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(2010), PG-13 [Hard R-13*] (1hr 55.3min)

Final Score
Analysis Date
Date Posted
Influence Density
July 24, 2011
July 26, 2011

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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.

(2010), PG-13 [Hard R-13*] -- the answer to "Why doesn't God stop it?" is ...

Production (US): New Song Pictures
Distribution (US): Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Director(s): Brian Baugh
Producer(s): Steve Foster, Jim Britts, Nicole Franco, Scott Evans, Christina Lee Storm
Written by: Jim Britts
Cinematography/Camera: C. Clifford Jones
Music: Timothy Michael Wynn, Christopher Lennertz, Charlie Peacock
Film Editing: Dan O'Brien, Brian Baugh, Sarah Sanders
Casting: Elizabeth Lang
Production Design: Rachel Britts
Art Direction: Sarah Sanders
Viewed on Sony Pictures Home Entertainment DVD

This is a long one and I git to thumpin' my Bible in a couple places but you may just find it worthwhile in spite of the length of it.

This is certainly atypical -- a teen faith-based film rated PG-13. The world is infecting every aspect of Christian faith nowadays. Job would have been most displeased. By His Word I know God is. That some good things were expressed in To Save A Life does not excuse the assaults on morality and decency and their influence on the young who will watch this film. In other words, a noble destination does not excuse an ignoble path. And though "redemption" abounds, that does not insulate the young observer from being influenced negatively by the moral assaults.

The MPAA says "PG-13 for mature thematic elements involving teen suicide, teen drinking, some drug content, disturbing images and sensuality." I watched some of the DVD as I waited to go to sleep last night and was flabbergasted. "Sensuality?" Great day in the morning! The "sensuality" is teen intercourse! "Teen drinking?" There were at least two teen drinking parties with guzzling and beer pong. Girls were wearing short shorts to high school. These matters and more were in the first 20 minutes.

Jake Taylor (29 year old Randy Wayne) and Roger Dawson (Robert Bailey, Jr.) of Oceanside, California are great pals. BFs. From elementary school to high school. But something happened their Freshman year. Jake had become a six-foot basketball "phenom" and captain of the Pacific High School Pirates basketball team with 22 points and 11 assists in a single game. Cheerleader Amy Briggs (28 year old Deja Kreutzenberg) became smitten with Jake and asked him to a party. Roger was standing there when Amy asked Jake. He expected to go with Jake since he and Jake had just talked before the game about hanging together that evening. But Amy disapproved of Roger and Roger could not go because "There's only room for one more in the car." Amy was judging Roger based on mere appearances [John 7:24]. A social fault she hated in others. Let me put in a plug for our Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged publication that reveals how we may and indeed must make judgments. Judge behavior we must but likewise we must not be judgmental. As Roger limped away he told Jake "I get it" and that "Things are gonna be different now." I wonder if Jake knew how different things would really be.

Roger had experienced some strong bonding with Jake, not only because of the two of them spending so much time together as they grew but because Roger had saved Jake's life by pushing Jake out of the path of an on-coming car, Roger taking the hit for Jake and suffering a permanent knee injury as a result. But when Amy convinced Jake that Roger could not go with them to the party, something changed and everything was different. By the time of Senior year, Roger became intensely depressed, depressed enough to take his own life by gunfire. That set the stage for the story to be used as a backdrop for Jake to save the life of Jonny Garcia (Sean Michael Afable): for Jake to learn to hear as well as listen.

"... Roger taking the hit for Jake ..." There is a "sermonizable" point! While we generally focus on the negative aspects of film content so you might be in a better position to make an informed moral decision whether a film is fit for your family, many films present fine and noble positive content. The positive content does not excuse the negative content any more than a noble destination excuses an ignoble path so we do not typically reveal the positive aspects of most films. If we were to do so in addition to revealing the level of detail we provide about the negative content we would spoil the whole film. Often when a film presents positive and noble content it may seem to be or is so deeply buried under immoral garbage that it disappears in the cinematic smoke. But almost all films with a story to tell have some positive content ... such as this film ... Roger taking the hit for Jake. Roger pushed Jake out of the path of an on-coming car and was hit himself in the process. While Roger did not die he was willing to give up his life to save Jake. Maybe sixth graders cannot fathom the scope and breadth of such a risk but Roger's heart is the point. Jesus told us in John 15:13 that "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Roger indeed laid down his life for Jake but fortunately Roger did not lose it.

There is more positive content in this film such as Amy not murdering the unborn child through abortion but rather deciding to give up the baby for adoption but the positive content and its usefulness, if any, is up to you to discover.

There is one other point brought up in the film I feel led to "semonize." Regarding all the evil and atrocities in the world, "Why doesn't God stop it?" I have noticed this point brought up in a number of films I have viewed recently and I somehow think these "reminders" won't stop until I share with you what God has taught me about the point. I suspect He is going to keep "reminding me" until I do. God has given each of us the freedom of choice. Take for example the little girl killed by the drunk driver. It certainly is not God's Will that the little girl be killed. Nor is it God's fault that the little girl is killed. Her death was by the driver's choice to drive drunk. God would have had to take away the driver's freedom of choice to drink then drive to stop it from happening. In other words, the little girl's death was not God's fault by not stopping it. It was the drunk's fault by choosing to drink then drive. Likewise the all evils and atrocities caused by man are likely because of someone's freedom of choice. While God certainly could stop them all, He would have to take away the freedom of choice of those who perpetrate the evils and atrocities. He gave us the freedom of choice so that we could decide on our own whether to love Him. He does not want puppets. He wants our love but He wants it to be our own choice. Though He could force us to love Him, He will not. So, if you want all the evils and atrocities stopped, stop man from causing them. It is all about personal accountability. What spurred me to preach the matter was the response of Pastor Chris (Joshua Weigel) to Jake's question about why doesn't God stop the evils: "I wonder if God wants to ask us the same question?" No one wants to hear this, especially in this "I want it all and I want it now" culture but we are each accountable for our choices. Whether we believe it or not. Whether we like it or not. Whether we care our not.

This story places teenagers in dark and far-reaching situations beyond what is typically manageable by teens. And much of it without adult guidance. Though the teens reading this won't want to hear it and won't likely believe it, Dr. Karen Nelson, head of a top ten university psychology department and Dr. Larry Gilliam, a practicing counselor agree with me that it would be unusual for even a 16 year old to be able to fully separate fantasy from reality or be able to fully anticipate the consequences of his/her actions. Such behavioral skills usually do not plateau until the early 20s. But yet we feed our teens with such proselytizing, emboldening, enticing and value-challenging entertainment behavioral lures as this.

God will One day take away all freedom of choice and will stop all atrocities and evils caused by man by sending the evil ones to Hell where they will truly have no choice. They will have had their chance, many times over, and chose not to choose. And by not choosing made their choice. So, the answer to "Why doesn't God stop it?" is He will. Completely and utterly. Just not yet. And if we want the evils stopped before then, we have to stop the evils ourselves since we are the cause. Yes, God loves us. Each and every one of us. Unconditionally. He will not take back His gift of freedom of choice. We are accountable for abuse of that gift.

Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - 16 out of 100
Probably the most violent content of this film was when Roger fired a handgun three times at the ceiling of the densely occupied high school then once through his head (unseen). Flashbacks of that sequence plus images of a teen boy cutting his wrists, scars of previous wrist cuttings, planning feticide plus a number of "lesser" matters of violence such as fighting and threats to harm were enough to steal nearly all of the starting 100 points in this investigation area.

God is stern about His admonitions against violence. From Genesis to Revelation God notifies us of His hatred of violence. He further warns us in Proverb 16:29 that violence is "catching": that violence can lead one "into the way that is not good." Two thousand years later Man has plagiarized God's warning about violence by four professional public health agencies publishing a finding that "viewing violence may lead to real life violence" and children who view violence in and as entertainment may "assume the acts of violence are acceptable behavior." How many more have to tell us about the dangers of violence in and as entertainment for us to believe it? Maybe a better question would be when are we going to listen?

Impudence/Hate (I) - Zero out of 100
Seven times a teen used profanity and an adult used it once. [Eph. 5:4] Amy had rejected Roger from coming with her and Jake to a party. The reason appears to be because Roger is black. But later in the show Amy is seen giving a greeting kiss on the cheek to a black teen boy at a party. The matter which initially seems pointed at racial discord may simply be an error on the part of the filmmakers or it might be that Amy rejected Roger for some other reason but I am going to stay with her rejecting him because of race. The bottom line is that Jake abandoned Roger because of Amy's disapproval of Roger coming along.

Amy and Jake skipped her calculus class. One of the teens showed the ever-popular movie teen countenance of "It ain't good enough no matter what 'it' is." Hypocrisy was noted when Jake looked down his nose at someone smoking dope when just a day earlier he was drunk. Pastor Chris was heard praising Jake when Jake used profanity. [Prov. 6:16 - 19, Isa. 13:11] Lying was rather frequent as well. Please look to the listing in the Findings/Scoring section (the heart of the CAP Analysis Model) for a complete accounting of the content found.

Sexual Immorality (S) - Zero out of 100
I don't know what the California public school officials allow as dress in high school but most of the shorts and skirts worn by the girls, especially Amy were far too short to be permitted in any school I know.

In addition, filmmakers must think or want us to think teens are sex fiends. Jake and Amy end up in bed together (though no nudity is seen). Yes, it happens. Maybe more so now that every teen film I have seen lately includes teens getting in bed together. Such exposure emboldens. It is unavoidable.

In another scene, Jake tickles Amy in such a way as to conveniently touch the bottom of her right breast. Amy places her hand near Jake's crotch in another scene to coax him. Some of the outfits Amy wore in this film were clearly to maximize display of her skin. Indeed, Amy seemed to be more of the Biblical adulteress who uses sex and sex appeal to lure and tempt than a good friend. [Prov. 30:20] And because of the immoral sex between Jake and Amy, Amy becomes pregnant. While a baby is a blessed matter and must be regarded as such, the unmarried intercourse is not. [1 Cor. 7:1 - 2, Hebr. 13:4]

Drugs/Alcohol (D) - Zero out of 100
Numerous times there is teen drinking, teen drunkenness and even smoking of marijuana. And this film is rated PG-13 which invites adolescent viewing. Let me share with you what the American College of Physicians (ACP) has to say about viewing of drinking in and as entertainment by adolescents.

A 2002 study by the ACP revealed that adolescent exposure to drinking in and as entertainment undeniably leads to abuse of alcohol among underage viewers. 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% of the youths were under fourteen years old) only 16% were completely restricted in their entertainment diets. Within the ACP study population, the prevalence of having tried alcohol without parental knowledge was

  • 46% for those with no viewing restrictions
  • 16% for those with partial viewing restrictions
  • four percent for those with complete viewing restrictions. [Eph. 5:18]

    There is nothing to say that smoking in and as entertainment does not carry the same danger of influence as drinking. Actually, the same matter of influence applies to any behavior demonstrated in and as entertainment, including good behavior.

    Offense to God (O) - 83 out of 100
    Not one use of God's name in vain was noted, with our without the four letter expletive but teens are seen gambling, one teen excuses his choice to smoke dope with "There's nothing in the Bible about smoking weed." And Jake's parents get a divorce [Mal. 2:16] because of Jake's dad being caught in adultery by Jake's mom with another woman [Exod. 20:14, Mark 7:21, Ezek. 16:58].

    Murder/Suicide (M) - 91 out of 100
    There was one suicide by gunfire that was rather graphic though no gore was seen. The cast were excellent in portraying the desperation and hopelessness of suicide.


    Besides all that, the subtitlers put ending quote marks inside sentence periods ("Text".).


    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.


  • John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. [ "...but make the righteous judgment." Right there Jesus gives us the authority and responsibility to make judgments but to do so righteously, not in a judgmental way. More n this in our Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged publication.]
  • Prov. 16:29 A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good. [The issue is the violence, the 'way that is not good' no matter how "small" or "justified" the violence might seem, and its "leading" effect on the observer. "A violent man" can be any character of any age, any gender, human or not in the act of committing (demonstrating in the case of entertainment) violent behavior/action whether for good or evil OR the violent behaviors/actions themselves. Such exposure can and does embolden the viewer into aggression, especially youth. It took years for the American professional health community to finally affirm, probably without knowing it, that which God told us in 1 Cor. 15:33 below. See also Joint Statement on the Impact of Entertainment Violence on Children: Congressional Public Health Summit for more information. Further, God speaks darkly of violence 56 times in the Old and New Testament of the KJV.]
  • Eph. 5:4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
  • Isa. 13:11 I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless.
  • Prov. 6:16 - 19 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look [impudence, arrogance, contemptuous of wholesome; the NIV calls it "haughty."], a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
  • Prov. 30:20 This is the way of an adulteress [or adulterer]: She eats and wipes her mouth and says, 'I've done nothing wrong.'
  • 1 Cor. 7:1 - 2 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch [haptomai: of carnal intercourse with a woman or cohabitation] a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication [parneia: illicit sexual intercourse - adultery, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals or close relatives], let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.
  • Hebr. 13:4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure [which includes before AND during marriage AND gender], for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. [Whether we believe it or not. Whether we like it or not. Whether we care or not.]
  • 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 [1 Cor. 6:19]. 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.]
  • Mal. 2:16 "I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel, "and I hate a man's covering himself with violence as well as with his garment," says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.
  • Exod. 20:14 You shall not commit adultery. [This is the 7th of the Ten Commandments.]
  • Mark 7:21 For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, ...
  • Ezek. 16:58 You will bear the consequences of your lewdness [zimmah {zim-maw'} or zammah {zam-maw'}: not chaste, incest, licentiousness, adultery, idolatry, harlotry] and your detestable practices, declares the LORD.

    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, 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.)

    To Save A Life (2010) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - 16 out of 100
  • long funeral sequence with repeated flashbacks of it
  • car-pedestrian collision
  • threat of harm
  • teen with a firearm
  • teen discharging a firearm on school property four times
  • flashbacks of buildup to teen suicide
  • drawings of suicide gore
  • fight, repeatedly
  • scars of wrist cuttings, repeatedly
  • planning feticide through abortion
  • cutting wrist with a razor blade

    Impudence/Hate (I) - Zero out of 100
  • seven uses of profanity by teens, once by an adult
  • abandoning friend because of race
  • teens skipping class
  • teen disrespect of father, repeatedly
  • shallow and absent father, repeatedly
  • social insults and cruelty, repeatedly
  • "It ain't good enough no matter what 'it' is" attitude
  • disapproval of son of mixed race marriage
  • lies, repeatedly
  • masked profanity by teen
  • hypocrisy - Jake looking down nose at smoking weed when he was drunk just a day before
  • punk attire
  • praising the us of profanity
  • marital argument
  • teen and adult tantrum
  • name-calling, repeatedly
  • lying to absolve guilt
  • falsifying information to police
  • lying to implicate another

    Sexual Immorality (S) - Zero out of 100
  • inappropriate dress in high school, frequent
  • risky snuggling while driving
  • very short skirt, frequent
  • inappropriate touch: boy of female breast while tickling her and her near his crotch
  • snuggling in a very short skirt
  • dress to maximize the female form and/or skin exposure, repeatedly
  • teen girl offering sex to teen boy
  • teen pair on bed making out (prelude to intercourse)
  • exposure to below navel skin threatening exposure of that which follows
  • teen pair after intercourse
  • teen in underwear
  • kissing in school
  • rude gaze
  • claim of sexual conquest
  • excessive cleavage - teen
  • teen pregnancy by immoral sex

    Drugs/Alcohol (D) - Zero out of 100
  • teen with booze
  • teen drinking, frequent
  • teen drinking party, two
  • teen guzzling, repeatedly
  • teen drinking game - beer pong
  • teen drunkenness, repeatedly
  • teens smoking dope and on school property
  • passing illegal drugs

    Offense to God (O) - 83 out of 100
  • teen gambling
  • "There's nothing about smoking weed in the Bible"
  • admission of adultery
  • divorce

    Murder/Suicide (M) - 91 out of 100
  • one teen suicide by gunfire

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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 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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    * CAP Equivalence to MPAA Rating Scale:
    Please note our new manner of indicating a film's Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rating in comparison with the CAP equivalence such as "PG-13 [R-13]." The first term is the Motion Picture Association of America's (MPAA) rating. The second term [in brackets] indicates that which the film earned under the CAP analysis model. In the example, "PG-13 [R-13]" indicates the MPAA rated the film PG-13 but the film earned a CAP final score in the scoring range earned by R-rated movies in the comparative baseline database. Other comparative terms used might be "PG [13-PG]", "G [PG-G] or even 'PG-13 [PG]" as was the case for Alien vs Predator. I doubt there will ever be a "G [R]" used, but only time will tell. The CAP analysis model is Rock-solid. The MPAA is not.

    The current CAP to MPAA** nomenclature is:

    For G rated Films with
    G equivalence: G
    PG equivalence: PG-G
    PG-13 equivalence: 13-G
    R equivalence: R-G<
    For PG rated Films with
    G equivalence: G-PG
    PG equivalence: PG
    PG-13 equivalence: 13-PG
    R equivalence: R-PG
    For PG-13 rated Films with
    G equivalence: G-13
    PG equivalence: PG(13)
    PG-13 equivalence: PG-13
    R equivalence: R-13
    For R rated Films with
    G equivalence: G-R
    PG equivalence: PG-R
    PG-13 equivalence: 13-R
    R equivalence: R
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