Category: Tony Sands

Family Film Alert: ‘Deadpool’ Kills at the Box Office, But This Hitman Is No Hero

Deadpool-poster-Ryan-Reynolds

Why am I writing this blog? Because, with our focus on parents and children here at Family Theater, I want to make sure you know that “Deadpool” is not a family film!

That may seem like I’m stating the obvious, especially when the movie has an “R” rating.

However, I know how the mind works, and how marketing works, and what current statistics indicate. Putting this knowledge together with the fact that “Deadpool” has made $491.9 million in just under two weeks tells me that it is not just 18-35-year-old males who are going to this film, but many others, including parents bringing along their kids– yes, it happens — and under 17-year-old kids convincing their parents to buy them tickets and let them see it alone.

This often occurs because of the argument that can be summed up as, “Well, the movie probably isn’t that bad.”

It is an argument I have seen used, that has been used on me, and that I have used myself in the pre-17 years.

And while I leave it up to the formed conscious of each and every parent to determine what is, and is not, suitable for their children, I want to make it clear that the current number #1 movie in America is not one of those borderline films that is just a little bit worse that PG-13, or a smidge too adult for teens.

It is NOT a family film. In industry terms it is a “hard R”. It doesn’t just cross the line, it pole vaults over it after lighting the line on fire.

Part of my reason for this blog is because this rating fact may not be obvious to the average, incredibly busy parent who doesn’t have time to watch every movie trailer or follow every piece of media and promotion about a film. You may have just seen the film trailer in front of the Super Bowl and thought, “It’s funny. It’s action-packed. Maybe it’s just an edgy super hero film.”

Wrong.

“Deadpool” is not a super hero movie. The film’s narrator tells you that after Deadpool impales an adversary on two samurai swords. The narrator quips, “Wait, I thought this was a super hero film, but that guy (Deadpool) just turned that man into a f-(expletive) shish-ka-bob.” And, that is because, while this film has superheroes in it, like Colossus from the X-Men, the star is not a good guy, but a borderline amoral mercenary who just happens to have superhuman powers.

Yes, “Deadpool” is a Marvel movie (it even has the flipping-pages comic-book logo at the start of the film) and Marvel is owned by Disney (whose logo is very conspicuously not at the start of this film), and the character Deadpool wears a costume and fights bad guys.

But this is where the similarities to a superhero movie end, and this is where our responsibility to be good media consumers begins.

In the film, Deadpool doesn’t just fight bad guys — he kills, maims and dismembers them. There isn’t just some swearing in this film. Deadpool and the other characters throw around the f-word as casually and copiously as they spray bullets. Being as this is an action film – they spray a lot of bullets.

There is nudity – female back and full frontal; male back and mostly full frontal. Oh, and sex — graphic and extreme enough that one scene made a theater full of grown men groan aloud, and which will literally be painfully awkward to explain to your kids should they see it, especially with you present.

That said, I am not writing to condemn “Deadpool.” Thousands of people clearly enjoy it, which explains the box-office numbers. Also, there were many parts that appealed to my inner delinquent teenager, who dreamed of beating up every bully who ever tormented me and who would have given his left arm to date a girl as attractive as the love interest, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) .

However, I can say that “Deadpool” is a movie no teenager should watch, especially knowing that biologically speaking, we actually can’t un-see something. Once an image hits the optic nerve and makes it to the cerebral cortex, we may forget it for a time, but it is somewhere in our brains forever.

What “Deadpool” provides is a perfect example of how we should be savvy and informed media consumers, safeguarding what we watch and what we allow our children to see. To the casual observer, it could easily appear as a slightly over-the-top comic-book film. The well-formed audience member would know better.

As a society obsessed with reading food labels, we should spend at least as much time vetting what goes into our brains as what goes into our mouths.

Here’s  a few tips on how to get informed and how we can form ourselves.

1) Closely read the film’s Motion Picture (MPAA) rating. Thanks to diligent parents and a responsive MPAA board, next to a movie’s rating is a brief explanation on why it received its designation. For example “Deadpool” is Rated R for “strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity.”  This should appear on the trailer or on the poster. You can also find it on sites such as IMDB.com (stands for Internet Movie Database) if you type in the title of the movie.

2) Watch the trailer in advance. They are usually available on YouTube if you type in the name of the movie and the word “trailer”. Especially pay attention if the film has a “Red Band” trailer, this is a term that means instead of the trailer having that signature green opening screen that says “This trailer has been approved for all audiences”, which is the most common, that screen is instead red and reads “for restricted audiences only” meaning 17 or older. The red band indicates that the trailer itself is rated R and will contain an adult level of anything from swearing and violence to sex and nudity. Red trailers give a much better idea to the true nature of the film, but do not view it in the presence of anyone you are trying to shield from adult material.

3) Find a reviewer you trust who also describes why something received the rating it was assigned. IMDB has a Parents Guide section that describes in clinical detail the moments that earned a film its rating. When you are on a film’s particular IMDB page, scroll down past the list of actors and under a section titled “Storyline,” you will see a sub-section called “Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)”. In that sub-section is the “Parents Guide” link which will take you to page listing all of the gritty details of the rating.  The Catholic News Service also has a website that reviews films and gives a moral assessment of the movies themselves.

4) In addition, writers/commentators like Bishop Robert Baron, who is a filmmaker in his own right, is also known for creating video commentaries on popular films and modern culture. Search YouTube for Robert Barron, or go his media ministry WordonFire.org.

The key to all of this is not to be thought police, but to be informed. Each person must ultimately determine what is and is not appropriate for him or her to see by developing a relationship with God and forming his or her conscience. But an essential part of that process is being educated and aware.

Taking these steps helps us become the real superheroes as we strive to guard our own souls and protect the hearts and minds of our families and the ones we love.

Image: Courtesy Sony Pictures/20th Century Fox/Marvel Studios

Visit the Family Theater Productions homepage and Facebook page to learn more about how FTP is reaching out to Hollywood and producing its own projects.

“The Fault in Our Stars”: Love, Death… & Faith?

fault-in-our-stars-landscape-poster webWARNING – this blog contains many plot spoilers! Now out on DVD, The Fault in Our Stars, known as TFOS by its fans, is a best-selling book adapted to film that has been proclaimed by many to be this generation’s Love Story. Don’t tell this to the movie’s creator or cast who have publicly cringed from the comparison. However, like that film, TFOS is about a young couple who fall in love against the odds, only to have their love tested by terminal illness, all in a tragic tale designed to have the audience leave the theater in tears. Both even have a signature line. In Love Story, the line is, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry”, and (maybe as the biggest indicator of the difference in generations) it has been swapped with “Okay”. Yes, you read it correctly – “Okay”. In this movie, “Okay” takes on a special meaning– and it actually plays surprisingly well, but you sort of need to see it to believe it.  Read More »

“The Maze Runner”: Intense Action but a Family Film Puzzle

the-maze-runner webYou may have noticed, September is a strange time for movies. All the big action blockbusters opened in the summer, and all the horror films won’t come out until October when it’s close to Halloween. That leaves September as a no-man’s land somewhere in between, and that is the feel of The Maze Runner. Based on a book with the same name, The Maze Runner is part thriller and part action movie, but it also stars teen-age protagonists (or at least ones from teen oriented TV and films), so it seems aimed at a youth or family audience. However, it falls in between all of these genres – except, it is definitely not a family movie. It has scenes and themes far too intense for children and probably most pre-teens. That said, it is an engaging, entertaining story, and though it suffers from a number of flaws, it is a fun film for an older teen to young adult audience. Read More »

“Christmas for a Dollar”, Worth it!

Christmas for a Dollar

Coming out in time for the holiday season, Christmas for a Dollar is a family and faith friendly movie that is already available on DVD and will be aired on the UP! Network on December 15th at 7pm. Now you may be wondering if this is one of those sugary, feel-good movies that shamelessly tugs at your heartstrings. And it is! But it knows that and it nails its genre. While the movie may not be nominated for any Oscars it delivers a wholesome, heartwarming story, with great values, legitimately touching and funny moments,   and a happy holiday ending that just might make Ebenezer Scrooge smile. Christmas for a Dollar tells the tale of a family living during the Great Depression and they face their first Christmas after the loss of their mother. While money is tight, the father, played by Brian Krause, puts up a dollar for each of the children to borrow from so they can get, or make, a gift for a sibling they drew in a Secret Santa fashion. In the effort of creating Christmas on a budget, the children learn the value of honesty, gratitude and reaching out to those in need – whether it’s the financially or emotionally poor.  The film also stars well known TV stars such as Nancy Stafford. A “congratulations” is in order for Paulist Productions, a faith-based media company, like our own, who co-produced this film.  An interesting fact is that Paulist Productions is a Catholic sponsored ministry but their production partners are Mormon, making this possibly one of season’s few inter-faith based films.  What better way to celebrate the birth of our savior than with a truly Christian story made by companies who were able to work together, seeing past what divides us and focusing instead on what we have in common.

 brian-krause-for-cover   Nancy Stafford

A New Way to Help Teens, Elev8 Them!

 

Many people worry about the state of youth in our country, what influences them, what guides them, what pressures them, what morality forms them? In the days of Miley Cyrus and the Kardashians, it’s no wonder that people are concerned about teens’ role models and morality. So what can be done? Well, one solution is to elevate them! And more specifically connect them with Elev8-X (pronounced Elevate X). This non-profit teen integrity program uses live performances, testimonies, multi-media and videos to encourage young people to make positive moral choices. Currently, their live programs have reached more than 10,000 youth. Elev8 guides and inspires young people through contemporary methods and a “hip, cool” style as Elev8 want teens to know that their message is “real, relatable and relevant.” In their own words, Elev8-X is a “groundbreaking teen integrity program, impacting students across the nation. ELEV8-X is a highly EDUCATIONAL, INSPIRATIONAL, and ENTERTAINING conglomerate of talented young people contributing their talents to better America’s youth. Topics include: Anti-Bullying, Self-worth, Anti-Substance Abuse, and Waiting Until Marriage.” To check them out on-line go to http://elev8-x.org/ or find them on Facebook at Elev8-X.  As content creators ourselves, we are encouraged to see others use new media to spread these positive and powerful messages.

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RIPD Should Rest in Peace

RIPD poster

Though RIPD is a big budget film, starring Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Mary-Louise Parker and Kevin Bacon, the movie is a confusing mish-mash that never manages to make much sense. First, the overall premise is an unapologetic rip-off of Men in Black, just substitute aliens for ghosts. In the movie’s universe, recently deceased police officers are offered a position in the Rest In Peace Division. (R.I.P.D. – get it? Unfortunately, the humor of the entire movie is about this level). They hunt down Dead-O’s, ghosts who refuse to go to the afterlife. These undead are corrupting and killing the earth. Even worse, a Dead-O conspiracy is afoot to bring all the dead back to the planet, which would end life as we know it. How do ghosts come back? Why do some ghosts remain and others move on? Where is God in all of this? These questions are either poorly or never answered, making it so the plot confuses or insults the viewer’s intelligence the more one thinks about it. From a faith perspective, there IS an interesting moment where Ryan Reynolds approaches “judgment” to answer for the wrong he did in life. This very Christian look at the afterlife in today’s media is refreshing. However, it gets immediately undercut by the fact that the filmmakers refuse to mention heaven, hell, or even God, and refer to whoever is running things as “Up There” or “The Universe”. This lack of commitment, in my opinion, is what kills this movie (pun intended). Ultimately, it’s not funny enough for a comedy, it’s not exciting enough to be an action film, and it lacks the gumption to have a real theme (see Looper if you want a Sci-Fi film that means something). For these reasons RIPD is largely DOA.