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

Entertainment Media Analysis Report

What Dreams May Come (1998)
CAP Score: 60
CAP ID: 0.79

Thomas A. Carder
CAP President

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What Dreams May Come (1998) CAP Thermometers What Dreams May Come (PG-13, 1998) was a particularly unsettling and unfocused movie about death, suicide, and distortion of life after death. The movie was replete with corruption of the Truth of the Bible. And all was presented with well known, often seen, and easily identifiable objects and events, lending to exceptional power to modify previous teachings and beliefs. The monstrous aberrations and grotesque deformation of humans typical of ghost and spirit movies were absent, also lending to "believability" by the impressionable.

Though this was not a particularly violent movie, it was deeply invasive of God's Word and His teachings. Reincarnation, resurrection, and "ghost powers" denied by God were rampant. Lies about Hell and grotesque fantasy such as partially buried talking heads made this movie pure invasion of calm and righteous thought. Hundreds of almost nude bodies, both living and dead, were strewn about. Hundreds of groping semi-nude bodies seethed from a lake to successfully capsize a small boat ferrying the actors from Heaven to Hell, which makes claim that a soul in Heaven can get to Hell. What does that say? The Bible is very specific about those who were cast out of Heaven and sent to Hell -- Satan, the master of Hell, was one who was cast out. Spiritual communication with the dead by the dead and the living, choosing of Hell over Heaven for love, walking on water, and portrayal that Hell is part of Heaven plus a plethora of other slaps in God's "face" made this movie most distasteful to this Investigator. And NOWHERE WAS THERE ANY MENTION OF SALVATION THROUGH THE SAVING GRACE OF JESUS, as if to say that entry into Heaven is possible without Him. The only time Jesus' name was mentioned was in an expression of frustration.

This movie is another example of the amazing linearity and objectivity of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model (CAP Model). I wanted to give this movie a score at least equivalent to R-rated movies, but the CAP Model wouldn't let me. The final CAP score confirmed the Motion Picture Association or America's classification of it which means What Dreams May Come earned the same score that PG-13 movies of 1995 to 1996 earned, so unlike movies such as Titanic (PG-13, 1997) and Rush Hour (PG-13, 1998). All I will suggest is do not trust the PG-13 rating!

Following is a breakdown of the distribution for scoring.

Wanton/Violence Crime (W) suffered the maximum lost of points per instance twice due to the presentation of a large field of partially buried heads, ostensibly severed from their bodies, and due to hundreds of dead and writhing, moaning bodies strewn around. This Investigation Area lost the intermediate level of points twice due to "Mad Magazine," "Yellow Submarine," and "Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)" distortion of reality with grotesque bizarre fantasy (while most of the last half of the movie was a continuous presentation of these intrusions into calm and focused thought, the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis model incorporates individual examples or series of examples of unacceptable programming, not an entire show).

Impunity/Hate (I)(1) lost the maximum level of points per instance twice due to the most foul of the three/four letter word vocabulary.

Sex/Homosexuality (S) lost the intermediate level of points per instance once due to a woman straddle-sitting on the pelvic region of a man while he was prone face-up.

Drugs/Alcohol (D) lost no maximum or intermediate level points.

Offense to God (O)(2) lost the maximum level of points per instance three times due to the use of God's name in vain with the four-letter expletive, walking on water, and portrayal that Hell is part of Heaven. This Investigation Area lost the intermediate level of points per instance eight times due to
  • spiritual communication with the dead by the living and by the dead through a painting
  • "Heaven without Annie is no heaven"
  • claims of reincarnation/resurrection/previous lives as a normal part of life in Heaven (ONLY God can resurrect the dead)
  • that the gateway to Hell is achievable through Heaven
  • "You can see the dead in your dreams"
  • choosing of Hell over Heaven for love.

    Murder/Suicide (M) (3) lost no maximum or intermediate level points.

    Additional examples of unacceptable programming included:

  • the yin-yang on a nameplate of someone in Heaven
  • an adolescent willingly damaging private property with no consequences
  • violent car wrecks leading to multiple deaths/injuries
  • out-of-body experiences and living that way as a corporal being
  • semi-nudity and full but brief nudity
  • ghostly influence of the living and ghostly disappearance
  • "two old f--ts" twice
  • portrayal that life after death is corporeal in nature
  • the use of God's name in vain without the three/four letter vocabulary five times
  • three/four letter words six times
  • portrayal of living in a painting after death
  • "Maybe I'm not in your Heaven, maybe you're in mine" to a dog
  • portrayal that life after death is seeing what you want to see
  • translucent underwear twice
  • a man jumping off a cliff in belief he could fly then walking away after hitting the ground
  • distortion of reality
  • scars of attempted suicide (twice), speaking of mother killing herself, talk of suicide as a relief, "Nothing wrong with giving up," each glorifying suicide as a viable alternative
  • claim that suicide is an unforgivable sin
  • lies about what Hell is like (other than the lake of fire as revealed by the Bible)
  • portrayal that violent behavior after a severe loss is expected and acceptable
  • portrayal that an inhabitant of Heaven can recover a suicide soul from Hell
  • son's arrogance against father's will for him
  • sexual innuendo
  • belittlement of God's specification of the hierarchy of the family
  • offering one's soul to save another "condemned" soul

    In accordance with the numeric comparative baseline database of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model, What Dreams May Come (1998) presented programming equivalent to R-rated material in Wanton Violence/Crime, Impunity/Hate, and Offense to God. The movie is equivalent to PG programming in Sex/Homosexuality and G-rated programming in Drugs/Alcohol and Murder/Suicide. Thus, Rush Hour is equivalent to 50% R-rated programming, 33% G-13 programming, and 17% PG-rated programming.

    (1) As noted in CAP Special Report-001, "Investigation Area and Scoring Trend," of the six CAP Investigation Areas, Impunity/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 is incorporated into the Impunity/Hate Investigation Area. The use of God's name with or without the three/four letter word vocabulary is incorporated into the Offense to God Investigation Area. There is no duplication. As required of the Holy Scriptures, unless God's name is used with reverence to His glory and praise, its use is considered in vain, whether literal or euphemistic.

    (3) Only portrayal of successful murder or suicide are incorporated into Murder/Suicide. Presentation of attempts to commit murder or suicide, deaths by police action, and deaths by war are incorporated into Wanton Violence/Crime.

    Please remember we believe that if even one of the six Investigation Area scores for a movie is equivalent to the CAP comparative baseline database scoring range for R, PG-13, or PG material, the entire movie should be regarded as so rated.  For example, if only Wanton Violence/Crime earns a score equivalent to R but all other Investigation Areas earn a score equivalent to G, THERE IS R-RATED MATERIAL IN THE MOVIE AND YOUR KIDS WILL SEE IT AND HEAR IT IF THEY WATCH THE MOVIE!

    Additional reviews of this movie may be located at "Movie Review Query Engine at Telerama."

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    Thomas A. Carder
    ChildCare Action Project: Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP)

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