Theatrical Release: October 13, 2000


When the sitting democratic Vice President dies, Senator Laine Hanson (Joan Allen) is chosen by the President (Jeff Bridges) to be the first woman to hold the office. The selection meets with opposition from members of both parties, in particular a powerful political adversary (Gary Oldman) who will stop at nothing to discredit her. Her confirmation hearings set off a firestorm of controversy as shocking secrets from Hanson’s past are revealed, threatening her personal life as well as her political future.

Dove Review

With the aid of a superbly written script, assertive directing, and dynamic performances, DreamWorks’ “The Contender” promotes left-wing policies and mocks religious beliefs. It’s as if Frank Capra’s “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” was remade from the acerbic judgment of Oliver Stone. Although I thought some of the performances were a bit over the top, “The Contender” is an engrossing film, giving Jeff Bridges his most complex role yet. He will no doubt be a serious contestant for Oscar recognition this year. Also, the film does make a valid point concerning the privacy of those running for office. But its ferocious attack against Republicans and conservative thinking is off-putting. Be advised that it portrays members of the Grand Old Party as nasty curmudgeons bent on maintaining their personal power, no matter the cost to the American public. If you ask me, that seems to be a defining characteristic applicable to certain members of both sides of the aisle. As for the film’s partisan biasness, keep this in mind: If you walk into a Southern Baptist church and begin discussing politics and religion, you’re bound to receive an overall like-mindedness from its members. Bring up the same issues at the local Mosque and you are liable to get a different viewpoint. Just as we shouldn’t expect our Muslim brothers to sing a few choruses of “Bringing In The Sheaves,” so we shouldn’t count on Hollywood’s creative community to express conservative or biblically-based solutions to the world’s condition. It just isn’t going to happen. The entertainment community is domineered by people with liberal agendas. Due to their leanings, you can bet your popcorn that it will never be a right-winger who saves the day in the movies. And genereally, the Christian will be presented as a unfeeling hypocrite. So, beware: the subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, themes contained in motion pictures are meant to influence. (Not unlike what I have just done.) Now, I am not suggesting that you are confused and misled if your political views bend to the left. (That’s a subject for another day). Seriously, what does concern me is the inequality displayed by “free-thinking” entertainers in film after film. There’s just no balance on the silver screen when it comes to political, social and religious stances. Shouldn’t we be concerned when any one political party (or group of filmmakers) can suppress the opinions of others? Due to the excessive sexual and profane content, I cannot recommend “The Contender” for family viewing. Every major character in this film, including the President, uses obscene language and profanes God’s name on several occasions. Twice, the dialogue borders on blasphemy. And, I can’t think of any reason I’d recommend a film that states matter-of-factly, and without challenge, that God doesn’t exist. When her little boy tells his grandpa that Jesus created everything, the atheistic elder refers to religious beliefs as fairy tales. This is the opinion of the lead character as well. For me, that was the picture’s most insidious underlining message. Once again, humanism rears its ugly head in the movies. This negative attitude towards the Christian faith prevails throughout the story and is strengthened by the constant misuse of God’s name by nearly every major player. The practice of the separation of church and state is also misrepresented in this film. For it was not included in the formation of our country to protect government from religion, as stated in the film, but just the opposite. How arrogant man becomes when he suggests that he alone governs. “He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in (God’s) wisdom is kept safe.” Proverbs 28:26

Content Description

Faith: None
Sex: None
Language: None
Violence: None
Drugs: None
Nudity: None
Other: None


Company: DreamWorks
Writer: Rod Lurie
Director: Rod Lurie
Genre: Drama
Runtime: 132 min.
Reviewer: Phil Boatwright