Where Do We Draw the Line?
by Phil Boatwright

A respected friend of mine won’t support a film starring John Travolta due to his association with Scientology.  And because of her stand, she’s perplexed as to what to say when her children are begging to see the new Disney animated movie, Bolt, which stars Travolta.  The film is getting high marks and the TV ads are generating a great deal of interest on the part of the wee ones.  So, does my friend have a reasonable point?  What should she do?  And where do we draw the line when it comes to movie selections?

These are tough ones.  On one hand, Bolt is the most creative film since WALL•E.  The writers and artists have embraced moviegoers of all ages with this animated adventure about a girl and her movie-star-dog-who-thinks-he-has-real-superpowers.  Every detail has been given loving and experienced detailing, from the animation to the film’s score to the directorial pacing.  Disney has once again given us the perfect family film.

On the other hand, there are still a few hold-outs determined to make a stand against the infringing forces of Hollywood.  They know the media attempts to influence and redirect social mores.  But is a family film containing positive messages and adroit craftsmanship the right target for the banning mindset?

On a recent press junket, I was able to speak with John Lasseter, chief creative officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios and principal creative advisor at Walt Disney Imagineering.   A two-time Academy Award®-winning director, Lasseter now oversees all Pixar and Disney films and associated projects. Lasseter directed the groundbreaking and critically acclaimed films Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2 and Cars.  Additionally, he executive-produced Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and WALL-E.  He’s also an honorary Oscar recipient for “the development and inspired application of techniques that have made possible the first feature-length computer-animated film.”  In other words, this guy is as good as you get when it comes to making animated movies.  I asked him about the secret of holding the attention of both young and old.  His answer was succinct.

“My wife wisely told me to be sure to make a movie not for the first time people see it, but for the 100th time.  And she’s right.  A film has to be about the depth of the characters, the storytelling and finding that true emotional arc. ‘As Disney said, for every laugh, there should be a tear.’”

For me, I decide to stay away from a film I know blasphemes my God.  And though I attend many an R-rated movie due to my work as a film reviewer, I suspect I wouldn’t otherwise.  I don’t like crudity, obscenity or excess.  Nor do I appreciate being manipulated by an industry that generally reflects a disregard for biblical principles.

It’s difficult finding a film in any genre, or with any rating, these days not guilty of those misdemeanors/felonies.  But as I wouldn’t want to be ignored for my religious beliefs, I don’t want to do the same to someone else.  Though I disagree with Mr. Travolta’s about religious and political views, I acknowledge from everything I’ve heard, that he is a nice man.  Certainly, he is a fine performer.  I’ve based my work on the assumption that the Truth is found in God’s Word.  If we study the Bible, embrace it, and seek the Holy Spirit’s leading, we can see through the misdirections of the media.  So, I guess it’s more important that we say yes to the Bible than it is to say no to a movie.

While it would be easy for some to ridicule my friend’s decision to boycott an actor’s films because of his views of life, I have to credit her with taking a stand.  When I see people bringing children to R-rated movies or even submitting themselves over and over to movies that junk up our minds with crudity, sexual exploitation and blasphemy, I wonder if the majority of filmgoers ever take a stand.

As for Bolt, I hope you will read my review/content before making your choice.