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.

—–

“The Mighty Macs” (Freestyle)

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

Feel-good sports drama, based on the true story of women’s basketball coach Cathy Rush (Carla Gugino). In 1972, at age 23, Rush took a job at Pennsylvania’s Immaculata College (now University) and built its team from scratch, eventually leading the “Macs” to the national championship. In the process, she and her lady dribblers inspired the nuns of the faculty, led by a formidable mother superior (Ellen Burstyn), to join forces and save the school from closing. Director Tim Chambers’ family-oriented movie offers lessons in friendship, teamwork, trust and perseverance.

—–

“The Big Year” (Fox 2000)

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

Warm-hearted seriocomedy in which a business tycoon (Steve Martin), a rudderless nuclear power plant worker (Jack Black) and a home contractor (Owen Wilson) vie to win the titular bird-watching competition by spotting the greatest number of different species over the course of a calendar year. As the builder obsessively tries to defend his seemingly insurmountable previous record, the executive and the slacker form an unlikely friendship as well as an alliance intended to best their sometimes unscrupulous rival.
Director David Frankel’s mostly agreeable film — inspired by Mark Obmascik’s book of the same name — affirms the primacy of family life and personal relationships over materialistic or ego-driven goals. Brief nongraphic marital lovemaking, possible cohabitation, a fertility treatment theme, adultery references, at least one use of profanity, an obscene gesture and a few crude and crass terms.

—–

“Johnny English Reborn” (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.

Elaborately constructed spy spoof — and cleaned-up sequel to the 2003 comedy “Johnny English” — in which Rowan Atkinson as the titular secret agent overcomes severe odds to discover who was responsible for the assassination of the president of Mozambique. Atkinson and director Oliver Parker put Johnny — a combination of Atkinson’s Mr. Bean and Leslie Nielsen’s Frank Drebin of the “Naked Gun” franchise — through a series of droll set-pieces. One dubious, and dull, sight gag aside, they also eschew the less-than-family-friendly humor of the original. Some cartoonish violence, a single tasteless visual joke and fleeting mildly crass language.

—–

“The Three Musketeers” (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.

Alexandre Dumas’ classic costume epic of 17th-century swordsmanship, French patriotism and political treachery is updated with 3-D, slow-motion fighting and two anachronistic airships, one of which has a flamethrower. Director Paul W.S. Anderson downplays the politics to have Matthew Macfadyen, Luke Evans and Ray Stevenson as Athos, Aramis and Porthos, respectively, joined by Logan Lerman as D’Artagnan, fighting mostly for the love of their women. Probably acceptable for mature adolescents. Fleeting crude and crass language, light sexual banter and highly stylized gun- and swordplay.

—–

“Paranormal Activity 3” (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 R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

In 1988 California, a videographer (Chris Smith) records the ominous doings of a malevolent spirit that has taken up residence in the house he shares with his new wife (Lauren Bittner) and two stepdaughters (Chloe Csengery and Jessica Brown). Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman’s horror sequel follows a tried and true formula to deliver mostly gore-free jolts. But the satanic elements of the plot that eventually come to the fore will make many want to steer clear. Occult theme, brief harsh violence, drug use, some nongraphic marital lovemaking, a couple of uses of profanity, several sexual references, considerable rough and crude language.

—–

“Footloose” (Paramount)

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.

After a night of dirty dancing by five hard-drinking, drug-taking high school seniors from a small Southern town ends with a fatal car crash, one victim’s father (Dennis Quaid), the local Presbyterian minister, spearheads legislation to ban public dancing. But his daughter (Julianne Hough) supports an underground teen revolt, which gains steam with the arrival from Boston of a James Dean-like pouting rebel (Kenny Wormald). Director Craig Brewer’s remake of the 1984 film of the same title retains — and ramps up — the problematic message of the original, namely, that teenagers must disobey their parents, break all the rules and follow their dreams no matter the consequences.
Negative portrayal of religion; acceptance of teenage drinking, drug use, sexual activity and reckless driving; a brutal assault; and a few instances of crude and crass language.

—–

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

Billed as a prequel to John Carpenter’s 1982 movie of the same name, itself a remake of a 1951 horror classic, this passable creature feature follows a paleontologist (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) to Antarctica where Norwegian researchers have discovered a parasitic alien buried inside a glacier. Dutch director Matthijs van Heijningen makes little attempt to deepen the story’s thematic subtext or exploit the inherently menacing atmosphere. The shortcomings of his adequate but unnecessary homage don’t amount to an egregious crime against cinema, good taste or decency. But his focus on the forensic clarity of the visual effects will unsettle many.
Frequent intense, gory creature violence, an implied suicide, some profanity, much rough, crude and crass language, a lewd reference to incest.

—–

“The Way” (Producers Distribution Agency /ARC)

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 his semi-estranged son (Emilio Estevez) dies in a freak storm while hiking the ancient pilgrimage route from France to the Spanish shrine of Santiago de Compostela, a California doctor (Martin Sheen) and self-identified lapsed Catholic resolves to complete the journey as a means of honoring the lad’s memory. Along the mountainous path, he meets three fellow sojourners — a tart-tongued Canadian (Deborah Kara Unger), a merrily gormandizing Dutchman (Yorick van Wageningen) and a garrulous Irish writer (James Nesbitt) — who together begin to break down both his self-imposed isolation and the mild orneriness by which he enforces it. Estevez, who also wrote and directed, takes viewers on a reflective, and ultimately rewarding, exploration of elemental themes that challenges materialistic values. But the film’s focus, like the varied motivations of the contemporary pilgrims it portrays, is more broadly spiritual than specifically religious, faith being treated, albeit with refreshing respect, as something the characters encounter rather than fully embrace.
Brief partial rear nudity, drug use, a couple of instances of profanity and of crass language, references to abortion and sexuality.

—–

“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.

—–

“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.

—–

“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.

—–

“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.

—–

“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.

—–

“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.

—–

“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.

—–

“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.

—–

“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.

—–

“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.

—–

“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.

—–

“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.

SPALDING PASTORAL CENTER | 419 NE MADISON AVENUE | PEORIA, IL 61603 | PHONE (309) 671-1550 | FAX (309) 671-1595
© Copyright 2020 - The Catholic Post || 2 || All Rights Reserved || Design by TBare.com