Recently released films reviewed on basis of 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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“Dream House” (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.

Psychological thriller about a couple (Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz) who ditch the big city for the countryside and the perfect house in which to raise their two small daughters. But they soon discover that five years ago the previous owner gunned down his wife and two daughters in cold blood. As the new occupants investigate what happened, the line between reality and the world of dreams becomes blurred.
Though intriguing in some respects, director Jim Sheridan’s traditional Gothic horror film features a level of gory mayhem that severely restricts its appropriate audience. Scenes of bloody violence and terror, brief nongraphic marital lovemaking, some profanity.

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

Savvy but raw political drama about an up-and-coming press spokesman (Ryan Gosling) whose fling with an intern (Evan Rachel Wood) during a crucial Democratic presidential primary leads him to discover that the campaign manager (Philip Seymour Hoffman) for whom he works and the candidate (George Clooney) in whom he deeply believes are not all they seem. With a sharp script and a powerful cast, Clooney, who also directed and co-wrote, turns in a slick adaptation of Beau Willimon’s play, “Farragut North.”
While fundamentally moral in most respects, however, this study in the corrupting effects of power is studded with mature subject matter and machismo-driven vulgarities, making it inappropriate fare for all but the gamest adults. Brief semigraphic nonmarital — and possibly underage — sexual activity, abortion and adultery themes, a suicide, an instance of blasphemy, about a half-dozen uses of profanity and pervasive rough and crude language.

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“Real Steel” (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.

Director Shawn Levy delivers an action-packed drama — driven by computer-generated special effects and set in the not-too-distant future — about robots who box and the dysfunctional humans who train and fix them. One of the latter (Hugh Jackman) is a washed-up fighter who finds his world turned upside down by the arrival of his estranged 11-year-old son (Dakota Goyo). Before long, the two bond over an unusual ‘bot named Atom, a pugilistic underdog who, rather predictably, gets his shot at challenging the champ.
Probably acceptable for older adolescents. Cartoonish action violence, references to an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, a bit of crude language and some mild oaths.

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“Courageous” (TriStar)

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.

After the tragic death of his young daughter, a devoutly Christian police officer (Alex Kendrick) convinces a group of his friends (Ken Bevel, Ben Davies, Kevin Downes and Robert Amaya) to join him in subscribing to a Bible-based resolution designed to make them better, more dedicated fathers. But a variety of circumstances, including a couple of illustrative moral quandaries, quickly put each dad’s resolve to the test.
Though occasionally heavy-handed, Kendrick, who also directed and co-wrote, crafts an uplifting message movie about the dire consequences of paternal neglect and the scriptural principles of sound parenting. Some gun violence and mature themes, including drug trafficking.

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“Dream House” (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.

Psychological thriller about a couple (Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz) who ditch the big city for the countryside and the perfect house in which to raise their two small daughters. But they soon discover that five years ago the previous owner gunned down his wife and two daughters in cold blood. As the new occupants investigate what happened, the line between reality and the world of dreams becomes blurred.
Though intriguing in some respects, director Jim Sheridan’s traditional Gothic horror film features a level of gory mayhem that severely restricts its appropriate audience. Scenes of bloody violence and terror, brief nongraphic marital lovemaking, some profanity.

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“Abduction” (Lionsgate)

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.

Humdrum romantic adventure in which a party-loving Pittsburgh teen (Taylor Lautner) and the neighbor he’d like to make his girlfriend (Lily Collins) get caught up in international intrigue after the lad discovers that the couple who raised him (Jason Isaacs and Maria Bello) are not his real parents. In what is presumably intended as a date movie for the high school set, the newfound lovebirds take time out from dodging CIA agents (led by Alfred Molina) and evading a Serbian assassin (Michael Nyqvist) to kiss, cuddle and coo.
On the plus side, director John Singleton’s far-fetched expedition mostly eschews gore — though there are some bone-crunching martial arts encounters — while the central couple successfully resists the temptation to turn their unexpected journey into a premature honeymoon.
Possibly acceptable for mature adolescents. Considerable, but largely bloodless, violence; brief nongraphic sensuality; at least one use of profanity and of rough language; and about a dozen crude or crass terms.

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“50/50” (Summit)

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 is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Ultimately touching but frequently crude tale of a young radio producer (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) whose diagnosis with a rare form of cancer leads him to reassess his relationships with his live-in girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard), his longtime best buddy (Seth Rogen) and his overprotective mother (Anjelica Huston). His efforts to come to grips with the grim situation — the title refers to his chances of survival — are further complicated by his romantic feelings for the plucky but novice psychologist (Anna Kendrick) who’s been assigned to counsel him.
Though its underlying values are strong, director Jonathan Levine’s sometimes courageous blend of drama and comedy, drawn from the real-life experiences of screenwriter Will Reiser and enhanced by Gordon-Levitt’s delicately calibrated performance, nonetheless showcases one of its main characters’ debased view of sexuality and winks at using pot.
Brief graphic nonmarital sexual activity, cohabitation, drug use, much sexual humor, about a half-dozen uses of profanity, pervasive rough and crude language.

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“What’s Your Number?” (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.

After reading a magazine article indicating that women who’ve had too many premarital partners may never find a husband, a recently fired Boston marketer (Anna Faris) tracks down the numerous paramours of her past to see whether any of them is now marriage material. Working from Karyn Bosnak’s novel “20 Times a Lady,” director Mark Mylod attempts to mine laughs from sexual promiscuity and a central character who is far too coarse and self-centered to win sympathy.
Acceptance of casual sex, fleeting upper female and rear nudity, a few uses of profanity, pervasive rough and crude language, frequent sexual references.

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“Dolphin Tale” (Warner Bros.)

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.

The true story of “Winter,” a dolphin that received the first artificial tail, is brought to the screen in a family-friendly film that offers lessons in faith, perseverance, and respect for persons — and animals — with disabilities.
Eleven-year-old Sawyer (Nathan Gamble) finds Winter washed up on a beach, badly injured from a fishing trap. His new friend is transported to the Clearwater Marine Hospital, run by Dr. Clay Haskett (Harry Connick Jr.) and his father, Reed (a very grizzled Kris Kristofferson), with a little help from Clay’s young daughter, Hazel (Cozi Zuehlsdorff).
When Winter’s tail is amputated, his survival is threatened, until Dr. Cameron McCarthy (Morgan Freeman), a master of prosthetics, decides to take on the challenge. A refreshing diversion for the entire family.

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“Killer Elite” (Open Road)

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.

Disjointed spy-vs.-spy shoot’em-up, set in the early 1980s, involving rival assassins who eventually learn they’re both being manipulated over cheap oil by a sinister group of retired British intelligence experts who call themselves “The Feather Men.” Director Gary McKendry, who co-wrote with Matt Sherring, tries to make some point about targeted killings, but it’s lost in a miasma of car chases.
Pervasive gun and physical violence, pervasive rough and crude language and fleeting profanity.

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“Machine Gun Preacher” (Relativity)

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.

Harrowing true story about a Pennsylvania man (Gerard Butler) who finds God and goes from drug-dealing and committing mayhem as a member of a Pennsylvania biker gang to protecting Sudanese children orphaned during a bloody civil war. Director Marc Forster glosses over the protagonist’s spiritual journey, focusing instead on the action-oriented sequences and enforcing viewer suspicion that he’s more of a mercenary than a humanitarian.
In addition to triggering cognitive dissonance and contravening basic Catholic teachings about peace and social justice, the movie is filled with disturbing and offensive material that undercuts the salubrious aspects of the partially redemptive conversion story.
Frequent graphic violence in the context of war and a crime spree-including disturbing images of child victims of burnings, mutilations, beatings, and gunplay-pervasive rough, crude and crass language, one instance of marital lovemaking and another of marital foreplay, some heroin and alcohol use, some profanity, and several racial epithets.

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“Moneyball” (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.

Based on the book by Michael Lewis, this enjoyable, thinking person’s sports movie centers on the real-life general manager (Brad Pitt) of baseball’s Oakland Athletics who, together with a young statistician (Jonah Hill), gambles on a new approach to the game and fields a team with a comparatively miniscule payroll. Director Bennett Miller, working from a script by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, has crafted a mature, humorous and modest film that will appeal to aficionados and nonfans alike. Respectful of America’s pastime yet eager to spur positive change, it relays a timeless, double-headed piece of wisdom: Money can’t buy baseball pennants or happiness.
Two uses of rough language, some crude and crass language, an instance of sexual banter, a few sexist remarks and a scene in which a player’s religiosity is treated in a sarcastic manner.

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