WHY WE CARE


Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

YOUR STORIES


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"

SUPPORT THE WORK OF PLUGGED IN

Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

PLUGGED IN RATING

    No Rating Available

Watch This Review

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Movie Review

Steve Zissou is an aging oceanographer whose best days are behind him. He hasn’t made a decent documentary in more than five years. Once respected internationally, this insecure narcissist now finds himself defending his reputation and desperate for funding. Endorsement deals have dried up. So has his marriage to his primary benefactor, Eleanor—just one in a trail of cold, botched relationships that lie in Steve’s wake. He maintains a feud with professional rival Alistair Hennessey, and shows antagonism toward Jane, a journalist tagging along to write a magazine article.

Still, Steve and his research vessel The Belefonte maintain a loyal crew of misfits known as Team Zissou (“We’re all a pack of strays”). There's a German engineer named Klaus, a topless script girl, a physicist who also composes movie scores, a gaggle of unpaid interns and a safety expert who wiles away the hours playing Portuguese renditions of David Bowie songs on his guitar. This quirky bunch charts a course for revenge against a ravenous jaguar shark that eats one of their own. Along for the ride are Bill (a “bond company stooge” sent to keep tabs for an investor) and pilot Ned Plimpton, a gentle soul who admires Steve and has reason to believe that the seafaring explorer is his father.

Advertisement

Positive Elements

Ned is a good-hearted southern gentleman who treats others with respect. He makes no demands of people, but is gracious and appreciative of whatever kindness he receives. He generously offers a large sum of money to Steve for his expedition. While not entirely selfless (Steve finds Ned’s respect for him a balm for his fragile ego), Steve embraces Ned and offers him a place on his team. He also heads a mission to chase down the pirates and rescue Bill, and bails out his arch-enemy in the process. Despite momentarily questioning her decision not to have an abortion, Jane does the right thing by having her baby. After being confronted with his flaws in Jane’s honest, sometimes unflattering article, a humbled Steve concludes, “I said those things. I did those things. I can live with that.” Steve looks after a three-legged dog.

Spiritual Content

Klaus reads from Corinthians during a burial at sea.

Sexual Content

The script girl casually walks around topless in several scenes. Ned and Jane kiss, and she starts undressing them both (sex is implied). Bare-chested men wear tight shorts. Jane is pregnant with the child of a married man. While ambiguous, the sensitive Klaus may be harboring a same-sex attraction. Hennessey alludes to being bisexual (“I’m part gay”). Men refer to Steve’s earring as “gay,” and Steve calls Hennessey a “faggot.” He also makes a crass reference to Eleanor having slept with Hennessey, who is her ex-husband. On several occasions, Steve calls Jane a “bull dyke.”

Violent Content

It’s implied that a man gets eaten by a shark (blood is seen in the water). Men slap each other in the face and issue threats. Steve and Ned exchange blows. Steve attacks and chokes a heckler, only to get punched in the face. He later pulls a gun on Jane for no reason. A helicopter crash takes a man’s life. Pirates attack Steve’s boat and use guns and swords to threaten the crew before binding and blindfolding them. They knock out Ned and assault Bill. In what one assumes must be a fantasy sequence (absurdly, it’s not), Steve cuts himself loose and rescues his team by exchanging surreal amounts of gunfire with the bad guys. One buccaneer is hit in the neck and killed, causing the pirate to bury his sword in a young man’s shoulder. A victim is shown in a pool of blood. Steve blows up a hotel and a boat. A man is shot at point-blank range (he bleeds a lot but doesn’t die), leading to more gunplay. One crab rips the claw off of another. Hennessey strikes a whining dog.

Crude or Profane Language

Nearly 100 profanities, obscenities or crass slang. They include several exclamations of Jesus’ name and 10 of “g--d--n.” There are approximately 20 f-words and two-dozen s-words.

Drug and Alcohol Content

There’s social drinking at parties. Ned describes how his mother committed suicide by taking sleeping pills. Steve announces plans to get drunk. In another scene he pulls a bottle of liquor out of his coat and has a drink. Eleanor smokes cigarettes constantly. Ned draws on a pipe. Steve smokes hand-rolled cigarettes that, based on something Ned says, could be marijuana. The pregnant Jane takes a swig of liquor, but gets scolded for her poor judgment.

Other Negative Elements

Steve breaks into a rival oceanographer’s communications center and steals equipment. Explaining why he’d never contacted Ned despite suspecting he had a son, Steve says, “I hate fathers and I never wanted to be one.” Also, his egotism rears its head in ugly ways.

Conclusion

Somewhere amid a quagmire of conceptual flotsam, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou is an offbeat, niche comedy about how people between mid-life and old age must make peace with who they’ve become. Steve is a washed-up, narcissistic media figure grappling with a string of failures that force an epiphany about his rudderless existence. “This is an adventure,” he concludes. It’s a royal mess 52 years in the making, but an adventure nonetheless.

The problem is that the Jacques Cousteau-like oceanographer has traveled the world over without a moral compass. Upon reaching a point of pained reflection that might send some men to their knees, Steve simply refocuses his criteria for success using an existential lens that helps him feel less bothered by the results. A cautionary tale? Maybe for a minority, but the movie feels designed to be a darkly humorous tutorial for finding peace amid dysfunction. Some people will call this self-indulgent satire a whimsically sophisticated work of art. I don’t know who they are, though, and I would never want to get stuck in an elevator with one of them.

I suspect most viewers will find The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou as tedious as it is offensive. This surreal film is composed in dissonant keys. Moreover, it relies on sexual themes, bloody violence, drug and alcohol use, full breast nudity and lots of foul language. Why did so much marquee talent commit to a project this random and ridiculous? Probably for the same reason critics and industry insiders are likely to applaud it: It’s “art” and it’s “different.” Audiences that venture into its briny depths may emerge with a serious case of the bends, scratching their heads and wanting those two hours of their lives back.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

R

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Bill Murray as Steve Zissou; Owen Wilson as Ned Plimpton; Willem Dafoe as Klaus Daimler; Cate Blanchett as Jane; Anjelica Huston as Eleanor Zissou; Jeff Goldblum as Hennessey; Michael Gambon as Drakoulious; Bud Cort as Bill Ubell

Distributor

Touchstone Pictures

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Smithouser

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!