Culture

The Movies

Culture | The top 5 movies in popularity as measured by box office receipts from the week ended Jan. 28

Issue: "Reining in the UN," Feb. 17, 2001
1
The Wedding Planner $13.5 million
1 week in release
$13.5 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Jennifer Lopez, Matthew McConaughey / Adam Shankman (Cosmo's Tale) / Sony

PLOT
The title character, after landing a big account, unwittingly falls in love with the wedding's groom.

CAUTION
Rated PG-13 for language and some sexual humor.

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BOTTOM LINE
Implausible and mostly forgettable, but pleasantly entertaining and generally free of significant sexual content.

2
Save the last dance $9.8 million
3 weeks in release
$59.3 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Julia Stiles, Sean Patrick Thomas / Thomas Carter (Metro) / Paramount

PLOT
After her mother's death, an aspiring ballerina moves from a small town to Chicago, where she attends a mostly black high school.

CAUTION
Rated PG-13 for violence, sexual content, language, and brief drug references.

BOTTOM LINE
Predictable but above-average drama encourages teens to follow their dreams.

3
Cast Away $8.1 million
6 weeks in release
$193.2 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt / Robert Zemeckis (What Lies Beneath) / 20th Century Fox

PLOT
A plane crash survivor learns how to stay alive when he's stranded on a remote island.

CAUTION
Rated PG-13 for intense action sequences and some disturbing images.

BOTTOM LINE
Ocean and island scenes are cinematically majestic but spiritually empty.

4
Traffic $6.5 million
5 weeks in release
$56.2 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Michael Douglas, Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro / Steven Soderbergh (Erin Brokovich) / USA Films

PLOT
Three interwoven stories each chronicle a different aspect of the U.S. government's war on drugs.

CAUTION
Rated R for pervasive drug content, strong language, violence, and some sexuality.

BOTTOM LINE
Harsh but honest treatment of the U.S. drug war.

5
Sugar and spice $6 million
1 week in release
$6 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Marley Shelton, Mena Suvari, Marla Sokoloff / Francine McDougall (The Date) / New Line

PLOT
Five high-school cheerleaders rob a bank after one of them becomes pregnant and is in need of cash.

CAUTION
Rated PG-13 for language, sex-related humor, and some thematic elements.

BOTTOM LINE
Cynical, sometimes funny teen comedy with very dubious morals and significant anti-Christian themes.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Two movies at the top of box office charts, each of them teen-themed, share more than their target audience in common. Both Save the Last Dance and Sugar and Spice also feature overtly Christian characters-and neither is treated too kindly. Dance's Christian high-schooler is in very few scenes, and is only mildly mocked: She's portrayed as oblivious to the world around her and vaguely racist. In Sugar, however, Christianity doesn't get off so easily. The film is about five cheerleading friends who stage a bank robbery. One of the cheerleaders is a fundamentalist Christian, and this provides fodder for recurring jokes that-sometimes viciously-mock her, her Bible-believing parents, her church, and, more often than not, her faith itself. More than just gentle pokes at evangelical Christians often found in the products of pop culture today, the jokes in Sugar are crude and blasphemous, giving a sexual connotation to pictures of Christ on the cross and painting church-goers as a cruel breed who refer to all unwed mothers as whores. Perhaps it's too soon to declare a trend, but Hollywood seems to be noticing the very real presence of outspoken Christians in public high schools, and so far it's not responding favorably.

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