ALEX CROSS Family Movie Review4 min read


Frequently laugh-out-loud funny, with terrific music and colorful characters, Pitch Perfect is justified in its status as this fall's surprise hit, even if it is hindered by a mostly predictable plot and an over-reliance on vulgar humor (see content overview below). Anna Kendrick (Twilight) displays nice range (vocal and comedic) as an aspiring DJ/freshman college student who joins a struggling all-female a cappella group. That a widely diverse mix of personalities will bicker as egos clash, then learn to pull together and do something original and fresh will be foreseen by anyone who's seen the ads for the film (or Sister Act 2), but the actors are all having fun, the romance is sweet and not too forced, and again, the music rocks. (Want a second opinion? Check out Mormon Media Reviews take here).

CONTENT OVERVIEW- Pitch Perfect is rated PG-13, its quality weakened by an unending parade of jokes about promiscuity, arousal, intercourse, anatomy, homosexuality, STD's, rape, and more, with vulgar language about the same. A “riff-off” finds acappella groups trying to out-sing one another using songs about sex. It also has fairly consistent moderate profanity and scenes of vomiting, for those who are bothered by that.

MESSAGES TO DISCUSS- When we try to gratify our pride, satisfy our vain ambition, and/or attempt to control others, we miss out on genuine inspiration (D&C 121:37). Music magnifies joy and chases away sorrow (Isaiah 35:10). “Who am I to judge another, when I walk imperfectly? In the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can't see” (Lord, I Would Follow Thee, Hymns #220).


Some criticized 2008's The Dark Knight for being too dark in tone, its villain too sadistic, its intensity too unrelenting, and its sense of despair too overwhelming. I thought, as I've noted elsewhere, that all of that served a purpose, building to a powerful third act that portrayed humanity's potential for selflessness, honor, and morality in the face of unrelenting evil. Still, take The Dark Knight and subtract its uplifting message about human nature, its brilliant screenplay and direction, and the relief offered by its admittedly dark humor, leaving only violence and tragedy, and you'll have a film like Alex Cross, a joyless, oppressive, and morally murky exercise in cat-and-mouse detective games.

Tyler Perry (best known for dressing in drag to play sassy granny Madea) and Matthew Fox (best known for playing a heroic doctor on TV's Lost) square off and play against type as, respectively, the titular genius detective and a terrifying murderer. Fox, who lost loads of weight to play a sinewy monster, is undeniably the film's best asset. Even though his villain is too sadistic and humorless to truly enjoy (at least Heath Ledger had some fun as The Joker), this is an undeniably riveting performance. Perry doesn't embarrass himself, but neither does he exude enough gravitas and wisdom to fill Morgan Freeman's shoes (Freeman played the character previously). Perry nails the good-natured everyman stuff, but when the script calls for intensity he comes off as forced. Indeed he, as well as the supporting players, too often seem like actors playing roles instead of living and breathing people, and it took me out of the film. The dialogue is often contrived, Rob Cohen's direction is mostly uninspired (honestly, can no one hold a camera still during a fight scene anymore?), and the tone is unrelentingly hopeless.
CONTENT OVERVIEW: Alex Cross is rated PG-13, but it pushes an R with its depictions of torture and menace. The villain breaks a man's arm in a fighting cage and shoots numerous innocent people. The villain and a woman appear to prepare for sex; he ties her to a bed (she's wearing lingerie), then injects her with a drug that paralyzes her while allowing her to feel everything. He cuts off her finger (this happens off-screen but we see her pained reaction) then cauterizes the wound with a flame. Detectives later find the body and all ten fingers in a bowl (implying that the killer continued to torture her); we later learn that she died from a heart attack caused by trauma and shock. An unmarried man and woman are making love and interrupted by a phone call; nothing is really shown, but we hear plenty; the scene is meant to establish their closeness, which could have been done in a more tasteful way (like enjoying a romantic dinner). An explosion kills several people, with flaming bodies flying backward. There's one f-word and several moderate profanities.
MESSAGES TO DISCUSS: Evil must be fought and our families defended (Alma 43:8-9). Revenge begets revenge (Mormon 8:8).

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