"Too Many Serious Flaws"
What You Need To Know:
AFFLUENZA is well acted, especially by the young leads. The rest of the cast is not as consistent. There are some nicely done dramatic scenes and some positive content, but the sale and use of marijuana isn’t condemned. The movie also contains much strong crude language and brief nudity. AFFLUENZA generates some sympathy for its rich characters, despite their materialism. However, it blames the 2008 fiscal crisis on free market capitalism rather than big government institutions like the Federal Reserve and Fannie Mae.
(PaPaPa, Ro, H, B, FR, HoHo, AcapAcap, RHRH, Cap, LLL, VV, SS, NN, AA, DDD, MM) Very strong mixed and syncretistic, but somewhat unfocused, pagan worldview with Romantic, humanist and pagan elements, moral elements that are briefly pro-family with religious Jewish references, but the Jewish characters are rather lax and noncommittal, movie seems to endorse brief New Agey pagan wedding with an American Indian presiding where family is overtly re-defined, plus strong left-oriented content that’s pro-homosexual, anti-family and anti-capitalist, with overt revisionist leftist history, but mitigated by some pro-capitalist elements; about 85 obscenities (many “f” words), nine strong profanities, and 10 light profanities; strong and light dramatic violence includes car crashes into post or tree where woman cuts her head badly, two men fight, implied apparent suicide when man finds his friend floating in pool; depicted bedroom scene but cut off and avoids explicit activity, implied ongoing adultery when married woman caught kissing another married man during private golf lesson in enclosed backyard, and some crude comments/references; shots of upper female nudity in one scene, shot of partial rear female nudity in another scene, upper male nudity, and two women in bikinis in one scene; alcohol use and apparent drunkenness; protagonist sells and smokes marijuana by himself and with others; and, lying, a secret plan to disrupt a romantic relationship, selfishness, materialism, intense family argument, ridicule.
AFFLUENZA is an adult drama about some young college-age rich Jewish young people in Great Neck, Long Island when the 2008 fiscal crisis is just about to break. Most of their fathers or stepfathers work on or near Wall Street in Manhattan making big bucks. Some of their mothers seem absent, though one of them, Bunny, lives off the income of her Wall Street husband.
Into their lives comes Fisher, whose parents are divorced because his father decided he’s homosexual. Fisher comes to stay at his Aunt Bunny and Uncle Phil’s house. An aspiring photographer, Fisher has come to New York City to get into a different college. To make ends meet, Fisher also sells marijuana from Upstate New York where he used to live and attend college.
As Fisher starts selling his pot to these wealthy young people, he runs into a nouveau rich boy named Dylan. Dylan is hopelessly in love with Fisher’s somewhat snooty cousin, Kate. He asks Fisher to help him woo Kate away from her fiancé, Todd, in exchange for helping Fisher get into the new college he wants.
Things start to unravel for Dylan, Kate, Todd, and the other young people as the 2008 fiscal crisis lays waste to the financial status of the rich families in Great Neck. Meanwhile, Fisher discovers Aunt Bunny cheating on Uncle Phil with Todd’s father. A sudden tragic death in this illicit triangle brings misfortune to the precarious friendships among Fisher, Dylan, Kate, and Todd. The fiscal crisis just exacerbates all these people’s problems and conflicts.
AFFLUENZA is well acted, especially by the young cast portraying Fisher and the rich youth. As Uncle Phil, Steve Guttenberg (COCOON, POLICE ACADEMY and 3 MEN AND A BABY) is really showing his age, which is a bit distracting, even if it was intentionally exaggerated by makeup for the movie. Also, some scenes in the second half were confusing at first, especially in scenes between Fisher and Dylan. This may be because the story shows their friendship getting a lot stronger, but in ways that don’t quite make sense or that seem to ring a little false.
The result is that AFFLUENZA doesn’t seem to rise above three stars, despite its compelling story and characters. The sales and use of marijuana throughout the movie are not exactly endorsed, but neither are they condemned. More condemnation seems to be reserved for the lavish lifestyles and materialism of the rich characters. The movie also seems to be blaming free market capitalism for the fiscal crisis instead of socialist big government policies and the corrupt collaboration between big business and big government, the true causes of the 2008 fiscal crisis. AFFLUENZA also contains lots of strong crude language and brief nudity.
All in all, therefore, though it deserves some praise, AFFLUENZA ultimately is unacceptable viewing. The marijuana references are particularly disturbing. Also, a scene near the end endorses the homosexual relationship the protagonist’s misguided father is having. That said, there are some nice scenes creating sympathy for some of the characters and the tragedies, difficulties and challenges they encounter. At one point, an implied suicide occurs, but the movie deals with that horrible event in the serious, heartfelt way that’s required. Also, though the movie places the blame for the 2008 fiscal crisis on the wrong reasons, it manages to generate some sympathy for the rich wheelers and dealers (as represented by Uncle Phil), who failed to see the disaster barreling so swiftly down upon their heads. In one brief vital scene, AFFLUENZA also shows an American Indian presiding over a New Agey wedding where a leftist definition of family is promoted. Thus, the movie’s worldview overall seems rather mixed and, ultimately, unfocused, though its politics seem to lean one way.
Of course, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, especially when seen through an intense study of the Bible, which is the Word of God, not only provides focus. It also leads people to wisdom and righteousness. Sadly, too many Christian churches in one way or another have abandoned major parts of this Gospel and are being swayed by dangerous cultural fads and demonic ideologies running virtually unchecked in modern society.