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.


    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

In the fabric of humanity, there were three tiny strands: Sean, Jimmy and Dave. A trio of souls woven as tightly as you could imagine. They thought nothing could ever separate them. Until one of those threads got yanked. Hard. As children, while Jimmy and Sean stood on an unremarkable patch of Bostonian blacktop, two men who claimed to be cops took Dave away. Unbeknownst to the boys, they weren’t policemen; they were child molesters. Four days later Dave escaped and authorities seized the men. But the damage to Dave’s body and—more importantly—his mind was already done.

Twenty-five years later, Sean is a police officer. Jimmy (a reformed crook) owns a successful convenience store and has a family he adores. And Dave struggles through his quotidian, middle-class existence, beset by a creeping mental instability. The three friends haven’t seen one another for ages, but that will change—another thread has been yanked. One night Jimmy’s oldest daughter, Katie, is brutally murdered. By a jurisdictional fluke, Sean has been assigned to the case. And on the night of murder, Dave stumbled home, his hands and clothes covered in someone else’s blood. …

Positive Elements

From childhood to adulthood, Sean repeatedly models a desire to see justice executed, despite his doubts about the effectiveness of the system. Though he is estranged from his wife, Sean gently turns down a female officer when she asks him out, citing his marital status. Brendan, Katie’s secret squeeze, learns sign language in order to bond with his mute brother. Jimmy displays a fierce devotion to his wife and children. Dave’s wife selflessly proffers her help to Jimmy’s family after Katie’s murder. [Spoiler Warning] Sean and his wife eventually reunite.

Spiritual Content

One of the child molesters wears a ring emblazoned with a cross, as well as a crucifix. Jimmy’s youngest daughter takes her first communion in a Roman Catholic church. Catholic artwork adorns several homes. When it’s discovered that the murdered girl is Jimmy’s daughter, a cop claims that God is extracting payment for a debt from the former gangster. While confessing to a murder, Jimmy says he felt God watching him and approving of his actions. Jimmy’s back bears a large cross tattoo.

Sexual Content

Dave’s childhood sexual exploitation is a constantly reoccurring plot point, but, fortunately, its exposition is handled through brief flashbacks and dialogue that aren’t detailed. A child prostitute performs fellatio on a man (nothing explicit is seen). Katie and Brendan passionately kiss while discussing their plan to run off together. Jimmy and his wife vigorously make out on their bed.

Violent Content

Brief and isolated, but startlingly intense. Dave’s stomach is marred by a knife wound and his clothes soaked in blood. Flashbacks show him mercilessly pummeling a person’s face (with gory results) after being slashed with a sharp blade. Three men brutally brawl—one gets thrown across the room, another is punched multiple times and has his face stomped (his nose is shattered). The fight grinds to a halt when an assailant pulls a gun. A man is stabbed twice in the gut; blood covers his hands and torso. He is then shot (implied). The camera glimpses Katie’s bruised and battered body buried in mulched leaves. Shots of her at the morgue display her bloodied face. Brendan shoves his brother when he suggests his life is better without Katie. Police mob Jimmy and an associate when they try to break into a crime scene.

Crude or Profane Language

About 70 uses of the f-word, 20 of the s-word, and 20 other profanities and crudities. God’s name is abused a dozen times and Jesus’ only slightly fewer. A young man quickly flashes an obscene gesture.

Drug and Alcohol Content

A lot of alcohol and tobacco get consumed during Mystic River’s 135-minute running time. Sean and Jimmy’s fathers puff away on cigarettes while lounging on a porch. Dave, Jimmy and Sean also inhale at various times in their adult lives. Jimmy sells cigarettes at his convenience store. Just before she is murdered, Katie shows up in a bar with her friends and all of them get roaring drunk. Jimmy’s father-in-law brings a case of beer to Jimmy’s house. Jimmy’s wife downs a sleeping pill and takes up smoking after a decade of abstinence. Nearly everyone swills beer and liquor, some to excess. Dave is lured into drunkenness by a pair of goons (he runs outside to vomit). Jimmy gets smashed while sipping grog outside his house.

Other Negative Elements

Mystic River’s subject matter (child molestation and murder, loneliness, grief, emotional abuse, revenge and vigilantism) isn’t negative per se, but the film fixates and stares for so long and so intently that it becomes unhealthy. Also, Dave lies repeatedly about where he was the night of Katie’s murder and how he was wounded.


Mystic River’s author, Dennis Lehane, almost didn’t let his novel get a Hollywood makeover. Too many suggestions that he radically alter his grim work frustrated him to the point where he pulled it off the market. Then Clint Eastwood called. “[It] was a true collaboration,” Lehane told the Los Angeles Daily News, not the one-sided takeovers most authors experience. “He would listen. He wouldn’t always agree with me, but he would listen.”

Perhaps Lehane’s close involvement is why Mystic River plays out like a scene-for-scene adaptation of the book. But it's not a mechanical re-rendering. The Eastwood-helmed project evokes the same mingling of awe and dejection as Lehane’s pen-and-paper version. Those might seem like strange descriptors, but they’re particularly apropos: On the one hand (or, perhaps, shore) the movie shines with truly stunning storytelling, rife with rich characterizations and compelling plot work. Sean Penn’s performance as a heartbroken ex-con mourning his daughter’s murder stands out, but every actor excels here. The cinematography is crisp (possibly Eastwood's best), the subtle symbolism is compelling and the mournfully menacing mood is almost tangible. But the other hand deals from a different deck of cards. This well-done yarn contains constant obscenities, forceful violence and subject material that moves beyond "mournful" into a bleakness sure to send even the most well-adjusted moviegoer into a funk. (The combination of pedophilia, murder and insanity is devastating.) The greatest acting or tightest pacing in the world couldn't wash away those stains.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range



Kevin Bacon as Sean Devine; Sean Penn as Jimmy Markum; Tim Robbins as Dave Boyle; Laura Linney as Annabeth Markum; Marcia Gay Harden as Celeste Boyle; Tom Guiry as Brendan Harris; Emmy Rossum as Katie Markum


Clint Eastwood ( )


Warner Bros.



Record Label



In Theaters

On Video

Year Published



Loren Eaton

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!