Hollywood has been known to offer us ethically misguided heroes in the past. James Bond, for example. But Kinsey may take us to a new low. To make matters worse, this individual's outrageous exploits weren't fiction, even though the movie that pays tribute is full of half-truths.

Director Bill Condon's film celebrates a "scientist" whose research-gathering methods involved child molestation, shoddy experiments, and survey methods that break the rules of credible investigation. From these methods, he came to champion all manner of sexual misbehavior as acceptable animal behavior.

Liam Neeson is earning Oscar buzz for his performance as Kinsey, and Laura Linney's winning raves for her role as his wife. Most mainstream critics, apparently unconcerned that the film is a whitewash of a fraud, are calling this one of the best films of the year.

But religious press critics are doing what they can to draw attention to the film's tendency to cover up details that expose Kinsey for the deceiver and manipulator that he was.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr. (Crosswalk), president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, offers an extensive account of Kinsey's work and influence in his assessment of the film. "The movie is really not a true portrait of Alfred Kinsey at all. The real Alfred Kinsey was a man whose own sexual practices cannot be safely described to the general public and whose interest in sex was anything but objective or scientific."

Tom Neven (Plugged In) addresses ways in which Kinsey's research was flawed, pointing out the poor and selective surveys he conducted. "People willing to talk to a total stranger about their sexual behavior … can hardly be considered a representative sample of the American public. Moreover, Kinsey used questionable statistical analyses to reach his conclusions."

He also analyzes the problems with the movie, which he says are "too vast to itemize." He calls it "propaganda" and says, "The film completely glosses over the immoral and damaging methods Kinsey and his associates used in the course of their research. [The book] Sexual Behavior in the Human Male … contains studies about the sexual response of infants, toddlers and other children. (Kinsey's assistant Wardell Pomeroy has basically admitted that the studies involving children were derived from Kinsey's own experiments.)" He also points out that Kinsey and his wife were "serial adulterers," while the film only acknowledges single affairs. And he concludes that the worldview of the film is "insidious. It says 'science' (as defined by its practitioners) is the only way to know truth; all else is mere opinion and superstition."

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Morality in Media President Robert Peters (Christian Spotlight) says, "In Kinsey's mind, man was merely an animal with a high degree of intelligence; and at the end of the film, in the midst of the credits, we are treated to scene after scene of animals having sex. In Kinsey's mind, apparently no sex was abnormal; and among the types of sex that Kinsey is shown engaging in or endorsing in the film are adultery, bisexuality, homosexuality, group sex, pornography, sadomasochism, and swinging."

He adds, "In the film Kinsey interviews a man who molested hundreds of children, but there is no other indication (unless I missed something) that Kinsey's data about child sexuality came from pedophiles."

David DiCerto (Catholic News Service) says, "Defenders will view the picture as a sober portrait of the man credited with emancipating sex from the shackles of Puritanism. Conversely, critics will question not only the movie's accuracy, but the appropriateness of celebrating a man who many blame for jump-starting the sexual revolution by redefining societal mores and jettisoning inhibition and traditional morality to the relic heap of Victorian prudery."

Depp earns raves for his role in Finding Neverland

Johnny Depp is winning praise and calls for an Oscar nomination for his performance as J. M. Barrie, the famous author of Peter Pan, in Finding Neverland, a new film by director Marc Forster (Monster's Ball).

Finding Neverland sprinkles fiction over the facts in its focus on Barrie's failing marriage and his relationship with a widow, Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Kate Winslet), who is raising four sons. The mix strikes most critics as inspired.

Not Steven D. Greydanus (Decent Films). He praises Depp but concludes, "In the end, Finding Neverland falls back on imagination and metaphor in the face of death itself. Thus a character is told that someone who has died has 'gone to Neverland,' and that to visit the departed in Neverland one need only 'believe.' It's a word that, between this movie and The Polar Express, has been taking a beating lately. No one loves play, fantasy and imagination more than I do. But there's a time for playing pretend, and there's a time when we need to face whatever it is that we actually believe about reality. No matter what that may be, the death of a loved one is no time to be clapping your hands and believing in fairies."

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"The film takes many liberties with the facts, embellishing them to the point of sheer fantasy," says Michael Elliott (Movie Parables). "Somehow, we just know that Barrie would approve. Forster has found the perfect touch for expressing the fancy and fantasy at play within Barrie's mind."

Darrell Manson (Hollywood Jesus) says, "We get an inkling that the idea of Neverland … was a part of Barrie's emotional survival after the death of an older brother. It was his imaginary escape when things were too hard to bear. Neverland is, of course, only in the imagination. Is it better to escape to the imagination or to face reality? No doubt a combination of the two is necessary. When we allow ourselves to believe in such a place as Neverland (or perhaps the Kingdom of God), we open the door to a reality that is beyond us."

Micah Foster (Relevant) raves about the film as a "tearjerker" that will "soften the hardest of hearts. For those … who have recently lost a loved one or haven't fully faced the death of someone they loved, this will cause you to own up to your feelings. Finding Neverland is this fall's most pleasant surprise. Nothing short of genius, it will make you a believer in a land where growing up just isn't an option."

Depp and Forster have enchanted most mainstream critics.

Bridget Jonessequel a Reason to complain

A few years ago, René e Zellweger won raves and an Oscar nomination for her performance as Bridget Jones, the not-so-skinny columnist who became the prize in a tug-of-war between an honorable man (Colin Firth) and a cad (Hugh Grant). In the sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, the two men tussle again as Bridget ponders the prospect of marriage.

But she's not so popular with critics this time around. Since Bridget won so many female fans the first time around, let's hear some of their opinions on the sequel.

Lisa Ann Cockrel (Christianity Today Movies) confesses her love for the original (and for actor Colin Firth), but says the sequel falls short of her expectations. "Frankly, I feel like a lot of the intangible 'heart' of the first movie is replaced here with an ongoing conversation about sex." But she's pleased by the unconventional coverage of couples dealing with "their dirty laundry. And while this is a light comedy … it's good to see two adults, each with their own full life, trying to figure how and if they can fit into the other person's life."

Annabelle Robertson (Crosswalk) compliments Sharon Maguire, who directed the first film. But she criticizes Maguire's successor. "BibanKidron's films, which include … Hookers, Hustlers, Pimps and Their Johns and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar … leave little doubt as to why this sequel dwells so much on Bridget's sex life. In fact, hardly a scene goes by without people in bed or a reference to casual sex. Whether you liked or disliked the last film, you'll like this one much less. A big disappointment."

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Rhonda Handlon (Plugged In) says, "Bridget Jones has to be one of Hollywood's most lovable sinners. Women especially relate to her weight struggles, insecurities, clumsiness and undaunted search for love. Her story resonates with anyone who's ever wondered if love comes in size 14, or struggled with food or substance addictions. If Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason hadn't spent so much time blasting audiences with boorish British banter and universal depictions of immorality, it could have led more of us to question what voices are speaking into the diaries of our own lives."

"I wish I could say something kind about [it]," says Susan Olasky (World), "but I can't. It's an incoherent mess. In the first [film], Bridget was endearing … clumsy but not pathetic, and unintentionally rude but not stupidly coarse. This sequel gives her more poundage and thrusts her into painfully embarrassing situations that make you want to turn your head rather than watch."

Misty Wagner (Christian Spotlight) writes, "I think that true fans of Bridget will not be disappointed." But she adds, "I personally loved this film and laughed out loud a lot."

At the same site, Lucy Pinnington says, "Bridget's idea of happiness is not one which most Christians will share. The movie dwells on the physical aspects of Bridget and Mark's relationship and sex is shown as the best thing about a relationship. The characters' foul mouths are another reason for Christians to shun their company. Bridget is so charming and sweet that you want her to be happy, and watching this film doesn't offer the certainty that she ever will be."

Speaking for the men in the audience, Cliff Vaughn (Ethics Daily) says this sequel "may not hold up as well as Diary, but as sequels go, it's not bad. The British humor is a bit 'randy,' as they say, but Jones' social snafus are priceless. A revelation near [the] film's end feels rather contrived and spoils some of the rhythm, but that's an exception to otherwise fair storytelling."

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Mainstream critics are similarly disappointed with Bridget this time around.

After the Sunsetpulls a heist on moviegoers' cash

Films like The Thomas Crown Affair, Ocean's Eleven, and The Italian Job have brought heist movie to new heights of popularity, and this holiday season looks to continue the trend. After the Sunset follows hard on the heels of Criminal and precedes Ocean's Twelve by just a few weeks. In doing so, it reminds us that Criminal was pretty good, and makes us hope that Ocean's Twelve is better. Film critics are calling Pierce Brosnan's new thriller less-than-thrilling, derivative, and disposable.

Peter T. Chattaway (Christianity Today Movies) says, "It's a classic premise that has been worked into many kinds of films. But [the director] … can't quite find the right tone for his newest project. With so little invested in the characters, and a plot that doesn't make much sense, and some wildly uneven shifts in tone, After the Sunset is the sort of movie that may not find its ideal audience until channel-surfing insomniacs discover it late some evening, long, long after sunset indeed."

Adam R. Holz (Plugged In) says it "deviates little from Brosnan's time-tested (and bankable) stereotype. At times I almost felt is if I was watching a racy Remington Steele reunion show, in which the main character had gone bad." He adds, "[It] reminded me of a similar film … 1999's Entrapment. Both films left me wondering if it's possible to tell these kinds of stories without such demeaning, objectifying portrayals of women."

David DiCerto (Catholic News Service) admits it "has its strengths," and he praises the chemistry of Brosnan and Harrelson. But he says the script keeps "detouring into subplots that go nowhere. In the final analysis … After the Sunset filches freely from past heist flicks (double-dealings, deftly choreographed capers, etc.) without ever really contributing anything new or innovative to the genre."

Evan D. Baltz (Christian Spotlight) says, "None of the characters seem fully developed. True to genre, the criminals are generally the rooting interest. I think this time around I was rooting for a better script. Enjoying a real sunset is probably a better option."

But Michael Elliott (Movie Parables) notes, "For all its faults, it has a mindless entertainment value that no critic can take away." (Is "mindlessness" really a "value"?)

The heist gets foiled by mainstream critics as well.

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Chucky has clearly gone to seed

Eventually, moviegoers are going to figure out that the only way to kill Chucky is to stop spending money on his movies.

But so long as masses of ticket-buyers continue to turn mean-spirited, indulgent, disposable horror films like Seed of Chucky into box office hits, there's sure to be another sequel on the way to dupe them out of their cash yet again.

Seed of Chucky was not screened for press before it opened—in fact, press were notified that they were not allowed to attend sneak previews! What does that tell you?

Nevertheless, once the film opened, a few mainstream critics bothered to sit through it anyway, in hopes that their reviews would reach some readers and save them the trouble of attending such a waste of celluloid.

Tom Neven (Plugged In) may have been the only religious press critic to suffer through it, and his report confirms suspicions: "Seed of Chucky is wretched, repellent and repugnant. Its only values are murder and hatred with a dash of sexual confusion thrown in."

More reviews of recent releases

The Incredibles: Andrew Coffin (World) says, "Pixar has done it again. The Incredibles is not just one of the best family movies of the year; it's one of the best movies of the year, period. The Incredibles … is the first Pixar film not to be rated G, so it's not as suitable for young audiences as the studio's other animated films, but it easily ranks with Pixar's finest achievements."

Josh Hurst (Reveal) raves about "brilliant computer animation," "the loveable, delightfully quirky superheroes," the "perfect" character voices, and the "immeasurable" imagination of Brad Bird. "The world he creates here is deep enough and rich enough to become lost in, and he has a knack for taking familiar action sequences from films like Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi and actually improving them, making them even more exhilarating then they were in their original context." He concludes, "This is the most charming, believable, and enjoyable family I've seen on the big screen in a long time."

At GetReligion, Terry Mattingly ponders the fact that The Nation and The New York Observer are interpreting the film as being driven by a right-wing agenda. After all, the film dares to portray a complete and healthy traditional family.

The Polar Express:Gene Edward Veith (World) says, "The technology is impressive. The hyper-realistic animated figures … are uncanny. The visual impact of the film … is spectacular." But he concludes, "The movie emphasizes the importance of 'believing,' while saying nothing about the content of belief. This movie presents the very act of believing as what is important, no matter what the belief is."

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Michael Karounos (Christian Spotlight), who describes the film as "darkly mysterious and faintly menacing," sees a Christian allegory in the three guides on the childrens' journey: "Santa is the Father figure who rewards belief, the ghost is the Holy Ghost who saves the boy's life, and the Conductor is the Christ-like figure through whom alone the children can go to Santa's city. Seen in such a light, the movie is a striking Christian allegory of seeking God, finding faith, and earning redemption as a reward. The Christian symbols will not be evident to non-believers, but they may give pleasure to believers."

Sideways:Benn Becker (Hollywood Jesus) says, "Alexander Payne … takes characters who do things we don't agree with, yet makes it possible to empathize with them (and often laugh at them). We see how they create their own problems and are their own worst enemies, yet haven't we all done/been that at times? Payne's films seem to have a tenderness lying below the surface, which looks at its characters adoringly despite themselves. That is something we could all take to heart."

Darrel Manson (Hollywood Jesus) recommends it for "the way it speaks to our need to enter into life and into relationships in such a way to experience the fullness of our lives."

Next week: National Treasure and The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie