WHAT GOES UP
Anti-Christian Teen “Comedy”
Release Date: May 29, 2009
Starring: Steve Coogan, Hilary Duff,
Olivia Thirlby, Max Hoffman,
Molly Price, Sarah Lind, Laura
Konechny, and Molly Shannon
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 107 minutes
Distributor: Sony Pictures Entertainment
Director: Jonathan Glatzer
Executive Producer: Kirk Shaw, Joseph Nasser, Jack
Nasser, Steve Coogan, Thomas
N. Greenauer, James Hoke,
Anthony Miranda, and Joseph
Producer: Jack Nasser, RD Robb and
Writer: Jonathan Glatzer and Robert
Address Comments To:Michael Lynton, Chairman/CEO
Amy Pascal, Chairman - Motion Picture Group
Sony Pictures Entertainment
(Columbia Pictures/TriStar/Screen Gems/Provident/Triumph Films)
10202 West Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232-3195
Phone: (310) 244-4000
Fax: (310) 244-2626
Web Page: www.spe.sony.com/
When Campbell arrives in the small town, he looks up an old college roommate whom he learns has also just committed suicide. His friend was a high school teacher who had a unique relationship with his students. Campbell becomes obsessed with this group of students. The students begin to look up to Campbell. This obsession includes a near sexual relationship with a student, listening to the teenagers discuss sex, buying beer for them, and becoming high from marijuana together with them. Campbell wins the Pulitzer prize for his articles about the mother but must deal with whether to be honest or not that many of the subsequent articles he wrote about her were fictional.
With much discussion of death and an overt disdain for God and Christianity, the plot wraps up as Campbell returns home. All of this is set against the backdrop of a small town eagerly awaiting the launch of the Challenger space shuttle.
WHAT GOES UP is well written and well crafted. Campbell is a complex character. Also, the story is unpredictable and only hints at the resolution to issues such as who turned in the teacher having an affair with his student. The pacing is tight and the movie clearly communicates its message as it wrestles with the issue of death.
The message, however, is blatantly anti-Christian. In the opening voiceover, the journalist says that when Jesus died, everyone debated whether he was a man or the Son of God until some friends got together and wrote the story down, telling everyone their version of the story was the gospel truth. He says that legends aren’t told, they are written. The main character sneers and tunes the radio away from a station talking about the “gospel truth.” Lyrics of one song call out to Jesus to help them in their “fall from grace.” The characters seek meaning in death and in life but, having rejected God, ultimately find no meaning and so return back to their lives.
The negative content in WHAT GOES UP is particularly disturbing because it all involves teenagers, sometimes teenagers with Campbell. In fact, one hedonistic line of dialogue reads, “Let your passions overwhelm your fears.”
A teenage girl, confined to a wheelchair, asks a teenage boy to have sexual relations with her and they do in multiple scenes. When she is finally fulfilled, the boy cries out like an evangelist, “It’s a miracle!” Also, two teenage girls hint at a burgeoning lesbian relationship as they experiment touching tongues and hanging on each other affectionately. There is also nudity in a number of scenes.
Furthermore, the teenagers smoke marijuana. In fact, in one scene Campbell actually joins them as they all dance and frolic while being high. Campbell also agrees to buy beer for the teenagers. The movie also shows a man jump to his death holding a cross necklace his students gave him. Finally, a teenage girl has an abortion and her friend stays with her during the procedure, which makes the two females sad enough to cry.
The movie’s anti-God message is paired with an anti-hero message. Campbell was supposed to go to the town for a story about the astronaut hero, whom we know ultimately was killed. Campbell wrote stories about his ex-lover, who was genuinely a hero but then killed herself. Campbell’s teacher friend was a hero, nearly a messiah figure, to the students, but he killed himself as well. A teenage boy is awarded a medal at school as hero for saving a baby’s life, but the only reason he saw the baby choking was because he was standing outside the window masturbating.
Ultimately, WHAT GOES UP is totally devoid of grace and, ultimately, purpose as the characters pursue a hedonistic life without God.
Regrettably, however, with pop icon Hilary Duff starring in one of the teenage roles, teenagers may want to see the R-rated WHAT GOES UP, but they and their parents should know that the first five words from Miss Duff’s mouth in this abhorrent movie are the “f” word.
WHAT GOES UP is well written and crafted. Campbell is a complex character. Also, the story is unpredictable and only hints at the resolution to issues such as who turned in the teacher having an affair with his student. The movie’s humanist message, however, is blatantly anti-Christian. In the opening voiceover, the journalist basically says the Christian faith is based on fiction. The other characters also show a disdain for anything that has to do with God as they pursue their hedonistic lusts. The movie’s graphic sexual content, explicit nudity, drug abuse, and vulgar language are particularly disturbing because they all involve teenagers. WHAT GOES UP is totally devoid of grace and, ultimately, purpose.