Capsule reviews and ratings of recently released movies

Following are capsule reviews and ratings 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, as well as earlier releases, visit www.usccb.org/movies

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

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“Eat Pray Love” (Columbia)

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.

Off-kilter values underlie this fact-based narrative of a travel writer’s (Julia Roberts) self-initiated divorce (from Billy Crudup), brief affair with a much younger actor (James Franco) and yearlong quest for enlightenment and self-understanding via Italian cuisine, Hindu spirituality (under the guidance of Richard Jenkins) and romance with a Brazilian expatriate (Javier Bardem) living in Bali.
Director and co-writer Ryan Murphy’s overlong, ultimately exhausting screen version of Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling 2006 memoir displays an ambivalent attitude toward marriage, ignores Christianity as a source of insight and revolves around an interminably navel-gazing central figure. That figure, along the path of her pampered pilgrimage, confuses psychobabble for wisdom.
Complex religious themes, acceptability of divorce, nonmarital and premarital situations, rear nudity, some sexual humor, an obscene gesture, a few uses of profanity, at least one rough and a half-dozen crude terms.

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“The Expendables” (Lionsgate/Millennium)

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.

Brutally violent action vehicle, directed and co-written by Sylvester Stallone, in which a veritable Who’s Who of Hollywood tough guys and professional sports stars form a ragtag brotherhood of mercenaries who travel the world freeing hostages and toppling dictators. On the advice of the group’s soulful guru (Mickey Rourke), its leader (Stallone) and the gang’s knife specialist (Jason Statham) head to a fictional South American nation where a rogue CIA agent (Eric Roberts) is running a corrupt regime.

Though the pair barely escape after this initial mission, the chief, smitten with a resistance agent (Giselle Itie), vows to return with his whole crew (rounded out by Jet Li, mixed martial artist Randy Couture and ex-NFL star Terry Crews) to overthrow the terrorists and restore freedom. Relentless bloody and graphic violence, including shootings, knifings, explosions, decapitations, torture, and implied rape, some rough language.

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“The Other Guys” (Columbia)

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.

An occasionally amusing but excessively vulgar action comedy. It follows the odd-couple antics of an eccentric, paperwork-loving police accountant (Will Ferrell) and his frustrated perforce partner (Mark Wahlberg) — a former street cop unwillingly desk-bound — after they make a high-profile mistake as they investigate the financial shenanigans of a British-born banker (Steve Coogan).
Director and co-writer Adam McKay’s parody of genre conventions handcuffs its talented cast with relentlessly foul-mouthed dialogue and tiresome bedroom jokes. Considerable, though bloodless, action violence; much sexual humor; a couple of uses of profanity; and pervasive crude and crass language.

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“Step Up 3D” (Disney)

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.

The third third installment of the street stomping franchise. The setting shifts from Baltimore to New York as the leader (Rick Malambri) of a Gotham dance crew recruits a college freshman (Adam G. Sevani) he takes under his wing and a nightclub denizen (Sharni Vinson) for whom he quickly falls to help win a contest. The proceeds would forestall forestall foreclosure on the loft where he and his followers live and practice, but his quest is hindered by his new protege’s academic and amorous distractions (the latter caused by Alyson Stoner) and by the underhand scheming of a friend-turned-rival (Joe Slaughter).
Three-dimensional effects enhance the precision choreography in director Jon M. Chu’s generally buoyant follow-up to his 2008 feature debut “Step Up 2: The Streets,” but the nimble numbers in this tale retreading familiar Hollywood themes of dream fulfillment and the self-selecting circle of friends as do-it-yourself substitute family are interspersed with flat-footed dialogue, a creaky plot and some provocative moves and lyrics.
At least one use of the S-word, occasional crass language, a mildly irreverent joke and scenes of moderately suggestive dancing.

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Tales From Earthsea” (Walt Disney/Studio Ghibli)

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.

Something is amiss in the mythical land of the title, and it’s up to a mighty wizard (voice of Timothy Dalton) and his princely apprentice (voice of Matt Levin) to set things right, despite the opposition of a wicked sorcerer (voice of Willem Dafoe) with a mania for immortality at any cost.
Though unusually dark for a Disney offering, and technically less than top-flight, director Goro Miyazaki’s Japanese anime adaptation of the popular book series by Ursula K. Le Guin features an epic battle between good and evil tinged with Christian symbolism. Stylized cartoon violence, including stabbings and strangulations, instances of drug use and fantasy witchcraft.

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Charlie St. Cloud” (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.

After losing his younger brother (Charlie Tahan) in a car accident for which he was indirectly responsible, a gifted sailboat racer (Zac Efron), racked by guilt and grief, becomes the caretaker of the cemetery where his sibling rests, on the edge of which, briefly each evening, he is mysteriously able to see and communicate with the lad. But his reclusiveness is challenged when a high school classmate and fellow sailor (Amanda Crew) returns to town and captures his heart.
Though unusually spiritual and even explicitly religious, director Burr Steers’ melancholy parable, adapted from Ben Sherwood’s best-selling 2004 novel, “The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud,” never quite jells, despite Efron’s sensitive portrayal of his isolated, ethereal character, while the script romanticizes the premature consummation of the scarred youth’s potentially life-altering love.
Nongraphic premarital sexual activity, a few instances of sexual humor, at least one use of profanity, a couple of crude terms and six crass remarks.

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“Dinner for Schmucks” (Paramount)

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.

To score a promotion, a financial analyst (Paul Rudd) must bring a suitable guest to the titular meal organized by his boss (Bruce Greenwood) as a competition to see which corporate hotshot can produce the most amusing idiot as a target for secret ridicule. His accidental meeting with a bizarrely naive and nerdy IRS agent (Steve Carell) seems like a godsend until his victim’s well-intentioned bumbling begins to ruin both his career and his relationship with his live-in girlfriend (Stephanie Szostak).
Though its underlying message is one of sensitivity and respect, director Jay Roach’s comedy, adapted from Francis Veber’s 1998 French feature “Le Diner de Cons,” showcases numerous wayward riffs on topics such as adultery, casual sex and venereal disease. Shadowy rear and partial nudity, cohabitation, much sexual and brief irreverent humor, a couple of uses of profanity, at least one use of the F-word, six crude terms.

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“Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore” (Warner Bros.)

The Catholic News Service classification is A-I — general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested.

Entertaining and inventive 3-D spy adventure — seamlessly blending live action, puppetry, and computer animation. Rogue feline agent Kitty Galore (voice of Bette Midler) threatens to make the world her “personal scratching post” by unleashing the “Call of the Wild,” a screech that serves as a weapon of mass destruction. Led by Diggs (voice of James Marsden), a police K-9 German shepherd who hates cats, and Catherine (voice of Christina Applegate), a feline agent who puts her nine lives on the line, the covert pet intelligence agencies DOG and MEOWS must put differences aside and work together to bring Kitty down.
Plenty of excitement, gizmos, and cute-as-a-button moments will charm and enthrall the youngsters, while their parents will enjoy the inside jokes referencing James Bond films.

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“Salt” (Columbia/Relativity)

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.

Well-acted but thoroughly violent action thriller in which, after being accused by a Russian intelligence officer (Daniel Olbrychski) of being a double agent, a highly skilled CIA operative (Angelina Jolie) goes on the run, leaving her colleagues (principally Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor) scrambling to uncover whether she is friend or foe, even as they try to track her down. As directed by Phillip Noyce, Jolie makes a weak script reasonably compelling, and her character displays strong marital loyalty; yet, as an all-but-superhuman killing machine, her path is littered with corpses.
Frequent violence, some of it bloody, at least 10 uses of profanity, one instance of the F-word, six crude terms.

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“Ramona and Beezus” (Fox)

The Catholic News Service classification is A-I — general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G — general audiences. All ages admitted.

Gentle, winning comedy about a good-hearted but accident-prone 9-year-old (Joey King) whose antics annoy her more conventional teen sister (Selena Gomez). Their happy existence in an idyllic Portland, Ore., suburb is temporarily overshadowed by their accountant dad’s (John Corbett) loss of his job, and the resulting mild tensions between him and their mom (Bridget Moynahan), but brightened again by the rekindled romance between a favorite aunt (Ginnifer Goodwin) and her high school sweetheart (Josh Duhamel).
Traditional values and close-knit family relationships reign in director Elizabeth Allen’s squeaky-clean, nostalgia-tinted adaptation of Beverly Cleary’s best-selling series of children’s books and, though nothing very momentous happens, what does take place transpires in the nicest possible way.

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“Inception” (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.

Ingenious sci-fi brainteaser in which, at the behest of a powerful CEO (Ken Watanabe), a corporate spy (Leonardo DiCaprio) who uses “shared dreaming” to extract secrets from the minds of sleeping executives leads a team of skilled collaborators (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy and Dileep Rao) on a raid into the subconscious of the heir (Cillian Murphy) to a rival business. Writer-director Christopher Nolan achieves a tour de force of spectacle and suspense that eventually involves four adventures unfolding simultaneously at different levels of consciousness, though his crafty action tale is rife with explosions and gunplay and engages the imagination more than the heart.
Much violence, some of it bloody, several uses of profanity, a few crude and crass terms.

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“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” (Disney)

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.

Generally inoffensive but routine fantasy adventure about an ordinary New York City college student (Jay Baruchel) who discovers he is the long-prophesied heir to legendary magician Merlin’s wonderworking skills. He struggles to master his powers under the supervision of a good wizard (Nicolas Cage) so he can aid in the fight against an evil sorcerer (Alfred Molina), though his pursuit of the gal (Teresa Palmer) he has loved since childhood proves a constant distraction.
As directed by Jon Turteltaub, the special effects-driven proceedings — which include unbloody battle scenes too intense for tots — fall well short of movie magic. Extensive stylized violence, brief scatological humor.

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“The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” (Summit)

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.

A well-behaved vampire (Robert Pattinson) and an equally courtly werewolf (Taylor Lautner) overcome their natural antipathy and temporarily unite to protect the teen mortal (Kristen Stewart) they both love from the threat posed by a vengeance-driven bloodsucker (Bryce Dallas Howard) and her plasma-hungry minions. Director David Slade’s third installment in the hugely popular Gothic romance franchise — based on the best-selling novels of Stephenie Meyer — draws on self-referential humor to leaven its potentially ridiculous, and occasionally over-familiar, proceedings as it ramps up the mostly bloodless supernatural battling, but shifts the basis of the main couple’s chaste interaction from a matter of constraint to one of choice.
Considerable stylized violence, an off-screen rape, a scene of nongraphic sensuality, a birth control reference and a few mildly crass terms.

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“Despicable Me” (Universal)

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.

This enchanting 3-D animated comedy about a slightly wicked but ultimately softhearted rogue (voice of Steve Carell) follows his rivalry with a nerdy newcomer (voice of Jason Segel) for the title of world’s most terrible villain — during which they compete to steal the moon, no less. It charts the life-altering effect a trio of orphans (voices of Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier and Elsie Fisher) have on him after he takes them under his wing, initially for his own nefarious purposes.
Co-directors Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin — who also provide voice work for the main miscreant’s army of comically mumbling undersized minions — serve up a delightfully humorous conversion tale spun around themes of loyalty and the transformative power of family love with only a few effects that might scare the most timid and a touch of mild bathroom humor to raise concern among some parents.

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The Last Airbender” (Paramount)

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.

Strained 3-D fantasy adventure, set in an alternate world where some human beings have the power to “bend,” that is, control, one of the basic elements of fire, earth, air and water, and where a brother and sister (Jackson Rathbone and Nicola Peltz) assist a child (Noah Ringer) who is the latest incarnation of a global peace-giver in his quest to restore order to society by ending the oppressive rule of a warlike, imperialist nation (led by Cliff Curtis and Aasif Mandvi). Though free of objectionable language or behavior, writer-director M. Night Shyamalan’s live-action adaptation of an animated TV series — which also features Dev Patel as a disgraced prince out to prove his mettle by capturing the boy wonder — fails to gain dramatic traction, bogging down in stilted dialogue and endless explanations of its back story, some aspects of which suggest pantheism or nonscriptural beliefs.
Potentially confusing religious themes and much nongraphic martial arts and combat violence.

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“Predators” (Fox)

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.

Dreary sci-fi sequel in which a random collection of human warriors and criminals (most prominently Adrien Brody, Alice Braga and Topher Grace) find themselves unwillingly and mysteriously parachuted into a jungle by the invisibility-cloaked aliens of the title who then hunt them for sport. Despite a half-hearted last-reel lesson about the need to maintain civilized values, director Nimrod Antal’s addition to the thriller franchise that began with 1987’s “Predator” is mostly a survey of nasty ways to die, while Alex Litvak’s script is chockablock with obscenities.
Frequent graphic violence, some of it gruesome, a few uses of profanity, pervasive rough and crude language.

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“Grown Ups” (Columbia)

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.

Meandering, scattershot comedy, of interest mainly to devoted Adam Sandler fans, in which co-writer Sandler and director Dennis Dugan set out to tell the tale of five friends (Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider, along with Sandler), all once members of a championship private-school basketball team, who reunite with their families at a New England lake cabin after their coach dies, but this weak entry mostly offers up stale riffs and physical comedy in lieu of a strong story.
Some mild sexual and scatological humor, including a running gag about a 4-year-old boy who still breastfeeds, brief rear nudity, fleeting crude and crass language, a few instances of innuendo.

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“Knight and Day” (Fox)

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.

This good-natured, though intermittently violent, action-and-romance combo sees an everyday woman (Cameron Diaz) unwittingly caught up in the conflict between a highly skilled but apparently rogue CIA agent (Tom Cruise) and his former colleagues (led by Viola Davis and Peter Sarsgaard) as they battle each other and an evil Spanish arms dealer (Jordi Molla) for possession of a recently invented (by young geek Paul Dano) energy source with revolutionary potential. Director and co-writer James Mangold’s breezy diversion takes a largely bloodless toll on the extras while the adroitly portrayed central relationship progresses, for the most part, innocently enough.
Frequent, though mostly nongraphic, action violence, at least one use of profanity and of the F-word, some crude language, a few instances of sexual humor.

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“The Karate Kid” (Columbia)

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.

Stirring, satisfying update of the 1984 hit shifts the action to modern China, where an unassuming kung fu master (Jackie Chan) teaches an undersized American boy (Jaden Smith) how to confront a bully while imparting other life lessons. Director Harald Zwart balances fealty for the crowd-pleasing original with embellishments that, aside from a manipulative musical score, enhance the appeal of the timeless underdog story.
Hard-hitting and occasionally cruel but not graphic martial arts violence, including a boy being struck across the face by an adult, the use of a crass term for the human posterior, some mild toilet humor, one instance of sexual innuendo, an unnecessary kiss between pre-teens.

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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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