Recently released films reviewed on basis of moral suitability

Rating: By Catholic News Service

PHOTO: Sandra Bullock and George Clooney star in a scene from the movie “Gravity.” See review below. (CNS photo/Warner Bros.)

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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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“Gravity” (Warner Bros.)

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.

This thrilling lost-in-space adventure — directed by Alfonso Cuaron, who co-wrote the screenplay with his son Jonas — offers up dazzling 3-D cinematography and top-notch performances. High above Earth, a Russian missile launched against a spy satellite causes a chain reaction, destroying the Space Shuttle and marooning its only surviving crewmates (Sandra Bullock and George Clooney).
What ensues is “E.T.” in reverse, as our plucky humans — who were at work repairing the Hubble Space Telescope when disaster struck — search for a way to go home.
Amid the mayhem, the film has another, deeper story to tell, as the nearness of death provokes reflections on mortality and the afterlife. These meditations are used as stepping stones toward a resolution that viewers of faith will find both satisfying and refreshingly pro-life.
Possibly acceptable for mature adolescents. Scenes of intense peril and horror, brief gore, at least one use of profanity, a few crude expressions.

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“Don Jon” (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.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt writes, directs and stars in this comedy about an Italian Catholic bartender in suburban New Jersey whose addiction to pornography threatens to undermine his budding romance with the bridge-and-tunnel bombshell of his dreams (Scarlett Johansson).
Despite perceptible good intentions — limited moral guidance is provided by an earthy older woman (Julianne Moore) the protagonist meets in night school — wrongheaded values, a surfeit of obscene images and, above all, a contemptuous treatment of confession combine to torpedo the proceedings. Lost in the wreckage is a potentially respectable message about the need to renounce at least the worst excesses of objectifying lust.
Sacrilegious humor, pervasive graphic sexual content, frequent profane expressions, some of them blasphemous, relentless rough and crude language.

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“Runner Runner” (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.

Slick but forgettable cautionary tale in which a ruined Wall Street executive-turned-graduate student (Justin Timberlake) is recruited by a charismatic online-gambling tycoon (Ben Affleck) to help administer the mogul’s burgeoning, Costa Rica-based betting empire.
As the lad becomes increasingly disillusioned with his new mentor’s shady ways, an FBI agent (Anthony Mackie) pressures him to collect incriminating evidence, while love comes calling in the person of the offshore company’s fetching number two (Gemma Arterton). A decadent lifestyle is part of the lure by which our hero is seduced, and the frank portrayal of some of its details, together with the steadily recurring vulgarities that pepper the dialogue, makes director Brad Furman’s otherwise acceptable drama too seamy for a wide audience.
Brief but disturbing action violence, fleeting graphic images of group sex, rear nudity, pervasive rough and crude language.

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Baggage Claim” (Fox Searchlight)

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 David E. Talbert’s romantic comedy, adapted from his 2005 novel, charts the amorous adventures of a determined flight attendant (Paula Patton) searching for a soul mate among her passengers.
With the help of two co-workers (Jill Scott and Adam Brody), she arranges in-flight reunions with a series of ex-boyfriends — including a record producer (Tremaine “Trey Songz” Neverson), a rising politician (Taye Diggs) and a millionaire (Djimon Hounsou) — hoping to rekindle one of her past romances. To her credit, she resists the temptation to settle for second-best, and realizes that staying married is a bigger challenge than simply getting hitched.
Despite some thematic turbulence and poor choices, this is ultimately a flight worth taking, especially as it’s that Hollywood rarity, a film that upholds and promotes the institution of marriage.
Implied nonmarital sex, mature references, including to homosexuality and contraception, a same-sex kiss, innuendo, some crude language.

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“Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2” (Columbia)

The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested.

Cheerful animated comedy in which the young inventor (voice of Bill Hader) of a machine that turns water into food learns from his idol, a famed scientist and corporate guru (voice of Will Forte), that the device, which he thought had been disabled, has continued to function and is now producing animals made out of menu items.
To prevent these rapidly multiplying hybrid creatures from overrunning the world, the whiz kid must return to his island-set hometown, where he abandoned the gizmo, and try to shut it down for good. He’s backed up on this quest by his protective dad (voice of James Caan), his meteorologist best friend (voice of Anna Faris) and by a team of other pals (voiced by Neil Patrick Harris Andy Samberg, Terry Crews and Benjamin Bratt).
Loosely based, like its 2009 predecessor, on a book by Judi and Ron Barrett, directors Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn’s sequel serves up colorful fun while elevating friendship and teamwork over egotism and re-echoing a familiar — but nonetheless valuable — message about environmental responsibility.
A few bathroom-based jokes and a couple of very mild vulgarities.

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“Rush” (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.

The 1976 Formula One racing season provides the backdrop for this fact-based drama about the rivalry between its two leading drivers: freewheeling British playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and obsessively disciplined Austrian Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl).
Hunt’s dissolute ways, only somewhat muted by his marriage to high-profile model Suzy Miller (Olivia Wilde), draw his relentlessly focused chief competitor’s jealousy and resentment, despite the burgeoning of Lauda’s own low-key but durable romance with a chance acquaintance (Alexandra Maria Lara). In return, Lauda’s humorless Teutonic temperament becomes the target of Hunt’s contempt.
As the contenders spur each other on to ever more dangerous tactics, director Ron Howard skillfully ratchets up the suspense — and the foreboding. Though the folly of their shared recklessness is highlighted at the film’s climax, Howard not only portrays Hunt’s sexual escapades unblinkingly, but tends to glamorize them as well. Not a film for the squeamish, or those lacking in maturity and discernment.
Strong sexual content — including graphic casual sexual activity, an aberrant situation, and upper female and rear nudity — drug use, gruesome medical images, brief harsh violence, an instance of highly irreverent humor, an adultery theme, about a half-dozen uses of profanity, frequent rough and crude language.

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