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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

If I Had a Hammer ...

Demolition (2015) on IMDb

Plot Overview

“Demolition” opens with a woman Julia (Heather Lind) driving in traffic, humming to her­self, and lowering the radio volume (“Do you mind if I turn this down?”) in order to talk to her husband Davis C. Mitchell (Jake Gyllenhaal) in the passenger seat about some needed repairs around the house (“The refrigerator's been leaking for two weeks.”) As she turns to look him in the eye the neglectful guy (“She always said I didn't pay attention”) reacts emphatically ("WHOA, WHOA, WHOA, WHOA!") to something over her shoulder and off camera. In the hospital after­wards this new widower (“She's gone”) attempts to buy some candy from a vending machine, but it gets stuck on the way out. The piker then writes to customer service requesting a refund and giving them more personal information than strictly necessary. He dismantles the fridge to fix the leak, and in a movie unabashedly given to metaphors, he sets about to tear down bigger and bigger devices until he razes his own house (“We're taking apart my marriage.”)


At Julia's funeral there appears in the near background a priest holding open a large Bible representing a single authority for what­ever he recites from it. It impresses one as a stand-alone Book; whatever is quoted from it brokers no argument. In terms of English Bible versions, the Protestants have their King James Version (KJV) also acceptable from an Orthodox perspective. Recent contenders include the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION whose Preface states its goal that it would: “prove suitable for public and private reading, teaching, preaching, memorizing and liturgical use.” In a Bible study where I attend church, either of these books (and others) may be quoted by members of the class, the teacher treating them all as stand-alones so once quoted from, there is no comparison to be made with any others; they're presumably saying the same thing in different ways although in some cases different things altogether. “Demolition” is playing at a cinema that's a hop, skip & a jump away from my church, so I thought I'd examine our multi-stand-alone policy in light of this matinée movie.

In the movie Davis instructs his new pal, teenager Chris (Judah Lewis) son of customer service rep—of the vending machine co.—Karen Moreno (Naomi Watts) on the niceties of using the f-word. It loses its force, you see, if it's used too often, so one should wait for places appropriate in the language to insert it. Sure enough, there are places where it fits right in. Modeling an English Bible on a patois that in places calls for the the f-word. does not produce a book amenable to liturgical use, so I'm going to have to reject these modern ones for sacred liturgy.

The conversation between husband and wife in the car at the start of the movie includes some kind of inside reference to: “not my chair, not my problem.” Later when he is reflecting on how they met at a party, we hear a stand-up comedian in the back­ground utter the same phrase, “not my chair, not my problem.” It stuck with them just as did for me the memorizing, preaching, and reading from the KJV over the years. Hearing it uttered in different forms now plays havoc with my remembrance of scripture, so the NIV is not suitable for such public and private uses to some­one already versed in the KJV.

That leaves teaching, and here the whole movie seems to be a sequence of metaphors relating to a short epistle, (Rev. 3:14) “unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans.”

(Rev. 3:15-16) “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art luke­warm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” Davis is like to be rejected by his boss / father-in-law Phil East­wood (Chris Cooper) when he comes in to work the day after his wife's death to go about his business as usual (except for some quirkiness.) He was expected to either stay home and grieve or else come work on Julia's legacy. His blandness made him unpalatable.

(Rev. 3:17-18) “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye­salve, that thou mayest see.” High spirited Chris was either gay or bi; it's hard to tell exactly at his age going through changes. His mom tells him, “I just want you to be who you are.” Davis advises him to lay low until he graduates high school, then move to San Francisco. His dis­approving peers, though, seek to set him on the straight path.

The KJV has it, (Rom. 1:26-27) “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for … the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in them­selves that recompence of their error which was meet.” The NIV 2011 says pretty much the same thing, “Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in them­selves the due penalty for their error.”

The KJV has it, (1Cor. 6:9-11) “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: [no] … abusers of them­selves with mankind … shall inherit the king­dom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanc­tified, but ye are justi­fied in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” The NIV 2011 says the same about, “men who have sex with men[a]”, adding the note “a. The words men who have sex with men translate two Greek words that refer to the passive and active participants in homo­sexual acts.” That's what in the KJV was “abusers of them­selves with mankind” or in the movie was Chris imagining performing fellatio on another boy. So far so good.

(Rev. 3:19) “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” We can accept a certain amount of zeal in Christ's messengers setting the boy straight, but in the movie they seemed to be heavy-handed, “six of them beating the shit out of him.” Similarly the earlier NIV said, “Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received due penalty for their perversion,” and “homosexual offenders” shall not inherit. Evidently the homosexuals did not like being called offensive perverts, so they sued Zondervan who altered their dynamic equivalence translation—i.e. idea for idea—to align with the more accurate formal equivalence—i.e. word for word—model. Since in our class we have people with the KJV and both NIV and NIV 2011, it behooves us to do some comparative reading when one of the latter two is quoted, just to avoid heavy-handedness. The KJV can stand alone, but not these new ones that haven't yet been sued over all their transgressions.

(Rev. 3:20) “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” When Karen the service rep responded to Davis's request for a refund, she was knocking on the door to personal relations between them despite her expected professionalism and that she has a committed boy­friend Carl (C.J. Wilson). Similarly, despite our relations to the Lord through a professional clergy and that He has other sheep to tend to, He is available to us for personal inter­action should we open up to Him.

(Rev. 3:21) “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also over­came, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” The movie ends up showing adults sitting with children on a restored carousel.

Production Values

This movie, “” (2016) was directed by Jean-Marc Vallée. Its screen­play was written by Bryan Sipe. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, and Chris Cooper. It had solid acting through­out, no complaints. The main role fit Jake Gyllenhaal like a glove. The child actor held up his end as well.

MPAA rated it R for language, some sexual references, drug use and disturbing behavior. The editing may seem disjointed, but we should consider the man's life to be disjointed after his loss, so naturally he'd bounce around a lot. It's paced as a slow, methodical demolition rather than a sudden train wreck.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This is a movie made for honest reflection rather than a vehicle for cheap thrills. See it when you're not in the mood for much excitement.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments. Overall product rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Unless otherwise indicated scripture is quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. Print.

Scripture quotation marked New International Version or NIV 2011 is taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. WEB.