THE SHAPE OF THINGS

Content -4
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Language        
Violence        
Sex        
Nudity        

Release Date: May 09, 2003

Starring: Paul Rudd, Rachel Weisz,
Gretchen Mol, and Fred Weller

Genre: Drama

Audience: Older teenagers and
adults REVIEWER: Jerry
Langford THE SHAPE OF THINGS
is a morally offensive story
of relationships and the power
exerted on others to bring
about change. In the same
cruel vein as IN THE COMPANY
OF MEN and THE BUSINESS OF
STRANGERS, this Neil LaBute
story tackles the allures and
dangers between men and women,
and explores the myriad levels
of power and manipulation
within these relationships. It
succeeds in doing so, but
fails on the moral scale in
that it argues Modern Humanist
dogma to the bitter end. True
to its subject matter (but not
necessarily being true to
truth), THE SHAPE OF THINGS is
presented as art that intends
to change the thinking of its
patrons. Unfortunately, many
will be persuaded by its
anti-moral, anti-biblical
position. Morally speaking,
the story's sentiments would
not stand up to minor scrutiny
or challenge, but the movie
only permits a weak, hollow
voice of dissent. THE SHAPE OF
THINGS opens as Evelyn, a
young and beautiful art
student, captures the
attention of Adam, a shy and
homely museum guard. Adam is
immediately hooked and begins
a relationship that will
change him to the core. The
story follows their romantic
relationship over the next 16
weeks and Adam's efforts to
improve himself for Evelyn's
love and approval. THE SHAPE
OF THINGS cleverly poses the
question: "What would you do
for love?" Several references
to the story of MY FAIR LADY
are sprinkled throughout THE
SHAPE OF THINGS. These sly
citations argue that it is
generally acceptable to help
another person change or
transform, even drastically.
Christianity is based on the
idea that individuals need
change and receive it by the
grace and mercy of God.
However, godly change is
brought about out of divine
love for the individual, not
as a manipulative power play
or joke. Our society, on the
other hand, argues that change
is needed to acquire things,
people or power. Hence the
popularity of makeovers,
cosmetic surgeries, and
rallies or programs that
improve self-esteem. The
concepts of personal
betterment, desiring others to
improve, or challenging a
loved one to change bad or
sloppy habits are not, in
themselves, negative. Further,
it is not a moral
contradiction to recognize a
higher standard and see how
people measure up to it. In
fact, the idea that
communities have decency
standards is an indication
that society acknowledges
right from wrong.
Nevertheless, THE SHAPE OF
THINGS will challenge even
that widely held belief. Adam
and Evelyn are merely the
writer's catalysts to prompt
viewers to evaluate their own
belief systems. In case the
audience might miss the Adam
and Eve allusions, Evelyn
wears a T-shirt with a large
red apple on the front. Within
minutes (and to Adam's
horror), Evelyn announces her
intention to deface a museum
statue. She also points out
that the sculpture is one
artist's impression of God.
THE SHAPE OF THINGS includes
many other spiritual
references, characters
exclaiming "God help us," and
even Evelyn is kindly compared
to a Messiah figure. Still, no
matter where the story bends,
defacing is what it has in
mind all along. This movie,
originally a play by the same
name (and also written by
director Neil LaBute), is a
commentary on contemporary
issues, but also a
not-so-subtle attack on those
who defend and practice
morality. It is not surprising
when the camera pans slowly
across a large banner
exclaiming, "Moralists have no
place in an art gallery." It
appears LaBute harbors strong
feelings about art critics and
resents any form of
self-control, much less
government censorship. At key
points in the story's
dialogue, he defends art - any
art - and challenges moralists
who would dare label the work
as offensive or pornographic.
"There is only art," the movie
says. THE SHAPE OF THINGS also
insists that art is
subjective. THE SHAPE OF
THINGS got one important point
right. The story concerns four
college students and takes
place, appropriately enough,
on the fictitious campus of
Mercy College. It is a
powerful reminder that this
type of teaching thrives on
college campuses. Morality is
challenged, ridiculed and
eventually cast off for an
"enlightened" humanist
worldview which argues that
man is the measure of all
things. "Coming of age" means
graduating with the
understanding that relativism
rules and there is no place
for moralists in this world.
THE SHAPE OF THINGS is an
intelligently written charmer
but the story's promoted
values are in opposition to
God's teachings and,
therefore, morally
reprehensible. Please address
your comments to: David Linde
and James
Schamus Co-President Focus
Features 100 North Crescent
Drive, Garden Level Beverly
Hills, CA 90210 Phone: (310)
385-4000 Fax: (310)
385-4408 Website:
www.focusfeatures.com

Rating: R

Runtime: 97 minutes

Distributor: Focus Features

Director: Neil LaBute

Executive Producer:

Producer: Rachel Weisz EXECUTIVE
PRODUCERS: Tim Bevan and Eric
Fellner

Writer: Neil LaBute BASED ON THE PLAY
BY: Neil LaBute

Address Comments To:

Content:

(HHH, B, AbAb, FeFe, Ro, LLL, V, SS, N, M) Very strong modern humanist worldview about a man affecting tremendous changes to please his girlfriend, with some moral elements, but they are also challenged, ridiculed and ultimately cast off, as well as feminist elements wherein woman is referred to as a Messiah figure and gross feminist performance art; very strong language includes 38 obscenities (16 "f" words), three blasphemies, and 15 profanities; violence includes fighting, shoving, slapping, and old scars described as evidence of self-mutilation; implied fornication, implied oral sex, much talk about sex and male organ, woman grabs man's clothed crotch, kissing and couple wearing underwear shown in bed, and discussion of strong feminist performance art where "artist" removed a tampon in public and wrote in menstrual blood (this so-called "art" is defended but moral character argues it is disgusting); no explicit nudity, but male pubic hair visible as man shows off tattoo, some cleavage shown, upper male nudity, woman in underwear, and nearly nude statue shown; drinking and smoking; horoscope sign briefly mentioned; many spiritual references, some twisting of popular scripture; much twisting of morality and notions of free will, improving the human condition, and God helping people to change, plus lying, deception, and inappropriate behavior strongly rebuked.

GENRE: Drama

Summary:

THE SHAPE OF THINGS is a morally offensive story of relationships and the power exerted on others to bring about change, about a young man's efforts to improve himself to win a woman's love and approval. An intelligently written charmer in the same cruel vein as IN THE COMPANY OF MEN, this Neil LaBute story explores the myriad levels of power and manipulation within male-female relationships, but the story's humanist values are in opposition to God's teachings and, therefore, morally reprehensible.

Review:

THE SHAPE OF THINGS cleverly poses the question: "What would you do for love?" It opens as Evelyn, a young and beautiful art student, captures the attention of Adam, a shy and homely museum guard. Adam is immediately hooked and begins a relationship that will change him to the core. The story follows their romantic relationship over the next 16 weeks and Adam's efforts to improve himself to win Evelyn's love and approval.

THE SHAPE OF THINGS is in the same cruel vein as IN THE COMPANY OF MEN and THE BUSINESS OF STRANGERS. The story by director Neil LaBute tackles the allures and dangers between men and women, and explores the myriad levels of power and manipulation within these relationships. It succeeds in doing so, but fails on the moral scale in that it argues Modern Humanist dogma to the bitter end. Morally speaking, the story's sentiments would not stand up to minor scrutiny or challenge, but the movie does not allow opposing viewpoints to be raised. All in all, THE SHAPE OF THINGS is an intelligently written charmer but the story's promoted values are in opposition to God's teachings and, therefore, morally reprehensible.

In Brief: