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."


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!"


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.


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

What do you get when you cross Indiana Jones with Rodney Dangerfield? A treasure-hunter who gets no respect. In National Treasure that individual has a name: Benjamin Franklin Gates. For generations his family has searched in vain for a vast fortune believed to have been smuggled out of Europe and hidden in the colonies by our Founding Fathers. One of Ben’s ancestors received a cryptic message that has kept the Gateses obsessed for centuries, though all they’ve earned for their faith and perseverance is a reputation as crackpots. After 20 “wasted years” Ben’s father is fed up with the legend. But Ben can’t shake his grandfather’s stories and refuses to call off the search.

Funded by the wealthy, crafty Ian Howe (a greedy man of questionable loyalties) and aided by a computer-savvy sidekick named Riley, Ben uncovers a pivotal clue only to have the impatient Ian turn on him. He and Riley narrowly escape with their lives.

Then they hatch a scheme to thwart Ian’s selfish pursuit of the treasure, one that begins with protecting the Declaration of Independence—by stealing it. Unwittingly swept up in the chaos is Abigail, a lovely National Archives conservator. National Treasure is an entertaining action/mystery that baits the audience clue by clue and chase by chase, and may even inspire young fans to pay more attention in history class.


Positive Elements

Young Ben shares a sweet friendship with his grandfather that proceeds to shape his life’s pursuits. Like anyone with deep faith in something unseen, Ben patiently endures persecution for what he believes to be true. Despite people calling him foolish and crazy, Ben and his ancestors (Dad excluded) have maintained an undying optimism and held fast to their convictions.

Quoting from the Declaration of Independence, Ben points out that those with the ability to take action have the responsibility to take action in order to right a wrong. The Declaration is revered as a symbol of freedom to be protected at all costs. Ben’s and Ian’s simultaneous attempts to steal that document reveal a sharp contrast in their methods and character; Ben shows far more respect for property and human safety than does his rival. And while Ian is in it for personal riches, Ben simply wants to share whatever he finds with the world’s museums. The hero insists on pressing forward in the wake of disappointments. A father and son team up and overcome their differences.

Spiritual Content

Foundational to the back-story of this treasure-hunting adventure is The Knights Templar (further popularized in Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code), a group that inspired the influential fraternity known as Freemasonry. Much is made of the fact that America’s Founding Fathers were Freemasons, and the story supposes that they hid a vast fortune in a subterranean vault so that it wouldn’t corrupt their new nation or its leaders. Freemasonry is portrayed as a noble sect full of mystery and intrigue. Most modern members claim that the organization is not a “faith” in itself, but merely a club committed to good works and a moral code that make it a natural complement to Christianity. Others disagree on that last note, pointing to blood oaths, secret rituals, curses, and writings by early leaders that contain occult philosophy and unsound doctrine.

Riley worries that a broken shoelace is a “bad omen.”

Sexual Content

When Ben shows up at his father’s door accompanied by a woman and claiming to be in trouble, Dad asks if she’s pregnant. In regard to that remark, Ben later admits to Abigail, “My father thinks I’ve been a little too cavalier in my personal life.” Ben and Abigail kiss. Abigail wears an evening gown that reveals cleavage (as she leans over a table in one scene, the camera practically shoots down her dress).

Violent Content

A rickety catwalk gives way, causing a man to fall into a seemingly bottomless abyss. Ian and his men unleash frequent flurries of gunfire and threaten people’s lives, but there are no casualties. A lit flare ignites a man’s sleeve. Goons temporarily disable a guard by shooting him with a taser. Ben draws blood by pricking his thumb with a knife, and later knocks a pursuer out cold. And what would a Jerry Bruckheimer-produced movie be without wild chases, explosions and cars bashing through barriers?

Crude or Profane Language

One exclamation of "h---." Ian uses the English profanity “bloody.” There are just over a half-dozen interjections of “my god,” “oh my lord,” “for god’s sake,” etc.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Guests at formal gatherings sip champagne.

Other Negative Elements

Some viewers may cringe at human remains found aboard a frozen-over ship. Although Ben has pure motives, he also has a severe case of situation ethics that causes him to lie, evade authorities and steal the Declaration of Independence for the greater good. He even rationalizes his actions by noting that the Founding Fathers committed high treason in the name of freedom (“Here’s to the men who did what was considered wrong, in order to do what they knew was right”). Most families won’t consider this squishy morality a reason to avoid the film, but it’s definitely worth discussing afterwards.


National Treasure is an enjoyable enough ride if you don’t mind being strung along indefinitely by a series of clues that may or may not go anywhere. Fans of smartly layered mysteries that slip viewers subtle hints, rewarding them in the end for their astuteness, will be frustrated. Hey, this ain’t Hercule Poirot. Each revelation here simply takes us to another clue. We’re not challenged to solve a puzzle, but just hang with the heroes while they do. Fortunately, the cat-and-mouse game between Nicolas Cage and Sean Bean (The Lord of the Rings) creates enough tension to bridge the ho-hum epiphanies.

Perhaps the most exciting thing about this movie is what it could mean for the course of movies in general. With Pixar starting to clean out its desk and Disney’s in-house animation team unlikely to fill the position, the Walt Disney Co. realizes it can’t afford to conduct business as usual and retain its crown as the undisputed champion of family entertainment. (You can only strip mine existing properties for so long.) What Disney hopes to do with films like National Treasure is reposition its big-budget, live-action fare as more accessible to families. They saw it work when they trimmed R-rated language out of Remember the Titans. Now its possible more titles that otherwise might’ve earned a PG-13 or R will have the gratuitous content excised so that teens and adults can enjoy a top-drawer drama, comedy or action movie without unpleasant surprises. It also means live-action PGs may no longer be limited to inane fodder that writes off anyone capable of long division.

Nina Jacobson, president of Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group, told The New York Times, “It’s all about moving from the conventional definition of a family film to the more sophisticated idea of a general audience film that is appropriate for a family audience.”

In other words, Disney’s feeling nostalgic for the way Hollywood used to make movies way, way, waaaay back in the old days ... of Star Wars and E.T. Great idea! And other studios admit they’re already copying it. Of course, the only way that strategy will continue to make sense for executives is if those movies make big bucks. So I’m really rooting for Cage’s latest action flick. If it manages to revolutionize Hollywood’s approach to live-action family films, it truly would be a national treasure.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

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!