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“Your mind is the scene of the crime.”

Review updated July 19, 2010

“I nception,” written and directed by Christopher Nolan , is one of the most complicated sci-fi thrillers you will ever see. The premise is that professional thieves called “extractors” invade people’s dreams to steal information via a drug-induced sleep that is shared by two or more people while connected to a briefcase-sized dispenser. Cobb ( Leonardo DiCaprio ) and his team hire themselves out as the sleep thieves who risk pain and even permanent loss of consciousness while wandering through the surreal landscapes of other people’s dreams . Eventually, Cobb wants to quit, but he is convinced to do one last job, the most dangerous yet, in exchange for having murder charges against him dropped, and being able to see his children once again. To do so, he has to perform an “inception”: plant an idea in someone’s head.

Cobb’s dilemma is that he performed a sleep experiment with his wife that had unintended results and indirectly led to her haunting his dreams with potentially disastrous consequences. Putatively, his quest is to thwart a malignant corporate entity from expanding its power. The more important purpose of the job for Cobb (and the viewer) is for him to rectify his past mistake and purge himself of the guilt that has crippled his life.

Cobb’s team includes Ariadne ( Ellen Page, aka Elliot Page ), Hardy ( Joseph Gordon-Levitt ), and several others, each with assigned tasks and skills. As you watch the movie, keep in mind that every time they utilize the suitcase, they descend one layer deeper into a person’s mind. The norm is two levels, but the last job calls for a descent to the third level, with the unsettling possibility that a mistake or dream-death will leave the person stranded in a fourth level called “limbo” from which there is no return.

The character of Ariadne imparts a mythic aspect to the film’s plot, allowing it to be read as a quest myth as famously defined by Joseph Campbell in Hero with a Thousand Faces . (Campbell’s categories were distilled by Stuart Voytilla in the very useful text Myth & the Movies: Discovering the Myth Structure of 50 Unforgettable Films , which I use in my film class and is accessible to a general audience.)

For those familiar with Freudian theory, it will be helpful to think of the film as an existential march through depth psychology. Kierkegaard’s phrase, “leap of faith,” is used three times in the movie, and the dream-world’s layers roughly correspond to the superego and the id , with their associated characteristics. The superego, as you might expect, has lots of guns, while the id contains the closely-guarded secret. Additionally, viewers who have had Psychology 101 will have fun spotting the categories of Freudian behavior. “ Projections ” describe the phantom people who inhabit the dream, but numbered among his core issues there are also examples of crisis, regression, repression, avoidance, denial, and displacement—to name the most obvious. (I don’t think anyone will miss the blatant symbolism of the knife.)

The introduction of the term “limbo,” also, raises religious connotations, as the job is performed while everyone is in a plane, a figurative “heaven,” thus juxtaposing metaphysical poles of existence with the objective being to escape limbo and return to the “heaven” of the plane.

Nolan’s script is remarkably clever, and the rules of the dream world are consistent and logical. Every 10 minutes spent in the first level represents one week at the second level, six months at the third level, and an indeterminate time in limbo. Thus, a ten hour flight could potentially represent 35 years of aging in the third level, and more, if one were in limbo that whole time.

Although there are some regrettable instances of emphatic blasphemy—“Jesus Christ” (2), “Jesus” (2), “G**-damn” (6), “My God” (2), “For G-d’s sakes” (1), “God” (1), “hell” (8), “*sshole” (2), “damn” (2), there are no inappropriate sex scenes or gory deaths.

Christopher Nolan proves once again that he is the most intelligent filmmaker working in Hollywood, crafting art out of genre vehicles like “ The Dark Knight ” and now “Inception.” This one is a must-see, if you are not squeamish about violence.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 reads:

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

Great filmmakers like Nolan, yearning toward the eternity hidden in their hearts, and lacking any new way in which to define it, retreat into the metaphysics of the mind. That is why the ultimate conflict in the movie takes place between Cobb sleeping on the plane and Cobb desperately trapped in the dreamworld. The juxtaposition of limbo and its damning potential, with the peaceful assurance of Cobb sleeping in the “heavens” (on the plane) signifies the metaphysical struggle that takes place out of the body and in the soul. Milton’s Satan said something similar:

“The Mind Is Its Own Place, and In It Self Can Make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n.”

Thankfully, in the case of “Inception,” there is more of heaven than of hell .

Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Mild

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers .

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inception christian movie review

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In Theaters

  • July 16, 2010
  • Leonardo DiCaprio as Cobb; Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Arthur; Ellen Page as Ariadne; Tom Hardy as Eames; Ken Watanabe as Saito; Dileep Rao as Yusuf; Cillian Murphy as Robert Fischer Jr.; Marion Cotillard as Mal

Home Release Date

  • December 7, 2010
  • Christopher Nolan


  • Warner Bros.

Movie Review

In dreams we fly. We fall. We tell off the boss. We walk to class naked. In dreams, we’re unfettered by reality, yet enslaved by love and desire, fear, sin and guilt. Dreams can be so terrifying we wake up screaming, so wonderful we never want to wake up at all.

You might be tempted to say that Cobb has a dream job, but you’d only be half right. Paid to extract secrets from the subconscious, Cobb is a gray matter thief—a roustabout whose livelihood is as shady as the worlds in which he walks. His methods, as bizarre as they seem, are curiously rote: He and a team of specialists “build” a dream for their subject—often a titan of industry with corporate secrets locked away in his brain. Using a concoction of drugs, they render him unconscious, and he slips into the dreamscape they’ve painted for him. Then Cobb and his partners dive into the same dream, extracting information in such a way that, if all goes well, the guy might not even remember in the morning.

Cobb sells his unusual skills to the highest bidder until, after a botched job, the subject pitches a new sort of subterfuge: Instead of extracting ideas, could he plant one? Could Cobb sow a conceptual seed that would cause a corporate heir to dismantle the family business?

Most dream-thieves like Cobb would say such a thing is impossible. The subconscious mind knows when it’s being tampered with too much. Cobb, though, knows it can be done. He’s done it before—though it cost him everything.

Now, this former subject—Saito, by name—is offering Cobb’s “everything” back: The chance to go home, the chance to be a father again, to see the children he was forced to leave so long ago.

Home. Family. Those are the things of Cobb’s dreams. And, after spending most of his adult life living in other people’s, Cobb finds that he will stop at nothing to make his own come true.

Positive Elements

Cobb is a man who lives in the shadows—indistinct, conflicted, haunted by guilt. But he is at his most distinct—most alive—when it comes to his children. In fact, the very idea of seeing them again drives him to take outlandish risks.

Those risks manifest themselves in less-than-desirable ways. And he forces his team to take those same risks without giving them all the necessary information. But the film doesn’t make Cobb out to be a hero. Instead it asks us to seriously grapple with his questionable decisions. And that, perhaps, marks Inception’ s greatest strength.

Saito says that planting this new idea into his rival’s mind is a “good” thing, because if the energy corporation he owns doesn’t break apart, it’ll have a monopoly against which no other company could compete. “The world needs Robert Fischer to change his mind,” Saito says. But would any good ever justify playing with someone’s brain in such a manner?

Cobb tries to help Fischer come to some sort of subliminal reconciliation with his now-dead father. Motives aside, is such a reconciliation desirable, bringing a son a sense of familial peace? Or is it terrible, because the reconciliation—regardless of how it makes the subject feel—is false?

Inception allows, even encourages us to ponder these things—but we have to drill beyond its caper conceit.

Spiritual Elements

While Inception steers well clear of overt religion or faith, its surreal, metaphysical environs throw viewers into a world that actually feels quite spiritual. The dreams we see can resemble private hells, filled with self-reproach and regret and demons of the dreamer’s own making. (Characters refer to one undesirable state of unconsciousness as “limbo.”) As Cobb tries to free himself from his own guilt and grief, his catharsis feels both psychiatric and religious: He confesses a past mistake that wound up having horrific consequences; he confronts those consequences; he eventually exorcises, in a strange sort of way, his personal tormentor.

Elsewhere, someone says that he and his former love “felt like gods” after living in a dream state for (in dream time) years, creating the world around them as they saw fit.

Sexual Content

Cobb and Saito first meet in a “love nest” where Saito frequently meets his lover—a relationship he’s managed to keep secret in his waking life. We see people kiss, and one character uses subterfuge to steal a kiss. A couple of women wear low-cut tops.

Violent Content

Violence in Inception is tricky to tally. At times we see real men get hurt or killed. But much of the violence is perpetuated in dream worlds, where the people we see are not real, but manifestations of the subject’s subconscious. As a result, the “real” body count is surprisingly low (at least for a film that wields this much intensity), while metaphysical fatalities run off the chart.

Merging both categories, people are punched, kicked, choked, shot (scores of times), stabbed, hit by cars (several times), blown up, attacked by rampaging mobs, almost buried by avalanches and nearly drowned. Somebody gets shot in the foot—just to illustrate that, while dying in a dream state is difficult, pain is all too easy to come by.

The visceral feel of the violence is about what you’d expect for a PG-13 movie—and, frankly, maybe a step back from a prime-time actioner on television. The mayhem is practically bloodless (an exception: after a shot to the chest, we see red seep through a man’s shirt as he coughs up flecks of blood), and it’s perpetrated with a certain, almost chilly, remove.

When someone wants to exit a dream, they simply “kill” themselves or have someone do it for them. Cobb, for instance, shoots one of his compadres in the head to wake him up. (We see a bloodless hole in his forehead.) Because the sensation of falling can jar someone awake, folks routinely engineer the end of their dreams by plummeting off bridges or cutting loose elevator cables. One character throws another off a cliff.

[ Spoiler Warning ] This fixation with dreamscape suicide manifests itself in tragic fashion with Cobb’s wife, Mal. The two of them slip into a dream state for, seemingly, decades before Cobb begins to think that perhaps both of them have gotten lost there. He plants an idea into Mal’s brain—a true one, in this case—that the life they’re “living” is not real, and he encourages her to commit suicide with him. They both lay their heads on a railroad track as a train rumbles toward them. (The scene ends just before the train reaches them.) The act jars them both back to what is, apparently, the real world … but Mal can’t shake the feeling that this life, too, is still a dream—including their two children. She begins to fondle knives and begs Cobb to enter another suicide pact with her so they can see their “real” children. Cobb, of course, refuses. Then, on their anniversary, Cobb finds Mal on a ledge, ready to jump. “I’m going to ask you to take a leap of faith,” she tells him, adding that she fabricated evidence that, should she die, would frame Cobb for her “murder”—her way of encouraging Cobb to die with her. Then she jumps.

Crude or Profane Language

Characters abuse Jesus’ name five or six times and God’s a dozen times—pairing it with “d‑‑n” another half-dozen. We also hear “a‑‑,” “h‑‑‑,” “b‑‑tard” and “bloody.”

Drug and Alcohol Content

Folks drink wine and beer. Intravenous drugs—sedatives and other mysterious concoctions—are required to put people into these dreamlike states.

Perhaps the most nefarious drug here, though, is the dreams themselves. It’s suggested that these artificial dream states are, in some way, addictive. In one scene, we see listless bodies strapped to machines pumping dream-causing chemicals into their bodies. We’re told it’s the only way they can dream anymore, and for them, an old man says, “The dream has become their reality. Who are you to say otherwise?”

Cobb, too, has lost his ability to dream normally, and so he repeatedly hooks himself up to delve into his own haunting dream world.

Other Negative Elements

Let’s reemphasize here that Cobb is a thief—a reluctant one, perhaps, but a thief nonetheless. He steals thoughts for a living. And he’s not alone. While the characters seem to care for one another (to a point) and we see much of Cobb’s desire to be with his family, the finer points of morality seem to have eluded this crew. And while, as I noted earlier, it’s a positive thing to think through ethical dilemmas, this movie won’t help you arrive at the right conclusions. We, as moviegoers, must on our own consider and judge their motives, because these characters themselves do precious little of that.

The concept of a dream within a dream is an important one for Inception . Cobb and his cohorts construct dreams like nesting dolls to confuse their subjects. Wake up, you’re still dreaming. Wake up again, and you may be dreaming still. Each dream-layer accesses a deeper level of subconscious.

A proper critique, then, demands the same treatment.

Layer 1: Artistically, Inception is one of the year’s most provocative, compelling films. The story’s the thing here—so strong that the film’s topnotch cast and stunning visual effects serve it without overwhelming it. Directed by The Dark Knight’ s Christopher Nolan, Inception aspires to art without relinquishing its popcorn-munching bona fides. It’s a film that’ll likely resonate with critics and moviegoers alike.

Layer 2: Inception’ s content centers on its suicide-fueled violence—which trivializes the act of self-annihilation. In doing so, we’re forced to a place where, looking through the eyes of some characters, suicide appears to be a convenient, beneficial out from a reality you don’t want anymore: Let’s scrap this world, because the real one—presumably a better one—lies beyond. In this ethos, suicide isn’t an act of desperation or despair, but one of hope and promise. So I can’t help but wonder how someone who is already toying with the idea of ending it all would view this film—if they might look through the eyes of a “suicidal” character and find their own tragic longings mirrored there.

Layer 3: We see no heroes here—not really, anyway. Rather, we meet a cadre of thieves without scruples—breaking not into a house or a car, but into the human mind itself, the throne room, if you will, of the soul, of our thoughts, of our ability to love. Dwell on this for even a short while, and Inception’ s central premise begins to feel hopelessly damaged. Our onscreen protagonists are more than burglars, after all. They’re intellectual rapists, ravishing and despoiling the very thing that makes us us.

Layer 4: Leveling the plot-driven accusation of mind-rape still doesn’t tell the whole story. Because Inception seems to understand that it’s walking on a pretty thin tightrope. It doesn’t try to excuse or apologize for Cobb. Rather, it places him in a circle of Dante’s hell. He steals as his life was stolen. He suffers as he caused suffering. He creates his own realities while destroying what’s real. He walks in dreams more tangible—more important—than his waking life. All the while he asks without asking:

What is this? Why am I here? Is it worth it? Is there something more?

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Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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Review: Inception

Dreaming of a different life?

Have you ever had a dream that was so ridiculously cool you thought it could be a movie? Did you try to write it down? Or explain it to your mates? Yeah? You did? And how did it go? Often, trying to translate dreams into reality is about as successful as an ice block surviving in a sauna. Dreams have a pesky habit of being so weird and indescribable that, um, we’re all unable to describe them because they’re so weird. But the guy who made The Dark Knight, director Christopher Nolan, has somehow put together an entire film about people constructing and controlling dreams – while inside someone’s head!! Nolan’s Inception is the first blockbuster since the mind-bending The Matrix (1999) to be as committed to making your brain hurt as it is to delivering slo-mo thrills and epic explosions. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Cobb, a smarty pants who – with the help of some fancy gizmo – can enter his own dreams, or those of others. With a team of top-notch technicians including Juno’s Ellen Page and 500 Days Of Summer’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt, DiCaprio descends deep into the dream world of a businessman set to inherit his dad’s empire. Trying to explain Inception in a few sentences is tough, and not a nice thing to do for those who have yet to see it. Indeed, this complicated movie is best enjoyed when you don’t know much about it and have to work it out for yourself. Let’s just say Cobb and his team break in to dreams to steal things or implant ideas, and this involves gravity-defying fights, thoughtful guidelines and a big blurring of what is and is not real. Depending upon where your life is at, living in a dream can sound pretty appealing. Sweet dreams can be places where you get everything you want and all the bad stuff of this world gets kicked to the curb. As Cobb experiences in Inception, though, trying to live in a dreamworld also can become a nightmare when we try to avoid and run away from real issues. How guilt, remorse, deception and emotional/psychological strain invades Cobb sub-conscious and imagination is hardly meant to be realistic but it should make you think about the ways you deal with difficulties or stress. Rather than employ Leonardo DiCaprio to enter your brain and rewrite your dreams, Christians have a real, available and powerful God to call upon for assistance – whether you are, or are not, “living the dream”. As Jesus explains in Matthew 6, between verses 25 and 31 (NIV): “I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear…. Your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” In other words, The Master Of The Universe is ready and waiting to help those who are troubled yet trust in His loving support. Sure, Inception is full of amazing concepts and excellent visuals, but there’s no way we can really “live the dream” without relying upon his assistance.

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Movie Review | 'Inception'

This Time the Dream’s on Me

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inception christian movie review

By A.O. Scott

  • July 15, 2010

The relationship between movies and dreams has always been — to borrow a term from psychoanalysis — overdetermined. From its first flickerings around the time Freud was working on “The Interpretation of Dreams,” cinema seemed to replicate the uncanny, image-making power of the mind, much as still photography had in the decades before. And over the course of the 20th century, cinema provided a vast, perpetually replenishing reservoir of raw material for the fantasies of millions of people. Freud believed that dreams were compounded out of the primal matter of the unconscious and the prosaic events of daily life. If he were writing now, he would have to acknowledge that they are also, for many of us, made out of movies.

And movies, more often than not these days, are made out of other movies. “Inception,” Christopher Nolan’s visually arresting, noir-tinged caper, is as packed with allusions and citations as a film studies term paper. Admirers of Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” and Stanley Kubrick’s “2001” will find themselves in good company, though “Inception” does not come close to matching the impact of those durable cult objects. It trades in crafty puzzles rather than profound mysteries, and gestures in the direction of mighty philosophical questions that Mr. Nolan is finally too tactful, too timid or perhaps just too busy to engage.

So “Inception” is not necessarily the kind of experience you would take to your next shrink appointment. It is more like a diverting reverie than a primal nightmare, something to be mused over rather than analyzed, something you may forget as soon as it’s over. Which is to say that the time — nearly two and a half hours — passes quickly and for the most part pleasantly, and that you see some things that are pretty amazing, and amazingly pretty: cities that fold in on themselves like pulsing, three-dimensional maps; chases and fights that defy the laws that usually govern space, time and motion; Marion Cotillard’s face.

Ms. Cotillard, her most famous movie role evoked by occasional eruptions of Édith Piaf on the “La Vie en Rose” soundtrack, is the film’s principal enigma and its chief signifier of emotion. She is not, however, exactly a character in “Inception.” Rather, at least as far as a first-time viewer can guess, she is a projection in the subconscious of her husband, a specialist in corporate mental espionage known as Cobb and played by Leonardo DiCaprio with some of the same twitchy melancholy he brought to “Shutter Island.”

To say too much about their marriage would be to risk compromising some of the pleasures of discovery tucked into a carefully crosshatched, multilayered story. Better to explain what Cobb does for a living, since that exhaustive enumeration of the metaphysical rules of his profession occupies an awful lot of the dialogue in Mr. Nolan’s script. Using a combination of drugs, wires and other vaguely Matrix-y methods, Cobb and his co-workers penetrate the minds of their slumbering targets, usually for the purpose of extracting hidden information. But a wealthy client named Saito (Ken Watanabe) induces them to try the much more difficult trick known as inception, which involves planting an idea someone else’s mind that will bear fruit in the real world. “That’s impossible!” more than one person has occasion to exclaim.

In any case, Cobb and his team are trying to induce a young man (Cillian Murphy), whose father (Pete Postlethwaite) is a business rival of Saito’s, to break up the company he is about to inherit. This bit of commercial intrigue provides the fairly banal material foundation on which Mr. Nolan’s phantasmagorical world is built. The pursuit of competitive advantage by well-dressed, emotionless men is hardly the stuff that dreams are made of, Humphrey Bogart’s observations at the end of “The Maltese Falcon” notwithstanding.

And the content of those dreams, once Cobb and company have dropped into their mark’s sleeping mind, is often curiously pedestrian. Most of the time, one group of guys with guns chases another, in cars across the rain-soaked streets of Los Angeles, on foot through the corridors of a retro-elegant hotel, and on skis and snowmobiles through an icy Alpine landscape from which James Bond might recently have departed.

A lot of this is — what is the critical term of art I’m looking for? — pretty cool. And the heist-movie cast of mind-cracking technicians is also cool. Dileep Rao is the shaggy, anxious nerdy one. Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are a pair of wisecracking specialists in something-or-another, and Ellen Page is the architect. This means that she designs the physical environments in which the dreams take place, and also that, like a precocious sophomore in a graduate seminar, asks the right questions and spells out the obvious connections.

She also notices that Cobb’s personal issues are clouding his ability to work, and putting the rest of them at a vaguely defined but serious risk — a graver danger than just waking up. (The conceit that they’re all dreaming takes some of the edge off the movie’s violence, since it’s hard to grieve for extras who are just “projections” in some else’s mental theater. On the other hand, that is pretty much what all movie characters are. This is what I meant by overdetermined.)

Cobb, whose life depends on suppressing emotions and memories that he cannot control, is thus a typical Christopher Nolan hero. His air of guilt and sorrow — the sense of unfinished psychic business pushing against his conscious intentions — marks his kinship with Christian Bale’s Batman, with the detective played by Al Pacino in “Insomnia” and with the anguished amnesiac played by Guy Pearce in “Memento.” Mr. DiCaprio exercises impressive control in portraying a man on the verge of losing his grip, but Mr. Nolan has not, in the end, given Cobb a rich enough inner life to sustain the performance.

The accomplishments of “Inception” are mainly technical, which is faint praise only if you insist on expecting something more from commercial entertainment. That audiences do — and should — expect more is partly, I suspect, what has inspired some of the feverish early notices hailing “Inception” as a masterpiece, just as the desire for a certifiably great superhero movie led to the wild overrating of “The Dark Knight.” In both cases Mr. Nolan’s virtuosity as a conjurer of brilliant scenes and stunning set pieces, along with his ability to invest grandeur and novelty into conventional themes, have fostered the illusion that he is some kind of visionary.

But though there is a lot to see in “Inception,” there is nothing that counts as genuine vision. Mr. Nolan’s idea of the mind is too literal, too logical, too rule-bound to allow the full measure of madness — the risk of real confusion, of delirium, of ineffable ambiguity — that this subject requires. The unconscious, as Freud (and Hitchcock, and a lot of other great filmmakers) knew, is a supremely unruly place, a maze of inadmissible desires, scrambled secrets, jokes and fears. If Mr. Nolan can’t quite reach this place, that may be because his access is blocked by the very medium he deploys with such skill.

And the limitations of “Inception” may suggest the limits not only of this very talented director, but also of his chosen art form at this moment in its history. Our dreams feed the movies. The movies feed our dreams. But somehow, our imaginations are still hungry.

“Inception” is rated PG-13. The violence is stylized and sometimes bloody, but not likely to cause nightmares.

Inception Opens on Friday nationwide. Written and directed by Christopher Nolan; director of photography, Wally Pfister; edited by LeeSmith; music by Hans Zimmer; production designer, Guy Hendrix Dyas; costumes by Jeffrey Kurland; produced by Emma Thomas and Mr. Nolan; released by Warner Brothers Pictures. Running time: 2 hours 22 minutes. WITH: Leonardo DiCaprio (Cobb), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Arthur), Ellen Page (Ariadne), TomHardy (Eames), Ken Watanabe (Saito), Dileep Rao (Yusuf), Cillian Murphy (Robert Fischer Jr.), TomBerenger (Browning), Marion Cotillard (Mal), Pete Postlethwaite (Maurice Fischer), Michael Caine (Miles) and Lukas Haas (Nash).

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inception christian movie review

Intense, complex, brilliant sci-fi thriller; violent scenes.

Inception Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Amid the intense scenes and images, the movie offe

The main character acts for personal reasons -- to

Positive casting of trans actor Elliot Page in key

Though most violence takes place in dreams and is

The main character pines for his dead wife, whom h

A few uses of "goddamn it" and "Jesus Christ," as

Adult characters drink wine, beer, and champagne,

Parents need to know that Inception is a complex, original science-fiction fantasy movie from the director of The Dark Knight . It has lots of action and violence -- including guns, blood, fighting, car crashes, etc. -- as well as some slightly scary imagery. But it's very light on language ("goddamn"…

Positive Messages

Amid the intense scenes and images, the movie offers positive examples of teamwork and helping others. A subplot involving death and grieving promotes acceptance and moving on. A more ambiguous message is sent by the main story, in which the characters try to plant an idea in someone's head against his will -- but manage to bring him a kind of peace in the process.

Positive Role Models

The main character acts for personal reasons -- to earn the ability to return home to his kids -- and has a job that's slightly on the shady side. But when he's at work, his team shows excellent teamwork, as well as selflessness when it comes to their teammates' well being.

Diverse Representations

Positive casting of trans actor Elliot Page in key role of Ariadne. Otherwise, only two characters of color in minor, non-stereotypical speaking roles. One is a wealthy Japanese businessman (Ken Watanabe) and the other is a South Asian British pharmacologist (Dileep Rao). While part of the film takes place in Mombasa, Kenya, local residents are depicted as faceless or as an angry mob.

Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.

Violence & Scariness

Though most violence takes place in dreams and is therefore not "real," it includes guns and shooting, gunshot wounds with blood, fistfights, rioting, explosions, car chases, car crashes. Characters scream in pain when shot or stabbed. In the movie, being "killed" or committing suicide can "wake" you out of the dream. One character is shot in the head, another is stabbed, another plunges off a building to her death. Frequent suspense/tense scenes. Repeated scenes of a father reaching out for his children who are being separated from him.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.

Sex, Romance & Nudity

The main character pines for his dead wife, whom he still sees in his dreams. They share some intimate emotional moments, but there's no kissing, nudity, or sex. Two other characters share a brief kiss.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.

A few uses of "goddamn it" and "Jesus Christ," as well as "hell," "ass," "a--hole," "bloody," "bastard," "screw," and "damn." Partial use of "f--k."

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adult characters drink wine, beer, and champagne, but not to excess.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Inception is a complex, original science-fiction fantasy movie from the director of The Dark Knight . It has lots of action and violence -- including guns, blood, fighting, car crashes, etc. -- as well as some slightly scary imagery. But it's very light on language ("goddamn" and "a--hole" are as strong as it gets), sexy stuff, and drinking, so teen fans of star Leonardo DiCaprio should be able to handle it. The movie takes place in several different locations around the world but is noticeably short on diversity on-screen. Crowds in one scene in Kenya are simply used as the backdrop to action sequences. It's not an easy story to explain, but it's fairly easy to follow, and it includes positive examples of teamwork and sacrifice. Parents and teens may find themselves talking at length about the story and the notion of a dream within a dream. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails .

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inception christian movie review

Community Reviews

  • Parents say (100)
  • Kids say (371)

Based on 100 parent reviews

An exciting, wild, and mind bending ride!

Amazing movie, what's the story.

In INCEPTION, Dom Cobb ( Leonardo DiCaprio ) is a skilled "extractor," able to enter people's dreams to find information. A businessman ( Ken Watanabe ) hires Cobb to plant an idea in the mind of a competitor, even though this may not be possible. Cobb assembles a team (which includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Elliot Page ) and prepares for the complicated job, which will require creating three dreams-within-dreams. Unfortunately, the subject ( Cillian Murphy ) has been trained for such invasions, and the job will be far more dangerous than planned -- and then there's the fact that Cobb's dead wife ( Marion Cotillard ) keeps unexpectedly turning up inside the dreams and wreaking havoc of her own. But if the team fails, they could end up trapped in a subconscious limbo forever.

Is It Any Good?

Inception is an intense, complex story, but it's always coherent, imaginative, and entertaining. Filmmaker Christopher Nolan has proven himself a master of time juggling; he rarely presents a story in chronological order. He often flips time or stacks time on top of itself, balancing several simultaneous storylines precariously, but with remarkable clarity.

That said, although Inception is a terrific film, it lacks a strong emotional connection with most of the characters -- the movie's roller coaster ride feel means that there's little time to stop and get to know anyone. Likewise, unlike Nolan's The Dark Knight , it doesn't really represent any current fears or desires, save for a vague fear of technology. It's really just a very intelligent, slam-bang popcorn movie. And that's absolutely fine.

Talk to Your Kids About ...

Families can talk about Inception 's violence . How did it affect you? Was it thrilling? Did the fact that it takes place in a dream give it more or less impact?

Was the movie scary? If so, what made it scary?

Why is it important to dream? What do your dreams tell you? Is it right to plant an idea in a person's head, even if that idea makes the person happy?

We learn that Leonardo DiCaprio's character does what he does for a living because of several kinds of loss. Talk about loss and the importance of grief and how to grieve.

How did the characters exhibit teamwork to accomplish their mission? Why is teamwork an important character strength ?

Movie Details

  • In theaters : July 16, 2010
  • On DVD or streaming : December 7, 2010
  • Cast : Leonardo DiCaprio , Joseph Gordon-Levitt , Elliot Page , Tom Hardy , Ken Watanabe , Marion Cotillard
  • Director : Christopher Nolan
  • Inclusion Information : Non-Binary actors, Queer actors, Transgender actors, Asian actors, Female actors
  • Studio : Warner Bros.
  • Genre : Science Fiction
  • Character Strengths : Teamwork
  • Run time : 148 minutes
  • MPAA rating : PG-13
  • MPAA explanation : sequences of violence and action throughout
  • Last updated : February 16, 2024

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

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'Inception' A Masterpiece? Only In Someone's Dream

David Edelstein

inception christian movie review

While You Were Sleeping: Leonardo DiCaprio plunges into people's minds while they sleep in order to extract corporate secrets in Christopher Nolan's sci-fi flick Inception. Warner Bros hide caption

While You Were Sleeping: Leonardo DiCaprio plunges into people's minds while they sleep in order to extract corporate secrets in Christopher Nolan's sci-fi flick Inception.

  • Director: Christopher Nolan
  • Genre: Action, Science-Fiction
  • Running Time: 148 minutes

Watch Clips

'I Need An Architect'

Media no longer available

'I Am The Most Skilled Extractor'

'You Create The World Of The Dream'

In Christopher Nolan's Inception, Leonardo DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, whose name sounds like it should evoke something -- a colleague suggests dummkopf, but I doubt that's the intention -- and whose specialty is plunging into peoples' minds while they sleep and extracting corporate secrets. His new client, a business titan played by Ken Watanabe, wants Cobb not to steal an idea but to plant one in a rival's head. That's called "inception," and it's believed, even in this futuristic world, to be impossible.

Frankly, I got hung up on that. Why should "inception" be harder than extraction? "The subject's mind always knows the genesis of an idea," one character explains, but that strikes my mind as dead wrong. I'm highly suggestible. I don't always know where my ideas come from.

But there's one thing I'm sure of: Inception doesn't all come from Nolan's head. It's a clunky mix-'n'-match of other mind-bending blockbusters like Mission: Impossible, Fantastic Voyage, Dreamscape and The Matrix, with some Freud and Philip K. Dick thrown in. It's not terrible -- just lumbering and humorless and pretentious, with a drag of a hero.

Cobb accepts the job of planting an idea in the mind of a man named Fischer (Cillian Murphy) because he longs to see his two little kids in the U.S. and is forbidden to return on account of a Crime To Be Revealed Later -- and his new client can make the legal problems go away. The best part of the movie is Cobb assembling his team, among them Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the point man. And Ellen Page's character, an architecture student named Ariadne, has two functions: dream-world designer and exposition magnet. She's the newbie, so Cobb has to explain how the science works.

It takes a lot of explaining.

"You create the world of the dream. We bring the subject into that dream, and they fill it with their subconscious," Cobb says, as the two share a drink at a cafe.

"How could I ever acquire enough detail to make them think that it's reality?" she asks.

Critical Differences

Kenneth Turan takes a different view:

Movie Reviews

'inception': what dreams may come (and go away), on monkey see.

Why it's OK when critics disagree:

'Inception,' Art, And The Impossibility Of Accounting For Taste

"Well, dreams -- they feel real when we're in them, right?" he explains. "It's only when we wake up that we realize something is actually strange. Let me ask you a question: You never really remember the beginning of a dream, do you? You always wind up right in the middle of what's going on."

"I guess, yeah."

"So how did we end up here?" he says, pausing.

"Well, we just came from the ..." -- she looks around, suddenly confused.

"Think about it, Ariadne. How did you get it? Where are you right now?"

"Are we dreaming?" she asks.

"You're actually in the middle of the workshop right now," he says. "This is your first lesson in shared dreaming."

inception christian movie review

Mind Games: Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard (left) co-stars as DiCaprio's wife — and nemesis — in an action thriller that has layers within layers. Warner Bros hide caption

Mind Games: Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard (left) co-stars as DiCaprio's wife — and nemesis — in an action thriller that has layers within layers.

That's my favorite scene in Inception, because it ends with the dream city exploding in puffs of debris and the anticipation of magic to come. But Nolan thinks like a mechanical engineer. Instead of creating one dream that's really evocative, he opts for ordinary-looking dreams within dreams ... within dreams.

See, in a dream, you can fall asleep and have another dream, in which you can fall asleep and have another dream -- except time works differently at different depths. A minute in the waking world might be 10 minutes in the dream, an hour in the dream-within-a-dream, and in the dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream, years.

The gimmick lets Nolan have three clocks ticking down instead of one -- which should be killingly suspenseful. But he's too literal-minded, too caught up in his tick-tock logistics, to make a great, untethered dream movie. The tone is impersonal, the action disjointed.

There is a nice Freudian touch, a female saboteur who keeps popping up in Cobb's unconscious: his wife, Mal, played by Marion Cotillard. She has a great first scene, surveying her Mal-evolent handiwork with glittering eyes. But then the Mal subplot turns grim. She's the key to what eats away at Cobb, so as the team prepares to jump into the head of Fischer, Ariadne has to play therapist. "As we go deeper into Fischer," she tells Cobb, "we're also going deeper into you. And I'm not sure we're going to like what we find." Dialogue like that does nothing for an actress, and it's the only kind that Page gets.

Apart from Cotillard, the cast is colorless, including DiCaprio, who's often terrific but is weighing himself down with guilt-trip roles.

Look: I, too, wanted to surrender to Inception. But even with some amazing effects -- like a city that folds over on top of itself -- it never cuts loose the way The Matrix or Joseph Ruben's jolly B-movie Dreamscape did. If you're hoping for a thriller that will take you into another realm, well: Dream on.

Movie Reviews

Tv/streaming, collections, great movies, chaz's journal, contributors, we have to go deeper: the 10th anniversary of inception.

inception christian movie review

“She became obsessed with the idea that our world wasn’t real, that she had to wake up to get back to reality.”

We’ve all felt a bit of displacement in 2020, the sense that the world around us isn’t real, that we’re in a dream from which we need to wake up. The timing of a newly-printed 70MM run of Christopher Nolan ’s “ Inception ” at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago is due to the film’s tenth anniversary and as a prelude to the release of the acclaimed director’s “Tenet,” but the film carries a different energy in our dreamlike state of Summer 2020. Everything does, really. However, watching “Inception” a decade after its release, one is struck by how remarkably timeless the film feels. It could easily come out today and make just as much money, maybe even more, which is not something that can often be said ten years after the release of a blockbuster, especially one as effects heavy as this one. What is it about “Inception” that makes it feel so current?

First, a confession: I turned down a chance to see the new print. I couldn’t do it. While I’m not going to judge someone who is ready to run back into movie theaters as the pandemic continues to thrive, I’m just not there. After much discussion with family, it actually came down to a simple argument. While my logical brain knows the chance that anything could happen is statistically insignificant—Music Box is doing an amazing amount to alleviate risk, including configuring their ventilation so it doesn’t recycle air and only pushes in fresh from outside—my emotional brain would have been too distracted to concentrate, not only during the screening but for days after, when every cough and sniffle would incite panic. I feel like I’ll be ready soon (although only for Music Box's extreme precautions). I wasn’t yet.

And there’s a certain irony in not being physically or emotionally ready for “Inception” specifically. After all, it’s about a man, Leonardo DiCaprio ’s Cobb, who is running from reality, digging deeper into levels beyond normal existence in an effort to flee his own grief, trauma, and blame. Nolan brilliantly spaces out revelations about Cobb’s purpose in his existential heist film. On one level, it’s a story about corporate intrigue, but that’s really a cover for the emotional arc of Cobb, who is dealing with his perceived failure to protect his wife, and belief that his action led to her suicide. Cobb is somehow both fleeing reality and trying to fix it at the same time. Who can’t relate to a sense of immobilized anxiety in 2020, in which we feel like we should be doing something but are stuck in our own forced routine? Or the idea that we have to push through something that feels like a bad dream to come out the other side?

inception christian movie review

Leaving aside my apprehension about seeing the film in theaters, a repeat viewing of “Inception” at home clarifies how many levels Nolan is working at the same time, much like the layered dream state of the narrative. On one level, it’s a whiz-bang action movie complete with set pieces that feel inspired by 007, especially in the final act. It’s an undeniably complex film narratively, even if that has been overblown—one that always feels like it’s a step ahead in terms of unpacking exactly what is happening—and yet it’s also a remarkably easy film to just let unfold, experiencing it beat by beat instead of trying to piece it altogether, much like, well, a dream. We don’t ask ourselves what dreams mean while we’re experiencing them—we simply ride them out. "Inception" works best when you're not trying to parse exactly what's happening and when, and you allow the emotion and action to carry the experience.

The reason it’s easy to get carried away by “Inception” is simple: it’s one of the most propulsive major blockbusters in history. It never stops. The stunning trick of “Inception” is how Nolan made such a talky film that never drags. It’s constantly explaining what it is and what it’s doing in a way that should grind it to a halt—over-exposition is the death of the action blockbuster—and yet Nolan balances that with such robust, passionate filmmaking. Whether it’s Wally Pfister ’s rich cinematography, one of Hans Zimmer ’s best scores, or Lee Smith's sharp-but-never-hyperactive editing, there’s confidence in every frame.

It’s also a film that, for better or worse, served as a tentpole for our puzzle box culture, one that loves to analyze and interpret art to extremes never imagined before the internet (go Google "Inception Ending Interpretations" and come back in about 12 hours). By the time he made “Inception,” Nolan had already fed this beast with films like “ Memento ” and “ The Prestige ,” but this takes it to another level by also serving as a commentary on puzzle box creation. “Inception” can very easily be read as a commentary on filmmaking. As Cobb and Ariadne ( Ellen Page ) work through the concept of dream construction, it echoes the way Nolan views his art, embedding each layer of the film with different ideas, maybe even working his own way into the viewer’s imagination. The dreamer, or viewer, can't know they're in a dream, much like the illusion of the film experience is best left unbroken. 

inception christian movie review

As Roger said, “The film's hero tests a young architect by challenging her to create a maze, and Nolan tests us with his own dazzling maze. We have to trust him that he can lead us through, because much of the time we're lost and disoriented.” Nolan loves to play with perception, and so a film about how what one sees and feels may be a construction is arguably the most perfect fit of creator and creation in his career to date.

One thing that really struck me watching “Inception” in 2020 was how certain I am that the movie would land with the same impact as it did ten years ago. This is rarely the case. CGI starts to look dated, a celebrity falls from grace, ideas grow stale—none of that happened to “Inception.” Part of it is how much Nolan has stayed current as a filmmaker with follow-ups like “ Interstellar ” and “ Dunkirk .” A blockbuster can often feel dated when it’s the last good thing that anyone involved made, but DiCaprio and Nolan are arguably more popular a decade later. It’s still breathtaking that a movie this complex made over $800 million worldwide and was nominated for Best Picture, but I am certain that both of those things would happen again if it was released in 2020. Well, maybe not in Summer 2020, but you get the idea.

So this is not a typical anniversary. Most of the time, these occasions feel like an opportunity for critical hindsight. They often come with words like “underrated” or, lately, “problematic.” What did people miss then? How does it play differently now? “Inception” defies this analysis, at least on its tenth anniversary. It’s still working its way through our imagination, something that feels even more important than it did when the film came out. Part of its brilliance is how much we’re all still kind of staring at that spinning top, waiting for it to fall.

For more information about the Music Box Theatre's special 70mm presentation of "Inception,"  click here

Brian Tallerico

Brian Tallerico

Brian Tallerico is the Managing Editor of, and also covers television, film, Blu-ray, and video games. He is also a writer for Vulture, The Playlist, The New York Times, and GQ, and the President of the Chicago Film Critics Association.

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Watch Inception with a subscription on Apple TV+, Max, rent on Fandango at Home, Prime Video, or buy on Fandango at Home, Prime Video.

What to Know

Smart, innovative, and thrilling, Inception is that rare summer blockbuster that succeeds viscerally as well as intellectually.

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inception christian movie review

Film Review: Inception – 2010

inception christian movie review

As the intro sequence plays, Hans Zimmer’s music envelops the soundscape ensuring that your attention is fully focused on the sound. The title fades to black as the music approaches a crescendo, swelling to a massive size before fading away to the sound of crashing waves. Our attention immediately switches focus as the importance we’ve given the score now shifts to the waves on screen. Water swells before crashing into the shoreline creating momentary impressions upon impact -explosions of being- before fading back into the ocean from where it came. Given the movie’s thematic connections with Tarkovksy’s Solaris, a science fiction film about a group of emotionally fractured astronauts stuck on an ocean planet named Solaris which seems to conjure the crew’s memories from within its oceans, it makes sense then that it is from this abode of infinite creation, the ocean, that the camera picks its next target of focus – a partially submerged man named Dom. His eyes flutter awake revealing that he’s very much alive. It’s at this point that both Dom and the audience become privy to the fact that there are children present. The camera cuts between Dom’s perplexed face and two children who appear with their backs to him. They’re building a sandcastle. Like the waves, the sandcastle is a temporary explosion of creativity, coming into form for an instance before fading away, leaving only its impressions behind.

inception christian movie review

Before Dom can make sense of what’s happening, he’s accosted by armed security who check for weaponry before finding a gun on him. They take him to their boss, an elderly Asian man, for interrogation in a large ornate dining room. This man starts to play with a top he’s apparently taken from Dom before claiming that the object reminded him of something from his past – a distant memory. The camera cuts from the old man back to Dom at which point the movie employs a match cut to another conversation between a much younger Asian man, Saito, and a Dom from another time in the same ornate dining room, this time framed from opposite angles. It is here that Dom and his associate, Arthur, indicate to Saito that they are “extractors”, individuals who specialize in the art of stealing from peoples’ dreams, looking to teach him the tools of the trade to keep his own mental faculties safe.

inception christian movie review

Likewise, the traditional heist-planning sequences have their counterparts here. Instead of discussing how to get past a certain firewall, the characters analyze their subject(s) from the microscopic details of their daily behavior to the larger way they deal with relationships among their associates. In this way, the structure of the heist film maps onto what feels like a psychoanalytic session, the extractors serving as psychoanalysts treating their mark as a analysand. Each maneuver the crew utilizes to plant their idea doubles as technique an analyst would use in a session. Unwinding in parallel to this external psychological session is Dom’s internal journey to overcome his respective psychological trauma. As he rushes forward to plant an idea into another to control them, he has to deal with his own wayward ideas which refuse to submit to his control – a schema which makes us ask how one can implant a thought in stable fashion to someone if one’s own thoughts constantly float around outside of our control. This conundrum of subjectivity is reflected in the rules of the story early on as it’s revealed that people breaking into a dream bring along their subconscious projections with them. The subconscious is nothing more than a sea of cognitive material formed from the fabrics of our day to day – images and ideas that slip through our self-constructed barriers to the parts of our mind out of our control. These ideas come from others – people, cultures, legal institutions. Would this entail that social behavior by its nature is always involved in some “inception” of a kind if our ideas are “implanted” by some other agent? At a technical level, Nolan achieves this conundrum through the magic of cutting. That’s right. Just normal cuts from scene to scene. Traditional movies dealing with dreams and memory as subject matter tend to approach field with surrealist imagery, imperceptible messages, and an obvious desire to be recognized as distinctly “dream-like.” The point is to call attention to the nature of the dream versus reality. Inception approaches dreams in the complete opposite way – treating them as they come to us in real life. Completely naturally. By using audio, especially Zimmer’s simultaneously bombastic and inquisitively resonating score (seriously just listen to the difference between the adrenaline pumping “Mombasa” and the somber epic sounding “Time”), as a throughline, Nolan is able to intercut between scenes occurring in different locations without alerting us to a change in scenery. For example, characters can begin talking in one location. The camera will cut to a completely different location as their conversation continues to play out in the background, the characters now missing from the frame. Then the camera cuts back to the characters in a different location, the same conversation continuing. It seems innocuous until it’s revealed that the final conversation in the sequence is actually occurring in a dream as opposed to the first conversation which occurred in reality.

inception christian movie review


Go to  Page 2  for the for the spoiler discussion and more in-depth analysis. Go to  Page 3  to view this review’s progress report .

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Not Quite Dreamy, Inception Gets an 'A' for Effort

  • Christian Hamaker Contributing Writer
  • Updated Dec 10, 2010

Not Quite Dreamy, <i>Inception</i> Gets an 'A' for Effort

Run Time:   148 min.

Director:  Christopher Nolan

Does the story come together in a satisfying way? At nearly two-and-a-half hours in length, Inception asks a lot of audiences, and, at times, it delivers. The film has a fantastic premise, some gravity-defying chase scenes, and a palpable sense of tragedy underneath the veneer of visual razzle-dazzle. But it is a cold film, almost entirely lacking in humor or, more crucially, a reason to make us care about any of its characters other than Cobb. The goal of the Inception team's mission gets lost along the way, and the outcome of the corporate-espionage storyline is anticlimactic. By the time it arrives, the audience is invested much more deeply in Cobb's tenuous hold on reality, and his temptation to flee into a world that promises something he desperately wants, than it is in Saito's reasons for initiating the Inception mission. That imbalance makes the film overwhelming—not because it's too smart, but because the film's length demands a plot that's big enough to make us care about the Inception concept. The film's premise will be catnip to certain viewers who enjoy the open-ended discussions such movies like this one can stimulate, and the film's final shot will send them out of the theater buzzing. Others will find the film's ominous, heavy tone to be ponderous, and will simply be grateful that this lengthy film, with its drawn-out finale, has ended.

  • Language/Profanity:   Lord's name taken in vain; some foul language (godda--, a--hole, he--, etc.).
  • Smoking/Drinking/Drugs:   None, except for people being drugged so that Inception team members can enter their dreams.
  • Sex/Nudity:   Kissing.
  • Violence/Crime:   Gun violence; in dreams, worlds collapse and people die through violent acts; multiple explosions; cars run into people, and a car door is flung open in order to strike a man; brawling; a man slaps a sleeping man's face; a man puts a gun to his head and threatens suicide; a man spits blood; characters are cut down by a rope strung across their path.
  • Religion:   Nothing specific, but talk about how we create reality; a subconscious dreamstate is referred to as "limbo."

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inception christian movie review

​Unique and Imaginative – But May Be Too Confusing for Young Children

In the realm of storytelling, few mediums can touch the heart and soul quite like film does. As a lover of cinema and a devout Christian, I care about what types of movies my children watch, and I feel called to share my thoughts with you. In this IF Christian Movie Review, I give parents the information they need before seeing this film with children.

Furthermore, it should be noted that we pay for our movie tickets so you can be sure that you are getting my unbiased thoughts on each film I review. For Christian families, selecting the right movie isn’t just about avoiding the bad—it’s about actively seeking the good, those stories that resonate with our core values. They provide a unique opportunity to explore themes of faith, forgiveness, and redemption in a way that’s accessible and engaging for people of all ages.

IF starring Jon Krasinksi. This movie poster shows a burning marshmallow

IF Christian Movie Review

Studio synopsis of if:.

From writer and director John Krasinksi, IF is about a girl who discovers that she can see everyone’s imaginary friends—and what she does with that superpower—as she embarks on a magical adventure to reconnect forgotten IFs with their kids.

My Synopsis of IF:

When  John Krasinski  introduces us to a young girl grappling with difficult situations in his latest creation, she discovers an extraordinary world brimming with imaginary friends. This isn’t just a story about overcoming sadness; it’s a profound exploration of coming to terms with what life throws at you.

The tale of 12-year-old girl named Bea and her journey is a heartwarming reminder of how unseen companionship can bring immense comfort and guide us toward healing. As a Christian, recognizing the significance of imagination and faith as tools for navigating life’s challenges offers a fresh perspective. This film, with its unique blend of whimsy and heartfelt emotion, splendidly encapsulates the essence of hope and the power of believing in something greater than ourselves. 

Big Purple monster starring at a girl from the movie IF

IF Christian Movie Review – What Parents Want to Know

Frequent use of taking God’s name in vain. In fact, at one point my adult son leaned over and just said that I could stop writing each incident down and just say they used God’s name a lot. Uses include lots of “Oh my g-d,” and “oh g-d.” Furthermore, “swear to g-d,” “good g-d,” “oh dear g-d,” and “thank g-d,” are used. It was almost as if they tried to get God’s name in as many times as they could.

Three uses of h-ll, and one use of d-mn.

One person makes a comment about having a “broken butt.” Another person calls someone a fool.

A man is seen breaking into a house.

Additionally, a child is in the hospital with multiple broken bones, and he says he “falls a lot.”

One imaginary friend is invisible and people are seen tripping over him.

Spiritual Content:

A girl is told, “you are the chosen one.”

Extensive use of magical elements transforming a retirement home. Keep in mind that it may be all in one’s imagination that this transformation takes place. Additionally, one IF (Imaginary Friend) is a ghost.

Sexual Content:

In the land of IFs, an art class takes place. The participants are painting an apple that is posing, and she is told to “cover up.”

Other Content: See SPOILER BELOW for the questions of death in the movie. Does Bea’s mom die? and Does Bea’s dad die?

Bea’s mom is shown in the hospital with a scarf on her head. Bea’s dad is later shown in the same hospital.

As a woman whose husband was in the hospital for heart bypass surgery, I found the depictions of the hospital were totally unrealistic. After Bea’s dad’s surgery, he is in bed with no monitors, no tubes, and just a pulse oximeter on his finger.

In one scene, Bea goes with Cal (Ryan Reynolds) to a closed Coney Island amusement park. He opens a door and they go through a secret passage underneath a ride. It felt kind of “icky” in the moment. As the movie continues, it makes more sense, but throughout the movie, not only does Bea run around the streets of New York City alone, but she also goes around with Cal. No one seems to notice or care including her grandmother.

Positive Content:

Throughout the movie, you see Bea coming to terms with growing up and dealing with the challenges of life.

She is told by an IF, “Nothing you love can ever be forgotten.” Bea has forgotten things, but uses the time at her grandmother’s apartment building (while her father is in the hospital) to remember good times with her family.

Bea is on a journey of self-discovery, healing and trying to make sense of life. While her dad is his hospital room bed, and not awake, she tells him a story of her life. He awakens and tells her it is a good story.

Teaching with the Movie IF

Each movie I see, I try to view it through the eyes of my children or grandchildren. What elements will they see, and what will they miss? If your child has ever dealt with being in a hospital, discuss how unrealistic the entire hospital setting was. Do you think a child pushing a used gowns/hospital bedding cart would go unnoticed? Additionally, digging through hospital gowns and bedding is 1) unsanitary, and 2) a health risk.

Did you or your children ever have imaginary friends? Have your child draw their imaginary friend. If they never had one, ask them to use their imagination to create one now. Ask, “What would your IFs special talents be?”

Who could your child invite into their life as a friend? As a Christian, we know there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” That friend is Jesus Christ, and He isn’t imaginary.

Additionally, discuss whether or not the movie was “real” or just a product of Bea’s imagination.

​The opening of the film with the Paramount Logo was uniquely done. Have your child redo a logo for another movie with elements from the film.

Christian Review of IF – My Viewing Recommendations :

Am I the only person that sees Jim from the Office every time I hear John Krasinski’s voice?

While this family film did have a lot of positive elements, I am once again saddened by the repeated misuse of God’s name. I’ve said this before, and I will continue saying it until Hollywood “gets it,” but did you ever notice they never say, “Oh my Al-ah?” Because it would be totally offensive to the Muslim community.

Overall, the musical score was very good, and was a product of Composer Michael Giacchino who was also responsible for Mission Impossible, Jurassic World, Up, and other famous works. Additionally, the concept was original-ish. It was refreshing to see a movie that was not a remake of a remake. (I’m looking at you, Disney!) However, this film is slow moving at times, and my husband actually fell asleep – I’m usually the one doing that.

As far as my recommendation, I would say, “see this movie,” but it pains me to hear God’s name taken in vain sooooo many times.

photo of Ryan Reynolds and Cailey Fleming in a hallway from the movie IF

Evaluating Entertainment: The Role of Christian Review Sites

Have you ever found yourself scrolling endlessly through movie titles, wondering which film aligns not just with your entertainment preferences but also mirrors your values? Many of us face this dilemma, especially when selecting content for family movie nights.

This is where Christian movie review sites become an invaluable resource. This platform is more than just a list of film critiques; it is a guiding light for families seeking entertainment that upholds their Christian values. With an array of movies to choose from, these reviews offer  easier access  to detailed information on content, themes, and moral evaluations, making it a simpler process to find films that resonate with our faith. The significance of such resources cannot be overstated; we aim to provide a beacon of insight, ensuring that our recommended movie selections are entertaining and enriching to our spiritual lives and family values. 

About the Movie IF:

Rating: PG for thematic elements and mild language

Release Date: May 17, 2024

Runtime: 1 hour, 44 mins.

Genre: Animation/Children’s film

Studio: Sunday Night Productions, Maximum Effort

Directed by: John Krasinksi

Written by: John Krasinksi

Produced by: John Krasinksi, Allyson Seeger, Andrew Form, Ryan Reynolds

Edited by: Christopher Rouse, Andy Canny

Music by: Michael Giacchino

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

The Cast of IF :

Cailey Fleming plays Bea

Ryan Reynolds plays Cal

John Krasinksi plays Bea’s Dad

Fiona Shaw plays Bea’s Grandmother

Alan Kim plays Benjamin

Liza Colon-Zara’s plays Nurse Janet

Bobby Moynihan plays Jeremy

Voice Cast:

Blue voiced by Steve Carell (Purple Monster)

Blossom voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Butterfly dancer?)

Marshmallow Man voiced by John Krasinksi (Flaming Marshmallow)

Gummy Bear voiced by Amy Schumer

Lewis voiced by Louis Gossett Jr. (Teddy Bear)

Unicorn voiced by Emily Blunt

Sonny voiced by Matt Damon (A flower)

Spaceman voiced by George Clooney

Keith voiced by Brad Pitt

Ally voiced by Maya Rudolph (Alligator)

Robot voiced by Jon Stewart

Bubble voiced by Awkwafina

Guardian Dog voiced by Sam Rockwell

Dragon voiced by Vince Vaughn

Octopus’s voiced by Blake Lively

Magician Mouse voiced by Sebastian Maniscalco

Ghost voiced by Matthew Rhys

Slime voiced by Keegan-Michael Key

Ice voiced by Bradley Cooper (Ice Cube)

Cosmo voiced by Christopher Meloni (Private Detective)

Art Teacher voiced by Richard Jenkins

Banana voiced by Bill Hader

Frequently Asked Questions:

Where can i watch if.

If was released into theaters on May 17, 2024. At that time, it could only be watched in theaters. A streaming date has not been announced.

Is there an end-credit scene for If?

​Yes, there is a very quick end-credit scene. 

Will  IF stream on Disney+? 

No. IF will not be streaming on Disney Plus. Because IF is a Paramount film.

Will IF stream on Peacock?

It is unlikely that IF will stream on Peacock. In fact, it is a film distributed by Paramount and will most likely stream on that platform.

How much did it cost to produce IF?

The production budget was $110 million.

What other movies have been made that deal with Imaginary Friends?

One movie, that is similar in some ways, is Wonder Park which tells the story of a young girl who creates an amusement park with her mom. When her mom leaves for cancer treatments, the girl’s park come to life.

Other movies include, Where the Wild Things Are , and Winnie-the-Pooh .

Then we have movies such as The Velveteen Rabbit who gains “real status” because he is loved. And certainly we can’t forget Toy Story where Andy believes his toys are real, and they come to life when no one is looking.

What black-and-white movie is playing on the television?

The film Harvey, starring James Stewart, is playing on the television. In fact, you may know Stewart from the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life. The movie playing is about an invisible giant rabbit named Harvey that Jimmy Stewart’s character talks to.


Does bea’s mom die.

Yes, Bea’s mother does die. However, nothing is shown on screen. There is a discussion when Bea’s dad is in the hospital and he says that he is not going to die.

Does Bea’s dad die?

No. Bea’s dad does not die. He “had a broken heart,” has some sort of heart surgery or procedure and recovers.

Who is the tribute to at the end of the movie?

The tribute was to the late Louis Gossett Jr. who voices Lewis the bear. This was one of his final roles before his death in March 2024.

Christian Movie Guide for parents of the film IF

Reviewing movies for parents from a Christian perspective since 2005. Know Before You Go!

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The Best Quote From Every Christopher Nolan Movie


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Christopher Nolan 's movies have captivated audiences with their immense sense of scale, intricate narratives, philosophical depth, and memorable characters. Beyond their visual spectacle, Nolan's movies are commended for their precise, thought-provoking dialogue, expressing profound truths in meaningful passages. One of his remarkable strengths as a filmmaker lies in his ability to distill complex themes and ideas into concise, impactful moments. Whether through a single conversation or a solitary line of dialogue, Nolan has a talent for encapsulating the essence of his films' core messages into engaging scenes that communicate his ideas cinematically.

From mind-bending science-fiction concepts to intimate reflections on morality and identity, these quotes serve as windows into the thematic richness and narrative complexity that define Christopher Nolan's cinematic legacy . They are microcosms of their larger narratives, inviting audiences to engage with even the most existential of questions, grappling with moral dilemmas, and exploring the intricacies of human psychology.

12 “When it stopped being random, that’s when it started to go wrong.”

Bill (jeremy theobald) - 'following' (1998).

Bill's reflection on the unsettling nature of his habitual activities in Following marks a turning point in his journey from a curious observer to an active participant in a web of deceit and crime. Initially stalking strangers under the pretense of collecting material for his book, struggling author Bill realizes the consequences of his actions when they become deliberate and calculated, leading to disastrous outcomes.

This quote highlights Following ’s exploration of impulse versus control and the fine line between habit and addiction. Bill’s loss of randomness in his peculiar activities underscores the inherent risks in attempting to bring order to inherently chaotic activities. It speaks to the unpredictability of human behavior and the unintended consequences of seemingly minor decisions. Nolan's feature film directorial debut , Following uses this moment to explore the complexity of moral choices and the thin line between curiosity and guilt.

11 “I can’t remember to forget you.”

Leonard shelby (guy pearce) - 'memento' (2000).

Leonard Shelby’s haunting lament captures the tragic essence of a shattered mind on full display in Memento . Suffering from short-term memory loss, Leonard is unable to form new memories and relies on tattoos and notes to navigate his unending quest for revenge. Directed towards his long-lost wife, this line encapsulates Leonard's perpetual grief and the cruel irony of his condition – his love and pain are constant.

This quote is part of Memento 's central conversation between memory and identity. By stripping him of his memories, Nolan creates a character that retains his personality without a sense of identity. Leonard’s plight highlights the fragility of human memory and its profound impact on one's sense of self. This line illustrates how memory shapes reality, a core tenet of Memento ’s intricate and often lauded narrative.

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10 “I didn’t murder her. I killed her, but it just ended up that way.”

Walter finch (robin williams) - 'insomnia' (2002).

In Insomnia , Walter Finch’s ( Robin Williams ) chilling confession to Detective Dormer ( Al Pacino ) puts its finger on the pulse of the film's moral ambiguity. Finch, played brilliantly against type by the ever-charismatic Robin Williams , delivers this line during a tense phone call, blurring the lines between intention and outcome. His assertion distinguishes between the act of killing and the premeditation of murder, a nuance that challenges Dormer's sense of justice.

This quote is a striking reflection of the film’s central themes: the complexity of guilt and the murky nature of morality . Finch's words force the audience to confront difficult questions about culpability and the human capacity for rationalizing immoral actions. It serves as a crucial moment that deepens the ethical dilemmas faced by the characters, illustrating Nolan's knack for probing the darker aspects of the human psyche.

9 “Why do we fall, sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.”

Alfred pennyworth (sir michael caine) - 'batman begins' (2005).

Following the destruction of Wayne Manor at the hands of the League of Shadows , Alfred's ( Sir Michael Caine ) wise counsel to a despondent Bruce Wayne ( Christian Bale ) is a cornerstone philosophy for The Dark Knight trilogy. The line is an echo of a fatherly sentiment delivered earlier in the film to Bruce by his father. Coming from Bruce's surrogate parent, Alfred , the second time, the line becomes a powerful reminder of resilience and the importance of overcoming failure .

This quote is the very essence of Bruce Wayne's journey within the broader narrative of Batman Begins and only holds more weight as the series continues. It emphasizes the idea that true strength lies in the ability to rise after a fall, a recurrent theme throughout Nolan's depiction of Batman, culminating in his epic rise from the pit in the Trilogy's last chapter. It is a guiding principle that shapes Bruce's transformation into Batman, embodying the film's themes of redemption, perseverance, and dedication to one's ideals.

Batman Begins

8 “you don’t really want to work it out. you want to be fooled.”, cutter (sir michael caine) - 'the prestige' (2006).

Cutter's revelation at the end of The Prestige puts a final semicolon on the film's meditation on illusion and deception. As he explains the audience's complicity in the magician's trick, Cutter’s words reveal the deeper psychological need for wonder and mystery. This chilling line serves as a meta-commentary on the film itself, addressing the audience and taunting them for wanting to be deceived: after all, what is a movie but an elaborate magic trick in which the suspension of disbelief plays the most important part of all?

This quote brilliantly synthesizes The Prestige ’s themes of obsession, sacrifice, and the pursuit of perfection . Nolan’s narrative, ever the complex puzzle, is bound tight within Cutter’s words, highlighting the audience’s role in embracing the fantasy. It’s a fitting summation of the film’s exploration of the fine line between what is real and what the audience wishes could be. Coupled with Caine's elegant delivery, this quote becomes a haunting echo to an already eerie story.

The Prestige

7 “sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded.”, batman (christian bale) - 'the dark knight' (2008).

In The Dark Knight , Batman’s pivotal decision to take the blame for Harvey Dent's ( Aaron Eckhart ) crimes is expressed in this line, reflecting the film’s preoccupation with morality, justice, heroism, and belief. Batman’s choice to preserve Dent's image as a hero is just one of many sacrifices he makes for the greater good of Gotham. It’s a moment that defines Batman's character and his understanding of what it means to be a symbol in the eyes of the people he protects.

Delivered to Gary Oldman 's Jim Gordon in the aftermath of Dent's death, Batman's words are a powerful commentary on the nature of truth and the role of an idolized symbol in society. By allowing Batman to disappear, Bruce prioritizes the general public's hope over his reputation. Placing his hero in a situation where the most selfless action means character assassination, Nolan crafts an ending that resonates deeply, cementing Batman's role as Gotham's true savior.

The Dark Knight

6 “an idea is like a virus: resilient, highly contagious.”, cobb (leonardo dicaprio) - 'inception' (2010).

Cobb’s explanation to Saito about the power of an idea very simply sets the stage for Inception 's complex plot. As he outlines the concept of inception, he reveals the profound impact that thoughts can have on an individual's reality. This moment is pivotal in understanding the stakes of the film's central mission and the risks involved in manipulating the human mind. By laying out the concept in simple terms, Nolan ensures his audience is along for the ride.

This quote encapsulates Inception 's exploration of reality, perception, and the subconscious and foreshadows the grief that overwhelms Cobb's mind. This line suggests that even in the real world, where science-fiction dream-dives are far from possible, the core beliefs that shape it are still ideas, for better or worse. Cobb's words are a testament to the intricate and often perilous interplay between one's innermost thoughts and the reality they construct.

5 “You do not fear death. You think this makes you strong. It makes you weak.”

Blind prisoner (uri gavriel) - 'the dark knight rises' (2012).

At the dramatic turning point of The Dark Knight Rises , the Blind Prisoner's ( Uri Gavriel ) words to Bruce Wayne during his imprisonment in the pit challenge the hero's prior understanding of fear and strength. This line is pivotal in Bruce's journey to reclaim his identity as Batman and highlights the necessity of fear as a motivator, as true strength comes from acknowledging one's vulnerabilities and carrying on, not in spite of but because of them.

Fear is a central theme in Nolan's Batman films, as Batman Begins paints very broadly. But what makes The Dark Knight Rises the ultimate representation of that theme is its insistence that fear is not something to be ashamed of but an experience worth welcoming and harnessing. This quote is central to the film’s exploration of fear, strength, and redemption , forcing Bruce to confront his deepest insecurities and rise above them. Nolan uses this moment to deconstruct the myth of the fearless hero, suggesting that recognizing and embracing fear is crucial to achieving personal actualization.

The Dark Knight Rises

4 “our greatest accomplishments cannot be behind us… our destiny lies above us.”, cooper (matthew mcconaughey) - 'interstellar' (2014).

Interstellar , Nolan's science-fiction epic, tells a grand story that still focuses on the intimacy of human relationships. The protagonist, Cooper ( Matthew McConaughey ), delivers this poignant line during a crucial conversation about humanity's future. Faced with the imminent collapse of Earth's environment, Cooper's words speak to the sense of hope and determination inherent in all people. His statement is a rallying cry for resilience and ambition , urging humanity to look towards the stars for salvation.

This quote embodies the film's overarching motifs of exploration, survival, and unyielding human curiosity. By focusing on the relationship between Cooper and his daughter , Interstellar proves that the bonds of human connections can transcend time, space, and even fiction. Nolan uses Cooper’s altruistic proclamation to underscore Interstellar ’s optimistic vision of human potential , resonating with the timeless aspiration to reach for the final frontier.


3 “men my age dictate this war. why should we be allowed to send our children to fight it”, mr. dawson (mark rylance) - 'dunkirk' (2017).

In Dunkirk , Mr. Dawson’s ( Mark Rylance ) reflection on the nature of war speaks volumes about the generational disconnect between military leadership and young soldiers. As a civilian sailor embarking on a rescue mission, Dawson's line underscores the moral responsibility felt by older generations towards the young men thrust into the horrors of battle. His words highlight the personal stakes and human cost of war, themes that are at the very soul of Nolan's Dunkirk .

Encapsulating the film's explorations of sacrifice, duty, and the intergenerational divide, Mr. Dawson's reflection is a powerful critique of the decisions made by those in power and their far-reaching consequences on the younger generation. Dawson's words present a distinct, human voice in a time of great turmoil, emphasizing Nolan’s focus on individual stories amid the larger historical context of the Dunkirk evacuation.

2 “For me, I think this is the end of a beautiful friendship.”

Neil (robert pattinson) - 'tenet' (2020).

In the complex space-time mechanics of the world of Tenet , Neil's ( Robert Pattinson ) farewell to the Protagonist is a poignant yet perplexing ending . The quote is delivered during their final mission, with Neil heading off to secure their victory in a time-reversed battle for the fate of the world. His words echo an iconic line from Casablanca : "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship," adding a layer of nostalgic sentimentality because Neil knows far more about their shared past and future than the Protagonist does.

This quote is emblematic of Tenet 's intricate narrative structure and its central friendship forged through time and adversity. It underscores the sacrifices and the emotional weight carried by the characters due to their roles in the temporal conflict. Neil's line is a nod to classic cinema and a heart-wrenching reminder of a bond that transcends the convoluted mechanics of time travel.

1 “They won’t fear it until they understand it. And they won’t understand it until they’ve used it.”

J. robert oppenheimer (cillian murphy) - 'oppenheimer' (2023).

In 2023's Oppenheimer , this chilling quote is uttered by physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer ( Cillian Murphy ) as he reflects on the implications of the atomic bomb. Capturing the unsettling realization of the destructive power humanity has unlocked, Oppenheimer's words speak to the paradox of technological advancement and the moral complexities that accompany it, emphasizing the need for understanding and restraint. The bomb's creation and subsequent use is an oppressive presence felt throughout the film.

Delivered with gravitas by Cillian Murphy , this quote synthesizes the film's themes of scientific discovery, ethical responsibility, and innovation's catastrophic potential . Nolan's depiction of Oppenheimer confronts the dual-edged nature of progress and the weight of its consequences. The line serves as a poignant reminder of the need for wisdom when wielding power, a quality too often lacking in the hands of power-hungry men who cannot see any alternative other than to act.


NEXT: Who Plays Albert Einstein in Christopher Nolan's 'Oppenheimer'?

  • Christopher Nolan

inception christian movie review


"comical rivalry gets out of hand".

inception christian movie review

What You Need To Know:

Miscellaneous Immorality: Woman tries to fool her business rival out of selfish spite, but the rival figures out the woman’s scheme, then gets lost in her obsession to expose the woman, to the point that she almost loses her own fiancé, but all’s well that ends well, plus a side male character acts a little effeminate.

More Detail:

MAY THE BEST WEDDING WIN is a romantic comedy on UPtv about two rival female talent agents working in the same firm who fight over a wedding venue, with one woman hiring an actor to pretend to be the fiancé who just broke off their engagement. MAY THE BEST WEDDING WIN is really funny and family friendly, with a positive view of marriage that also promotes honesty and rebukes selfishness.

The movie opens with Tiffany signing up a big new client and thus acing out Amber, her rival of 14 years. Tiffany is kind of selfish. The same day she lands the new client, her fiancé, Colin, breaks off their engagement four weeks before the wedding. Outside on her coffee break, Tiffany tosses her engagement ring into a fountain right in front of Amber.

Back in the office, Tiffany laments she has no time to cancel all the wedding plans. Amber graciously offers to do it for her.

However, Tiffany finds out Amber wants to steal the wedding venue out from under her. In effect, that would move Amber’s wedding to Daniel up a whole year. Jealous, Tiffany lies and tells Julia, the fancy wedding planner, that she and Colin have decided to get back together. So, Julia puts Tiffany’s wedding arrangements back to where they were.

It’s all a lie, however. Amber doesn’t believe Tiffany, though. So, she enlists her fiancé, Daniel, and Julia to help her expose the truth. Julia sets a special new cake tasting appointment the next afternoon. To keep up appearances, Tiffany hires an actor named Nick to pose as Colin. She promises to help Nick get some acting jobs afterwards.

At the cake tasting appointment, however, Amber and Daniel show up and try to trip up Nick and expose Tiffany’s lies. Nick must rely on his improv skills to avoid being exposed as a fake. For example, Tiffany forgot to tell him that Colin is from England. So, Nick has to make up a fake English accent on the spot. Tiffany also forgot to tell Nick what Colin does for a living. This leads to funny, awkward moments when Daniel grills Nick about Colin’s job.

The laughs keep flying in MAY THE BEST WEDDING WIN as Amber and Daniel keep trying to trip up Nick and Tiffany. The movie also has some good dramatic moments as Amber’s efforts to expose Tiffany causes her to ignore Daniel’s feelings. Also, just when Nick starts to see that Tiffany actually has some honestly good, encouraging ideas and words for his career, Tiffany’s selfish side raises its ugly head. Thus, the jealous rivalry between Tiffany and Amber threaten to derail their relationships with the men in their lives.

MAY THE BEST WEDDING WIN is pretty family friendly. It has a strong moral worldview promoting marriage, honesty, forgiveness, and having courage to admit when you’re wrong. Finally, MAY THE BEST WEDDING WIN rebukes selfish, rude behavior coming from the two female rivals. Can Tiffany and Amber see past their intense rivalry and treat people better?

inception christian movie review

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‘The Great Lillian Hall’ Review: Jessica Lange Is a Diva Battling Memory Loss as Broadway’s Lights Dim Around Her

Christian zilko.

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So it’s fitting that, whether she knows it or not, Lillian Hall’s ( Jessica Lange ) upcoming turn as Madame Lyubov Andreievna Ranevskaya in “The Cherry Orchard” will be her final performance. Michael Cristofer’s new HBO film introduces Hall to us as a quintessential Broadway diva, a Patti LuPone type universally acknowledged as the “first lady of the American theater.” Few professions in the entertainment industry are kinder to aging women than Broadway stardom, and Hall’s status as a theatrical matriarch has turned this Chekhov revival into the hottest event of the New York theater season.

But final dress rehearsals are derailed by chaos amid Upper West Side culture vulture buzz about the production — which also marks the Broadway debut of edgy theater director David Flemming (Jesse Williams), receiving his first taste of establishment legitimacy after years of being hailed as a rising genius. As Lillian struggles to remember her lines and blocking, the show’s backers are forced to consider the possibility that she’s no longer capable of carrying a Broadway production. As they weigh the risks of replacing her with a less bankable but more competent understudy, she takes a cognitive exam that reveals she has an early form of dementia.

Elisabeth Seldes Annacone’s script gives Lange plenty to work with, and the actress — currently starring in her own Broadway production with Paula Vogel’s “Mother Play” — gives a rich performance that shows why she’s still at the top of her game. Lillian spends much of the film in an ephemeral stage of early dementia in which she knows who she is and what she’s doing, but the world gradually starts to look more and more confusing. Lange surrounds the character with an aura of ultra-politeness that you’d expect from someone so focused on outward appearances, but reveals more vulnerability as Lillian’s world slips away.

While Lillian is often haunted by ghosts of her past and present (including Pierce Brosnan, whose role as the retired actor living next to Lillian sees him playing a siren of geriatric handsomeness who is constantly tempting her), the film is ultimately most interested in celebrating the irrational levels of devotion that live theater inspires in the people who make it. While it doesn’t pull punches about the challenges that lie ahead, “ The Great Lillian Hall ” ultimately makes it clear that its protagonist is lucky to have something that’s so hard to let go. But just like Chekhov’s timeless stone fruit heirs, that realization only comes to Lillian after she causes endless damage to everyone around her.

“The Great Lillian Hall” will air on HBO and stream on Max on Friday, May 31 at 8 p.m. ET.

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‘Robot Dreams’ review: This animated delight explores friendship and loss

inception christian movie review

  • By Peter Rainer Contributor

May 29, 2024

Animated movies are the ultimate conjuring act. We are drawn into a world of graphic stylization that, at its best, carries the same emotional impact and allurement as any nonanimated drama.

Pablo Berger’s whimsical “Robot Dreams,” a tribute to the beauty and frailty of friendship, certainly fits this description. Set in a 1980s New York City almost entirely populated by animals, and with virtually no spoken dialogue, the film affected me in much the same way as last year’s “Past Lives,” which was also about the fragility of the ties that bind. 

Of course, “Robot Dreams,” a fantasia about a dog and a robot, is a very different sort of film. But it earns its tears just as honestly. Why should this be a surprise? If we can be transported by the power of a great painting, why should a great animated movie afford us any less of an experience?

Why We Wrote This

When an animated film is invested with the full range of feeling, the result is “Robot Dreams.” The movie is a tribute to the beauty and frailty of friendship, our critic writes.

We first encounter Dog in his depressingly sparse third-story apartment on the Lower East Side. Watching TV while downing his microwaved TV dinner, he takes note of a commercial for a do-it-yourself robot kit that asks, “Are You Alone?” Dog may be a loner, but he’s industrious. Soon he and Robot, his mail-order buddy, are inseparable. 

The scenes of them jaunting around their neighborhood are elating. The blocks are teeming with rhinos, giraffes, ostriches, pigs, ponies, raccoons, and sundry other critters. The Spanish-born Berger lived in New York for 10 years and has said in interviews that “Robot Dreams” is his “love letter” to the city. It shows. His cityscapes are a multiethnic menagerie spilling over with the rough bustle of street life. The anthropomorphism on display is anything but cutesy.

inception christian movie review

Waiting for the First Avenue subway, Dog and Robot are loudly serenaded by an octopus knocking out a drum solo, sticks flying high in the air. The pair skate through Central Park, boogying to the beat of their favorite song, Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September.” A day at Coney Island is bliss until it becomes clear that the seawater has rusted Robot’s joints. Immobile, lying face up on the sand, he awaits Dog’s rescue mission. But unbeknownst to them both, the beach season has just ended. Dog’s frantic nighttime attempts to break through the fencing and save Robot leads to his arrest. A snowy winter awaits.

The source material for “Robot Dreams” is the eponymous 2007 graphic novel by the esteemed Sara Varon, whose books also include “Bake Sale,” about the friendship between a cupcake and an eggplant. Along with his art director José Luis Ágreda and animation director Benoît Féroumont, Berger has not so much reimagined as intensified Varon’s storybook vision. His dramatized dream sequences for both Dog and Robot, as they imagine their reunion, have the effect of heartbreaking wish-fulfillment fantasies. The byways of hope all lead to rude awakenings.

Besides Varon, Berger was clearly inspired by “The Wizard of Oz” and such popular artists as Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Busby Berkeley, and Jacques Tati. Above all, the look and feel of the film is a nod to the graphics of Hergé’s “Tintin” books, which Berger has described as a “visual punch” – clear lines, limited shadows, flat colors. The unfussy design of “Robot Dreams” should not be mistaken for a lack of complexity. On the contrary, the clean graphics summon us straight into the story’s emotional heart.

I greatly admire the voluptuous, free-form lyricism of animators like Hayao Miyazaki, but what Berger does here, in its own scaled-down way, is just about as robust. He’s a voluptuary of the everyday. This is his first animated movie, having directed three previous live-action features. He honors the animation medium by investing it with a full range of feeling – just as if he were making a movie with real people.

This is another way of saying that “Robot Dreams” is a film for adults perhaps even more than for children. It’s a movie about overcoming loss, and that is an emotion that can certainly resonate across generations.

Peter Rainer is the Monitor’s film critic. “Robot Dreams” is unrated. 

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  • Cast & crew

The Firing Squad

Cuba Gooding Jr., Kevin Sorbo, and James Barrington in The Firing Squad (2024)

Based on the true story of three Christian prisoners who face execution their joy in Christ stuns the entire prison camp. Based on the true story of three Christian prisoners who face execution their joy in Christ stuns the entire prison camp. Based on the true story of three Christian prisoners who face execution their joy in Christ stuns the entire prison camp.

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