Recent movies reviewed on the basis of moral suitability

Rating: By Catholic News Service

PHOTO: Mr. Peabody, voiced by Ty Burell, Penny, voiced by Ariel Winter, and Sherman, voiced by Max Charles, appear in a scene from the animated movie “Mr. Peabody & Sherman.” (CNS/Fox)

—–

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) 2014 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

—-

“Tyler Perry’s Single Moms Club” (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.

There’s an artificial air to this seriocomedy about five socially diverse but uniformly beleaguered single mothers — played by Nia Long, Amy Smart, Cocoa Brown, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Zulay Henao — who form the grouping of the title to offer one another support in their travails. The prospect of new love — with, most prominently, Tyler Perry, William Levy and Terry Crews — helps them cope with such challenges as troubled kids, professional setbacks and domineering exes.
Perry, who also wrote and directed, shows many of the negative effects of divorce. But his script implicitly accepts out-of-wedlock sexual relationships as well as the objectively immoral means by which one of the main characters became a parent. Approval is also given, in passing, to homosexual acts. Adult viewers will have to decide whether the forced proceedings are worth the effort of straining out these currently widespread but scripturally unwarranted attitudes.
Misguided sexual values, a premarital situation, much adult humor, some crass language.

—–
“Need for Speed” (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.

The nearly plot-free milieu of director Scott Waugh’s action flick may appeal to young men who prefer their car chases uncomplicated. But many others will find his big-screen version of the eponymous videogame series morally troubling. Illegal city street racing, at great hazard to passers-by, is glamorized, while the pedal-to-the-metal rivalry between an ex-con (Aaron Paul) and his principal competitor (Dominic Cooper) is fuelled by the convict’s thirst for revenge.
Things reach a low point as the speed junkies heedlessly destroy the possessions of a homeless man. Reckless street racing, rear male nudity, some crude and crass language.

—–

“The Wind Rises” (Touchstone)

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.

Master Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki takes to the skies in what has been announced as his final animated film, a fictionalized biography of the aeronautical engineer Jiro Horikoshi (voice of Joseph Gordon-Levitt) set against the turbulent events of the years leading up to World War II.
In his dreams, Horikoshi visits his hero, Italian airplane designer Giovanni Caproni (voice of Stanley Tucci), who becomes the inspiration for his life’s work. He’s also influenced by his bond with chance acquaintance-turned-love-interest Nahoko (voice of Emily Blunt). Horikoshi isn’t torn between pacifism and militarism; he just wants to design the best and fastest aircraft in the world, which he does.
The film’s attempt to put a human face on the rise of militarism in 1930s Japan may offend some viewers. Miyazaki prefers to honor creativity and technological achievements such as Horikoshi’s “Zero” fighter airplane, rather than dwell on the consequences: hundreds of thousands of lives lost, including those of the victims at Pearl Harbor. Historical themes requiring mature interpretation, action sequences, a few disturbing images.

—–

“Mr. Peabody & Sherman” (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.

The chronology-defying adventures of a hyper-intellectual dog (voice of Ty Burrell) — whose many accomplishments include the invention of a time machine — and the perky human son (voice of Max Charles) he adopted as an infant turn perilous when the lad takes an unauthorized trip to the past in the company of a classmate (voice of Ariel Winter) he’s anxious to impress.
Director Rob Minkoff’s 3-D updating of a popular TV cartoon of the 1950s and ’60s adds a tiresome amount of potty humor to the elaborate, sometimes groan-inducing puns characteristic of the original material. But basic history lessons for the youngest moviegoers, together with a worthy message about respecting people of different backgrounds — even if they do happen to be canines — endow this more than usually literate children’s film with some countervailing virtues.
Scenes of mild peril, several scatological jokes and sight gags, a single double entendre.

—–

200: Rise of an Empire” (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 R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Directed by Noam Murro, this 3-D war drama, both a prequel and a sequel to 2007’s “200,” is short on dialogue but long on relentless and increasingly repellent action.
As ancient Persians and Greeks once again battle for supremacy of the Aegean peninsula, the film serves up a second helping of the choreographed violence and warrior beefcake that characterized its predecessor.
Following their nation’s victory over the Spartans at Thermopolyae, the Persian king (Rodrigo Santoro) and his sexy naval commander (Eva Green) plan an invasion of Greece, setting their sights on Athens. The stage is set for an epic naval battle, as the Athenian fleet admiral (Sullivan Stapleton) leads a crusade for freedom and democracy over tyranny. Tasteless carnage, needless to say, is the real name of the game, with innumerable gross-out moments.
Relentless gory and sometimes gruesome fighting, a graphic nonmarital sex scene, upper female and rear nudity, skimpy costumes, some rough language.

—–

“Non-Stop” (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.

A troubled air marshal (Liam Neeson) with a drinking problem finds himself bewildered when an anonymous murderer aboard the transatlantic flight he’s been assigned to protect succeeds in making it appear as though he is the one felling his fellow passengers. He enlists the help of a newfound acquaintance (Julianne Moore), the traveler in the seat next to his, as well as that of a veteran stewardess (Michelle Dockery) who is a longtime friend. But mutual mistrust hampers the trio’s efforts to identify and stop the perpetrator.
The rapid pace and frequent plot twists of director Jaume Collet-Serra’s thriller divert attention from its improbabilities. Though the protagonist’s habit of severely smacking down all who get in his way — together with a bit of risque humor — sets this popcorn movie off limits for kids, most grownups will likely handle such turbulence without much difficulty.
Considerable harsh but mostly bloodless violence, brief nongraphic sexual activity between incidental characters, some adult references, numerous uses of profanity, at least one instance of the F-word, several crude and crass terms.

—–

“Pompeii” (TriStar)

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 cataclysmic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. is the backdrop for this swords-and-sandals tale of forbidden love, revenge, and a whole lotta lava, directed by Paul W.S. Anderson.
In the fabled Italian town on the Bay of Naples, a slave-turned-gladiator (Kit Harington) falls for the daughter (Emily Browning) of a wealthy merchant (Jared Harris). As he fights for love and his freedom, he befriends a veteran of the arena (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and seeks vengeance on the Roman senator (Kiefer Sutherland) who killed his parents and cast him into slavery. A climactic swordfight in the arena is interrupted when the volcano roars to live and all heck breaks loose.
Much gory violence and a few brief sexual images.

—–

“Son of God” (Fox)

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 life of Jesus (Diogo Morgado) is recounted by the aged, exiled St. John the Evangelist (Sebastian Knapp) in this reverent but uneven screen version of the Gospel story.
While director Christopher Spencer’s portrayal of the Passion, and the events leading up to it — with Judas (Joe Wredden), Caiaphas the high priest (Adrian Schiller) and Pontius Pilate (Greg Hicks) all assigned believable motives — is compelling, other aspects of his film range from moving to awkward. Catholic viewers will appreciate the unqualified acknowledgement of St. Peter (Darwin Shaw) as the leader of the Apostles as well as scenes highlighting Mary’s (Roma Downey) closeness to her son.
The first wide-release movie in nearly 50 years to focus on the Savior’s biography as a whole, this outgrowth of the popular History cable channel miniseries “The Bible” offers some solid catechesis and an easy, though sometimes oddly truncated, introduction to the Lord’s ministry, teaching, death and Resurrection. As such, it’s probably acceptable for older teens, despite an unflinching treatment of the Redeemer’s sufferings.
Strong gory violence.

—–

“3 Days to Kill” (Relativity)

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.

Director McG offsets a great deal of action mayhem with pro-marriage, family-friendly values in this story of a terminally ill CIA agent (Kevin Costner) whose efforts to reconcile with his estranged wife (Connie Nielsen) and teen daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) are complicated when another operative (Amber Heard) lures him back into the spy racket by offering him a potentially life-saving experimental medicine as his reward.
Scenes of domestic life and the protagonist’s compassionate interaction with the African immigrants who have occupied his Paris apartment as squatters are interspersed with car chases, explosions, third-degree interrogation sessions and assassinations in an odd mix of genres suitable only for thick-skinned grownups.
Considerable harsh violence with some gore, torture, brief rear nudity, images of decadent sensuality, several instances of profanity, occasional rough and crude language.

—–

“Endless Love” (Universal)

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.

This remake of Franco Zeffirelli’s 1981 romantic drama jettisons much of the original source material, the 1979 novel by Scott Spencer, in favor of a predictable tale of star-crossed teens (Gabriella Wilde and Alex Pettyfer) who cast caution — and morality — to the winds one fateful summer, all in the name of “love.”
Their origins on different sides of the tracks in a leafy Georgia suburb notwithstanding, the duo’s bond — which initially delights his easygoing father (Robert Patrick) but consistently concerns her overprotective one (Bruce Greenwood) — turns to obsession. Unfortunately, director and co-writer Shana Feste’s film wants to have it both ways.
There’s a welcome measure of redemption and a degree of reconciliation. But any ethical code that would prohibit sexual activity outside of marriage is ignored. Misguided values, semi-graphic nonmarital sexual activity with brief partial nudity, teenage drinking, some rough and profane language.

—–

Winter’s Tale” (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.

Set mostly in a fantastical version of early 20th-century New York City, this sappy supernatural love story pairs a goodhearted burglar (Colin Farrell) with the sequestered invalid (Jessica Brown Findlay) he unexpectedly meets while trying to rob her wealthy father’s (William Hurt) home. Out to thwart the unlikely couple’s bliss is the demonic crime lord (Russell Crowe) who was once the thief’s mentor; assisting the duo is a magical flying horse.
Characters in writer-director Akiva Goldsman’s adaptation of Mark Helprin’s celebrated 1983 novel spout sentimental waddle and subscribe to a version of metaphysics that might have been lifted from a Hallmark greeting card. The script, shot through with feverish romanticism and the exaltation of erotic love, also glamorizes an objectively sinful bedroom encounter.
Some harsh but bloodless violence, semi-graphic premarital sexual activity, brief partial nudity, a couple of uses of profanity, at least one instance each of crude and crass language.

—–

“The Lego Movie” (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.

This lively 3-D animated adventure, populated by the toys of the title, centers on an ordinary construction worker (voice of Chris Pratt) who finds himself taken for a prophesied hero and propelled on a crusade to thwart an evil CEO’s (voice of Will Ferrell) scheme to control the world. He’s aided in the struggle by, among others, a tough but fetching underground activist (voice of Elizabeth Banks), her self-centered boyfriend, Batman (voice of Will Arnett), and the pixilated mystic who predicted the champion’s arrival in the first place (voice of Morgan Freeman).
Opposing them is the would-be dictator’s principal minion (voice of Liam Neeson), a police officer torn between the good and bad sides of his own personality.
Colorful, fast-paced and diverting for both young and old, directors and co-writers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s film is also surprisingly pointed in its satire of conformist consumerism. A format-shifting conclusion showing family bonds trumping selfishness is another asset.
Cartoon mayhem, some peril, a bit of mild scatological humor.

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