Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.


Watch This Review

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Movie Review

Ron Woodroof wasn't someone who would let a little cough slow him down. It didn't keep him from his job as an electrician. From downing drinks with the guys at the bar. From snorting cocaine. From cavorting with women at a rodeo … two at a time.

It was just a nasty, nagging cold, he thought.

Until he ends up in the ER and gets a diagnosis he can't believe: AIDS. His doctor says he probably has no more than 30 days to live. Impossible, Woodroof argues. Because in 1985, the only people dying of AIDS are homosexuals and intravenous drug users, it's believed. He's neither, a fact he belligerently communicates to the hospital staff.

He deals with the news by getting drunk and high on cocaine while watching a friend have sex with two women at once in his mobile home. His friend wonders why Ron's not participating. "D‑‑n doctor cut your balls off?" he jokingly asks. Ron spills the beans … and is instantly an outcast. His old gang even goes so far as to lock up his trailer and scrawl homophobic slurs on it. A similar shunning awaits him at work.

Homeless, jobless and desperate, Ron still refuses to accept his one-month-to-live fate. Library research reveals that a new drug called azidothymidine (AZT) has shown promise in slowing AIDS' advance. But his hospital in Dallas won't give it to him. And Ron can't wait a year for the clinical trials to end and the Food and Drug Administration to approve it.

But he can use his natural-born gift for hustling to get a hospital janitor to start sneaking the drug out to him. And so he begins gobbling up AZT like candy.

It's not long, of course, before somebody puts the squeeze on Ron's blue collar "health care provider." And determined to keep his supply going, Ron heads to Mexico, where he's heard there's a doctor who will give him what he needs … which isn't AZT. The doctor down south of the border tells Ron that AZT is toxic. In its place, he produces a cocktail of alternative chemical remedies—none of them, naturally, approved by the FDA.

By this point, Ron has met a drug-using transvestite named Rayon, and the two have struck up a friendship that would have been unimaginable before Ron's dire diagnosis. Together they begin supplying pills to many of Dallas' gay AIDS sufferers through what Ron eventually dubs the Dallas Buyers Club.

Before he knows it, Ron is traveling the world (France, Israel, Japan, Mexico) in search of the latest cutting-edge remedies for AIDS … a new "helpful" habit that the FDA isn't at all happy about.

Positive Elements

Insofar as Ron is trying to help people stay alive, his efforts to push back at the FDA can be construed as noble, maybe even heroic. (Much more on that in my "Conclusion.") And we see a great softening in Ron's heart when it comes to dealing with people who aren't at all like him. When Ron meets Rayon, Ron's just about as hostile and homophobic as he can be. But as their business partnership and friendship grows, he becomes a fiercely loyal friend to Rayon, going so far as to confront (albeit with a vicious chokehold) a former drinking buddy who begins hurling slurs at Rayon.

Ron's Dallas doctor, Eve Saks, isn't crazy about Ron's alternative-medicine approach. But her friendship with him deepens; she's kind to him and sympathetic to his cause. Never, though, does she breach any ethical boundaries—such as when Ron asks her to write some prescriptions for a promising new drug.

Ron confesses at one point that he longs for a normal life and children (in contrast to his wine, women and coke existence).

Spiritual Content

At a strip club, Ron begs God to give him a sign. It's a prayer that's seemingly "answered" when Ron recognizes that another patron is his hospital's janitor, a connection that nets him the illicit AZT. To deflect attention from his drug-smuggling activities across the U.S.-Mexican border, as well as in airports, Ron wears a Catholic priest's black shirt and white collar.

A poignant scene involves Rayon going to his rich father to ask for money to support the Buyers Club. Rayon jokes, "Are you ashamed of me? I hadn't realized that," which prompts his dad to say, "God help me." Rayon responds, "He is helping you. I have AIDS." Near death, Rayon says, "God, when I meet You, I'm going to be pretty if it's the last thing I do. I'll be a beautiful angel." Ron tells Rayon, "God sure was dressing the wrong doll when he blessed you with a set of balls."

Sexual Content

The opening scene pictures Ron in a darkened stall at a rodeo having sex with two women. We see furtive, sexual movements. The next such scene pictures the aforementioned friend with two women, all three engaged in sex acts. (It's an explicit scene with graphic motions, sounds and breast nudity.) A flashback also shows Ron engaged in another sexual encounter. And we see him in the strip club, where the camera pays more attention to the topless dancers (wearing only g-strings) than he does.

After his diagnosis, Ron refuses to have sex with uninfected women, but it's hardly a chaste decision. We see him going at it (explicit movements and noises) with a female AIDS victim who comes to the club, and he also hires a prostitute "just" to see her naked. We see her with him, as porn plays on the TV behind them. Ron masturbates to pictures that include visible breast nudity. (We see his arm movements.)

Ron's bare rear gets a smidgeon of screen time. Rayon dresses and acts like a woman, and one scene shows him shirtless. Later, he's with a boyfriend who's very attentive. Ron accompanies Rayon to a gay bar where male couples are publically affectionate.

Beyond the prostitution, homosexuality and sexually transmitted infections, verbal references are made to erectile dysfunction, sex-change operations and Rayon wanting breasts. It's said that Muslim women aren't sexually available like American women.

Violent Content

Ron hits a policeman. He also gets into a fistfight at a bar, after which his foe (once a friend) is anxious to determine whether he has any "f-ggot blood" on him. Ron puts another ex-associate in a chokehold. He uses a shotgun to blast his way into his locked-up mobile home.

At a worksite, a man's leg is pinned (bloodily) beneath a vehicle's wheel. Ron tries to wire an electrical panel and gets badly shocked and knocked out.

Crude or Profane Language

More than 100 f-words, including a dozen or so that are paired with "mother." Almost 40 s-words. God's name is tangled up with "d‑‑n" 20 times, while Jesus' name is misused half a dozen. We hear multiple crude or obscene references to the male and female sexual anatomy, including three uses of a harsh phrase for performing oral sex. "F-ggot" is used as a slur a dozen times. Also: "a‑‑," "b‑‑ch," "h‑‑‑" and "p‑‑‑ed." We see an obscene hand gesture.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Ron drinks constantly, both with others and alone. It's a habit that AIDS doesn't blunt at all. He and others are shown doing cocaine, and he actually sells the stuff. So after learning he's got the terminal disease, Ron goes on a massive coke- and alcohol-fueled bender … that renders him unconscious. The diagnosis, though, ultimately prompts him to relinquish his cocaine habit, and he encourages others (especially Rayon) to do the same.

We hear a great deal about AIDS remedies, both pharmaceutical and holistic. We see Ron shooting one drug into his bare buttock. A lab test reveals that Ron has alcohol, coke, meth and AZT in his blood. Several characters smoke.

Other Negative Elements

Ron bets on rodeos. He lies. And despite his loyalty to Rayon, the Dallas Buyers Club is a business for Ron, not a charity. If someone doesn't have the $400 monthly needed for access to the drugs Ron sells, well, they're just out of luck.

Ron's shown urinating (from behind) alongside a road.


Ron Woodroof's true story was detailed in The Dallas Morning News by reporter Bill Minutaglio in 1992. And his series for the paper titled "Buying Time" is at its heart a David-vs.-Goliath contest. Ron Woodroof isn't a likeable fellow in many ways, but he's determined to buy as much time for himself and for his dying clientele as possible.

The film justifies Ron's FDA end-around by depicting the government agency as slow and, worse, under the thrall of greedy pharmaceutical companies more concerned with making money than helping AIDS patients. Those big medical conglomerates and the FDA are, here, narrow-mindedly obsessed with AZT—a drug the movie deems almost as deadly as what it's intended to combat.

Thus, the FDA isn't concerned with Ron's assessment of the drug's dangers. Instead, it's only interested in shutting him down to satisfy its various ulterior motives. That's how Ron's "underground resistance" comes to be portrayed as a noble and heroic one, with his illegal smuggling activities painted with a Robin Hood-esque brush. (And his efforts do indeed keep him alive for seven years after his death-sentence diagnosis.)

"The political reality of the era, of course, was far more complicated," writes Christopher Kelly for Texas Monthly, "and many HIV-positive people credit AZT with saving their lives. Nor does the movie point to anything more than anecdotal evidence that the club's regimen actually extended or saved lives. Instead, the filmmakers buy wholesale into Woodroof's righteousness and demonize anyone who dares to object."

So … Dallas Buyers Club offers a wince-inducing peek at what life for homosexual AIDS sufferers may have been like in the early years of the disease. And it stars a character who was just about the most unlikely advocate they could possibly have: a promiscuous cowboy type who, until he got sick, had nothing but contempt for the "f-ggots" he and his friends frequently ridiculed. In the process, we're invited into a world that those outside the gay AIDS community depicted here have likely never thought much about before.

The empathy the film builds for individual human beings who are suffering and dying can only be seen as a good thing. But in embracing Ron's and Rayon's painful stories, we're also asked to excuse and accept a slew of bad—sometimes illegal—decisions and actions, while staring wide-eyed at searingly seedy depictions of strip clubs and sexual encounters.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range





Matthew McConaughey as Ron Woodroof; Jared Leto as Rayon; Jennifer Garner as Dr. Eve Saks; Denis O'Hare as Dr. Sevard; Steve Zahn as Tucker; Kevin Rankin as T.J.


Jean-Marc Vallée ( )


Focus Features



Record Label



In Theaters

November 1, 2013

On Video

February 4, 2014

Year Published



Adam R. Holz

Content Caution

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!