Longtime film critic asks, 'Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind?'

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  • Little Kahuna Rexburg, ID
    May 8, 2013 11:50 a.m.

    Good morning--
    I do admit that the world around us seems out of control in a lot of ways---the types of movies that come out are a good indicator of that.

    If we're trying to live the gospel the best that we can then we already have the tools to make good decisions. "Give us correct principles so that we can govern ourselves" works for me. :)

    May 8, 2013 8:29 a.m.

    I've been subject to the "eye of the beholder" discussions and Marshall McLuhan's theories in college classes. I have my own belief (which is not official LDS doctrine, by the way) that the Holy Ghost tells us as INDIVIDUALS when something is leading us down the wrong path. Hence, one person may get value out of a particular film while the person in the next seat is getting negative messages.

    That being said, Schindler's list is not on my list. The overexposure to female nudity and sexual exploitation completely overwhelms what should be the main message of the film. The nude ladies in the film are all beautiful and well-figured, even the ones in the gas chamber scene. That's anything but realistic. A better depiction is the 1955 French documentary "Night and Fog" (available on line.) It has nude shots, but they are footage of the actual victims of the holocaust, lined up after being stripped of their clothing.

    I won't be critical of those who can get something from Schindler's list or any other movie, but give those of us finding many of them troublesome a break, okay?

  • Wally West SLC, UT
    May 8, 2013 8:02 a.m.

    re: mark on April 26

    An industry is policing itself, the market regulations appear to be working, & (yet) conservatives still complain.

    to SlopJ30 on 5/1.

    I agree. Though, you may or may not be aware how puritanical/pollyanna the run of the mill Utah mormon is.

    May 8, 2013 6:37 a.m.

    Hey, MapleDon, is it news to you that we live in a Telestial world? For the Church Authorities to prohibit employees who work for their media outlets their choice to exercise their agency would be against the most fundamental of Church doctrine. Even God chose to send us into a mortal world to learn from our own experience. This idea that the LDS Church is lead by a "profit--P.R.O.F.I.T." is annoying, to say the least.

  • Hooky Riverton, UT
    May 7, 2013 8:34 a.m.


    "Unfortunately, while the Church tells its youth to be selective in their entertainment, and that the adults and youth avoid certain forms of "entertainment", they gladly get paid to advertise such material. Akin to having one foot in Zion and another in Sodom."

    What are you referring to?

  • JBQ Saint Louis, MO
    May 7, 2013 5:35 a.m.

    Evil works just like any other military organization. Is it the devil or the deep blue sea? Who knows? You do not take on a strength. You isolate and by pass just like the Germans did in Russia and then surrounded Moscow and Stalingrad. Salt Lake City is an area of strength of morality. Marshall McLuhan called tv a "Vast Wasteland". He believed that the "medium is the message". Hollywood lost its mind a long time ago. Witness murder beliefs against Fatty Arbuckle who had a lifestyle similar to Charlie Sheen. Controversy sells. It is all about money. "Sex and violence" is what drives movies because that is what drives teens in their quest to find an identity. Hollywood just gives them what they want and takes their money in return. We have to return to a moral society. Hollywood won't allow Salt Lake City to dictate to the rest of society because that will stop the money flow". That is also why there is a move by liberals to instigate reform of the FCC to loosen restrictions even more.

  • BigCougar Bountiful, UT
    May 6, 2013 1:34 a.m.

    This is why I love my Clearplay DVD player. I can download the most current filters from the website and then rent and watch any movie and adjust the filters to block out whatever objectionable content I don't want to see. It gives me great peace of mind, especially with some of those sneaky PG-13 movies that will slip in something really graphic and indecent. My DVD player will just block it out.

    I have one on every TV in my house, I just wish it worked on Cable programming. Maybe I can order a "Filthy Filter" for that! Lol!

  • John20000 Cedar Hills, UT
    May 2, 2013 11:00 a.m.

    Hollywood should allow individuals to edit movies to suit their individual needs.

  • FT1/SS Virginia Beach, VA
    May 1, 2013 2:30 p.m.

    Hollywood is designed to destroyed the human mind. I stopped watching R rated movies when I came back to the church a year ago. There's a big difference on what I think about today, and a year ago, and easier to control. The only R rated movies I now watch are Historical only. "Passion of Christ" to remind me of the suffering of our Savior, "Saving Private Ryan" to remind me of my Grandfather just to name a few.

  • SlopJ30 St Louis, MO
    May 1, 2013 10:44 a.m.

    Having grown up in LDS culture, I am well aware of the attitudes about movies, music, etc. Many of you seem to have really bought into everything you've heard over the pulpit. If I had a nickel for every time I've heard someone moan about "R-rated movies" I could retire comfortably.

    The irony is that so many Mormons would call today's movies "shallow," yet in my view basing your judgment of a film on a rating, or a count of four-letter words, or the number of nipples shown, is the epitome of shallow. So little written here makes any mention of storytelling, of imagination, of the ability to let you experience something from another POV. Maybe it's because another POV might require you to take off the Mormon goggles for a minute.

    As Richard Dutcher said (paraphrasing) "It's better to tell an R-rated truth than a G-rated lie." Too many of you confuse "quality" (or "truth") with "squeaky clean." The best thing you can say about a movie is "well, that was certainly inoffensive!" It's a shame.

  • John C. C. Payson, UT
    April 30, 2013 2:18 p.m.

    It's such a compliment to be called a prude in today's environment. We proud prudes can also find good information from the Dove Foundation's web site and get some good movies legally cleaned up with Clearplay.

  • Airness Sandy, UT
    April 30, 2013 11:02 a.m.

    It's extremely important for people to make up their own decisions regarding what media is appropriate for their particular family. The MPAA is broken and although many people still reference it, they are looking for something more specific. I recently read an article from Iowa State University regarding movie information and they surveyed people regarding movie ratings. The majority of their audience said they want age specific ratings and maturity content ratings for categories like sex/nudity, profanity, violence, etc.

    People have mentioned some great resources like imdb(dot)com Dove family reviews, the Movie Show with Doug Wright, etc. but one essential website was left out. It's ok(dot)com - your family's media guide. I've found it to be a good resource because it allows anyone to log on and review movies as well as give a specific age rating to them. That way I can see what people like me are saying about movies. I even get my movie times for theaters there. I get movie recommendations all the time from people on ok(dot)com.

  • The Authority Richfield, UT
    April 30, 2013 10:01 a.m.

    Seriously Hicks, The Rocketeer? It was super clean. I think there was one mild shot of cleavage in the whole movie. No swears, no graphic violence, no sexual content, just a fun little movie. Robin Hood Prince of Thieves? The most offensive thing in that was Kevin Costner's on and off again accent.
    Dark Knight, yeah it pushed the limit with violence. However, when you re-watch it, you'll find most of the violence is implied. However, Dark Knight Rises didn't push things nearly so far. Both of those films were intelligent and had very little in the form of offensive language or sexual content. However, I wouldn't let my kids watch them. Although, if you've ever read the Book or Mormon, you'll find stuff a lot more violent and gory than either of those two films.
    We Bought a Zoo? Great little movie, but full of disrespectful attitudes toward parent figures, some swears and a few other things that are questionable, but most of it is resolved by the end.
    My point is that not every movie has to be family friendly, and I agree that ratings are not to be relied upon.

  • oldschool Farmington, UT
    April 30, 2013 8:47 a.m.

    I've always appreciated Hicks for his innate sense of knowing a good movie when he sees one regardless of its rating. By "good," I mean one that I consider worthwhile. It might be entertaining, inspiring, clever, insightful, really funny, thought-provoking or instructive -- a movie that I would recommend to a friend or a family member. Some critics, and I'm thinking of a former critic for the News, either lack Hicks' good sense or the courage to write what they really think because they fear criticism from peers or others. A good number of critics favor almost any movie that promotes liberalism and sexual "freedom" and are willing to overlook major shortcomings, such as ridiculous plots and sophomoric and unrealistic dialogue. Those critics predictably pan movies that celebrate principles that they obviously detest, such as belief in God and the courage to live a chaste and virtuous life. Some of them would hate "It's a Wonderful Life" if it came out today. I trusted Hicks to write what was good and bad about a movie, and I was seldom disappointed and saw some real gems that I otherwise would have missed. Thanks, Chris.

  • LVIS Salt Lake City, UT
    April 30, 2013 8:22 a.m.

    Burley, ID

    The movie "Glory". There are many others, but that's one.

  • The Caravan Moves On Enid, OK
    April 29, 2013 6:58 p.m.

    "The Rocketeer" pushed the limits of it's rating? Can't remember if that movie was rated "PG" or "PG-13" (I think it was "PG") but I don't remember it pushing any limits at all. There was zero sex, zero nudity, some violence (some fighting and shooting) but no gore. Darn good movie, and the music was flat-out AWESOME.

    So good I bought a copy probably 15 years ago.

  • mark Salt Lake City, UT
    April 26, 2013 9:33 p.m.

    "The ratings system was set up by the Big Hollywood Studios to keep private groups or government entities from putting together something that might actually be meaningful. That's why there has never been a workable adult rating criteria for Hollywood films."

    I think the system is very workable. I never pay attention to it at all, and I go see what I want to. Works very well.

    "Playing the "what if your parents were standing next to you?" card is just overwrought and ridiculous (If that were the case, none of would have likely been conceived.)"

    HaHa. I laughed out loud. Very funny.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    April 26, 2013 8:53 p.m.

    Hollywood just needs to focus on uplifting, wonderful stories like the Book of Mormon and the Old Testament. Instead all they seem to do is violence.

  • Henry Drummond San Jose, CA
    April 26, 2013 7:24 p.m.

    The ratings system was set up by the Big Hollywood Studios to keep private groups or government entities from putting together something that might actually be meaningful. That's why there has never been a workable adult rating criteria for Hollywood films. With sixty percent of movies not even breaking even at the box office they can't afford to turn anyone away. They haven't lost their minds, they just don't want to lose their shirts.

  • Shimlau SAINT GEORGE, UT
    April 26, 2013 7:14 p.m.

    mapledon; You lost me somewhere. but at least I read your comment (several times in fact)

  • SanAntonioreader San Antonio, TX
    April 26, 2013 7:11 p.m.

    I claim the privilege of watching movies according to the dictates of my own conscience, and allow all men and women the same privilege, let them watch how, where, or what they may.

  • KJB1 Eugene, OR
    April 26, 2013 7:08 p.m.

    The best movies are good stories, good stories need to reflect life, and sometimes life contains sexuality, profanity, violence, etc. Not every story does, but some of them.

    Playing the "what if your parents were standing next to you?" card is just overwrought and ridiculous (If that were the case, none of would have likely been conceived.) There are plenty of films out there for every age and personal standard, and with the Internet, there's no excuse for not doing research to find out what you think would be appropriate. It's your job to teach your kids standards, not Hollywood, and not everything needs to be childproofed.

    You guys love to tout "personal responsibility." Doesn't that apply here?

  • Shimlau SAINT GEORGE, UT
    April 26, 2013 7:07 p.m.

    rvalens2: you're right it is hard but not impossible. I have three in mind, 'The Passion of The Christ', 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'Schindlers List'. They are all three moving and thought provoking movies, even though when they came out they were rated 'R'.

  • Sambonethegreat Logan, UT
    April 26, 2013 4:13 p.m.


    Go check out the film "The Changeling" (1980). I've seen Disney films that contain far more cussing, violence, and suggestive material.

  • MapleDon Springville, UT
    April 26, 2013 4:06 p.m.


    "The LDS Church's instruction to our youth does not rely in any way on the ratings system, and certainly is an international standard: Check out the latest "For the Strength of Youth" pamphlet on lds.org"

    Unfortunately, while the Church tells its youth to be selective in their entertainment, and that the adults and youth avoid certain forms of "entertainment", they gladly get paid to advertise such material. Akin to having one foot in Zion and another in Sodom. Thus, many, many members of the Church don't filter anything.

    It's quite obvious that, though Church leaders spout standards and finger members for sinning, profit outweighs principle. Actions always speak much louder than words. And when standards aren't upheld at the highest levels, it should be no wonder that they aren't at the lower levels either.

  • Country Airman Logan, UT
    April 26, 2013 3:58 p.m.

    Ugh, reading these comments and the drivel they contain make me laugh. Indil135 why do you care if someone brings their kid to Transformers, it is not your position to judge them. They maybe great parents and have different views than you do. As far as the rating system goes, its government controlled and they do a pretty good job. Most people find the way they rate the movies pretty excellent. If you feel that the movies are too hard core for you or your families than go to a G rated movie. These movies are created as a fantasy and if you think they will affect your kids or your thinking than there is a dilemma with your moral code. Also the directors and the actors have their own agency to be able to choose what kind of movie they want to create.

  • Strider303 Salt Lake City, UT
    April 26, 2013 3:44 p.m.

    I rely upon "The Movie Show" for some guide to movies, but not exclusively. A brief synopsis and some other reviews help and since I'm decades removed from the desired demographic audience I try to see again some moldy oldies. Hollywood is out to make money and appealing to base instincts, means a potentially wider audience, so they go for the gold.

    I do think that many in Hollywood are craftsmen at making movies and telling stories, but I just don't like the stories they choose to tell. Just in passing why does it seem, to me at least, that the Brits are better at casting and directing movies and TV shows? I choose BBC and British cinema over American almost any day of the week.

  • CP Tooele, UT
    April 26, 2013 2:44 p.m.

    I read the article and I am in total agreement. For quite awhile now I have felt that those in the film making industry don't care what they make and put on the screen. I stopped going to movies quite awhile ago because I am not going to pay the price of movie ticket to watch trash. That's also why we don't have cable or any kind of satellite tv in our house either..it's not worth the price you have to pay. I miss the good ol' days when you could go to a movie without covering your eyes and your ears of yourself and your children. So, I for one agree with Chris Hicks with his statements in this article.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    April 26, 2013 2:05 p.m.

    That a prudish DN film critic tows the church line is not news, nor is any story that just throws rocks at 'hollywood'. What's missing is the question...why aren't people able to make decisions about this themselves, and pass this skill on to their children? Stop expecting society to dumb down enough to fit your needs. If you don't like movies, don't go. And don't lose your mind over it.

  • Beaver Native Garland, UT
    April 26, 2013 2:01 p.m.

    Oops! The last sentence on my previous post didn't come out right, but I think you can get what I intended to say.

  • Beaver Native Garland, UT
    April 26, 2013 1:48 p.m.

    Sambonethegreat, I would agree with you in assuming that not all bad movies are rated R and that not all R-rated movies are bad, but ratings do serve their purpose and give you an idea as to the content. I would not watch nor let my children watch over 99.9% of R-rated movies. There are extremely-rare exceptions, such as documentary or historical films that realistically show the horrors of war or the movie, "The Passion of Christ". Similarly, I would not watch 95% of PG-13 and about 60% of PG films, based on content. I look at the MPAA rating and reject looking into R- and PG-13-rated films unless I see a reason to dig for more information. The title of the film often gives a good clue, and I rely on sites that give a better description of the actual content, such as the Internet Movie Data Base or Dove Family Reviews. My standards are mostly based on language, suggestive content, violence and subject matter. If I would feel uncomfortable watching it with a daughter, I don't watch it.

  • rvalens2 Burley, ID
    April 26, 2013 1:33 p.m.


    I've been racking my head trying to come up an R-rated movie that would not be "bad" for my family. I couldn't come up with one.

    However, perhaps you meant "bad" as in poorly made. If that's the case, then your statement is true. There are many lousy, as in poorly made, movies in every rating including PG.

  • Brando Provo, UT
    April 26, 2013 1:09 p.m.

    On imdb.com (the internet movie database) there is a cool feature on most of the individual movie pages. Click on "view content advisory" next to "parents guide" underneath all of the rating info. There is usually a very thorough treatment of exactly what's in any movie you might be considering going to see.

  • Sambonethegreat Logan, UT
    April 26, 2013 10:13 a.m.

    Well, it appears there is hope after all. There are some very insightful thoughts and responses on here. What I meant by "Mormon cultural myth" is that far too often we have members of the LDS Church assuming R-rated movies are always bad, but anything not R-rated is okay to watch. No church manual or handbook anywhere says anything about MPAA ratings.

    I was simply trying to say not all bad movies are rated-R and not all R-rated movies are bad. The MPAA is a terrible system and I'm simply bemused that so many people put so much stock in it when infinitely better resources are available to parents.

    This is a great book that every parent should read in my opinion.

  • Indi135 162 S Marble Canyon Dr., UT
    April 26, 2013 9:33 a.m.

    I am not sure what SambonetheGreat meant by "Mormon cultural myth would move on to greener pastures already." But, in my opinion, if we follow the advice of not letting the MPAA make choices for us, we would become much more restrictive, not more free, with what we let our children watch and what we watch ourselves.

    When I went to see a Transformers movie there was a family with small children behind me. I was shocked that the parents didn't take the children out 5 seconds in as we followed a woman in underwear up the stairs. But as the protagonists began to sneak into war ravaged Chicago the children behind me started to cry insistently. Their parents chose to angrily shshsh them, rather than leave a movie that was obviously not age appropriate for their children.

    Forget the APAA's ability to judge appropriate family content, it seems even when we do watch movies with our children beside us we can be incompetent to rate them appropriately.

  • Eliyahu Pleasant Grove, UT
    April 26, 2013 9:09 a.m.

    I see a lot of movies advertised that probably never should have been made in the first place, not just because there's too much violence, profanity or sexual content, but simply because they're junk with stupid or inane plots, unlikable characters, a reliance on special effects and explosions to take the place of good story writing, and little to recommend them.

  • I know it. I Live it. I Love it. Salt Lake City, UT
    April 26, 2013 9:09 a.m.

    I want to share what I feel about one of the biggest excuses we tell ourselves with media.

    I enjoyed The King's Speech. But in retrospect I wouldn't want it in my home without being completely edited (not just having a PG-13 version). Why? Because keeping my home safe means keeping a clean house.

    While I believe in showing all human beings respect, I wouldn't place a friend with Tourette Syndrome in a day care. I value a safe, clean, and virtuous teaching environment for children before pleasing the 'ethical etiquette' and emotions of us mature adults who can take a back seat. With maturity, children will learn about Tourette Syndrome and all aspects of life, but in a time and place and more importantly an appropriate way to learn.

    Historical accuracy doesn't mean we need a slow motion, high resolution close-up of Marie Antoinette's execution at the guillotine. History can be taught soberly and truthfully without painting a picture of blood that provokes thoughts of horror in people.

    There is nothing exclusive about respecting others, preserving history and protecting family. And nothing takes priority before our family. Period.

  • mark Salt Lake City, UT
    April 26, 2013 9:05 a.m.

    "Hey !! Many Directors and Actors do have their children beside them while they work....This is why so many of them grow up into drug addiction, incurable entitlement, and other beliefs of a fantasy world"

    Wow. Talk about a fantasy world. What's it like to live in a world made of your own fantasy?

  • I know it. I Live it. I Love it. Salt Lake City, UT
    April 26, 2013 9:01 a.m.


    The first presidency has asked many to speak at General Conference on this. They used terms they understood, but the meaning was clear and not exclusive to MPAA ratings. We protect ourselves, our families and our homes. That hasn't changed. It is not going to change.

    Informed parenting should not be substituted by MPAA ratings. This has been said also. We do not need an "official statement" to know what is right. Such a statement will only say what we already know to be true.

  • Red Salt Lake City, UT
    April 26, 2013 8:30 a.m.

    Hollywood has for sure lost their mind!

    but they really never had much of one.

    I had my kids watch Goonies based on my memory of it being a great show. After the 20th cuss word they came in and said this was a very bad show. Same for Ferris Buellers day off.

    Clearly "our" standards from youth were different than today.

    We need to keep the standards as high as possible.

  • Nayajja Ephraim, UT
    April 26, 2013 7:47 a.m.

    @Sambonethegreat: The LDS Church's instruction to our youth does not rely in any way on the ratings system, and certainly is an international standard: Check out the latest "For the Strength of Youth" pamphlet on lds.org .

    The Church is doing as Joseph Smith suggested: "I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves."

  • Willybee71 GARDEN CITY, NY
    April 26, 2013 7:45 a.m.

    Hey !! Many Directors and Actors do have their children beside them while they work....This is why so many of them grow up into drug addiction, incurable entitlement, and other beliefs of a fantasy world, one created by their parents. Those that so voraciously pay money to watch, idolize, and try to live those fantasy lives court the same fates.

  • Big Bubba Herriman, UT
    April 26, 2013 12:01 a.m.

    I agree that relying on the rating system alone is an unwise approach. For example, Titanic's sex and nudity gets a pg-13 rating while a war movie portraying historical violence with no nudity or sex gets an R rating. Kind of backwards if you ask me.

  • Sambonethegreat Logan, UT
    April 25, 2013 11:05 p.m.

    "Simply put, relying on the Motion Picture Association of America to make choices for you or your children is a mistake."

    I really, really, really wish the LDS Church would plainly state this so that the so-called "No R-rated movies" Mormon cultural myth would move on to greener pastures already.

    International church should = international standards