Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Rent

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material involving drugs and sexuality, and for some strong language

Reviewed by: Willie R. Mangum Jr.
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Musical Romance Drama
Length:
2 hr. 15 min.
Year of Release:
2005
USA Release:
November 23, 2005 (wide)
Featuring: Rosario Dawson, Taye Diggs, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Jesse L. Martin, Idina Menzel
Director: Chris Columbus
Producer: Michael Barnathan, Mark Radcliffe, Chris Columbus
Distributor: Sony Pictures Releasing
Copyright, Sony Pictures Releasing
Copyright, Sony Pictures Releasing
Copyright, Sony Pictures Releasing
Copyright, Sony Pictures Releasing
Copyright, Sony Pictures Releasing
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Relevant Issues
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Relationship information
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.

How to share Christ’s love with homosexuals

What’s wrong with being gay? Answer
Homosexual behavior versus the Bible: Are people born gay? Does homosexuality harm anyone? Is it anyone’s business? Are homosexual and heterosexual relationships equally valid?

What about gays needs to change? It may not be what you think.

Read stories about those who have struggled with homosexuality

Are we living in a moral Stone Age? Philosopher Christina Sommers charges that today’s young people are suffering from “cognitive moral confusion.” They not only have trouble distinguishing right from wrong—they question whether such standards even exist.

Teen Qs™—Christian Answers for teenagers
Teens! Have questions? Find answers in our popular TeenQs section. Get answers to your questions about life, dating and much more.

"No day but today”

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “Based on Puccini’s classic opera La Boheme, Jonathan Larson’s revolutionary rock opera ‘Rent’ tells the story of a group of Bohemians struggling to live and pay their rent in the gritty background of New York’s East Village. ‘Measuring their lives in love,’ these starving artists strive for success and acceptance while enduring the obstacles of poverty, ilness and the AIDS epidemic. One of the longest running shows on Broadway, ‘Rent’ was the winner of the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Obie Award, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, four Tony Awards and three Drama Desk awards.”

Review

If, from a technical and artistic perspective, there were any doubts about Chris Columbus’ ability to direct the film adaptation of a critically acclaimed Broadway musical.doubt no more. With a long string of comedic hits to his credit it is difficult to say that, without doubt, this is one of the best films of Columbus’ already impressive career. That difficulty noted, also note the inherent difficulty of pulling off a musical of any genre, much less a musical drama. This is enough to argue Columbus’ place among the ranks of elite directors like Spielberg, Gibson, Howard, Reiner and others.

The film opens with a stirring recital of the song “Seasons of Love” (the opening song of Act II in the Broadway musical) and asks the question, “How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?” This question sets the film’s tone and establishes the theme that will carry the development arch of the characters.

In philosophy and logic there is a fallacy known as “begging the question.” The one resounding question of this film is value and purpose in life and answers are in short supply. The simple and profound beauty of this question lies in its inherent appeal to the eternal and transcendent. A point that is totally lost in both the stage musical and this film. An incredible ensemble ably directed cannot overcome the hollow ring of emptiness. The question having been asked will be begged throughout the film.

It is this opening scene, however, that begins to reveal the directorial savvy of Chris Columbus. The simplicity of a sparse stage and straightforward “theatrical” lighting highlight the lyric while permitting undistracted story set up. From the stage we move immediately to the loft of Mark and Roger and are introduced to a small group of friends, all struggling artists, living in a neighborhood in the lower east side of Manhattan known as “Alphabet City.”

The title song “Rent” serves to introduce the neighborhood and the players. We soon find out that their former roommate, Benny, is the cause of their misery. He intends to collect from them a whole year’s rent or evict them. He also intends to raze the building and clear the adjoining lot in order to build a high-tech condo and production studio that all of them will use to achieve their dreams.

The film follows the friends as they struggle to come to terms with life on the lower east side in the shadow of poverty, AIDS and the overwhelming tide of the mainstream, represented by their former friend, that threatens to crush their creative heart and conform them to the demands of a material culture.

How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?
In Truths That She Learned,
Or In Times That He Cried,
In Bridges He Burned,
Or The Way That She Died.

This film asks an insightful question and ends up overwhelmingly empty. Can you measure the life of a person in any of these proposed ways? Certainly.

The truths that we learn are of eternal importance. Truth is the plumb line of life, setting the direction and providing the goal that gives life purpose and meaning. Without truth, there is no ability to measure the life of a man or a woman.

The times that we cry and the bridges we burn are significant points in life that fall along that plumb line. Why do we cry? When and for whom do we cry? Which bridges do we burn and why? The line we use to plumb of our lives will dictate these significant events.

Finally, the way that we die will reveal whether or not our plumb line was, indeed, true. And this is where the film falls profoundly short. The plumb line here is self without significant restriction or guidance from truth. The lyric of two songs sufficiently display the error and the emptiness of this film; “Another Day” and “La Vie Boheme.” These songs parallel the resounding chorus of our post-modern era, “truth is relevant, and there are no absolutes.”

The question of Pontus Pilate must reverberate through our minds as we consider the questions and proposed answers of this film. “What is truth?”

The answer to the question is repeatedly on the proverbial “tip of the tongue” in this film. And it is repeatedly spat to the dirt in disdain and mockery. The words of Romans 1:18-32 are very clearly depicted throughout this film. Truth is on display and truth very clearly reveals a crooked and depraved plumb line in the lives of these young artists.

In godlessness and wickedness we suppress the truth. The wrath of God has been revealed from heaven and we see it ever so clearly in the condemnation and death of Jesus of Nazareth. God has pronounced judgment on godless and wicked men and He has fully executed His wrath at Golgotha, the place of the skull, the mount of Calvary, the very place where sin was once and for all judged, condemned and conquered. Eternal punishment was borne and eternal life has been secured, being demonstrated in the resurrection of this same Jesus of Nazareth.

This truth is, at the same time, the plumb line for living and the plumb line for love. Godlessness and wickedness will continue to hold down the truth. Godliness and righteousness must continue to uphold the truth by lifting up the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

This film has no redeeming moral value and I cannot, in good conscience, recommend that anyone go and see it. I can, on the other hand, point out that our response to this film and to the “Rent” players in our real lives, must be according to the same compassion, mercy and grace demonstrated at Calvary and granted to us.

There are no answers in this film. The only real and lasting answers to the questions raised in this film are found in Christ. Our lives must be lived according to the kind of love and compassion He demonstrated to the woman at the well. While He pointed out and acknowledged the sin in her life He also acknowledged the deeper need for the forgiveness and redemption that can usher a soul into true worship. He understood the measure of a life and He has called us to understand and live according to this same measurement.

We are God’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us and we are called to implore people, on Christ’s behalf, to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20-21). Because ‘God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.’

We must so live that we demonstrate the love, grace and mercy of our King.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

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

Viewer Comments

POSITIVE

Positive—If you are a fan of musical theatre and already like the stage production of “Rent”, than you will enjoy and appreciate this movie. I have loved the Broadway musical for almost 4 years and have been anticipating the release of this movie since its development was announced, and I was not disappointed. I understood what kind of movie I was going to see, and I readily paid for my ticket and sat in the theatre, so I have no complaints.

However, if you are unfamiliar with the premise of “Rent”, you should really read about it before going to see it. “Rent” is life from a secular, hedonistic point of view through the eyes of AIDS victims at the turn of the 1980s. The characters search for answers to questions we, as Christians, know can only be answered through Christ, yet they come up with nothing. They decide they must live for the moment—live for love each and every day… to have any purpose or value, and that is their conclusion.

We must remember that Christ would have loved these people just as he loves us. He would have been at Angel’s bedside as he succumbed to AIDS; he would have held Mimi’s hand as she went through withdrawal. God so loved the World, the whole world, and that includes atheistic homosexuals and drug users in New York City.

“Rent” is an amazing film, and I would recommend it to older teens (16 or over) and adults who appreciate the stage version and are acutely aware of the overall morality, worldview and tone of the musical. It is not for everyone!! It must be viewed with an open mind, though, and a logical, analytical spirit as well as a firm Christian base.
My Ratings: Offensive / 5
—Kirsten, age 19
Positive—…an exhilarating moving movie. I highly recommend this movie to teens and adults. It touched me in a way that has some what changed my perspective of thinking. It is a wonderful movie about young people surviving in our world today—making choices that may bring tears to your eyes. There was one scene that may not have been appropriate, but was only averaged 1 minute long. Other than that it was a great inspirational movie. I recommend all to see!!
My Ratings: Excellent! / 4½
—Regina, age 39
Positive—I saw the touring production on stage in 1997—my senior year of college, and I feel the same way after seeing the film as I did then: Every Christian needs to see “Rent”. It is a powerful depiction of members of my generation that do not know Jesus. It puts a name and a face to people that we tend to ignore. Drug addicts. Prostitutes. The homeless. Homosexuals. People with AIDS. To me, it was not so much a glorification of these things as much as it was a snapshot of people living with these issues. It forced me to see myself in some of those people. One line in the musical (not in the film!) was, ‘There but for the grace of God go you.’ That hit me hard when I first saw it, and I thought about it again as I watched the film. The only reason I am different from any of those characters is because of Jesus Christ. Isn’t it our responsibility to share His love with the people in this world who need Him?

Even if you don’t think you need to see it, see it anyway. Don’t watch it with a critical spirit, counting all the ‘GDs’ and ‘JCs,’ pointing out all of the immorality in it. Ask God to give you His heart for the lost—to weep over our cities the way Jesus wept over Jerusalem. Watch it with compassion, and when you walk out of the theater, resolve to show Jesus’ love to all of the Marks, Rogers, and Mimis of this world. I promise you that you will never be the same.
My Ratings: Average / 5
—Leanne, age 29
Positive—This is one of the best musicals that I have ever seen in my life, however, there is lots of questionable content, and those of you who are not familiar with the Broadway musical may want to skip it. This film is definitely not for children. It is the equivalent of an R-rated film, and lots of emphasis is placed on the gay and lesbian characters—even more so than the original play—which just so happens to be my only complaint. Chris Columbus and the whole cast did a great job! I want to see it again, but I don’t think that I will buy the DVD. If you think you can handle it, then go for it. If not, then stay far away. I only wish that I hadn’t taken my mother!
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 5
—Adam, age 23
Positive—From an artistic standpoint, this film is incredible and daring, although it’s morality seems to be in question, I walked away from this film feeling deeply stirred at the core of my heart. During the “La Vie Boheme” scene, while everyone is singing and dancing on tabletops, there is one sentence which convicted me to the core. It was a quote from scripture, one relevant to all of us. “Let he without sin, cast the first stone.” That place, with those people—places like that with real and hurting people like that is exactly where Christ would be likely to be found if he physically walked among us today. I think if one looks past the surface of “sin” in this film, they are likely to be touched deeply. Not only is it beautifully made, but it is full of truths and realities that we need to stay ever conscious of.
My Ratings: Offensive / 5
Misty Wagner, age 29
Positive—I went to see “Rent” with an open mind, because we are all sinners, and we have no right to judge the characters in this film. I came out of the theatre feeling extremely burdened to go out and be a witness to this dying world. How can something that makes you feel this way be wrong for you to view? I have always wanted to see the Broadway production, and I have yet to see it. This film was the closest thing to the Broadway experience for now, so I went ahead and saw it. Yes, there are homosexual characters, and yes, they do kiss one another. Yes, there are junkies and pole-dancers in it. How else do you expect non-Christian individuals to act?! Like you? I think not. Going into this film, you need to remember that. It is NOT a feel good family film. It’s a hard hitting, in your face account of the way the world really is. Christians should be able to take something from this, and remember that the world is crumbling out there, and it is our responsibility to spread the news of the Gospel.

Technically, the film is among the best that I’ve ever seen. The acting—mostly from the original Broadway cast—was superb. Chris Columbus is an amazing director, and he only proves that with this film. I recommend this film, and I hope that people will go see it. I’m not asking you to “tolerate” what the characters are doing on screen. I didn’t. Lots of it made me uncomfortable, but that’s what sin does. That’s the whole point. These characters are paying the price for their sins, and that’s pretty much what the film is all about. It’s not some feel good romp through the park, although it has some feel good aspects to it. The film is also about hope. About living your life to the fullest. If only these characters had known Christ, their lives could have been so much better. All I can say is go see it!

One word of caution, however: This film is rated PG-13. The director of the film said that he expected an R-rating for the film, but the MPAA allowed the PG-13 so teenagers could see it. Chris Columbus also said that he wouldn’t recommend the film for teenagers 13 and under, because it still feels like an R-rated movie—and he would be correct. Take caution.
My Ratings: Offensive / 5
—Lance Schroeder, age 28
Positive—In regards to the “no day but today” theme of the film, I feel that this is totally in line with the teachings of the Bible. The film isn’t encouraging people to live without fear of consequences; in fact, it is very much about the consequences (HIV, addiction, etc.). It’s encouraging people instead to not wait until tomorrow to do what they should do today: renew relationships that have been lost, work on projects that have stalled, find spiritual fulfillment. I think it’s important to note that in spite of the characters’ desperate surroundings they are all trying to do these things—yes, even the gay and lesbian characters! I thought the film and the show were both uplifting as they showed how to find the good in every person.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
—Katie, age 21
Positive—In reading everyone’s comments I wanted to point out that yes, we do need to live for a day beyond today when we will all meet Jesus. But we can also look at the theme of this movie “No day but today” from a different viewpoint. I think it means “you might die tomorrow so tell everyone you love that you love them TODAY because you might not have a tomorrow on this Earth.” “Follow your heart, follow your dreams, etc.” The creator of the show, Jonathan Larson, died after the final dress rehearsal when the show was off-broadway (or something like that—I apologize if I’m not completely accurate). He never got to see his musical become as successful as it is today. This just goes to show you might not live tomorrow so make today the best it can be. And in regards to the song, “Seasons of Love,” a big theme in that is to NOT measure your life in days, minutes, hours, corporate world successes, the money you make, the things you have, etc. but measure it in the people you love and those who love you. Isn’t this the most important thing? I think these are very Biblical messages. Yes, the film is edgy, but it is real life. And I know Jesus would have hung out with these people.
My Ratings: Average / 4
—D.E., age 29
Positive—“Rent” is an amazing look at a cross section of New York’s struggling artists. If you want to live in a world sugar coated and never look at the plight of man than this film is not for you. I however understand that not everyone knows Jesus Christ and there for have compassion for others who struggle without them. At one time I myself judged this musical seeing it as immoral and totally disgusting. But as I grow in my relationship with Jesus I realize that judging others will get me nowhere. I am reminded of a little phrase…“judge not lest you be judged…” sound familiar? I once would go thru life saying those “other people” aren’t as good as me because look at the decisions they’ve made, but now I see it as an opportunity to learn about their struggles so that I can find ground to empathize with them and share what’s in my heart. And I look at others, like say for instance, drug users, gays, and lesbians as people who have been broken by this world and most of all people who need God’s love. By loving them, and not the sin, I share more of Jesus than those who would just condemn them and thump their bibles and turn the other way. “Rent” tells the story of many struggling artists dealing with poverty, drug use, and HIV/AIDS in New York. I thought this film powerful because I don’t realize how it must be for anyone dealing with these traps set by satan. If you can’t retain an open mind about life than don’t go see this film. It doesn’t sugar coat anything, but rather shows life, and life isn’t pretty. Sometimes it’s sad, sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it breaks your heart. I would recommend this film to anyone who can look at life from the perspective Jesus would have. My question is would Jesus have loved the characters of Mark, Rodger, Benny, Maureen, Mimi, Angel, Joanne, and Tom? You bet!!…
My Ratings: Average / 5
—Lexie Walker, age 23
Positive—…I’ve seen the movie twice, will see it at least one more time in the theater before it leaves, as well as having seen the stage performance. “Rent” is one of the finest stories ever told; the music comes from the soul and speaks, from the Christian background, of today’s LEPERS, the homosexual community, and particularly those with HIV/AIDS. There is a celebration of community within this story, a celebration of survival (not unlike the early Christians, who had to fight against those who felt THEY were the evil doers). There is an outpouring of hope and love in every single lyric. (On leaving the theater the first time, my first stop was the music store across the mall, to purchase the soundtrack. I’ve listened to the music so much I can sing it all now, and only wish more people knew the WORDS to these songs).

The topics here are heavy, but dealt with in a way that makes it an emotional experience. Perhaps that is what those who walked out before it was over really had a problem with: FEELING the emotions this movie brings out can overwhelm those who are clinging to the rock out of desperation rather than true love. This story is universal, and angry, for the powers that be have largely ignored todays’ LEPERS, in hopes they will just go away. If this movie does only one thing: reminds people that we are ALL God’s Children, it will have served a higher good. Angel’s character is as innocent and pure as a child, and the actor who plays her should be commended, particularly. La Vie Boheme is only one truly fine song: speaking to the soul of those who will fight to be different…
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Susan, age 50
Positive—…an outstanding depiction of the lives of struggling artists and actors in New York. It maps out these young peoples lives as they struggle with life and strive to find meaning in what sometimes seems to be meaningless circumstances. Their courage and vision in the face of daunting obstacles is inspiring and their story epitomizes the fulfillment of the 2nd great commandment (of the two we are given by Jesus) to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” …Other than loving God there is no greater example of promoting Christ’s values than loving thy neighbor. …
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Richard March, age 45
Positive—While this movie is almost entirely based on the bohemian and gay lifestyle I did not view it as offensive. I really enjoyed the movie and would love to see the stage performance. I viewed it in a positive manner due to the fact it actually showed the consequences of the characters decisions. Everyone with AIDS suffered greatly in the movie. Angel died with the disease and Mimi almost died in the end due to drugs and AIDS. Everyone had to deal with their decisions… I believe unlike “The Birdcage” or “Will and Grace” this is a movie Christians should see in order to understand how everyone else views AIDS and homosexuality. After all we are supposed to love the sinner but hate the sin. …
My Ratings: Better than Average / 5
—James Pressley, age 30
Positive—This film portrays the state called “real life” (except for the breaking out into constant song). This is something all Christians should be aware of, such as homosexuality, drugs, AIDS, and living the life of a struggling Bohemianist. The Bohemian lifestyle is severely misunderstood by sheltered Christianity as it is in the South, where I’m living, and this movie somewhat clears it up for people. It’s not about being immoral or hating God, it’s about being an individual. Christians need to see individuality so that they can realize that being yourself is a good thing. We all feel the need to fit into everyone else’s view of a “good” Christian, so we suppress ourselves to follow the masses. Without the realization of individuality that this movie brings we can’t connect to today’s society and successfully evangelize. This film introduces one to the real world in a way that you feel what AIDS victims feel. And we should know that so that we can treat them like Jesus did lepers. Most people just condemn them and walk by, but we need to help them by first realizing their pains. Just because you don’t agree with someone’s opinion or choice doesn’t mean its not there. If I had to put up one word to give a reason why you should, if you are a mature Christian, see this movie, I would put REALIZATION.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 5
—Charlie Grant, age 19
Positive—I thought this movie was beautiful. I was skeptical at first because all I knew going in was that it had a lot of singing homosexuals in it, but I came out raving about it. The music was incredible, as everyone has already said, so I won’t dwell on it. What I noticed most was how Angel reminded me of the parable of the Good Samaritan, not only when he scraped Collins off the sidewalk, but also throughout the rest of the movie—doling out the hugs and kind words like none other. I sobbed during the scene at the church when Collins and the rest of the gang sang “I’ll Cover You.” The love the characters had for each other was so evident. If I were a parent, I’d use this film as an above reviewer suggested: to discuss STDs, drug use, friendship, kindness, and redeeming love—of friends and of God. I’d venture a guess that mention of God by any of the characters would’ve caused just as much controversy as his absence.
My Ratings: Good / 5
—Brittany, age 18
Positive—I happened to find that nothing in this film was offensive. The whole idea in the film is about love and friendship among a group of people in NEW York. This is how these people choose to lead their lives, and if anyone here saw the play, what is in the movie is exactly what was onstage. I was a little disappointed in the movie, because it wasn’t as fantastic as the play was, but it was close to it.
My Ratings: Average / 2½
—Jackie, age 17

NEUTRAL

Neutral—I have to concur with the main reviewer’s comments. There is almost nothing of redeeming moral value in the movie, but that is not to say that there is no value at all in watching it. I would not at all recommend this movie for anyone under the age of 13, and would strongly recommend that parents have a frank talk with their kids about what they see portrayed onscreen in “Rent”.

I most strongly agree with the reviewer’s comments regarding how we as Christians should ACT towards people like those portrayed in the movie. They are homosexuals and lesbians, crossdressers, drug addicts; they are for the most part poverty-stricken and not at all beautiful people. In short, they are exactly the type of people that Jesus would have spent time with and ministered to. It’s a sad fact that we in the Body have done a poor job of both reaching out to and reaching such people with the Gospel. The value for us in this movie may be some knowledge into the lifestyle many of them lead. Knowledge can often lead to insight, and insight will help in sharing the Good News.

The bleakest aspect of the worldview espoused by “Rent” can be summed up in the refrain “no day but today.” This worldview is basically saying that we should live life to the fullest because it’s all there is. This is a philosophy that is both empty and hopeless, and we who know Christ know that it is FALSE. The prophet Jeremiah, speaking for the Lord, said “I know the plans I have for you, plans for prosperity and not for calamity; plans to give you a future and a hope.” It is our responsibility as Christians to make this known to those who do not know the saving grace of Jesus. There are many real-life people like the characters in “Rent”—learning where they’re coming from is essential to providing a context to share the Gospel.
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 5
—C.E., age 33
Neutral—As a youth minister, there is no way that I would suggest this movie to any of my students. At first, I felt somewhat guilty for sitting through it. Homosexuality is rampant. However, as the movie progressed, I began to appreciate something about it. This movie does an excellent job of portraying homosexuals as REAL people. This is something that, I fear, the evangelical community has failed to do. All too often I think we portray homosexuals as some kind of mutant, certainly beyond the grace of our loving God. However, this film shows several homosexuals in a perceivable real-life situation. It shows them interacting not only with their partners, but also with their friends. It shows that they are people with feelings and compassion (I actually liked the character of Angel, despite his being a gay drag queen.) The pain all the characters felt when Angel succumbed to AIDS was felt throughout the theatre.

To those who have not seen the movie but who are considering it, please realize that homosexuality is quite prominent. Also, there is some language. To those who are not sure if they want to see it or not, I will suggest that you maybe stay away. To those who have and who found it extremely offensive, I can only offer my above comments as to what I discovered. We are to approach everyone with the love of Christ, no matter their lifestyle. That’s what Christ himself did.
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 4½
—Kyle, age 22
Neutral—I am the mother of three teenage daughters (18, 15, 13 years old) and have been hearing my older two daughters rave about “Rent” coming out for a year. They are both fans of musical theater. My oldest daughter went to a pre-release showing with her college buddies and they were ecstatic over the movie version after many had seen the Broadway version last Spring. I teach middle school students in a Christian school that has a solid Biblical worldview so I reluctantly chose to take my youngest daughter to see the movie so we could discuss issues portrayed in the musical, and so I could understand what all the hype was about. I knew there would be a lot of conversation over Thanksgiving dinner about this movie in my home.

The appeal of this film is in it’s excellent vocalists, lyrics, and in the fidelity of the friendships of the main characters who manage to choose to unconditionally love each other in a disintegrating and degrading urban youth culture. Four of the characters are HIV positive, two from heroine addition (intravenous drug use) and two from the homosexual lifestyle. The hero of the musical, is a drag queen named Angel who lives his life unselfishly and sacrificially for his friends and is truly lovable in spite of his transgendered lifestyle. Open sobbing could be heard throughout the theater as he painfully succumbs to AIDs with the support of his friends. My 13 year old sobbed “Mom, is this really what AIDs does to a person?”, and I was able to spring board a great discussion with her about sexually transmitted diseases, abstinence, drug abuse, etc. from this one question. She asked me in the car on the way home if people who wait until they are married to have sex and never have sex with anyone else could get AIDs. What a great question to answer at just the right time. This one question made the movie worthwhile for me. She had a burning desire to know the truth at that moment.

Another thing faithfully portrayed in the movie was the hell a person goes through when they are addicted to heroine and also when they try to kick the habit. Mimi almost dies in this process, but “true love” revives her and gives her a reason to live. This was unbelievable to my daughter and I and we thought it was a little “corny”.

The movie’s main messages are as follows: “Live only for the moment, and forget the past and the future,” “Accept me as I am and never expect me to change, grow or mature,” “If it feels good, do it,” “My art is my identity and the thing I live and die for,” “My true family are my friends who accept me as I am, flaws and all,” and “Corporate America and work of any kind besides artistic endeavors are evil.” With that said, there is no story of redemption or the need of redemption of any kind in the plot. This is not a movie for anyone who is not well-grounded in a Biblical worldview, especially teens and twenty-something’s, in my opinion, as it glorifies rebellion and demonizes earning an honest living.

I would caution parents of teenage sons that there is a very seductive scene of Mimi at work in a strip club doing a pole dance which would be a temptation for males (probably of any age). Another female character, Maureen, moons her landlord. With that said, I must say I enjoyed the movie, especially the vocal performances. I had compassion and empathy for many of the characters and grieved for their destroyed lives. I was impacted by how completely lost they were and without a clue about God’s provision for redemption through Jesus Christ. Perhaps I will have a greater capacity to minister to young people caught up in some of these lies and show them how to get off the “broad path that leads to destruction, and find the narrow Way that leads to Life.”
My Ratings: Average / 5
—Deborah D. Esterline, age 45
Neutral—My husband and I went to see “Rent” because it’s a musical and we love the arts. We both thoroughly enjoyed that aspect of the film. The performances were spectacular. The song writer did an amazing job with the musical quality of the songs. I was moved by the songs and the characters. I was so moved that in the end I was thinking, “they still haven’t figured anything about life out.” The friendship that these characters share is amazing, but their lives are filled with so much hopelessness. They haven’t found any meaning at all, and they won’t; God is never mentioned as an option. It made me feel so sad in the end because I wanted them to figure things out. Everything about the film was contrary to the way I believe. I never would have watched a movie that involved the lifestyles portrayed in this movie. I would have walked out near the begriming if I was not hooked because of the music. That’s the amazing power that music has on us. I was so in awe of the performances and the musical talent. Like my husband said afterward though, “I wish that it had been in a foreign language so that I could enjoy the musical without knowing what they were saying.” I absolutely agree.
My Ratings: Offensive / 5
—Laura, age 25

NEGATIVE

Negative—I went to see this film with a few friends. …The two girls who were with us loved it, but I didn’t really like it, and John hated it. He called it “The most immoral thing I’ve seen in a long time.” I wouldn’t go that far, but it is a very immoral film nonetheless. The acting was good and the songs were, for the most part, great and catchy (I especially liked the song Mimi sings, “Out Tonight,” though I really wished that song hadn’t been performed in a strip club with Mimi dancing erotically), but that doesn’t make up for all the lewd content in the film. Out of the eight major characters in the film, four are openly homosexual, one of whom, Angel, is a drag queen who gives some truly sick musical numbers. I mean, they were good, empathetic characters, but they encouraged so much immoral behavior. I hated the song “La Vie Boheme.” The central message of that song seemed to be, “Everything in life is relative, including truth. Nothing is absolute. We should be free to do whatever perversions we feel like, and if you don’t like it, you’re an intolerant square.” The whole film seemed to just be condoning the incredibly damaging “Sin is in” concept that has been infecting our culture so badly over the last few years.

However, one of the reviewers did have a point: As Christians, we should have compassion for these people, and show Godly love towards them without suggesting that what they do is okay. Jesus would have probably been standing at Angel’s bedside as he was dying, encouraging him and Tom that death does not have to be the end. We should do that more often: Let people like Angel, Maureen, and Mimi in real life know that even though what they do is wrong, we still love them, as Christ loves us.

On the whole, I’d suggest skipping the movie and just getting the soundtrack. You’ll hear the great music, without having to watch the obscene stuff.
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 4
—Adam Lind, age 21
Negative—The Austin, Texas, newspapers ran this movie as PG. I now understand it is PG-13. The ads all showed a “feel-good” fun time. Call me naive, but I expected “Westside Story” of 2005. I was totally unprepared for the suggestive pole dances, homosexual kissing, dirty talk, drug use, and on and on. When was the bar so lowered on PG-13 that all of these things became OK? I am a second grade teacher who was shocked to think my little ones could be in the theater. I am also shocked to know that if this is PG-13 in 2005, what will it be when my second graders are in high school? What this generation condones, the next generation embraces. I know that people will reply that I’m not “tolerant.” What a 2005 catch phrase for the world is right, and Christianity is wrong.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 1
—Ann Campbell, age 48
Negative—…I feel obligated to tell the Christian community about the differences between the marketing of this movie and the real story that is “Rent”. This film is being marketed as a feel good romantic musical. But be warned this is a very dark realistic story. Some of main characters are either drug addicts or former addicts with one of the characters frequently smoking pot. Of the three couples two are gay with one a drag queen, something the previews don’t tell you about. To top it off half the cast is HIV positive or are dealing with full blown AIDS. The musical had frank adult language and sexual situations which no doubt the movie will as well. The movies theme “No Day but Today” no doubt contradicts with those of us who are living for life beyond this Earth.

The message of the musical and movie is love and hope in dark times. Some of the characters are dealing with the consequences of their actions which given the Hollywood’s history of only showing the “fun” part of sex and drugs is refreshing to a degree. But to be clear this is a very adult story with very adult themes. People who are offended by homosexuality, drug use, and frank language are advised to avoid this movie.
—Ed, age 36
Negative—As my daughters (17 and 18) are both involved in musical theater, we have known about “Rent” for sometime, purchased the CD, and anticipated it’s release in theaters. We were so disappointed. While the music was incredible, the rest was lewd and rebellious. The plot is already given above, so I’ll just add that in a PG-13 we saw: 2 women kissing—one on top of the other, two men kissing, a woman’s bear rear, the most suggestive “night club” dance I had ever seen, and other offensive things. The whole film premise was “live for today, forget about tomorrow.” The only redeeming factor in the movie, was that it reminded me that there are people who are deceived and hurting—dear people dying of aids and living lives without an understanding of God’s immense love for them. It made me resolve to do something to help those who are suffering. Psalm 101:3—“I will set nothing wicked before my eyes.”
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 4
—Sheila, age 45
Negative—My girlfriend really wanted to see this film, so I took her out and we watched only ½ of the movie because it was too racy and morally filthy for us. Out of the 10 or so stars in the film; like 7 are homosexuals. The movie may be fine for non-believers in Jesus Christ, but for those who follow God’s Word; this may not be the right kind of movie for yourself or your family.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 3
—Michael Uhlig, age 24

Comments from young people

Positive—First of all, I have to agree with several of the other comments already made. The story is really good overall. Yes, there is many acts of immorality in various aspects of the story. I first saw the musical on stage my freshman year of college and was blown away. It broke my heart. It made these people real to me. And it made their hurting real to me. The film is difficult to watch at parts. But it shows life and as another reviewer said, life is not pretty. There are people all around us who do not live like Christians do (or should anyway’s). I think the western church, in general, has become so complacent in being comfortable. It would seem having a beautiful church building is so much more important than reaching the homeless person or the person dying of AIDS across town. We, as Christians, have lost perspective on the world we live in. Our first commandment is to love God… and our second? to love people! By loving someone who is homosexual we don’t have to condone their lifestyle—it is not our place to judge anyone else, after all. I heard someone say once that since the last thing Jesus told his disciples on Earth was what we know as the Great Commission (Go and make disciples of every nation… and teaching—read the verses—Matthew 28:19-20), then it must be pretty important, huh? And it’s so true! Well, it’s our responsibility to reach out to people like the characters in this movie—to the Mimis, Joannes, Maureens, Marks, etc of this world! If we don’t, who will?! (Romans 10:14-15)

I really do urge Christians to see this film and pray about it! Perhaps it really is not suitable for teens under 15 or so, but for anyone else, it really is valuable. The music is great, and the film overall is really well-made. And of course, be cautious, as in anything you watch. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy it and it will impact your life as it has mine!
My Ratings: Average / 4½
—Kim, age 22
Negative—Completely goes against the Bible. I was totally disgusted. It’s core is homosexuality. Very disappointing. It’s nothing like the previews.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 3½
—Sarah, age 16
Positive—Wow, Sarah, I am quite disappointed in your narrow-mindedness. The movie was not about homosexuality, a few of the characters in the cast were homosexual, yes, but the film was about so much more than that. Too bad you missed the central theme of the movie, since you were so blinded by your homophobia. The film is about love, life, and living every day to the fullest, because it may be your last. I agree that it is not a Christian film, and does not uphold a Christian worldview, but instead of being upset by it, you should have been moved with compassion for the people in the movie. I loved the movie, it’s one of my favorite musicals, I would recommend it to anyone!
My Ratings: Average / 5
—Helena, age 17
Negative—Wow, Helena, I’m disappointed with your open-mindedness. Sex is not “love,” it’s just the way we reproduce. And the being “moved by compassion” idea is baseless. That’s like saying that we should watch the movie “Saw” and feel sorry for all those people who died and went to hell. Homosexuality is a hateful sin, according to Leviticus 18:22, the God whom we serve clearly says, “Thou shalt not lie with a man as you would a woman. It is a hateful sin.” The sexual immorality portrayed in this and other movies is completely wrong. The drug use hurts the people which I’m certain God doesn’t appreciate. Although the movie is rated PG-13, little kids still get to see it. And Jesus says that it would be better for a man to be thrown into the sea with a millstone about his neck, than to lead even one of his little ones astray.

Open-mindedness is an unsafe way to live, for it gives the Satan (the Adversary) many more opportunities to invade our minds, hearts, and lives. Sarah is right to be disgusted, for it is an abomination to God. To hate homosexuality, doesn’t mean that you hate the homosexual. It goes back to the old phrase: “Hate the sin, love the sinner.”
—Ben, age 18
Positive—The complaints about the lack of morality in “Rent” are valid, this is not a film you go to see God’s divine work. The film is a brave and daring look at an epidemic that has sadly plagued the world we live in. AIDS is not just limited to homosexuals, and the film shows that. The homosexuality in the film is not depicted in a vulgar way, it transcends that. It shows that love can develop between anyone, and even though it has been said Homosexuality is a sin. I think God would approve of the love these characters, homosexual and otherwise, share for each other.

This is an inspirational movie, a movie about how even though life can present various hardships, you can rise above it. The recurring motif of “No Day But Today” describes this. Everyone in life should live there life to the fullest, and despite the film presents some moral objections, it’s a remarkable tale of survival and the most fundamental human emotion: love.
My Ratings: Offensive / 5
—Christian, age 17
Positive—I am a huge fan of the musical Rent and all the music in it. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to see the movie, and I was definitely not disappointed when I did. I also feel the theme “No Day But Today” is an excellent portrayal of how we are to live our lives. It is not telling us to “live in the moment,” and disregard the Bible’s reasoning, but rather to not put things off, and to be as happy and love as much as you can in the little time that we are here. No regrets.

I don’t agree with many aspects of the movie. I do view homosexuality as a sin, and this movie is filled with that particular subject. However, the purpose of this movie is not to convince people that homosexuality is alright, or the way these characters live their lives is completely healthy. The movie has a broader idea it is trying to get across which I feel can touch everyone—not to hate and lookdown upon people for their sins. Though these people have more open sin, like homosexuality, we as Christians are just as sinful through our own faults, and it is wrong to judge them, for we do not want to be judged ourselves. I feel it is worthwhile for all Christians to see this movie; even if you don’t enjoy sinful aspects of the movie, it’s a good experience to see the hurt and pain it brings to these people when they are judged.

All in all, I think it’s an excellent movie, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to further their understanding of respect and love for others that are not similar to themselves. (Plus, the music is amazing!!)
My Ratings: Offensive / 3½
—Kate, age 15
Positive—This is a wonderful movie for people 15+. …The main theme, “No day but today” has been criticized… but those who criticize it are taking it the wrong way. It is true that the characters in the film aren’t religious from what we can see. However, they are not telling us to live so we will benefit right now, or to do whatever we want because life is over once you die. What they are saying is that we shouldn’t waste our lives being depressed or regretting the past. If we want to change our lives, or achieve a goal we need to start doing that today, right now.

The film also provides a deep look into the lives of people living with AIDS, and in poverty, as well as not to make judgments about people whom we don’t know. For example, one character, Angel, is gay, and this may cause some people to pass judgment on him immediately. This can blind them from seeing all of the beautiful things about him. He is so unselfish and kind, and teaches us to look for the good in all people.

The only disappointment in this movie is that although the characters preach the theme “no day but today,” for most of the film they aren’t really living that way (except for Angel), and you don’t get to see them start taking control of their lives and really living.
My Ratings: Average / 5
—Kate, age 18
Positive—…as a young Christian, I see this film as an artist’s gift to those in need! I was born into a Christian home and always went to church! Now just because I was raised Christian or go to church doesn’t make you an awesome Christian. It’s being Christ-like that makes you a great Christian. This film was Jonathan Larson’s way of helping by his strengths by writing. …focusing on the beauty of the story. It’s about LOVE. Now love doesn’t always need to be about a man and a woman, it could be about friends, family, or strangers. This film reflects how these people living in poverty and sickness live life to the fullest by LOVING. Sure there are drawbacks, one of them is struggling with drug addiction. I felt close to this character because I abused drugs. I cheered overjoyed when Mimi is over her drug addiction. I cried when the Life support people sing in unison on how life is too short to procrastinate, because what they sang is what my aunt told me months before she died of cancer. Angel (The gay character) is surprisingly a very Christian-like character. He/She helped almost everybody when they were in need. Angel was very compassionate and caring towards everybody. In the Bible Jesus said that he who hath clothed me, fed me, and brought me into your house. He said whoever you do to my children you’re doing it to me. None of the characters go to church, well the Bible says that it is better to help the sick and the needy than to attend church. Many of the characters suffer from AIDS. I remember when a pastor said that AIDS was the “Faggot Cancer.” I pretty sure Jesus wouldn’t call anyone a faggot. He helped the tax collector and the whore, why can’t he befriend the faggot. Like in the song L’ Vie Boheme “He amongst us without sin, be the first to condemn” Well put, I must say!
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
—Sammy Hamlin, age 16
Positive—I took my girlfriend to see this movie, and we both loved it! We are both Christian girls, and we thought that this movie has some important issues for some people. I really didn’t find anything in it offensive…
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Kala, age 16