Newly 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) 2013 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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“The Big Wedding” (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.

A caricatured portrayal of Catholicism — via a straw-man priest (Robin Williams) and a hyper-pious South American matron (Patricia Rae) — is only the most annoying of this vulgar romantic comedy’s many defects.
To protect Rae’s character — his birth mother — from the scandalous fact that his adoptive parents (Robert De Niro and Diane Keaton) are divorced, the groom (Ben Barnes) of the titular nuptials (to Amanda Seyfried) asks Mom and Dad to pretend they’re still married, an arrangement that leaves the latter’s live-in girlfriend (Susan Sarandon) fuming.
Overall, the message of writer-director Justin Zackham’s adaptation of the 2006 French-Swiss film “Mon Frere Se Marie” seems to be that, in a world without God, it’s fine to be confused as long as you’re not inhibited. Implied atheism, anti-Catholicism, flawed moral values, strong sexual content — including aberrant sex acts, rear nudity and a frivolous treatment of homosexuality and adultery — a couple of uses of profanity, much rough and crude language.

See the full CNS review at CNS Reviews.

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“Pain and Gain” (Paramount)

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.

Nasty fact-based crime chronicle — set in the early 1990s — in which a trio of dimwitted bodybuilders (Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie) kidnap an abrasive but successful businessman (Tony Shalhoub) and torture him into signing over all his holdings to them. Thanks in large part to the efforts of a straight-arrow police officer-turned-private-eye (Ed Harris), however, their nearly successful scheme begins to unravel.
In adapting a series of magazine articles by Pete Collins, director Michael Bay invites viewers to marvel at the he-men’s jaw-dropping stupidity. Yet their vicious antics, acted out within a lowlife milieu of strippers and porn pushers, are too repellant to be amusing, while snarky swipes at religion culminate in blasphemous humor and the character of a pervert priest.
Negative portrayal of Christian faith and clergy, brutal, sometimes gory violence, strong sexual content — including graphic sex acts, masturbation and upper female and rear nudity — drug use, about a half-dozen instances of profanity, pervasive rough and crude language.

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“The Place Beyond the Pines” (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.

The iniquity of a father is visited upon his children — more than once — in this wrenching and profound multigenerational saga directed and co-written by Derek Cianfrance.
A motorcycle stuntman (Ryan Gosling) in a traveling carnival reencounters his ex-lover (Eva Mendes) who reveals they have a baby son. Determined to provide for his newfound offspring, he embarks on a spree of bank heists. When a rookie cop (Bradley Cooper) eventually tracks him down, it has devastating consequences for both men — and for their respective families.
The film offers a powerful message about temptation and relativism, as well as the role of conscience and the effect of one individual’s actions on others — though the choices made by the conflicted characters are not always ideal ones. Action violence including gunplay, brief gore, frequent drug and alcohol use, an instance of distasteful humor, a scene of sensuality, a couple of uses each of profane and crass language.

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“Oblivion” (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.

Convoluted science fiction epic begins with a technician (Tom Cruise) and his navigator (Andrea Riseborough) tending machinery on an abandoned, post-apocalyptic Earth so that the planet’s natural resources can continue to be harvested for the human refugees who now inhabit Saturn’s moon Titan. The unexpected arrival of a space traveler (Olga Kurylenko) from an earlier era, however, as well as an encounter with a group of guerilla freedom fighters (led by Morgan Freeman) prompt the inquisitive repairman to question whether things are really as they seem.
Large-scale landscapes and shiny gadgets make for arresting visuals in director Joseph Kosinski’s adaptation of his own graphic novel. But his emotionally shallow story is further undermined by logical lapses and some dubious philosophizing. Ethical complexities, moreover, make his film unsuitable for young or impressionable viewers.
An objectively immoral living arrangement, a scene of sensuality with shadowy rear and partial nudity, a couple of uses of profanity, at least one rough term, a smattering of crude and crass language.

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“Scary Movie 5” (Weinstein)

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.

Shoddy genre satire replete with childish gross-out humor and demeaning sex gags. The sketchy plot, principally lifted from Andy Muschietti’s horror film “Mama,” finds a couple (Ashley Tisdale and Simon Rex) adopting his two young nieces and baby nephew after the orphaned — and now feral — kids spent months isolated in a cabin in the woods.
The dopey jibes in director Malcolm Lee’s scattershot parody are as irksome as they are desperate. Pervasive sexual and scatological humor, frivolous treatment of homosexual activity, same-sex kissing, fleeting rear and partial nudity, some mild irreverence, drug imagery and references, at least one use each of profanity and of the F-word, much crude and crass language.

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“42” (Warner Bros.)

Uplifting, if sometimes heavy-handed, historical drama recounting the 1947 reintegration of professional baseball after decades of segregated play. This racial breakthrough was made possible by the collaborative efforts of Brooklyn Dodgers manager Branch Rickey (a splendid Harrison Ford) and Negro League star Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman). Though writer-director Brian Helgeland’s film is occasionally too convinced of its own importance, the proceedings are buoyed by Rickey’s feisty righteousness and by the inspiring example of Robinson’s forbearance in the face of hate. Helgeland’s script attributes both Rickey’s vision and Robinson’s courage — at least in part — to their shared Christian faith, while the loving support of Robinson’s wife Rachel (Nicole Beharie) is also shown to be crucial to his struggle.
Possibly acceptable for older teens. An adultery theme, racial slurs, fleeting humor implicitly referencing homosexuality, a few uses of profanity, at least one crude term, occasional crass language.

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“Jurassic Park” (Universal)

The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents are strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

A bizarre theme park featuring genetically re-created dinosaurs becomes a potential deathtrap when the carnivorous monsters break loose, endangering some visiting scientists (Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum) and two very frightened young children (Joseph Mazzello and Ariana Richards).
Director Steven Spielberg’s monster fantasy downplays plot and characterization in favor of spectacle and horrific special effects, now in 3-D, in which the realistic-looking creatures hunt down their human prey. Much intense menace to children and several stylized scenes of violent death.

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“Evil Dead” (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.

Repulsive reboot of Sam Raimi’s horror trilogy that began with 1981’s “The Evil Dead.” A group of young adults (most prominently Jane Levy and Shiloh Fernandez as siblings) gathered in a remote cabin have a devil of a time after one of them (Lou Taylor Pucci) unwittingly summons a demon by reciting an ancient hex out of a book of necromancy they’ve stumbled across.
The threadbare plot of director and co-writer Fede Alvarez’s bloodbath is merely an excuse for serial dismemberment as the revived hell-dweller finds creative uses for an electric carving knife, a nail gun and (how did you guess?) a chainsaw.
Pervasive gory and sometimes gruesome violence, an occult theme, drug references, flashes of partial nudity, brief sexual imagery, constant rough and crude language.

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“The Host” (Open Road)

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.

Ponderous, dramatically inept science fiction tale in which alien spirits have taken over the bodies of most human beings. When a young resister (Saoirse Ronan) is captured, her soul remains even after the forced infusion of an extraterrestrial consciousness, and she gradually convinces the increasingly sympathetic invader to return to, and aid, the band of earthling fugitives (most prominently Max Irons, Jake Abel and William Hurt) with whom she had been on the run.
Earnest good intentions and honorable themes concerning tolerance, nonviolence and altruism cannot save writer-director Andrew Niccol’s screen version of Stephenie Meyer’s novel from the fatal absurdity of its heroine’s split personality — the two halves of which squabble endlessly via a combination of voice-over and dialogue.
Much action violence, fleeting gore, a suicide theme, cohabitation with brief semi-graphic sexual activity, a couple of crass terms.

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“Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor” (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 Perry puts the stale in morality tale with this story of a would-be marriage counselor (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and her struggle with a dull husband (Lance Gross), a lecturing minister mother (Ella Joyce) and the temptation to flout her vows (with Robbie Jones).
Ethical bearings are righted after considerable emotional pain. But it’s mostly just cliched talk — slow moving, and not in the least compelling. An adultery theme with two nongraphic adulterous encounters, drug use, sexual banter, fleeting crass language.

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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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