Specials: Critics on Cinderella Man & Batman, We3, Radiohead, "Narniacs"

Today’s specials:

    I don’t get it. The film is such a calculated crowdpleaser, and so focused on self-reliance, while Christian faith is only acknowledged… not affirmed. There’s nothing truly challenging, revealing, or surprising about the story. Sure, it’s technically well-executed, but really… what does the film do for the soul?

    Critics who don’t like it had better watch their backs…

    I’m very surprised that mainstream critics aren’t falling over each other in a rush to praise this superbly acted, thoughtful, unconventionally strong superhero film.
    And yet they say almost nothing about it.
    Stop the madness. Here’s the secret.
    A) They seize their moment in the spotlight to say they’re better than U2 (Coldplay)
    B) They seize their moment in the spotlight to call U2 “wankers.”

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  • Trent

    I am the Dr. *and* Kaylee. (Tied at 63%).

    Which makes sense, I guess, because I flirt incessantly with myself, and am really in love with me, but just can’t show it…

  • Joel Buursma

    I thought the Narnia article was weird. I agree that the explanation of Deeper Magic sounds similar (although not identical to) to some core Christian doctrines. But SOME explanation is needed for why Aslan becomes alive that “works” for this fictional universe called Narnia. I don’t see why Lewis’ line should be removed, since it is in the book and people have still read the book and not known Aslan is a Christ figure. [grump, grump]

    Now, having said that, I think there are some lines in some of the later books that are even more exclusively Christian than the Deeper Magic stuff (and thus would presumably pose greater problems to film-makers). I guess they’ll deal with those problems when they come to them.

  • Neb

    I am Zoe: yesssss!

  • Eriol

    Ouch. Maybe he and Apple Martin will be able to help each other out when they’re older… in the Serenity character quiz, I tested as River. My brothers and I don’t know exactly what that means, but they see it as a confirmation of my insanity.

  • jasdye

    yeah, who isn’t?

    oh, wait, I think Jonathan Rosenbaum, in his review of Cinderella Man – which, for his fairly predictable socialist reasons, he lauded – also leaned a bit in favor of Night Shift, for much the same reason.

    I just watched it ‘cuz it starred the Henry Winkler (and it was on tv some years ago). Which probably helps to explain my favoritism toward the Waterboy (“What mother doesn’t know, won’t hurt mother.”) and Arrested Development, both having decidedly anti-Fonz roles for Winkler, which he does a good job with. By the way, I do like Howard’s narration on AD.

  • mark


    I feel exactly the same way you do about Howard’s movies. It’s something my brother and I discovered several years ago and we’ve always wondered why. They are usually topics of interest. Without exception, they are well crafted. However, with the exception of Apollo Thirteen they have never moved me. The only other one I have even found entertaining was Nightshift and I’m embarrassed to admit that I saw it.

  • jasdye

    I don’t know why Howard’s movies always leave me feeling like I’ve just somehow deflated a part of my soul along the way. It’s probably just a personal thing. I don’t know if anybody else feels that way.

    But I can watch a total piece of garbage – heck, I often do – and not feel as hollow. Maybe because I expect more out of his films. I don’t think anybody’s ever expected Opie to be the next Kurosawa, Hitchcock or even Ed Wood, but maybe my expectations are too high. Or too low.

    Is it something that you feel too? Just curious. Speaking of the myth of redemptive violence, that reminds me of a Ron Howard / Mel Gibson soul-less joint, “Ransom.”

    Maybe that’s worth an investigation.

  • BethR

    I was going to say that Christian critics are saying “whoopee” for Cinderella Man because of another aspect of being of the world–they’ve bought the “myth of redemptive violence.”

    But the previous comments make a lot of sense, too.

  • mark


    Thanks for the exchange. There’s a lot to think about.

    By the way. Why are Ron Howard’s films so soul less?

  • jasdye

    Mark, lovin’ this iron sharpening iron bit. Even though, again, I’m speaking out of my butt, since I haven’t read much of Eldredge and haven’t seen Cinderella Man. A more principaled man would stop at that statement, but I am not he.

    As far as Cindy Man (‘cuz I like how that sounds), it sounds like he is removing himself from his family not by the act of boxing itself, but by taking on such a – as the movie falsely portrays him – killer.

    As far as the fall, I am in complete agreement, although I think in the act of brevity (and maybe PC posturing?) I may have left out that I felt that God wasn’t cursing Adam and Eve, but merely clarifying their roles, in a sense. They cursed themselves by their act. I’m not a theologian, but I think that’s a fairly orthodox view (remember, I’m speaking as a madman). I don’t think, however, that 1) Eve deceived Adam. It says, in fact, that Eve was deceived. Not first, just that she was deceived. Adam went in fully aware, that’s my take on it. 2) Androgyny, pantogyny… I don’t think that’s our biggest concern, as males. It’s in NOT taking the priestly role seriously. Which is evident certainly here, in the major metropolitan areas, like Chicago and my neighborhood, Humboldt Park. Personally, I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with you teaching your son to box and play the violin. Heck, you’re INVOLVED in his life.

    And, as a teacher, I’m sure you can appreciate your involvement in his life. If by any means you see what I see on a daily basis, you will agree. Having a father in the household who fulfills fatherly roles (including providing for, educating, protecting, and caring for, as well as praying and leading to the Lord) makes all the difference in a young man’s and woman’s life. When my dad lost his job and we went on welfare, I – to this day – had never felt so emasculated. Even though he was never that strong, certainly didn’t have a reputable or high-paying job, it was his manhood in that simple blue-collar job.

    Anyway, enough ramblin’ on. Let’s Get Ready to…


  • mark

    Gary, thank you for clarifying what you were saying. I wrote out a response to what you had to say because I believe that we are still in strong disagreement, however when it comes to what the movie was saying, I am clearly speaking in ignorance. So until I see the movie just let me say thank you for responding.

    Jasdye, since we have both read Wild at Heart and we haven’t seen the movie I think I can answer you on an equal footing. You mention that Adam was standing next to Eve. I believe that is correct. If you are saying that it was the fall that led to Man’s ruling over woman, I think you are in serious error. I Timothy says that it is the order of creation and woman’s gullibility that are the reason God ordained male leadership. The fact is that the first moral failure of man was in not preventing his wife from leading. Just as Eve convinced Adam that eating the fruit was the spiritually mature thing to do, society has been emasculating males by telling them that androgyny is actually the masculine way.

    The incredible irony I have found at this site, and please correct me if I am wrong, is that the male boxer in Cinderella Man is has been soundly chastised for supporting his family by means of boxing. Yet, the woman in Million Dollar Baby was in no way criticized for participating in a barbaric sport simply for the enjoyment of it.

  • jasdye

    Good point, Gary.

    I probably won’t see Cinderella Man for the same reason I haven’t seen A Beautiful Mind yet. It’s a Ron Howard film, and Howard has a way of making movies w/o souls. I don’t know how he does it, but everytime I walk away from one of his movies, I feel hollow on the inside.

    Anyway, getting back to Eldridge and his call to the wild. If he is correct and we, as men, have an yearning for the wild rather than paradise, isn’t heaven a forgery since it is, Biblically speaking, a reconciliation back to Eden, a second Eden in fact? I think Eldridge missed a much larger truth in his skimming (literally) of the first few chapters of Genesis. The man was standing next to the woman when she ate the forbidden fruit, no? God’s commandment in line with that utter moral failure was that Adam would rule – he would have to lead the way. The only thing men are interested in leading is toward self-destructive habits or toward self. War, domestic violence, abandoned mothers and babies, these all point to the fact that we – in a Daniel-ic call I’m crying over and desiring repentance for the sins of my gender – are not doing our job in the way God desires us to do. Now, obviously, this is my take, but I think it’s a far cry – that of household and societal priests and accountables (in highest regard of love for all) – from that of Eldredge or that of others who seem to take a selfish view of love, as is portrayed in the view of the movie that Gary portrayed.

    Unlike my love, which is not at allll selfish.

  • Gary Scott

    I appreciate what Mark had to say, but Mark missed my point. I was not at all saying that Christians should not dream, plan, and thus “enjoy God and glorify Him forever.” Qutie the contrary.

    My point was in the context of the film, which Mark has yet to see. I have not read “Wild at Heart” so I cannot comment about that directly, but let me try to restate what I was trying to say about the film and what the Christian critics are saying that is troubling Jeffrey so much.

    Jim Braddock was afraid (as portrayed in the film) of poverty, of having to let his family take care of his kids, of going on welfare, of not having a marketable skill. He thought that the only way he could make money was to box. He had already stated, when his wife had called him to faith and prayer, that he had had enough of prayer. He was a man portrayed as driven by his fears to rescue himself from his fears. His wife pleaded with him to take a different road, even to save face in doing so, for the sake of the family. She didn’t want him injured so he could not work. Or, worse yet, killed in the ring by a man who had already killed 2 others boxing. But Jim stands firm and turns his back on his wife and children [ironically] for the sake of his wife and children.

    Thus, I contend, that Jim should have given up his dream of boxing to meet his needs and should have trusted God and his wife’s wise, loving counsel instead. Jim could have gotten work doing other things. He had already made a name for himself leading up to the Max Baer fight. Who wouldn’t hire him?

    So, I am just saying that sometimes the really Manly thing to do is to put our fears, or our wants, or our dreams aside when God calls us to in the tough times. This doesn’t take away our Manhood and it always makes my wife see me as Godly, virile, and sexy.

  • jasdye

    A further distinction, though, Mark, would be to say that, according to Eldridge, men have been robbed of that need to be rescuers. That we have been tamed and domesticated and that, in effect, has caged us when our hearts have a calling to be wild in the way God made us. My argument is that JE may have some valid points. And I think they are true and real for him. And for a lot of men in the church. And maybe that’s a part of the reason why the Church has such a hard time attracting Godly men (and not such a hard time attracting vultures, but that’s an argument for another time), because we are not being challenged.

    But his idea of what makes a man a man is both ludicrous and secular. I couldn’t get past the first chapter. My reservations about him were confirmed when he proposed that God made a mistake in placing Adam in the Garden of Eden, that we’ve wanted to go back into the wild – where we were created, apparently – since.

    i’ll finish my thought later.


  • mark

    I’m probably closer to agreeing with you on Eldridge than I came across. I was able to stand about half of Wild at Heart. The same amount I could get through of The Prayer of Jabez and The Purpose Driven Life. Let’s not even talk about “I found it.” (I may be dating myself with that last one) My problem with them is that they take way too long to state what should be an incredibly elementary truth and as such probably end up confusing people that there is more to what they are saying than there is.
    It’s been awhile since I read Wild at Heart so I may be wrong but what I took away from it wasn’t that women wanted to be rescued and that men wanted to rescue them, but that women wanted someone who could and men wanted to be able to. I took great comfort as a child that my father was successful, had integrity, and a right hook that could stop a charging buffaloe. I’m also glad that he gave me my first pair of boxing gloves when I was six, starting me on 11 years of piano lessons the same year, and made sure I got my BA, M.Ed., and am working on my Ed.D. My six year old son got his first pair of boxing gloves this year and he starts violin in the fall.
    Now we can both be in trouble jasdye.

  • jasdye

    One of the regards of Eldridge’s work is that, beginning with his first, “The Sacred Romance” women have been a target audience, and have often fallen for his universalist, ‘Romantic’ claptrap probably harder than men, at least in my experience.

    My friends, wonderful people of course, are huge Eldridge endorsers – to my bane. Honestly, at times, it has been a test of friendship on my part. What I’ve discovered (and he does have some good points, it’s just his theology is craptacular and he tries to make universal claims to his experience and outlook) is that he believes that women desire to be rescued and men need to do the rescuing. It is very macho. But not necessarily (again, not from what I understand of him) that men lead their households out of arrogance. Then again, he does seem arrogant to me.

    Oooh, I’m gonna get in a heap of trouble for this one.

  • mark

    I have not seen Cinderella Man. I intend to at the first opportunity but I want to make it clear this has nothing to do with the movie. It has to do with what I have read. I wish Justinw had gone on with what he had to say because he was definitely on the right track. “Wild at Heart” while being far from perfect was on the right track. Christian Manhood is an endangered species. That is why when something like Promise Keepers, in its early years, and “Wild at Heart” come along is resonates within us. God did create men and women differently, but society has made us bury that deep. When something comes along that touches us with who we are created to be, society, both in the church and out, focus immediately at all the imperfections and slam it back into the ground where we think it belongs. Then we congratulate ourselves on our sophistication, and screwtape laughs.

    To be direct; Cinderella Man, Wild at Heart, and Promise Keepers reach female audiences for the same reason they reach males. Women are looking for the Godly ideal of Manhood just as men should be striving to achieve it. Gary, there are so many people buying into “Scripture tells us to give up our dreams…and trust Him to care for us.” that our churches are filled with people devoid of ambition. James 4:13-17 very clearly establishes that we are to have dreams, commit them to the Lord, and then pursue them.

    The Tragedy of our current society is that it has destroyed the family. This destruction is directly attributable to the destruction of Godly manhood. I am thankful for anything that attempts to address this situation even if it does come with warts. If Cinderella Man fits in this category I know that I am going to enjoy seeing it.

  • Gary Scott

    My take on the Christian critics is that, like all of us on some points, have become of the world instead of just in the world. The film is excellently made. It does draw one in. So, it is easy, perhaps too easy to give it high marks. There were many points that spoke truth.

    On the other hand, Max Baer was made out as an evil, Mr. T like character from Rocky III. And Jim did give no consideration to his wife who he clearly adored.

    Scripture tells us to give up our dreams and fears and trust Him to care for us. This film tells us to pursue our dreams based on our fears to care for ourselves. But it is written so we feel good about it at the end. We are entertained. Satan appears as a white light or however the scripture paints the image.

    I am not sure what Justin W. was getting at regarding John Eldridge because I think Cinderella Man showed appeal to the female reviewers too. It is easy, I think, to confuse art well done with good message. Like the homosexual community, Christians often try hard to fit the prevalent culture in with their beliefs.

  • Jeffrey Overstreet


    That’s a very astute connection.

    Somehow, many Christian men still equate Christianity with a sort of macho superiority. After all, if God made men “heads of their households” then they’ve got the right not only to lead, but to condescend to anyone who dares suggest they don’t know everything or get everything right. Right?

  • Justin

    Christian critics are gaga over Cinderella Man because of the same reasons they loved Joh Eldridge’s “Wild at Heart”…

  • Anders

    Discovered NME I see :)