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OKLAHOMA CITY (BP)--If you heard all the hype about the movie "Cinderella Man," you probably thought, as I did, you were going to step into a great family movie.
After all, this movie has two cinematic powerhouses, Russell Crowe playing boxing legend Jim Braddock and Renee Zellweger playing Mae Braddock. Their true-to-life characters were a couple who genuinely loved each other and were loyal to each other even when times were tough.
In the 1930s when the Great Depression was at its height in this nation, Jim Braddock was out of the ring trying to find work just like 15 million other unemployed Americans. Sometimes the Braddock family didn't have anything but each other. Times were tough in the '30s, as some readers can attest.
Being poor, unemployed and hungry didn't give most of the people in that day an excuse to lose their respect, morals, dignity or faith. The movie does a great job of demonstrating the core values of genuine love, promise keeping, honesty and integrity. Because Jim Braddock remained loyal to his family and his core convictions, champion boxer Joe Louis said that Braddock was the most courageous opponent he ever faced.
However, Hollywood is delusional about what family viewers will tolerate. In this film one would expect hard people, rough people and violent people because, after all, that is the nature of the sport of boxing. But even with all of that, people in the '30s did not overtly profane the name of God without shame. Today, though, shame is strangely absent and the right to say anything a person wants is not only accepted and tolerated, it is considered normative.
According to Focus on the Family's Plugged In website, the word "God" is used as a profanity more than a dozen times, and the word "Jesus ... is misused more times than that." In addition, there are 50-plus milder profanities, Plugged In reports.
The profanity and vulgarity was unnecessary. A few years ago, I heard a family-oriented movie reviewer say that the PG rating on a movie meant Profanity Guaranteed. Cinderella Man's rating of PG-13 must mean Profanity Absolutely Guaranteed.
Actually, this film was worthy of an R-rating. Director Ron Howard made you think you were getting hit by every punch. He filmed plenty of bloody noses and caused you to hear the sound of broken bones in the boxer's face or hand. Every match included split eyebrows and swollen eyes. Boxing is a brutal sport. Couple the brutality with the unnecessary profanity, and no child under 17 should be watching this film even if it does display some positive "family values."
As a matter of fact, this is not a family flick at all. Yet, I saw parents bringing their small children into the theater. Children do not possess a filter that discerns the real from the unreal. Some of them will carry forward into their lives the violent behavior and the profanity they witnessed on the screen. Their parents were told this was a family-values film, so they brought their kids. Do not be flummoxed by the family-values hype. This is not a family film. It is a brutal boxing film laced with profanity and is not suitable for children or families.
Someone may argue with me that you cannot have a boxing film set in New York without some very gritty, realistic elements. Grit and realism, I understand, but don't try to sell a movie on family values when the flick is laced with unnecessary and unseemly profanity. My values are built on my faith in the God who loves me. I cannot bear to hear His holy name frivolously profaned without experiencing grief in my heart.
The film had so much potential. There is powerful acting and artistic filming. It powerfully shows how one man can courageously stand and fight back the injustices in the world. By doing so he encourages others to have hope. Every generation needs hope to rise above the cultural cesspool. Thankfully, God has given us an even greater hope than this world could possibly understand, and that hope is found beyond the circumstances of life through a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
John Yeats is editor of the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger, online at www.baptistmessenger.com.