March 31, 2001
HOLLYWOOD IS EMERGING
A new Hollywood
is emerging, and has been little noticed nor commented upon. Truly
positive films are being made with constructive heroes and heroines who
actually act well while keeping their clothes on! Consider the newest
winners of Academy Awards.
earned the best actor Oscar in ''Gladiator,'' by playing Maximus, an
ex-general with integrity who is sold into slavery, but becomes a Roman
gladiator. Not since Charlton Heston's 1959 ''Ben Hur,'' has there been
such a role.
Julia Roberts, a
star whose films usually feature her beauty in flighty if not immoral
parts, won best actress in ''Erin Brockovich,'' a heart-warming film
based on a true story of an unglamourous legal secretary who dug up
evidence that an electric utility's pollution is killing people.
refreshing contrast with last year's big Academy Award winner,
''American Beauty'' which profiled a middle-aged burned-out ad writer
who lusts after a teenage friend of his daughter a pedophile as a
The number of
movies with a pro-Christian theme has soared from only one 11 years ago
to 59 in 1997 and a whopping 118 in 2000 according to Dr. Ted Baehr,
Chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission.
I attribute much
of the changed Hollywood landscape to Ted Baehr, his Commission and to
MOVIEGUIDE, which reviews all 275 theatrical movie releases in the
United States from a Christian perspective and examines how big an
audience each reaches.
One of Baehr's
conclusions is finally penetrating the skulls of Hollywood producers:
''Year in and year out, movies with Christian content earn more money on
average at the box office than movies with non-Christian or
anti-Christian content,'' says Baehr. ''Thus, movies with a positive
acceptability ratings from MOVIEGUIDE in 2000 earned $38.6 million but
movies with a negative rating from MOVIEGUIDE averaged only $21
two-thirds of the Top 25 Box Office Movies and nine out of ten of the
top ten video sales and rentals in 2000 including ''Toy Story II,''
''Tarzan'' and ''Stuart Little'' had moral or Christian redemptive
Hollywood producers have had a different vision that nudity and sex
scenes sell. But MOVIEGUIDE's research proves them wrong.
Hollywood is finally getting the message that Americans want to see
''family movies extolling redemptive Christian beliefs and virtues,''
said Baehr at MOVIEGUIDE's 9th annual Awards Gala.
For example, the
winner of the $25,000 Epiphany Prize for Most Inspirational Movie is
''Return to Me,'' and Carroll O'Connor's performance in that movie as
the grandfather of the heroine, won the Grace Prize for Most
Inspirational Movie Acting.
I rented the
film last night and was alternately amused and deeply moved. David
Duchovny (of TV's ''The X-Files'') plays a man named Bob whose wife dies
in a car accident. The heart of his deceased wife is given to save the
life of Grace (Minnie Driver). Grateful for the gift, while realizing
that someone had to die that she might live, after much personal debate,
Grace writes the survivor that she is ''eternally grateful'' for the
thoughtfulness of the organ donation.
By chance, Bob
meets Grace at her grandfather's restaurant and they begin dating. She
puts off telling him about her surgery, embarrassed by her surgical
scars. At his home, she discovers her own letter, is stunned and rushes
home. She decides to tell him what she has discovered on the eve of a
trip to Italy. Equally aghast to learn his wife's heart is beating in
his new love, Bob also flees.
returns to the bar, and tells her grandfather that while he misses his
wife, he aches for Grace. The grandfather replies that his prayers were
that ''Grace would have a second chance at life. If God blessed us with
a heart, it would have to be from a special person, if it were to be at
home in Grace. When she met you, her heart truly beat for the first
time, perhaps to be with you always.'' Of course there's a
award for the best family film went to ''The Basket,'' a film about a
teacher who helps a town learn tolerance with the help of a basketball
and an opera. The Best Film for Mature Audiences went to ''The
Patriot,'' a skillfully told saga about the American Revolution starring
In each of these
movies, the characters are wholesome, believable and ''Return to Me.''
has an explicit Christian element.
You can help spark this change in
Hollywood by subscribing to MOVIEGUIDE for $40. Call 805 383-2000.
Copyright 2001 Michael J.