Recently released films reviewed on basis of moral suitability

Photo Caption: Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks and Michael D’Addario, front center, star in a scene from the movie “People Like Us.”

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) 2012 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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People Like Us” (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.

A basically good-hearted but less-than-scrupulous businessman (Chris Pine) faces a moral dilemma when he discovers, in the wake of his long-estranged father’s death, that he has a half-sister (Elizabeth Banks) and that Dad left secret instructions for him to convey a large cash bequest to her. Up against significant financial reversals, he sorely needs the money himself. But as he gets to know his struggling sibling — he contrives to cross her path as though he were a chance acquaintance — and bonds with her troubled preteen son (Michael Hall D’Addario), less selfish considerations come to the fore.
Director and co-writer Alex Kurtzman’s low-key blend of comedy and drama, based on real events and aimed at intelligent, mature audiences, showcases some fine acting and delivers a thoughtful — if not always entirely plausible — examination of its main characters’ struggle to overcome a legacy of dysfunction.
Cohabitation, brief semi-graphic sexual activity, drug use, addiction theme, a few instances of profanity, at least one rough term and considerable crude and crass language.

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“Ted” (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.

Sporadically funny, but excessively vulgar comedy charting the long-standing friendship between a slacker car rental agent (Mark Wahlberg) and the teddy bear (voice of Seth MacFarlane) his childhood wish miraculously brought to life. When their bond is tested by tensions surrounding the wastrel’s romance with his live-in girlfriend (Mila Kunis), the party-loving plush toy proves a negative influence, despite good intentions.
MacFarlane, who also directed and co-wrote this mix of live action and computer-generated animation, endows the titular character with a foul mouth, a taste for the company of prostitutes and a love of illegal substances. Cuddly does not describe it.
Occasional irreverence, a benign view of drug use, cohabitation, brief upper female and rear nudity, a same-sex kiss, much sexual and scatological humor, numerous uses of profanity, pervasive rough and crude language.

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Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection” (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.

Writer-director Tyler Perry reprises the role of Madea, the familiar, frequently mixed-up, but mostly moral force of nature in a muumuu.
In one of her weaker outings, her district attorney nephew (also Perry) convinces Madea to shelter a white family (headed by Eugene Levy) after a massive corporate Ponzi scheme gone awry, leaving Levy’s falsely suspected character not only facing fraud charges but threatened by mobsters as well. Perry plays on the well-worn theme of the cultural shock that ensues when stuffy Caucasians mingle with earthy black folks. Still, his trademark themes of respect for parents, adherence to one’s religious beliefs and self-confidence are not to be quarreled with, any more than is his feisty heroine herself.
Occasional slapstick violence as well as fleeting crass language and drug references.

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Magic Mike” (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.

Sordid drama in which a veteran male stripper (Channing Tatum) convinces his boss (Matthew McConaughey) to hire a novice (Alex Pettyfer) he has befriended. But the experienced burlesque boy’s romantic interest in his new pal’s sister (Cody Horn) runs up against her well-founded disapproval of his immature, hedonistic lifestyle.
Though it follows a morally acceptable thematic path, director Steven Soderbergh’s somewhat random-feeling journey into the subculture of ladies-only clubs includes too many sleazy detours and too much flaunted flesh.
Strong sexual content, including adultery, full nudity, semi-graphic nonmarital sexual activity and off-screen group sex, drug use, a couple of instances of profanity, pervasive rough and crude language.

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“Stella Days” (Tribeca)

The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.

Change is in the air in 1950s Catholic Ireland, and a discontented parish priest (Martin Sheen) struggles to keep his flock — and himself — from spiritual exhaustion in director Thaddeus O’Sullivan’s adaptation of Michael Doorley’s memoir.
Ordered by his bishop (Tom Hickey) to build a new church, the pastor lights on a novel scheme to raise funds and, at the same time, engage his wandering flock: build a cinema, to be called “The Stella.” His project gains the support of a newly arrived young teacher (Trystan Gravelle), but ignites opposition both from the bishop and from a local politician (Stephen Rea) who predicts filth and immorality will result.
Antoine O. Flatharta’s script does not condemn the church and its role in Irish society outright. But he marginalizes it, casting it as a relic of a rose-colored time in recent history. An unflattering portrayal of the Catholic Church, an adulterous relationship and some rough language.

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“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” (Fox)

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.

The 16th president of the United States uses his trusty ax to split a lot more than rails in this goofy mash-up of American history, directed by Timur Bekmambetov from a screenplay by Seth Grahame-Smith (based on his 2010 novel).
Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) vows revenge after his mother is killed by a vampire’s bite. Trained in the killing arts by a mysterious mentor (Dominic Cooper), Lincoln sets out to vanquish evil and prevent the undead-aided Confederacy from winning the Civil War.
Relentless bloody violence, fleeting upper female nudity, occasional use of profanity and rough language.

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“Brave” (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.

A teenage Scottish princess goes to extreme lengths to break free of custom and convention in this 3-D animated adventure, directed by Brenda Chapman and newcomer Mark Andrews.
A king and queen (voices of Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson) rule a peaceable version of medieval Caledonia. When it comes time to arrange the marriage of their rambunctious daughter (voice of Kelly Macdonald), however, she rebels and runs off to the forest.
Determined to change her destiny, she persuades a witch (voice of Julie Walters) she encounters there to cast a spell, with disastrous consequences. Her adventure teaches the royal miss the hard way that selfishness and revenge are wrong, and family, duty and honor paramount.
Intense action and scenes of peril, the use of sorcery, brief rear animated nudity and some rude humor.

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“Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” (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.

With an asteroid on course to obliterate all life on Earth within a few weeks, a soft-spoken conformist (Steve Carell) and his free-spirited, British-born neighbor (Keira Knightley) set off on a road trip. He wants to reconnect with his high-school sweetheart, while she hopes to find transport back to England (all airline flights have been discontinued) so she can repair frayed ties with her semi-estranged family.
The first part of writer-director Lorene Scafaria’s drama registers as a deeply cynical examination of how a secularized society would react to the certainty of mass extinction. The tone of her script warms as its focus shifts to the deepening bond between the opposites-attract main pair. But the welcome affirmation of their increasing connectedness is offset by the heroine’s insistence that the physical expression of love be treated casually, and by the film’s implicit message that, in a world without God, romance is the only source of salvation.
Fleeting blasphemous humor, brief but intense violence with gore, drug use, underage drinking, cohabitation, off-screen premarital sexual activity, a couple of uses of profanity and much rough and crude language.

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“Rock of Ages” (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.

Heavy-metal musical romance — set in 1987 — in which an aspiring singer (Julianne Hough), newly arrived in Los Angeles, finds work as a waitress in a headbangers’ nightclub and falls for a bartender (Diego Boneta) in the same establishment who has show biz ambitions of his own.
Plot complications involve the bar owner’s (Alec Baldwin) efforts to keep the place open, the struggle of a puritanical politician’s wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) to shut it down and the headlining appearance of a debauched megastar (Tom Cruise) whose increasingly distant relationship with reality is being exploited by his unscrupulous manager (Paul Giamatti).
Director Adam Shankman’s screen version of Chris D’Arienzo’s hit Broadway paean to the glories of Reagan-era rock mixes shameless sentimentality with cheerful, consequence-free debauchery and drives home the message that religiously motivated moral conservatives are all repressed hypocrites.
Negative treatment of religion, misguided values — including a frivolous view of homosexuality, acceptance of premarital sex and a comic portrayal of aberrant sexual behavior — rear and partial nudity, a couple of uses of profanity, some crude and crass language.

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“That’s My Boy” (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.

Repellant Adam Sandler comedy in which he plays a slacker who, as a seventh-grader, was willingly seduced by one of his teachers (Eva Amurri Martino) and conceived a son. Decades later, down on his luck, he seeks out his estranged offspring (Andy Samberg) — now a successful financier engaged to be married (to Leighton Meester) — hoping a family reunion on a sleazy reality TV show will raise enough money to pay off his back taxes and keep him out of jail.
Sandler’s obsession with body functions and bodily fluids is given full rein under Sean Anders’ direction. But potty humor constitutes no more than the tip of a noisome iceberg here. Fundamentally immoral values, a vile representation of the priesthood, strong sexual content — including the sexual abuse of a child, an incest theme, masturbation, and upper female and rear nudity — drug use, frequent scatological humor, pervasive rough, crude and crass language.

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“Madagascar3: Europe’s Most Wanted” (DreamWorks)

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.

Fast-moving, intensely silly 3-D adventure picks up where the last film in the Madagascar franchise left off, with Alex the lion (voice of Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (voice of Chris Rock), and pals Melman the giraffe and Gloria the hippo trying to return to New York City by refurbishing a European circus.
Co-directors Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath and Conrad Vernon, with a script co-written by Darnell and Noah Baumbach, fill their story with a rich vein of European circus lore, combined with an uplifting message about believing in one’s special abilities. Intense action sequences.

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“Prometheus” (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.

In this prequel to 1979’s “Alien,” two scientists (Noomi Rapace and Logan Marshall-Green) travel to a desolate planet in 2093 seeking evidence to prove their theory about the origins of mankind. The mission is supervised by a soulless corporate executive (Charlize Theron) and the human crew is aided by an efficient android (Michael Fassbender), part Mr. Spock and part Lawrence of Arabia.
A heretical answer to mankind’s biggest question emerges, along with death and destruction courtesy of creatures dubbed “engineers” and reptilian parasites familiar from earlier “Alien” movies. Returning to the franchise he spawned, director Ridley Scott offers a grandiose mash-up of perennial sci-fi themes. The visual spectacle is first-rate but the muddled script is too profound by half. Its rejection of a fundamental tenet of theism, namely, that God created mankind — combined with violence and offensive language — renders the movie extremely problematic from a faith perspective.
Considerable grisly sci-fi violence, several instances of rough language, much crude and crass language, significant profanity, some sexual references and innuendo, nonexplicit relations between an unmarried man and woman, one use of marijuana, and some alcohol consumption.

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“Snow White and the Huntsman” (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.

The latest take on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, directed by newcomer Rupert Sanders, is a classic good-vs.-evil fable with splashes of gothic horror and extreme violence, but some welcome religious imagery.
Snow White (Kirsten Stewart), the “Fairest One of All,” is imprisoned by her stepmother, the wicked queen (Charlize Theron). The princess escapes, joins forces with her erstwhile assassin (Chris Hemsworth) and a band of dwarfs, learns how to handle a sword, and musters an army to retake her kingdom.
Intense action violence and brutality, scenes of sorcery, and some mild sensuality.

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“For Greater Glory” (ARC Entertainment)

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.

Powerful historical drama recounting the persecution of the Catholic Church in Mexico during the 1920s under the presidency of Plutarco Calles (Ruben Blades) and the popular reactions — both peaceful (led by Eduardo Verastegui) and violent (led by Andy Garcia) — it provoked.
As Garcia’s character, a religious skeptic, becomes the unlikely commander of an army of the devout, he gains inspiration from a saintly adolescent volunteer (impressive newcomer Mauricio Kuri).
Director Dean Wright’s epic — which also features a brief turn from Peter O’Toole as a wise and venerable priest — gets off to a slow start. But once the initially varied story lines laid out in Michael Love’s script converge, their outcome packs an emotional wallop.
The fact-based, faith-quickening tale the movie tells is sufficiently valuable to warrant a younger viewership than would normally be advisable for fare of this kind. Probably acceptable for mature adolescents. Considerable action violence with some gore, the torture of a child and at least one mildly vulgar term.

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