Tom Hanks bested Tom Hanks at the box office this weekend as the animated hit Toy Story 2, which features Hanks' voice as cowboy Woody, just barely beat out new release The Green Mile, starring Hanks as a Depression-era prison guard. Looking beyond the top ten, Tobey Maguire bested Tobey Maguire as the John Irving adaptation The Cider House Rules outperformed the Ang Lee Civil War drama Ride with the Devil, which both star Maguire.

Toy Story 2 ($18.2 million)

Woody, Buzz, and the gang continued to reap stellar reviews from Christian critics, not just for being a G-rated endeavor but for having "surpassed almost every movie of the 1990's in storytelling, characterization, action, and comic genius," in the words of Jeffrey Overstreet of Gree n Lake Reflections. The sequel to the 1995 hit finds Woody abducted by a greedy antiques collector, and it's up the rest of the toys from Andy's room to rescue him. Doug Cummings of Movies & Ministry was impressed with the depiction of a strong and diverse community. "In a certain sense," he writes, "the toys in Andy's room resemble Paul's description of Christian community in Romans 12. Each toy uses its own gifts to contribute to the community's overall purpose." Culture@Home's Sarah Barnett was impressed with the self-sacrificial qualities that the toys demonstrate: "The value of being what you are made to be, and meeting the needs of others in this case the boy Andy is emphasized without too much sentimentality." Find more opinions on this movie in the previous Film Forum, where different critics paralleled the owner/toy relationship to that of God and humans, of parents and children, and of two friends.

The Green Mile ($18 million)

Frank Darabont's previous movie, The Shawshank Redemption, was a favorite in many Christian circles. Now he's back with another adaptation of a spiritually tinged Stephen King prison movie, The Green Mile, but with only a few reviews available right now it remains to be seen how fully Christians will embrace this one. Movieguide gave the film an extremely upbeat review, saying it "offers dramatic and spiritual substance with powerful performances and a wonderful recognition of faith, repentance and divine healing. Grace abounds in this movie. Those who love metaphor, incarnational theology and/or movie evangelism, will appreciate [it]." But Movies & Ministry's Doug Cummings felt the spiritual angle was hardly substantive, calling it a "murky, feel-good spirituality," and noting the film's Web site is "linked to para-psychological spiritual healers Targ and Katra's The Heart of the Mind: How to Know God Without Belief." Hollywood Jesus was enthusiastic about what it called "one of the best portrayals of the Christ figure on the big screen yet": the condemned criminal John Coffey who has miraculous healing powers. But Preview's Cliff McNeely, who also notes the "strong parallels to the biblical redemption story of Jesus," concludes that the "gratuitous, gruesome violence and needless foul language make The Green Mile unredeemable."

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Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo ($12.2 million)

Most Christian critics stayed away from Deuce Bigalow this weekend, but audiences didn't. The juvenile comedy, starring Rob Schneider as a fish-tank cleaner who poses as a male prostitute, brought in a surprisingly robust total despite awful reviews from mainstream critics. The little Christian press there was actually treated the movie much kinder. Movieguide found several redeeming qualities in it, noting that Deuce "wants to be committed to one woman," and that the movie works well when "exposing man's real needs love, respect, friendship, and forgiveness." John Evans of Preview says "a commendable message is worked into story which says it is important to make women feel attractive and good about their self worth." Still, both reviews concluded these themes couldn't save the movie, which Evans says is "overwhelmed by crude humor."

The World Is Not Enough ($6.2 million)

No new reviews for the nineteenth James Bond film were available this week, so I'll let you in on my take. I'm in agreement with most of the Christian reviewers, who disliked the secret agent's itchy trigger finger and wild libido and found the action sequences routine at best. But I was more disappointed that Bond has once again become self-important. Four years ago, when Pierce Brosnan took over the 007 role and the producers were trying to resurrect their franchise with Goldeneye, Bond's character weathered criticism from several characters: M called him "a misogynist dinosaur," a CIA agent blew him off and referred to him as "Jimbo," his lover chided him for being unfeeling, and the bad guy asked if Bond's martinis ever silence the screams of the men he killed. With the Bond franchise nearly dead, it seemed like the producers were trying to make Bond human instead of a mere icon. But now that Bond is popular again with the public, the film characters look the other way when the spy acts up, or swoon for no discernible reason. The Austin Powers movies, which parody the Bond series, have undergone a similar transformation. In the original, Austin Powers was a '60s swinger transplanted to the '90s, where his behavior was no longer tolerated, but laughed at. The film attracted a huge audience that required this year's sequel, but this time around Austin was revered and his sexual antics encouraged. To my way of thinking, The World is Not Enough sadly reinforces the notion that popularity exempts you from the same standards as everyone else. To read what other Christians have been saying, click her e for the first week of reviews and her e for the second.

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End of Days ($4.7 million)

Although most Christian reviewers have found this film (which finds Arnold Schwarzenegger battling Satan on the eve of the millennium) both laughably ridiculous and theologically flawed, Tim Cowley of Christian Spotlight offers a different perspective this week. He acknowledges the movie's flaws, but asserts that "we must be aware that much of the stuff portrayed in End of Days is real and does happen." His review points to a book called He Came to Set the Captives Free by Dr. Rebecca Brown as a primer "about spiritual warfare and how we as Christians are to fight," encouraging readers to understand "the incredible authority we have in the name of Jesus Christ." Hollywood Jesus also sees value in the movie, emphasizing that "this heavy action film makes a strong case for non-violence." Still, the majority of critics consider it a waste of time. Worl d calls it "retro-Omen nonsense [that] treats the Bible as a sourcebook of horror." Movie Parables' Michael Elliott attacks the tired dialogue, citing the scene in which Schwarzenegger "says to Satan, the prince of darkness, 'You think you're bad? I make you look like a choirboy.' That was a paraphrase. The actual dialogue was drowned out by the incredulous laughter of the audience."

Rounding Out the Top Ten

The only new commentary available for the lower half of the top ten list was ninth-place finisher Pokemon: The First Movie. Christian Spotlight has posted three articles about Pokemon one about the movie and the others focusing on the popular role-playing card game. The movie review, written by 16-year-old Josh Bizeau, was upbeat: "This may not be the best movie of the season, but there are many positive aspects, [including] the value of friendship and sticking together in tough times." The critique of the card game, written by missionaries in Nagasaki, warns of the dangers that role-playing games offer to kids. "Children from Christian homes may have learned to say, 'Thy will be done,' but in the role-playing world, this prayer is twisted into 'My will be done!' "A general commentary lists similarities between Pokemon and Eastern mysticism, including spirit guides, chanting, and reincarnation, and urges parents "to seriously consider things that are influencing our children." These comparisons have been noted in a number of other Christian reviews, perhaps because of a fear that the movie will lead children to the card game and into deeper role-playing. Whatever the reason, Pokemon: The First Movie has been held to a higher standard than most movies. Critics have taken its fantasy elements literally, whereas Christian reviews of Toy Story 2 have been marked with imaginative comparisons between a story of fantasy and our Christian lives.

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Conversation has died down over Dogma, which ended in eighth place this weekend, but if you'd like to explore a wide range of opinions from conservative Christians, liberal Christians, anti-Christians, and just about everyone in between, check out the message board at Hollywood Jesus. At the very least, Kevin Smith's film has succeeded in prompting discussion about religion, and David Bruce does a fine job here of steering conversation in a positive direction. To see what Christian critics have had to say about the movie, check out earlier Film Forums from Nov . 16, Nov . 23, and Nov . 30.

With no new reviews this week for Sleepy Hollow (sixth place), The Bone Collector (seventh place), or Being John Malkovich (tenth place), I'll offer my perspectives on these films. Johnny Depp makes a hilarious Ichabod Crane in Sleepy Hollow, Tim Burton's intentionally loopy homage to '60s horror films. I suppose it's too much to hope for depth from such a movie (a promising subplot pitting reason against faith practically vanishes), but at the very least I expected some character development. We barely get to meet most people before they lose their heads, and the romance between Crane and Katrina Van Tassell (Christina Ricci) is virtually nonexistent. It's telling that in the original script by Andrew Kevin Walker, Katrina gives Ichabod a copy of Romeo and Juliet because he knows nothing about love, but on the screen she gives him a book of witches' spells. For my tastes, that's too much plot sacrificed for the sake of spookiness. To read other Christians' opinions, click her e.

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While The Bone Collector features an engaging performance from Denzel Washington, the plot doesn't distinguish itself from the dozens of serial-killer movies already out there. The best of them, like David Fincher's Seven, carry some moral weight, but this one carefully sidesteps such issues. The closest it comes to depth is with Washington's character, a suicidal, paralyzed forensics cop who reenters life in order to track the killer. This is a form of redemption, I suppose, for him to be restored to what he once was. Yet his journey implies that what you accomplish matters far more than who you are certainly a popular notion, but hardly a Christian one. See other Christian reviews by clicking her e.

I'd recommend Being John Malkovich simply because it will offer something you've never seen before. The script is bursting with original ideas, characters, and locales, all of which made me feel like a child again, exploring a new and unknown universe. It helped chip away at the illusion I have that I understand the world, an illusion that makes it more difficult to live daily in faith. The film's premise that a secret portal can put you inside the brain of John Malkovich is almost too creative for its own good. There are so many places the story could go that it's disappointing when the movie finally chooses a path and ends up bogged down in some rather kinky sexual games. Click here to check out more Christian opinion.

Beyond the Top Ten

Movieguide's Ted Baehr had strong praise for Ride With the Devil, which opened in limited release this weekend. The Civil War epic from Ang Lee focuses on two Southerners (Tobey Maguire and Skeet Ulrich) who join a band of Confederate "Bushwhackers" who raid Union homes at night. Baehr says it is "not only first-class entertainment; it's a liberating experience. At its heart, amid all the mayhem and death, friendship, loyalty and generosity survive." He also notes that the film contains "only one slight anachronism" high praise from Movieguide, which places importance on historical accuracy. Michael Elliott of Movie Parables is also complimentary of the film, particularly a scene where soldiers on both sides cease fire to avoid shooting women. "The spiritual point to be made is that even in the midst of the most horrendous conditions, the habitual thought or practice developed over a lifetime of faithful adherence is not easily forgotten or dismissed.

"Maguire's other movie, The Cider House Rules, opened to a less favorable review from Preview's Paul Bicking. The movie tells the story of Homer Wells (Maguire), an orphan who never finds a home and instead grows up to help run the orphanage with his father figure, Dr. Larch (Michael Caine). Bicking compliments this half of the story, calling it a "touching story of learning where you belong," but other elements of the story earn the film a thumbs down. Larch performs abortions and trains Homer to do the same, making the film a "promotion of abortion." Bicking also criticizes Larch's lax ethical standards, including a scene in which "Larch complains about [the orphanage board's] Christian ethics and later says he's never had much use for the Christian thing."

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Flawless, the story of a gay-bashing stroke victim (Robert De Niro) who takes singing lessons from a drag queen (Philip Seymour Hoffman) as a form of speech therapy, hasn't generated much at the box office, but it has produced a handful of reviews from Christian critics. Most focused on the acceptance of homosexuality in the movie: "To deny one's gender is to deny the God that formed it," writes Michael Elliott of Movie Parables. Preview's Paul Bicking says the movie's theme of tolerating differences is flawed. "While all people should be accepted in Christian love," he says, "few understand how to love a person without accepting or condoning an objectionable lifestyle." Movieguide says the movie does a disservice to homosexuals by depicting their lives as "a bizarre masquerade of confused sexuality resulting from neurotic family relationships." The U.S. Catholic Conference found the film more worthwhile, as it "finds the humanity in the two fragile characters."

Steve Lansingh is editor of, a weekly Internet magazine devoted to Christianity and the cinema.