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

Mitch Bradley has been mauled by a bear. Einar Gilkyson has been mauled by life. Ever since Einar's only son died in a car accident 12 years earlier, the Wyoming rancher has lived a bitter life that has driven away almost everyone who ever loved him, including his wife. Only Mitch remains, a ranch hand and lifelong friend who relies on Einar’s care after tangling with a grizzly.

You'd think Einar might be happy when his widowed daughter-in-law, Jean, shows up needing his help. In tow is 11-year-old Griff, a granddaughter Einar never knew existed, but Einar is unmoved. He hates Jean, blaming her for the wreck that killed his son. For her part, Jean knows Einar can't stand the thought of her, but she's broke and fleeing an abusive boyfriend, and the only family she has left in the world is Einar.

Eventually, it's Griff’s wide-eyed innocence that begins to worm its way into Einar’s crusty heart, and Mitch’s gentle prodding also helps break him out of his shell. What follows is a story about family, forgiveness and coming to terms with life as it happens.

Advertisement

Positive Elements

Despite having plenty to be angry and bitter about, Mitch refuses to give in to negativism. And while it’s strange to speak of “forgiving” a wild animal, Mitch seems to do just that and seeks what’s best for the bear. (“The bear was just doing what bears do,” Mitch says.) An exception to Einar’s bitter outlook is how he takes care of Mitch, massaging ointment into his wounds, administering pain medicine, serving him meals and being an all-round friend. Indeed, Einar’s treatment of Mitch is the personification of the self-giving love spoken of in Scripture. Einar eventually comes to see that he needs to seek forgiveness from Mitch, which leads him to see that he should also forgive Jean.

Griff doesn’t let Einar’s bad attitude dissuade her from trying to break through his tough exterior. One of Jean's co-workers, Nina, generously offers her home to Jean and Griff without asking anything in return.

The movie makes it crystal clear how wrong it is for men to hit the women they love, be they wives or girlfriends. (Its method of communicating that truth is brutal, though. More on that in "Violent Content.")

Spiritual Content

Einar jokes about dying, saying, “Maybe I’ll send you a postcard from the other side.” He also says, “I don’t like some guy trying to sell his angle on God.” While not explicitly spiritual, Einar spends a lot of time at his son’s grave, talking to him. Einar asks Mitch, “You think the dead care about our lives?” Mitch answers, “Yeah, they even forgive us our sins.” Mitch frequently discusses his dreams, and at the end of the film he describes a dream where he was flying high over the ranch (“From up there I could see there’s a reason for everything”).

Sexual Content

It doesn’t take long for Jean to enter into a sexual relationship with the sheriff. In one scene, it’s implied they’re having sex in the sheriff’s SUV. Einar confronts Jean, “Are you screwing Crane Curtis for protection or sport?”

Griff blurts out her assumption that one of her teachers is a lesbian. She also mistakenly thinks Einar and Mitch are homosexual because they live together. (In truth, Mitch lives in the bunkhouse and Einar in the main house.). The two men laugh at the suggestion and have a bit of fun with it, complementing each other on physical characteristics, but the ultimate message in the exchange is a positive one: Men can love each other and care deeply for each other without being gay. Still, dialogue includes endorsements of those who do participate in gay relationships ("I mean it's cool, everybody needs love," Griff says. Einar replies, "You've got that right, little girl").

While not sexual in any way, it's still worth noting that two scenes show Mitch having his pants and underwear pulled down for a morphine injection in his buttocks. What does have sexual overtones is Mitch's recounting of one of his dreams; he makes an oblique comment about oral sex with a woman. Jean frequently wears low-cut blouses. Einar comes to the rescue of a waitress who is being sexually (and physically) harassed by two drunken cowboys. ...

Violent Content

He clubs both with a coffee pot and then holds a knife to one man’s throat, threatening to kill him if he ever harasses her again.

Jean's most recent ex, Gary, has an explosive temper. At the beginning of the movie Jean has a bruise on her face where Gary had presumably hit her. In a later scene Jean punches him in self-defense. He then backhands her, grabs Griff and drags her to his car. Einar comes to the rescue, shooting out the tires and engine block of Gary’s car. He then smashes through the glass with the rifle butt, drags Gary’s head through the window and knees him in the face. He also punches him several times—hard enough that you think Gary might be dead. (In an earlier scene Einar had pointed the rifle at Gary and threatened to kill him if he ever came back.)

The bear knocks Einar to the ground. It growls and charges at Mitch but does not complete the attack. In a fit of anger, Einar smashes a chair against a post. Gary kicks a table.

Crude or Profane Language

Two f-words. Seven s-words. Both Mitch and Einar are inveterate cussers, with “d---“ making more than 20 appearances; God’s name is paired with it about 15 of those times. God's and Jesus’ names are abused another five times. There are also about 25 combined uses of “h---,“ “son of a b--ch” and “a--.” Crude slang references male genitals.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Mitch requires regular injections of morphine. Einar is a recovering alcoholic, but he keeps bottles of booze stashed around his ranch. On occasion he pulls out an unopened bottle, telling Mitch, “Sometimes I just like to look at it.” Later, distraught over a turn of events, he finally gives in and starts to drink from one of the bottles. [Spoiler Warning] Einar was, by his own admission, a “falling-down drunk." And he was intoxicated when Mitch was mauled. Consquently he was unable to save Mitch, and his inaction turns out to be the source of much of the guilt he possesses—guilt that he tries to project onto Jean.

Einar goes into a bar but orders a club soda. Nina says of two drunken cowboys, “It must be hard to be that drunk this early in the morning.” Einar replies, “Not if you’ve been drinking all night.” Nina adds, “You would know.” Gary is a chain smoker and in one scene drinks a beer.

Other Negative Elements

Einar and Griff break into the compound of the animal-control officer and steal a trailer. (Einar half-sarcastically figures that since it's government property, and he pays his taxes, he's got a right to borrow it.) They then break into a zoo to free the bear. After the bear has injured Einar, Einar lies to a nurse and doctor about the nature of the injury, getting Griff to lie for him also.

Conclusion

An Unfinished Life is a well-written, engaging story. The process by which Griff and Mitch gradually draw Einar out of his self-imposed prison of bitterness is truly moving. It turns out the unfinished life was not Einar’s son’s but his own.

Director Lasse Hallström is famous for teasing all sides of an issue. In The Cider House Rules he took on abortion. In Chocolat he tackled religion. And if he had brought that same sensibility to An Unfinished Life he would have spent half the movie exploring the motivations for domestic abuse. He doesn't. Here, he's only interested in providing a cathartic payback of sorts for everyone who has ever been touched by it. So, as if sensing that he needed another subject to explore while blasting abusers, he and writers Mark Spragg and Virginia Korus Spragg incorporated a monumentally terrifying bear to serve as a metaphor for the way life can mess you up. It works. At least it did for me.

The luscious cinematography and the interaction of the two heavyweight actors Robert Redford and Morgan Freeman are also gratifying to witness. (Incidentally, Jennifer Lopez comes off as a bit of a lightweight next to them.) Like Cinderella Man, though, viewers interested in the film's probing lessons on life, death, abuse and relationships are made to endure crudity and profanity. The movie also exhibits a cavalier attitude toward illicit sex and one brutal beating that goes too far.

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

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!