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Movie Review: Planes

Movie Review: Planes

From the ones who brought you Pixar’s Cars and Cars 2 comes the newest animated picture, Planes. As the name suggests, the movie revolves around airplanes, including “Dusty Crophopper,” a dust-cropping airplane who wants to be the best plane racer in the world.

Positive Elements

The characters (planes) within the movie had a unique flair, each representing a different country like India, Britain or Mexico. Without spoiling the plot, the planes world-wide race took them around the globe and through some amazing scenery. Moreover, this underdog-who-fights-the-odds-to-compete story will fire the imagination of many children, and the military references are all positive.

Negative Elements

The movie was fairly clean and family-friendly, but there were some crude jokes and double references throughout. Further, there are several moments depicting wooing a love interest between a man and woman (plane) that parents will have to explain. Finally, the characters did not quite live up to the lively personalities of Cars, such as “Lightening McQueen” and “Tow-mater.”

Spiritual Content

The religious and spiritual references in the movie were, unfortunately, nonChristian. In fact, there is a recycling reference while they are in India that clearly implies reincarnation. Be that as it may, the movie upholds the timeless, universal truth of, well, truth. Further, the heroes and villains each display the goodwill and ill-will that will help children recognize right and wrong.


Within the Pixar movie library, Cars and Cars 2 are among the most beloved. Because of that, this movie was bound to fall short of those expectations. If compared to the ordinary children’s/family movie, however, it was above average and fairly entertaining. There are some scenes that could scare some of the youngest of viewers, and parents really need to make sure children know that the crude references and imitative phrases are a no-no. Nevertheless, I predict Planes will do pretty well at the box office, as Cars fans turn out in fleets to see it (though they just might leave with their tires a little deflated).

Rating: 2.5 stars

Admission Review

Admission Review

I would love to say that Admission is a film with extreme and natural character development and a film where Tina Fey dazzles audiences alongside co-star Paul Rudd, but it is a film with Tina Fey and Paul Rudd.

Portia Nathan (Tina Fey) is an admission officer for Princeton University; she lives with her boyfriend of ten years, has no children, and is rather complacent. While speaking to high school students on a tour around the northeast, she visits “Quest School,” directed by John Pressman (Paul Rudd) and meets Jeremiah (Nat Wolff), an unassumingly intelligent student at Quest.

Admission is an adaptation of Jean Hanff Korelitz’s novel Admission. Adapted by Karen Croner (after a 15 year hiatus), this film lacks in the story department. Admission forces character development and prods the story to advance in a way that is unfamiliar with novel adaptations and is clearly carried by the cinematography of Declan Quinn.

Whether it is by encouraging students to change the world through Princeton or teaching students how to create sustainable irrigation at Quest School, a common theme throughout Admission is doing good, though never in conjunction with anything religious. With a few curse words sprinkled throughout the film, the most awkward and unnecessary scene consists of a conversation between Fey and Rudd while they are each taking a shower in separate stalls. The viewer sees only their head and shoulders, but with no advancing dialogue, this uncomfortable scene is pointless.

This film also has an excessive amount of cursing. Christians may feel too uncomfortable with the amount of swear words and it likely is not appropriate for teens. Further, the cohabitation portrayed in the plot sends the wrong message.

Aforementioned, the cinematography makes this film. Beautiful wide shots and deep focus break from the current mold of movies, but the technique used to give the allusion of a student being in the room while being weighed for admission was most clever. Each student appears in the office of Portia Nathan while she is reading their file, though not physically. Instead of Portia reading each student’s file aloud (unnatural), the figments of the students allow them to present themselves to Portia. Later while using this same effect, each student stands silent before the admission officers as they accept or deny admission to Princeton and upon denial, the floor opens and the student falls through.

Throughout Admission, the common theme of doing good is coupled with the fear of rejection. Introduced by students fearing denial to Princeton, the chance of rejection continues by resting on Portia. She fights for a job, is dumped by her boyfriend, gets pushed away by her mother and embodies the impending rejection of Jeremiah to Princeton.

Admission doesn’t try to make the viewer feel good by its conclusion; instead, it presents the idea of compromise and rejection as faced by people in real life, but with the only spiritual element consisting of a reference to Buddhism, the characters are left with only the hope of acceptance and success instead of faith in God.

Admission (Paul Weitz, 2013) PG-13 – 6/10 stars

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Seth MacFarlane, Gracious Family Guy

Seth MacFarlane, Gracious Family Guy

Seth MacFarlane’s turn as Oscar host Sunday night was a risky experiment. MacFarlane’s vulgar television and movie productions are not everyone’s taste, myself included. As much as I love movies, I was almost tempted to opt out of watching the Oscars this year because he was hosting.

However, keeping with tradition, I hosted an Oscar party and tuned in anyway. And I’m glad I did. I wound up enjoying (most) of the event, especially the musical performances. And I think he did a much better job than James Franco did a couple of years back.

I was open to giving MacFarlane a chance because of a story about a personal encounter I had once heard.

A couple of years ago, MacFarlane was a guest on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher.” Also on the program that evening was conservative media mogul Andrew Breitbart. They were coming on the show to present opposing views on various political and pop culture issues. After the show, Breitbart approached MacFarlane.

“I’m glad you didn’t lay into me,” Breitbart told the animation mogul. “My son is a huge fan of ‘Family Guy,’ and he would have sided with you.”

“Where’s your son now?” MacFarlane asked.

Andrew said that he was sleeping over at a friend’s house.

“Call him,” said MacFarlane. (see source here)

MacFarlane then spent 10 minutes on the phone with the youngster imitating all the boy’s favorite characters and creating a very special memory. Regardless of the fact that I don’t consider “Family Guy” appropriate viewing for children, for MacFarlane to go out of his way to do something nice for the child of someone he had just met, someone he met precisely because they are fundamentally opposed ideologically, speaks well of him as an individual.

MacFarlane is no Christian, but displayed genuine kindness to someone he was moments earlier passionately opposing on national television. Can I say I am as gracious to those I have significant disagreements with?

Photo by s_bukley /

Movie Review: Life of Pi

Movie Review: Life of Pi

What if Castaway met We Bought a Zoo, which met New Age religion, which met National Geographic of animals, which all then met the movie Joe Versus the Volcano? That essentially what you have in the new movie, Life of Pi.

Based on the best-selling book by Yann Martel (published in 2001), which was part of Oprah’s recommended book, the movie is gaining popular and critical acclaim.

To its credit, Life of Pi is a story that immediately takes you in. At risk of spoiling the plot, we meet a young Indian boy (“Pi”) whose family owns a zoo. Due to bad circumstances, they must move to North American and en route their boat sinks.

The rest of the movie we sees Pi’s struggle to survive, which includes some stunning cinematic images of animals and nature. There is a plot twist at the end too that would make M. Night Shyamalan proud.

Be that as it may, the movie is just plain gross in places. Its PG rating is too low (should have been PG-13), and the way it treats religion is plain dangerous.

The storyline essentially tries to put Jesus Christ on a shelf with millions of other gods, sadly not a rare phenomenon in the Eastern, New Age world. As other movie reviewers have pointed out, the movie is syncretism on the silver screen. Jesus, however, is not A way to God, He is THE way (John 14).

Young adults and especially children would have too much difficulty not being riveted by the storyline and movie, so the movie is subversive. In spite of some good qualities, Life of Pi is not a movie I can safely recommend.


Labels Lie

Labels Lie

I saw an awesome movie this weekend with my kids. It’s called “Wreck it Ralph.” It’s about a video game character labeled a “bad” guy (I could instantly relate). He’s stuck in a world where every day is the same old thing. Game after game, Ralph is asked to break out the windows of an apartment building, just so the “good” guy, Felix Jr, can come around behind him and fix everything with one tap from his magical hammer. In this clip below, which I find hysterical because of how similar it is to most meetings I attend, Ralph is really struggling to accept the label that so many of his “bad” brothers have reluctantly come to live with…. watch it now.

As you can see, good ole Ralph is in a little bit of quandary. As much as he tries to convince his brethren, he can’t seem to break away from the label he’s been given. Secondly, the underlying desire to be something that he is not is pushing him to make some inevitably bad decisions.

I won’t spoil the movie for you, but I will say that near the end of the film Ralph realizes the power behind embracing who he really is….. The freedom that Ralph finds by accepting his differences, allows him to break the chains of the label that held him back for so long.

There are two key lessons to take away from this movie. They can be perceived to be contradictory, but there not. They work together well to provide a friction that sparks motivation, bolsters self-esteem and will surely provide purpose to your life. Here they are.

Number 1 – There is freedom and power in accepting who you are!

Number 2 – The labels that others may give you are not the labels God has given you.

I relate to Ralph in this movie in a big way. I was labeled for years and had no clue how to drop it. I struggled to overcome these labels on my own, constantly trying to be everything I thought the world wanted me to be, all the while ignoring the specific God given gifts I possess. The further I ran away from my true self, the heavier the labels felt and the darker my life got.

It wasn’t until I began to see myself the way God saw me that the labels began to drop. These labels like loser, weak, liar, cheater, thief and junkie… hurt. They hurt me bad. But God never saw me as any of those things.

The label you may be living under today may not be like mine. Maybe for you it’s divorced or depressed, fat or a failure, annoying or a bully, nerdy or gothic. I don’t know what label some fool has slapped on you, but I’m here to tell you that label is a liar. You are NOT what others say you are… What you are is what God says you are.

When you cling to that, you can begin to find the freedom that comes along with it. The freedom of accepting yourself for exactly who God created you to be….A winner, an overcomer, chosen, loved, cherished, forgiven, special, perfect and complete. God makes no mistakes; He makes no junk!. He doesn’t label you as anything other than HIS. So when you get to feeling like ole Ralph did and life seems to be ganging up on you, labeling you and trying to box you in. Check out some of these verses. Break loose of those labels and find freedom!

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Hope is Alive!