Recently released films reviewed based on moral suitability

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 the CNS movie site here.

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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“Apollo 18” (Dimension/Weinstein)

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.

An inventive horror film presented — in the spirit of “The Blair Witch Project” — as a documentary, purporting to tell the story of a top-secret mission to the moon, and why we dare not return there anytime soon. Christmas 1973 finds NASA preparing the titular spacecraft and training its eager astronauts (most prominently Warren Christie and Lloyd Owen). Once on the lunar surface, Owen’s character goes walkabout, stumbles upon footprints and a dead Soviet cosmonaut, and the fun, so to speak, begins. Before long things start to go bump in the night, shrieks are heard, and creepy crawlies are on the march as Spanish director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego’s Hollywood debut morphs into a monster movie.
Sporadic but intense moments of terror and fleeting profane and crude language.

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“Contagion” (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.

Director Steven Soderbergh reimagines the all-star disaster movie genre with a compelling tale of a deadly virus’ uncontrolled march across the planet. Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) returns from a business trip to Hong Kong and drops dead, and soon everyone she encountered along the way meets their maker. It’s an unknown virus, and as a pandemic erupts and millions fall, doctors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet) and the World Health Organization (Marion Cotillard) race against time to find the cure. Getting in their way is an enterprising blogger (Jude Law) who cries conspiracy, fomenting unrest in the streets.
Disturbing images of dying people, corpses and autopsies, a reference to an adulterous relationship and fleeting rough language.

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“Warrior” (Lionsgate)

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.

Poignant, well-acted sports drama set in the bone-crunching milieu of mixed martial arts competition plumbs fraternal discord as two brothers (Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton), estranged from each other and from their alcoholic father (Nick Nolte), face off in a high-profile match. Director and screenwriter Gavin O’Connor uses a brutal sport to viscerally illustrate the transformative power of love and forgiveness.
Although the fighting is not graphically depicted or glamorized, some may find certain sequences difficult to watch, and the film’s tacit approval of violence as a means of dealing with conflict renders it suitable for selected viewers only. Intense boxing violence, much crude language, some profanity, one use of rough language, brief sexual innuendo and some alcohol abuse.

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“Shark Night 3” (Rogue)

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.

A gaggle of Tulane University students — played by Sara Paxton, Dustin Milligan, Alyssa Diaz, Chris Carmack, Katherine McPhee, Singua Walls and Chris Zylka — head out to a Louisiana saltwater lake for a bacchanal, only to find they’re all on the menu of the titular predators. Director David R. Ellis borrows his stale formula from any number of 1980s screamers in which nubile young people are slaughtered by some relentless killer — a repulsive recipe to which he adds only the fins.
Excessive gore, rear male and partial upper female nudity, sexual banter and frequent profane, crude and crass language.

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“The Debt” (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 R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

This stylish — though frequently violent — remake of the 2007 Israeli spy thriller of the same name is a game of cat-and-mouse across two time periods as three Mossad agents (Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson and Ciaran Hinds) track down and capture a Josef Mengele-like Nazi war criminal (Jesper Christensen). Their feat — told in flashback by their younger selves (Jessica Chastain, Marton Csokas and Sam Worthington) — has made them national heroes. But it seems there’s more to their exploit than the official story recounts.
While suitable only for mature viewers open to challenging material, as directed with flair by John Madden, this gritty drama will certainly keep them guessing right up to the end. Considerable bloody violence, a disturbing portrayal of anti-Semitism, brief nongraphic premarital sexual activity and some rough language.

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“Colombiana” (TriStar/Stage 6)

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.

Over-the-top action flick in which a highly trained assassin (Zoe Saldana) carries out contracts for her uncle (Cliff Curtis) while awaiting the opportunity to turn her skills against the Columbian gangsters (led by Beto Benites and Jordi Molla) who murdered her parents when she was a child (Amandla Stenberg). But the dogged pursuit of an FBI agent (Lennie James) and her romance with an increasingly nosy artist (Michael Vartan) threaten to thwart her revenge.
Pure pulp, director Olivier Megaton’s shoot-em-up expends ammo at a “Scarface” pace, yet generally demurs from showing the gory consequences of its gun battles, or of its heroine’s more creative hits, such as that involving a shark tank. Constant, largely bloodless, action violence, vengeance theme, brief nongraphic premarital sexual activity, a few uses of profanity, at least one instance of rough language, frequent crude or crass terms.

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“Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” (FilmDistrict)

The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

This staid and stale remake of the 1973 made-for-TV horror movie indulges in little bloodletting, but offers no genuine chills, at least after the initial appearance of the evil goblins who live in the basement of a spooky old house in Providence, R.I. — and pursue the young daughter (Bailee Madison) of its new owner (Guy Pearce). Director Troy Nixey attempts an elegant homage but ends up with a fright-free misfire.
Intense action scenes with a bit of gore, cohabitation, fleeting profane and crude language.

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“Our Idiot Brother” (Weinstein)

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

Occasionally effective, but sexually errant, satire about a ridiculously naive produce farmer (Paul Rudd) who emerges from a stint in prison after selling marijuana to a uniformed police officer only to find that his selfish live-in girlfriend (Kathryn Hahn) has taken up with someone new (T.J. Miller). Homeless and broke, he seeks shelter with his mother (Shirley Knight) before lodging, in succession, with each of his tightly wound sisters (Emily Mortimer, Elizabeth Banks and Zooey Deschanel). But his habit of guileless truth-telling complicates the driven lives of all three.
Though director Jesse Peretz’s underplayed comedy scores a few hits on modern mores, its use of nudity and sexual situations to elicit laughs, as well as its mainstreaming of one sibling’s lesbian relationship, make it inappropriate for all.
Strong sexual content, including graphic aberrant sexual activity, adultery, partial frontal, upper female and rear nudity, implicit acceptance of homosexual behavior, a narcotics theme, about a dozen uses of profanity, much rough and crude language.

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“Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D” (Dimension)

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.

Writer-director (and series creator) Robert Rodriguez’s third sequel to 2001’s “Spy Kids” offers the novelty of “Aroma-Scope,” giving viewers the chance, via a scratch-and-sniff card, to “smell” the action as they watch (in 3-D) our young heroes — and their parents — fight to save the world.
Now retired to be a housewife, the former top agent (Jessica Alba) for the OSS (Organization of Super Spies) is called back into service when a villain (Jeremy Piven) threatens to unleash a super weapon that will take away all time. Her stepchildren (Mason Cook and Rowan Blanchard) also join the struggle as Spy Kids, members of the “elite juvenile division” of the OSS. As the family — which also includes dad Joel McHale — learns to work together to rescue humanity, they discover that time is a precious commodity that must be used wisely.
Light comic-book action, mildly rude humor.

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“Fright Night” (Disney)

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

A Las Vegas-area teen (Anton Yelchin) suspects his new neighbor (Colin Farrell) is a vampire responsible for the sudden disappearance of his boyhood best friend (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). So he seeks the aid of an occult-obsessed illusionist (David Tennant) as he tries to protect his mom (Toni Collette) and girlfriend (Imogen Poots) from the toothy predator. Initially restrained bloodletting gives way to gore galore in director Craig Gillespie’s nocturnal remake of a 1985 horror-comedy mix while Marti Noxon’s script is peppered with obscenities throughout.
Excessive graphic violence, a benign view of teen sexual activity, brief rear nudity, several uses of profanity, pervasive rough and crude language.

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“One Day” (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.

Turgid screen version of the best-selling romance novel scripted by the book’s author, David Nicholls, and directed in a plodding style by Lone Scherfig. Ill-assorted Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess — she a prim children’s writer, he a whiny, boorish TV host — are shown in a series of 20 annual episodes, beginning with their college graduation in 1988, as they progress from awkward friends to something more. Though their relationship is mature and broadly, if not always straightforwardly, moral, viewers’ interest is likely to be fatally depleted by the excessively wordy dialogue of Nicholls’ verbose script well before the five-hanky ending.
A shadowy glimpse of female frontal nudity, brief rear nudity, implied cohabitation, a single instance of rough language.

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“Conan the Barbarian” (Lionsgate)

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 blood-saturated 3-D action-adventure — based on the 1930s pulp fiction of Robert E. Howard — stars Jason Momoa as the eponymous warrior out to avenge his father’s murder by a warlord (Stephen Lang). The latter, together with his half-witch daughter (Rose McGowan), also kidnaps a martial arts maiden (Rachel Nichols) in his quest to dominate the mythical land of Hyboria. Bringing 21st-century moviemaking techniques to the sword-and-sorcery subgenre, director Marcus Nispel offers up a visually dynamic yet exceedingly violent piece of hokum, bereft of positive values. “No mercy” could be its mantra, applying equally to those on screen and off.
Pervasive graphic violence — including decapitations, severed limbs and torture — explicit nonmarital sexual activity, considerable upper female and brief rear male nudity, some sexual innuendo, one instance of crude language.

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“Final Destination 5” (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.

The cinematic meat grinder that is the “Final Destination” franchise churns on as a group of paper factory executives — played by Emma Bell, Miles Fisher, Ellen Wroe, P.J. Byrne, Arlen Escarpeta and David Koechner — evade death thanks to the timely premonition of a colleague (Nicholas D’Agosto). But the Grim Reaper begins evening his accounts by subjecting each survivor in succession to a bizarre and grisly end. Appealing exploitatively to the worst in human nature — a morbid desire to watch special-effects-fodder characters killed off in various nauseating ways — director Steven Quale’s gorefest is mind-numbingly boring when not repulsive.
Pervasive gruesome violence, a few rough and about a dozen crude terms, some sexual references.

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“30 Minutes or Less” (Columbia)

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.

In this extremely lewd action-comedy, a pizza deliveryman (Jesse Eisenberg) turns to his ex-best friend (Aziz Ansari) for help after two bumbling criminals (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson) strap a bomb to him and order him to rob a bank. In tackling the theme of male underachievement with sophomoric crudity, director Ruben Fleischer has stitched together a slight but seamy movie that will come as an unpleasant surprise for unsuspecting patrons.
Brief graphic sexual activity with upper female nudity, occasional gunplay and other violence, drug use, frequent explicit sexual humor, pervasive rough, crude, and crass language, and racial and gender slurs.

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“Glee The 3D Concert Movie” (Fox)

The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

The popular television show “Glee” leaps to the big screen with a documentary-style look at its ensemble’s live-performance concert tour. On the surface, this appears to be innocent karaoke, with fresh-faced “teens” (most, in reality, well past high school age) expressing their inner angst and searching for acceptance by singing cover versions of popular songs. But the showcasing of dedicated fans, called “Gleeks,” for whom the show serves as a substitute religion, a politically correct gospel of universal tolerance that, among other things, celebrates homosexual behavior, sets the film irrevocably at odds with Catholic teaching.
Explicit endorsement of the homosexual lifestyle, some provocative lyrics and dancing.

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“The Help” (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.

This warm, deftly acted drama compellingly portrays the efforts of a rebellious white Southerner and would-be journalist (Emma Stone) to write a book documenting the lives of group of black housemaids (most prominently Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer) in her hometown of Jackson, Miss., in the early 1960s. To complete this secret and potentially dangerous project, the novice reporter braves the opposition of her good-hearted but traditionally minded mother (Allison Janney) and the wildly racist thinking of her privileged peers (personified most viciously by Bryce Dallas Howard).
Writer-director Tate Taylor’s adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s best-selling novel uses vivid characterizations to bring the Civil Rights-era struggle for human dignity alive. But a harsh scatological plot development marks this as off-limits for younger viewers, who might otherwise benefit from its generally uplifting story, and will even be off-putting for many adults.
Graphic scatological theme, brief violence and medical gore, veiled sexual references, a half-dozen uses each of profanity and crude language, a few racial slurs.

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“The Change-Up” (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 raunchy riff on the age-old switched identities premise has a diligent but beleaguered husband and dad (Jason Bateman) temporarily exchanging bodies with his commitment-phobic ne’er-do-well best friend (Ryan Reynolds). Since the single lothario’s lifestyle includes making soft-core porn and indulging his aberrant sexual tastes, while his amigo’s parenthood is marred by diaper disasters, helmer David Dobkin’s puerile comedy amounts to little more than a tiresome attempt to expand the boundaries of bad taste.
Graphic nonmarital sexual activity, masturbation, upper female and rear nudity, drug use, repulsive scatological humor, several uses of profanity, pervasive rough and crude language.

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“Crazy, Stupid, Love” (Warner Bros.)

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.

Multigenerational romantic comedy tracing the tangled loves of a long-married but recently separated suburbanite (Steve Carell), his dissatisfied wife (Julianne Moore), their 13-year-old son (Jonah Bobo) and the family’s 17-year-old babysitter (Analeigh Tipton) for whom the boy yearns, but whose heart belongs — secretly — to daddy. Also in the mix is the suave playboy (Ryan Gosling) who tries to teach the newly single nebbish the secrets of successful womanizing before being smitten himself (by Emma Stone).
As helmed by co-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the proceedings eventually reach a conclusion that affirms genuine affection and marital fidelity over the apparent glamour of promiscuity. But the path to this mostly acceptable wrap-up is littered with sordid attempts to garner laughs from degraded behavior.
Strong sexual content — including semi-graphic adulterous activity, implied masturbation, and an amateur pornography theme — considerable sexual and brief irreverent humor, a couple of uses of profanity, a bit of rough and much crude language.

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“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (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 iteration of the successful screen franchise based on the science fiction of French novelist Pierre Boulle is a prequel set in modern-day San Francisco. James Franco plays a master geneticist who believes he’s found the cure for Alzheimer’s disease using primate test subjects. When the apes run amok, however, the project is canceled and the animals are put down. Yet one chimp survives, with ultimately disastrous consequences for mankind.
While this is primarily a special effects-driven action film, as directed by Rupert Wyatt, it’s also a cautionary tale about human hubris and misguided science out to achieve a good end through morally unmoored means. As such, its real-life resonance is all too easy to recognize.
Intense and bloody action violence, including animal attacks, gunplay, and moments of terror, implied premarital sexual activity.

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“Cowboys & Aliens” (Universal)

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.

Genre bender in which a posse of perplexed Old West townsfolk — led by an amnesic ex-outlaw (Daniel Craig), a ruthless local cattle baron (Harrison Ford) and a mysterious stranger (Olivia Wilde) — track the extraterrestrials who attacked their ramshackle village and kidnapped numbers of its citizens. Interludes of harsh violence and dubious — though inconsequential — theologizing by the community’s resident preacher (Clancy Brown) restrict the appropriate audience for director Jon Favreau’s sometimes clever, but ultimately unsatisfying, adaptation of Scott Mitchell Rosenberg’s graphic novel.
Intense, sometimes gory violence, including torture, brief partial nudity, ritual drug use, about a half-dozen uses of profanity, a few crude and some crass terms.

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