bike causing a car wreck
  • lie

    Sexual Immorality (S)
  • adult in underwear
  • narration of sexual fantasies
  • camera angle to force the viewer on private parts
  • rude stare
  • shower room nudity, rear male, multiple
  • sexual innuendo
  • waking out with open mouth kissing
  • co-stripping for sex
  • man and woman in bed after intercourse
  • anatomical reference in background song
  • cohabitation for sex

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • smoking, repeatedly
  • drinking

    Offense to God (O)
  • two uses of God's name in vain and both with the four letter expletive and 11 without it, once by an adolescent

    Murder/Suicide (M)
  • woman jumping off tall building to commit suicide

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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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