CNS reviews of recent movies based on moral suitability

Photo Caption: Animated characters appear in the movie “The Croods.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-I — general patronage.

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 at www.catholicnews.com/movies.htm.

This list will be updated regularly, and all reviews are copyright (c) 2013 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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“G.I. Joe: Retaliation” (Paramount)

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.

In this explosion-laden, ear-splitting 3-D sequel to 2009’s “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra,” directed by Jon M. Chu, the president (Jonathan Pryce) has been kidnapped, and the imposter (Arnold Vosloo) who has assumed his identity is bent on world domination. But first, the villain must spring his nefarious commander (Luke Bracey) from prison and eliminate his main opposition: the elite fighting force of G.I. Joes led by by Dwayne Johnson.
Pervasive action violence, brief gore, a handful of crude and crass terms.

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“Admission” (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.

Low-key romantic comedy in which a college admissions officer (Tina Fey) on a recruiting trip falls for an idealistic teacher (Paul Rudd) at an experimental private school. But complications develop when she discovers that the brilliant student (Nat Wolff) her new love is urging her to accept into her university may be the child she gave up for adoption during her own campus days.
While the premise of director Paul Weitz’s slow-paced adaptation of Jean Hanff Korelitz’s novel is at least implicitly pro-life, and its wrap-up largely pro-family, Fey’s character makes some inadmissible moral choices along the way — as too does her free spirited, fiercely feminist mom (Lily Tomlin).
Acceptance of cohabitation and of premarital sexual encounters, a benign view of unethical behavior, about a half-dozen uses of profanity, a couple of rough terms, occasional crude language.

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The Call” (TriStar)

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.

A 911 operator (Halle Berry) becomes personally invested in helping a teen (Abigail Breslin) escape from the psychopath (Michael Eklund) who kidnapped her. For most of its running time, director Brad Anderson’s thriller plays out as serviceable, if uninspired, entertainment for adults. But late developments make it first thoroughly implausible and then morally unacceptable.
Endorsement of vigilantism, much violence, some of it gory, at least one use of profanity, several sexual references, occasional rough and crude language.

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“The Croods” (Fox)

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.

Beautifully rendered and refreshingly good-humored, this 3-D animated comedy follows the adventures of the Stone-Age family of the title as they face the perils of climate change.
The overprotective father (voice of Nicolas Cage) keeps his clan — including his loving wife (voice of Catherine Keener) and rebellious teenage daughter (voice of Emma Stone) — safe inside a dark cave. But curiosity leads the latter to encounter a resourceful stranger (voice of Ryan Reynolds) who pledges to guide her and her relatives into the light of a safe haven.
Directors and co-writers Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco provide fun for moviegoers of just about any age with a tale that carries an intriguing Christian subtext. Only frightening interludes that might overwhelm the littlest viewers pose any concern for parents.

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“Olympus Has Fallen” (FilmDistrict)

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.

Frequently bloody action flick in which North Korean terrorists (led by Rick Yune) seize the White House and take the president (Aaron Eckhart) and other high officials hostage. But they fail to reckon on the fighting skills of a Secret Service agent (Gerard Butler) whose temporary desk job in the Treasury Department saves him from being mowed down in the initial attack — or on the statesmanship of the speaker of the House (Morgan Freeman), who takes the nation’s helm as acting chief executive. Slaughter is interspersed with demonstrations of American ingenuity and moral superiority in director Antoine Fuqua’s shallow fightfest. Gory scenes of combat, murder and torture, several uses of profanity, much rough and crude language.

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“Dead Man Down” (FilmDistrict)

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.

Seeking revenge for the gangland killing that claimed his family, a brooding lug (Colin Farrell) lures the underworld kingpin responsible (Terrence Howard) into a trap by serving him as a loyal assassin, thereby gaining the gangster’s confidence. Along the way, the victim-turned-hired-gun falls for his neighbor (Noomi Rapace) who’s out for payback of her own via blackmail. The labyrinthine — and bloodthirsty — game of cat and mouse that ensues, under Niels Arden Oplev’s direction, is further warped by skewed moral values.
A benign view of revenge, pervasive gory violence, including gunplay and torture, a nongraphic bedroom scene with brief rear nudity, relentless profane and rough language.

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“The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” (Warner Bros.)

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.

By turns charming and repellent, this comedy charts the rise and fall of a pair of superstar magicians (Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi) on the Las Vegas Strip. Competition arises from an outrageous street performer (Jim Carrey), who steals away the superstars’ assistant (Olivia Wilde) and threatens their Sin City supremacy.
As directed by Don Scardino, the film seeks its laughs the conventional Hollywood way, via sexual innuendo or nauseating sight gags. Such sleaze — together with a morally flawed conclusion — obscures interesting commentaries on the wickedness of narcissism and a fallen idol’s potential path to redemption.
A benign view of drug use and contraception, much crude humor, sexual innuendo, occasional profane and rough language.

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“Oz the Great and Powerful” (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.

Lush visuals and sly humor boost this 3-D prequel to the 1939 classic “The Wizard of Oz” — based, like its predecessor, on the writings of L. Frank Baum.
A small-time carnival magician (James Franco) finds his life transformed when a Kansas tornado transports him to the magical Land of Oz. There, he discovers that both his arrival and his eventual victory over the forces of darkness gripping the realm have been prophesied. But self-doubt — together with his initial inability to determine which of his new homeland’s three presiding witches (Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams) embodies goodness — pose stumbling blocks on the way to his promised destiny.
Director Sam Raimi’s fantasy adventure emphasizes confidence, cooperation, the marvels of science and a generalized faith in happy endings, though his protagonist is shown praying to God in times of need.
More problematic is the fact that several plot points turn on the wizard’s womanizing. While the specifics are omitted, the subject matter is unsuitable for small moviegoers, who might also be frightened by some of the spooky creatures jumping out at them from the screen.
Mature references, perilous situations, a couple of mild oaths, potentially upsetting images.

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