Ratings and reviews of recently released movies

Following are ratings and capsule reviews of recently released films. The reviews are by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office of Film and Broadcasting.

For full reviews of these films, visit www.usccb.org/movies

This list will be updated periodically as the reviews are supplied by Catholic News Service.

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“The Back-Up Plan” (CBS Films)

The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

In this dull and predictable romantic comedy single pet store owner Zoe (Jennifer Lopez) conceives twins through artificial insemination, and seems blissfully happy until Mr. Right appears in the form of cheese maker Stan (Alex O’Loughlin). Zoe falls hard, but when she confesses her condition to Stan, he freaks. Despite a “happy” ending, director Alan Poul’s film presents a thoroughly warped view of love, marriage and parenthood, and contradicts Catholic moral teachings on the necessity of maintaining the connection between the unitive and procreative aspects of marital love. Morally skewed treatment of human sexuality, graphic premarital sexual activity, rear and partial nudity, scenes of defecation, much crude language, graphic gynecological exams, and a gruesome water birth scene.

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The “Clash of the Titans” (Warner Bros.)

The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

Muddled mythological epic, set in ancient Greece, in which the demigod Perseus (Sam Worthington) embarks on a quest to defend humanity against the forces of Hades (Ralph Fiennes), the god of death, whom his brother Zeus (Liam Neeson), as king of the gods, has unleashed to punish humankind for their growing dissatisfaction with, and attempted rebellion against, the Olympian deities. Long action sequences and an emphasis on special effects leave little room for engaging drama in director Louis Leterrier’s frequently violent 3-D remake of Desmond Davis’ 1981 swords-and-sandals exercise, though undemanding viewers may be content enough with the proceedings not notice the gifts of top-tier players such as Fiennes and Neeson being squandered on stilted dialogue. Complex, though undeveloped, religious themes, constant action violence, some of it bloody or gruesome, a bedroom encounter with implied sexual activity, at least one sexual reference, a couple of mildly crass terms.

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“Date Night” (Fox)

The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

This well-intentioned but ultimately wayward mix of the romantic comedy and action genres sees an ordinary suburban New Jersey couple (Steve Carell and Tina Fey) caught up in an underworld blackmail scheme after being mistaken for the cohabiting lowlifes (James Franco and Mila Kunis) who are out to sell the damning evidence. As written by Josh Klausner and directed by Shawn Levy, the pair’s nocturnal Manhattan odyssey — during which they flee a duo of thugs (Common and Jimmi Simpson) in the employ of a mob boss (Ray Liotta), and turn for help to a James Bond-like intelligence agent (Mark Wahlberg) — though its travails aid them to rekindle their flickering love for each other, eventually leads to an underground sex club where they briefly find themselves forced to entertain a powerful patron with perverse tastes. Considerable, though bloodless, action violence, partial rear nudity, much sexual humor, including gags about casual sex, masturbation and aberrant practices, at least one use of profanity and of the F-word, some crude and crass language.

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“Hot Tub Time Machine” (MGM)

The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Tasteless time travel comedy in which three former best friends (John Cusack, Rob Corddry and Craig Robinson) who have drifted apart over the years reunite and, with Cusack’s geeky 24-year-old nephew (Clark Duke) in tow, embark on a road trip to a ski resort where a magically malfunctioning hot tub suddenly transports them back to 1986. As directed by Steve Pink, the tedious proceedings — which see the pals reliving their supposed glory days of youthful drug- and sex-fueled hedonism, and dithering between the desire to preserve the past in order to ensure the future — including the nephew’s very existence — and the temptation to improve their destinies by making better choices — are at once artistically ramshackle and morally repugnant. Graphic nonmarital sexual activity, upper female and rear nudity, repeated drug use, about 10 instances of profanity, much sexual and some scatological humor, ceaseless rough and crude language.

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“The Last Song” (Disney/Touchstone)

The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested.

Based on the eponymous Nicholas Sparks novel, this old-fashioned romance features teen singing sensation Miley Cyrus in her first dramatic role as the troubled child of divorced parents who is shipped off, along with her younger brother (precocious Bobby Coleman), to spend the summer with their father (Greg Kinnear) in a picture-perfect seaside Georgia town where she falls for Will (Liam Hemsworth) a hunky volleyball player who quotes Tolstoy and saves baby sea turtles. As these star-crossed lovers from different worlds learn important life lessons about love and forgiveness, broken hearts heal and second chances rule in a film calculated to please both teens their parents. Some scenes of teenage drinking, a few mildly crass terms, and brief images of a fire that could frighten very young viewers.

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“Letters to God” (Vivendi)

The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

Inspirational and touching drama, based on real events, about a faith-filled but cancer-stricken 8-year-old boy (Tanner Maguire) whose prayers and reflections are expressed in a series of letters to the Almighty, and the effect these notes have on his family — including his widowed, overtaxed mother (Robyn Lively), his devout grandmother (Maree Cheatham) and his emotionally conflicted teen brother (Michael Christopher Bolten) — but especially on the depressed, boozing war-vet-turned-postman (Jeffrey S. Johnson) who has recently taken over the local mail route. Though the underlying theology of director David Nixon’s family-friendly tale of courage and conversion is evangelical, the basic message about the power of Gospel values to transform lives is sufficiently nondenominational to exert a strong appeal on Christian believers of every stripe. Life-threatening illness, divorce and alcoholism themes.
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“Tyler Perry’s Why Did I get Married Too?” (Lionsgate)

The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

Dramatically uneven but, for the most part, morally steady sequel mixing comedy and drama and examining the renewed marital challenges of four couples — a successful self-help author (Janet Jackson) and her architect spouse (Malik Yoba), a sportscaster (Michael Jai White) and his hyper-suspicious wife (Tasha Smith), a lawyer (Sharon Leal) whose husband (Tyler Perry) begins to doubt her fidelity, and a divorcee (Jill Scott) whose second marriage is under strain due to her new partner’s (Lamman Rucker) ongoing unemployment. While implicitly endorsing Scott’s character’s remarriage after her split from her abusive ex (Richard T. Jones) — who puts in a remorseful reappearance here — writer-director Perry’s follow-up to his 2007 hit “Why Did I Get Married?” is otherwise all about commitment, though the script’s highlighted values, such as open communication and self-giving love, do not rest on a spiritual foundation. Brief, nongraphic marital lovemaking, a nonmarital bedroom scene, intense domestic discord, adultery theme, numerous sexual references, including mention of sterilization and venereal disease, drug references, frequent crass language.

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“Oceans” (Disneynature)

The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-I — general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G — general audiences. All ages admitted.

Surprisingly philosophical nature documentary offers stunning images of sea life from around the globe while conveying a positive message about mankind’s connection to the ocean and the need for environmental conservation. Actor Pierce Brosnan intones pleasing narration for co-directors and writers Jacque Perrin and Jacque Cluzaud, whose film, though it lacks a solid narrative structure and occasionally suffers from a dearth of explanatory detail, nonetheless constitutes a visual feast, and their avoidance of graphic images of predatory behavior makes this eye-catching spectacle suitable for viewers of all ages. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-I — general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G — general audiences. All ages admitted.

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