Ratings and reviews of recently released movies

Following are ratings and capsule reviews of recently released films. The reviews are by Catholic News Service in conjunction with 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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“Killers” (Lionsgate)

The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

Very much the definition of mindless fun, only if you enjoy anything Ashton Kutcher says or does. Director Robert Luketic and screenwriters Bob DeRosa and Ted Griffin play explosions, gunfire and car crashes by rote in this combination of marital comedy and espionage thriller, very much derivative of “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and others of the genre, but the comic bickering between Kutcher and co-star Kathleen Heigl is usually stale and insipid.
Fleeting crass language, mild sexual banter, and all violence is played for comic effect, making this acceptable for older adolescents.

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“Splice” (Warner Bros.)

The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Director Vincenzo Natali’s perverse tale of modern science run amok chronicles how genetic engineers (Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley) who create new life forms by “splicing” together genes from different animals decide to take the next step and use human genes to create “Dren” (Delphine Chaneac), a monster with the body of a beautiful woman. The trio morph into a happy if unconventional “family” until Dren grows up and her hormones start raging, with deadly results.
Generally sympathetic presentation of human cloning, genetic engineering and embryo destruction; nudity; nonmarital sexual activity; rape; rough language; and bloody scenes of violence and torture.

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“Marmaduke” (Fox)

The Catholic News Service classification is A-I — general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

Small children might like this comedy based on the titular comic-strip Great Dane (voiced by Owen Wilson), but adults may find it about as charming as a bucket of doggie drool. Director Tom Dey has constructed a slapstick-laden story with the canine hero as a gangly and quite talky adolescent attempting to fit in with cliques at a dog park that represents high school, while a parallel plot has his human family (led by Lee Pace) attempting the same transformation after they move from Kansas to Southern California.
Some mild scatological humor.

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“Sex and the City 2” (New Line)

The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Romantic-comedy sequel, based on a long-running cable-TV series, recounting the further adventures of a New York-based columnist turned author (Sarah Jessica Parker), her husband (Chris Noth) and her three best friends (Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon) as they confront the challenges of married life, parenthood and career changes, pressures only temporarily relieved, for the quartet of pals, by a luxurious vacation in Abu Dhabi. Writer-director Michael Patrick King’s morally unmoored follow-up to his 2008 feature confuses promiscuity with feminist empowerment, caricatures Muslims and showcases an extended celebration of same-sex marriage.
Graphic nonmarital sexual activity with nudity, benign view of casual sex and homosexual acts, adultery theme, constant sexual humor and references, some rough and crude language.

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“Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” (Disney)

The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

Plodding adaptation of the eponymous videogame series pits a heroic orphan (Jake Gyllenhaal) against his adopted royal uncle (Ben Kingsley) as he helps a princess (Gemma Arterton) safeguard a time-altering dagger that has the potential to destroy humankind. Hyperactive camerawork and frenetic special effects squash any authentically human elements that director Mike Newell might have brought to the loud, flashy proceedings, while the script’s presentation of religion involves an uneasy mix of pagan mythology and vague monotheism.
Frequent, moderately intense violence, a number of frightening images, some sexual innuendo.

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“Get Him to the Greek” (Universal)

The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Raucous, frequently coarse comedy in which a timid young record company executive (Jonah Hill) is tasked by his hard-bitten boss (Sean Combs) with escorting a hedonistic British rock star (Russell Brand) from London to the titular Los Angeles theater for a comeback concert, a journey that coincides with, and aggravates, a break with his live-in girlfriend (Elisabeth Moss). Like his 2008 debut, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” in which Brand’s character first appeared, writer-director Nicholas Stoller’s tale of an unlikely friendship features a few touching moments and some positive underlying values, but these elements are ultimately eclipsed by obscenity-laden dialogue and debauched, sometimes perverse behavior.
Brief graphic nonmarital sexual activity, scenes of aberrant sexuality, cohabitation, drug use, some gruesome images, upper female and rear nudity, much sexual humor, a couple of uses of profanity, pervasive rough and crude language.

“Shrek Forever After” (Paramount)

The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG – parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
Heartwarming, decidedly less raucous animated riff on fairy tales brings the blockbuster franchise full circle as the titular ogre (voiced by Mike Myers) experiences a midlife crisis and is tricked by an evil wizard (voice of Walt Dohrn) into living a different version of his past, during which he must win his wife’s affections (voiced by Cameron Diaz) all over again and learn to appreciate his current good fortune.
Director Mike Mitchell and colleagues downplay the previous installments’ cheeky idiom of pop-culture parody and affirm the values of love and fidelity in a manner that should gladden parents, who can err on the side of being inclusive when judging whether to bring the kids.
A few mild action sequences, occasional toilet-related humor.

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“MacGruber” (Rogue)

The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Juvenile, tasteless action spoof in which a cocky but disastrously incompetent special agent (Will Forte) is called out of retirement by his former commander (Powers Boothe) to foil a plot by an evil arms dealer (Val Kilmer) to nuke Washington, gaining the aid of an Army lieutenant (Ryan Phillippe) and an undercover operative-turned-pop-singer (Kristen Wiig) along the way.
Director and co-writer Jorma Taccone’s expansion of a recurring “Saturday Night Live” skit is consistently vulgar and intermittently gruesome. Much gory violence, graphic premarital sexual activity, upper female and rear nudity, frequent sexual and scatological humor, more than a dozen uses of profanity, pervasive rough and crude language.

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“Letters to Juliet” (Summit)

The Catholic News Service 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.

Director Gary Winick’s old-fashioned romantic comedy explores time-honored themes of love, loss, family, and destiny amid a beautifully photographed Italian travelogue as it chronicles New York-based magazine fact-checker Sophie’s (Amanda Seyfried) journey to Verona — the city of “Romeo and Juliet” — where, left on her own by her food-obsessed chef fiance Victor (Gael Garcia Bernal), Sophie visits Juliet’s house and discovers a kind of Wailing Wall for the amorous, where lovesick women leave letters seeking relationship advice.
Sophie’s answer to one such missive, penned 50 years before by Englishwoman Claire (Vanessa Redgrave), prompts Claire to return, with her obnoxious grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan) in tow, determined to find her long-lost idol Lorenzo.
An implied premarital relationship, a brief obscene gesture.

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“Robin Hood” (Universal)

The Catholic News Service 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.

Thematically ambitious yet enervating version of the much-filmed legend concerning the 13th-century English outlaw (Russell Crowe) who, in this serious reworking awash in political intrigue and salubrious civics lessons, goes from common archer on King Richard’s Crusade to the valiant unifier of a downtrodden, suffering nation.
Director Ridley Scott drains the tale of energy and emotion without offering action thrills that would ingratiate a new generation of viewers. Though hovering on the edge of bawdiness, and despite jabs at the cold-hearted, oppressive church leaders of the period, the movie may be acceptable for some mature teenagers.
Much — mostly bloodless — battle violence, a nongraphic sexual situation with fleeting rear nudity, an attempted rape, callous clergy, some innuendo and anatomical references, one instance each of crude and crass language.

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Just Wright” (Fox Searchlight)

The Catholic News Service 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.

This appealing, seamless blend of the best elements of both romantic comedy and inspirational sports films charts the triangular love story of a hardworking physical therapist (Queen Latifah), a professional basketball star (rapper Common) and the attractive but shallow material girl (Paula Patton) who is both her “godsister” and his fiancee.
Director Sanaa Hamri and screenwriter Michael Elliot use the lightest of touches to create a warm, likable environment and convey a message about relationships founded on enduring values.
Probably acceptable for more mature teens. A single use of rough language, an implied premarital encounter.

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“Iron Man 2” (Paramount/Marvel)

The Catholic News Service 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.

Stylish sci-fi follow-up charting the further adventures of a freewheeling weapons manufacturer (Robert Downey Jr.) — whose high-tech suit of armor transforms him at will into the titular hero — as he battles a gifted but warped Russian scientist (Mickey Rourke) and competes against a smarmy rival industrialist (Sam Rockwell) with the on-again, off-again help of his former military liaison (Don Cheadle) and the steady support of his frequently exasperated executive assistant (Gwyneth Paltrow).
In his second adaptation of a popular comic-book series that originated in 1963, director Jon Favreau crafts an almost entirely gore-free, though steadily clash-laden, cautionary tale about the two-edged potential of modern munitions.
Considerable, though virtually bloodless, action violence; some sexual humor and references; at least one instance of profanity; a bleeped use of the F-word; a couple of crude expressions; and occasional crass language.

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“A Nightmare on Elm Street” (Warner Bros.)

The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Crazed killer Freddy Krueger (now played by Jackie Earle Haley) and his fatal fingers return to prey on the dreams — and real lives — of a new generation of small-town teens (including Rooney Mara, Kyle Gallner, Katie Cassidy and Kellan Lutz).
Veteran music video director Samuel Bayer’s unwelcome reboot of the 1980s slasher franchise — his feature debut — relies on the tried and trite recipe of sending interchangeable insomniacs to a gory doom. Intense bloody violence; gruesome imagery; a pedophilia theme; an implied nonmarital relationship; a couple uses of profanity; at least a dozen instances of the F-word; and some crude language.

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“The Back-Up Plan” (CBS Films)

The Catholic News Service 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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“Furry Vengeance” (Summit)

The Catholic News Service 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.

Painfully flat comedy in which a Chicago-based construction supervisor (Brendan Fraser) moves to the Oregon woods to oversee a new housing development but finds his work stymied by a mischievous conspiracy of the forest creatures whose habitat the supposedly eco-friendly development will displace, leading to complications with his scheming boss (Ken Jeong) and his unwillingly uprooted wife (Brooke Shields) and son (Matt Prokop).
Director Roger Kumble’s frequently distasteful romp registers as more juvenile than sprightly, while its underlying themes of respect for nature and the priority of family life over career advancement, though honorable, are driven home far too ham-handedly.
Much scatological humor and some comic violence.

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

The Catholic News Service 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 Catholic News Service 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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