Catholic News Service reviews of recently released movies

The following movie reviews are supplied 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 regularly, and all reviews are copyright (c) 2011 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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“Scream 4” (Weinstein)

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.

The latest installment in director Wes Craven’s slasher franchise, begun in 1996, wallows in the same mindless havoc that characterized its predecessors.
Trouble brews anew when the survivor of the first three rampages (Neve Campbell) returns home to Woodsboro while promoting her new book about the highly publicized saga. Alongside other returning characters — such as Courtney Cox’s journalist and David Arquette’s sheriff — the next generation of potential victims is using new-media tools to absorb and recycle the formulaic mayhem wrought by the killer known as “Ghostface.” The line “sick is the new sane” aptly summarizes the profanity-riddled, blood-soaked proceedings of this deeply cynical — if admittedly well-constructed — horror flick.
Excessive gory violence; pervasive rough, crude and crass language; some profanity and sexual banter; and two scenes of underage drinking.

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“Rio” (Fox)

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

Buoyant animated adventure with music about a Brazilian-born macaw (voice of Jesse Eisenberg) raised as a cosseted pet in Minnesota. Informed by an eccentric Rio-based scientist (voice of Rodrigo Santoro) that her feathery friend is the last male of his species, his devoted owner (voice of Leslie Mann) reluctantly brings him back to his native land so that he can mate with his sole remaining female counterpart (voice of Anne Hathaway). But the potential lovebirds get caught up in the illegal avian trade.
Lessons about environmental stewardship and love-inspired loyalty are decked out in kaleidoscopic colors and delivered in an overwhelmingly child-friendly tone in director Carlos Saldanha’s 3-D flight of fancy. A few nursery-level bathroom references, a fleeting double entendre.

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“Soul Surfer” (Tri-Star)

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 Sean McNamara’s fact-based drama recounts the story of Bethany Hamilton (AnnaSophia Robb), a devoutly Christian 13-year-old competitive surfer in Hawaii whose life is changed forever by a shark attack that claims her arm.
With the support of her parents (Helen Hunt, Dennis Quaid), her brothers, and her church, Bethany accepts her fate and is determined to surf again, whatever the odds. Soon Bethany is once more competing in — and winning — surfing events, and she uses her newfound celebrity to inspire the disabled and others to follow their dreams.
With its uplifting story bolstered by stunning cinematography, this is that Hollywood rarity: a film that is not afraid to talk about God or to show a happy, well-adjusted family that makes faith its foundation. Despite the intensely emotional (but nongraphic) shark onslaught and its aftermath, “Soul Surfer” can be enjoyed by parents and mature young people alike.

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“Arthur” (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.

The utterly frivolous, merrily alcoholic heir (Russell Brand) to a billion-dollar corporate fortune is threatened with disinheritance unless he marries a domineering executive (Jennifer Garner) who plans to curb his wayward lifestyle. A chance encounter with a working-class New York City tour guide (Greta Gerwig), however, leaves the previously heedless playboy smitten and forced to choose between luxury and love.
Though director Jason Winer’s remake of Steve Gordon’s popular 1981 comedy intermittently touches on the limits of materialism, it gives a pass to its main character’s promiscuity and tends to trivialize his problem drinking. The fitful laughs on offer mostly derive from the tart observations of Helen Mirren as the man-boy’s affectionate but not uncritical British nanny — the distaff counterpart to John Gielgud’s butler in the original.
A fleeting nongraphic bedroom scene, an obscured nude image, brief irreverent humor, frequent sexual references, a couple of uses of profanity and a few crude terms.

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“Hanna” (Focus)

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.

Espionage thriller in which Saoirse Ronan plays the titular teen, a child bred to kill. Raised in isolation by her father (Eric Bana), who trains her to use violence as instinctively as a wild animal, she’s pursued — once she starts to put her deadly skills to use — by the CIA agent (Cate Blanchett) who alone knows her family’s dark secrets.
Engaging performances overcome plot improbabilities in director Joe Wright’s action outing. But the moral murkiness of story lines instrumental to the wrap-up, and references to genetic manipulation and abortion, restrict the film’s appropriate audience to religiously and ethically well-grounded adults.
Mature themes, extensive but non-gory gun and martial-arts violence, a single profanity and fleeting crude language.

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“Your Highness” (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.

This sophomoric send-up of medieval swashbucklers follows the quest of a gallant prince (James Franco) to rescue his bride-to-be (Zooey Deschanel) from the clutches of the evil wizard (Justin Theroux) who kidnapped her, an adventure which affords his ne’er-do-well younger brother (Danny McBride) a shot at bettering himself.
The humor in director David Gordon Green’s smirking spoof — which also features Natalie Portman as a freebooting warrior with an agenda of her own — relies heavily on the supposed joke of “olde tyme” characters inhaling pot and exhaling murky clouds of foul language.
Strong sexual content, including full nudity and masturbation, drug use, pervasive sexual humor, a couple of uses of profanity, close to 50 instances of rough language, many crude and crass terms.

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“Insidious” (FilmDistrict)

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 mash-up of a horror homage — which borrows liberally from older films in the genre such as “Poltergeist” and “The Amityville Horror” — has a young boy (Ty Simpkins) trapped in a hellish netherworld known as The Further, with his feckless father (Patrick Wilson) and a medium (Lin Shaye) out to rescue him.
Director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell break no new ground, relying instead on garish zombies popping out of windows, closets and walls, a fog machine, and a cackling old lady or two. Still, the use of 1960s pop phenom Tiny Tim’s falsetto warbling of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” does lend the proceedings a sort of geeky charm. Along the way, a Catholic priest (John Henry Binder) makes a brief appearance, but to no discernable purpose.
Fleeting crude and profane language and intense, but nonviolent, scenes involving children.

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“Hop” (Universal)

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.

Spring is on its way, but the Easter Bunny’s “hare” apparent (voice of Russell Brand) has gone AWOL in director Tim Hill’s comedy of errors which — though it seamlessly blends live action and computer animation — is somewhat less than appropriate for its target audience.
Junior, it seems, would rather be a rock star than succeed his father (voice of Hugh Laurie) as the world’s most famous supplier of candy and goody baskets. So he hops away to Hollywood, where he meets a similarly disenchanted human (James Marsden). They bond and learn lessons about family and the importance of reconciliation, but not about the real meaning of Easter itself, which is never so much as mentioned.
Along the way, the script’s vaguely coarse humor is geared more toward adults than children, making this collection of empty cinematic calories a not-so-tasty morsel for the younger set. Some mildly rude humor.

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“Jane Eyre” (Focus)

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.

Director Cary Joji Fukunaga’s adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel, though faithful, nonetheless ramps up the gothic and scary elements of the plot.
The orphan Jane (Mia Wasikowska) survives a childhood of abuse and religious fundamentalism to become governess at Thornfield Hall, home of the enigmatic Edward Rochester (Michael Fassbender). Jane focuses on her work, teaching a young French girl (Romy Settbon Moore) in Rochester’s care, while trying to understand the eccentricities of her spiritually tormented employer. Her guide and confidante is the manse’s busybody housekeeper (a scene-stealing Judi Dench). Soon Rochester’s bedroom is on fire, and Jane saves his life — and melts his heart. They make plans to marry, but fate, of course, has other things in store for these star-crossed lovers.
Possibly acceptable for mature teens. Adult themes, some intense scenes of nonsexual child abuse, an artistic nude image.

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“Source Code” (Summit)

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.

Taut direction by Duncan Jones and game performances all around help disguise the logical conundrums underlying this sci-fi thriller.
As part of a cutting-edge antiterrorism operation, a heroic Afghan War veteran (Jake Gyllenhaal) is enabled to inhabit the body of a stranger during the last minutes of the other man’s life when he and his girlfriend (Michelle Monaghan) were passengers on a doomed Chicago commuter train. By repeatedly reliving this brief period, under the initially opaque guidance of the officer (Vera Farmiga) running the program, the vet hopes to identify the plotter who bombed the train and thus forestall a far worse follow-up attack.
The claustrophobic atmosphere of the sometimes grim proceedings is offset by an emphasis on the central character’s humanity, while the script’s musings on life, death and parallel existences are too confused either to challenge or reinforce beliefs of any stripe. Recurring action violence, some of it potentially disturbing, brief gory medical images, about a half-dozen uses of profanity, at least one instance of the F-word, some crude language.

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“Sucker Punch” (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.

Inchoate fantasy designed especially for those who like their movies to be thrill rides devoid of such niceties as coherent plot, writing or wrap-up. Director Zack Snyder, who co-wrote the screenplay with Steve Shibuya, supposedly folds a “girl power” message somewhere in here among the bustiers, long false eyelashes and set-piece fights pitting a quintet of combative maidens — played by Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens and Jamie Chung — against hosts of robot soldiers.
The whole undertaking is obviously aimed at an audience of adolescent boys. Considerable intense gun and knife violence, at least one instance of profanity, fleeting crude language, and a couple of scenes of sexual menace.

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