CNS reviews of recent films on the basis of moral suitability

Photo Caption: Robbie Amell stars in a scene from the movie “Max.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents.

Rating: By Catholic News Service

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.

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“Terminator: Genisys” (Paramount)

Ruminations on the riddles of time travel fill the gaps between explosions as director Alan Taylor adds an easily forgotten chapter to the action franchise that began with 1984’s “The Terminator.” The Messiah-like figure (Jason Clarke) at the head of humanity’s future struggle against a race of murderous machines is threatened by a cyborg (Byung-hun Lee) who has traveled into the past to eliminate the hero’s mother (Emilia Clarke) before she can give birth. So he dispatches his most trusted lieutenant (Jai Courtney) to follow the assassin back in time and protect mom. To his confusion, though, the would-be bodyguard finds that his protege is already being shielded by another chronology-defying robot (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who seems to be fighting on the wrong side. Though there’s mayhem aplenty, little blood is seen to flow, and the fact that time machine passengers must journey in the buff is also treated more as an occasion for smirking jokes than visual exploitation. Together with the relative absence of obscenity in the dialogue, this restrained approach may lead at least some parents to judge the film acceptable for mature teens. Pervasive action violence with minimal gore, several scenes of partial nudity, a few uses of profanity, at least one rough term, occasional crude and crass language. 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.

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“Magic Mike XXL” (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.

Life is skin-deep in this preposterous male-stripper sequel in which the titular star (Channing Tatum) reunites with the Tampa-based trou-dropping group he once headlined, and together they hit the road for an annual convention of clothes shedders in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Director Gregory Jacobs pads out the boys’ lewd routines — one of which uses the trappings of a wedding ceremony to degrading effect — with vacuous reflections on the Zen of masculine burlesque. A debased view of human sexuality, including implicit approval of an off-screen casual encounter, brief but nasty irreverence, drug use, frequent scenes of publicly simulated sex acts, some of them aberrant, rear male nudity, a couple of uses of profanity, pervasive rough and crude language.

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“Max” (Warner Bros.)

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 “military working dog” returns from Afghanistan to vanquish evil while mending a broken home in this wholesome — and welcome — family drama. When the eponymous canine’s handler (Robbie Amell), a Marine, is killed, the distraught animal is honorably discharged and sent home to Texas to live with the Leatherneck’s parents (Lauren Graham and Thomas Haden Church) and his troubled younger brother (Josh Wiggins). With the encouragement of the sassy girl (Mia Xitlali), for whom he’s fallen, the rebellious teen overcomes his initial resistance and bonds with his new pet. Together, they uncover a nefarious plot by an ex-Marine (Luke Kleintank) to peddle illegal weapons.
Director and co-writer Boaz Yakin nicely conveys his youthful main character’s evolution from zero to hero while underscoring the importance of telling the truth and respecting your parents. Scenes of combat and human peril as well as dog-fighting, a few mild oaths.

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“Ted 2” (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.

Sequel to the 2013 film is another wallow in sexist, racist, stoner vulgarity. Seth MacFarlane, who directed, co-wrote the screenplay with Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild and voices the potty-mouthed teddy bear as a fuzzy, bawdier version of Peter Griffin from “Family Guy,” ventures into crude sexual gags and casually expressed racism along with his trademark pop-culture riffs.
Casual racist remarks including the N-word, references to aberrant sexual behavior, fleeting female nudity, pervasive drug use, pervasive crude, crass and profane language.

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“Dope” (Open Road)

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.

An academically gifted high school student (Shameik Moore) struggles to dodge the lawlessness of his inner-city Los Angeles neighborhood until he accidentally acquires a large stash of narcotics. Together with his two best friends (Kiersey Clemons and Tony Revolori), he then markets the drugs online in what writer-director Rick Famuyiwa’s blend of comedy and drama perversely presents as an ingenious extracurricular activity proving the lad’s resourcefulness and affording him a new level of self-awareness.
While taking a brief sneering swipe at religion, Famuyiwa’s script not only normalizes wayward sexuality but misuses the array of social ills it endeavors to satirize as a justification for criminal behavior. Distorted values, considerable, sometimes gory violence, drug use and underage drinking, strong sexual content — including scenes of masturbation and obscured full nudity as well as tacit approval of homosexual acts — at least one use of profanity, pervasive rough and crude language.

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“Inside Out” (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.

Splendid animated comedy, founded on strong values, in which an 11-year-old girl’s (voice of Kaitlyn Dias) personified emotions — principally Joy (voice of Amy Poehler) and Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith) — struggle to help her cope with the crisis brought on by her family’s move from Minnesota to San Francisco.
Aided by top-notch supporting performances from, among others, comedian Lewis Black as the lass’ Anger and Richard Kind as her big-hearted imaginary friend, co-directors Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen prove equally deft at tickling and touching the wide-ranging audience for which their Pixar production is suitable. A few potentially upsetting incidents, a single mature reference.

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“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” (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.

Sensitive, though ultimately shallow drama in which, at the insistence of his mother (Connie Britton), a precocious, movie-obsessed high school misfit (Thomas Mann) reluctantly befriends a classmate (Olivia Cooke) afflicted with leukemia. As the two develop a genuine affection for each other, the outcast and his best buddy from childhood (RJ Cyler) — who has also gotten to know, and like, the patient — collaborate on a film paying tribute to their new pal.
Unusually, director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s adaptation of screenwriter Jesse Andrews’ best-seller for young adults sidelines romance, keeping the relationship between the central characters strictly platonic. But marginal tinges of sexuality, some of them distasteful, make this a doubtful choice for the source material’s targeted age group. The prospect of death is also considered from a strictly secular perspective, impoverishing the script’s outlook and putting it at odds with a Christian worldview.
Mature themes, unintentional drug use, fleeting images of pornography with implied masturbation, brief, mild irreverence, several uses of profanity, at least one audible and a few bleeped F-words, much crude and crass language.

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“Jurassic World” (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.

Humans are mere dinosaur fodder in this extension of the $2 billion-grossing sci-fi franchise that dates back to 1993’s “Jurassic Park,” Steven Spielberg’s wildly popular adaptation of Michael Crichton’s 1990 novel.
The potential victims of the latest crop of genetically recreated prehistoric predators who, for a price, can be observed at the resort of the title, include a career-focused member of the theme park’s staff (Bryce Dallas Howard), her visiting nephews (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins) and the ex-military animal trainer (Chris Pratt) with whom she shares a romantic attraction thinly disguised as mutual dislike.
Anyone looking for interaction more meaningful than that between the DNA disaster of an uber-dino to whose rampage director Colin Trevorrow devotes most of his attention and the anonymous extras on whom the ill-designed creature contentedly munches have come to the wrong fictional island. Though the elements listed below rule out the “Flintstones” crowd, parents of insistent teens who find their patience in danger of extinction need not feel too guilty if resistance proves futile.
Some gory interludes, a bit of comic innuendo, at least one use of profanity, a few crude and crass terms.

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“Love and Mercy” (Roadside)

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 profile of Brian Wilson, the driving force behind 1960s chart toppers the Beach Boys, evades a descent into sentimental gloss. Instead, director Bill Pohlad adopts an intelligent, steady approach to his subject, almost like that of a documentary. He focuses on lengthy scenes showing the young Wilson (Paul Dano) laboriously crafting his distinctive sound in recording studios.
But, in an effort to avoid sensationalism, he also undoubtedly strips away uncomfortable details from the story of the troubled musician’s later life, during which he’s portrayed by John Cusack. Though Pohlad ducks explicit portrayals or discussions of the substance abuse that may have led to Wilson’s experience of auditory hallucinations, his film can be appreciated for its celebration of one star’s at least partially successful maneuvering through the moral minefield laid down by wealth and fame.
A premarital bedroom scene, drug use, fleeting instances of profanity and coarse language.

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“Entourage” (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.

In this big-screen version of the HBO series which premiered in 2004, a Hollywood star (Adrian Grenier) convinces the studio executive (Jeremy Piven) who discovered him to let him direct as well as act in a high-concept adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”
But as the production runs over budget, the demands of the movie’s Texas-based financial backer (Billy Bob Thornton) and his egotistical son (Haley Joel Osment) put a strain on the leading man’s relationship with his feckless half-brother (Kevin Dillon) and the duo of old pals (Kevin Connolly and Jerry Ferrara) who make up the remainder of his devoted retinue.
Writer-director Doug Ellin, who created the TV series, helms an occasionally funny send-up of Tinseltown’s eccentricities. But glimmers of morality involving loyalty to family and friends as well as artistic integrity are vastly outshone by the glare of glamorized materialism, an outlook that includes a blatantly debased attitude toward sexuality.
Misguided values, including a benign view of drug use and of homosexual acts, graphic scenes of aberrant behavior and casual encounters with upper female and rear nudity, fleeting gore, frequent uses of profanity, pervasive rough and crude language.

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“Insidious: Chapter 3” (Gramercy)

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.

Run-of-the-mill horror prequel in which the unassuming but spunky psychic (Lin Shaye) featured in the previous outings reluctantly emerges from self-imposed retirement to aid a high school senior (Stefanie Scott) whose do-it-yourself attempt to contact her recently deceased mom has instead summoned up a malignant spirit.
Writer-director Leigh Whannell’s script takes an incidental stance against suicide. But the film’s spiritual battle between good and evil is viewed exclusively from a paranormal perspective, with no reference to faith, while elements of language and subject matter put it beyond the appropriate reach of a youthful audience.
Potentially disturbing scenes of a car accident and its aftermath, occult themes, fleeting references to homosexuality, a couple of uses of profanity, at least one instance of the F-word, about a half-dozen crass terms.

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“Spy” (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.

When a James Bond-like CIA field operative (Jude Law) becomes a casualty in the agency’s effort to bring down the ruthless heir (Rose Byrne) of an international crime dynasty, his devoted but previously desk-bound partner (Melissa McCarthy) goes undercover to avenge him by nabbing the evildoer.
She’s aided, albeit ineptly, by the goodhearted officemate (Miranda Hart) who doubles as her best friend. But the relentless, disdain-driven interference of another colleague (Jason Statham) threatens to derail her improvised project at every turn.
An excess of crude material and vulgar dialogue overburdens writer-director Paul Feig’s sharply observed, cleverly executed comedy, squelching the potential fun to be derived from its array of eccentric characters. Intermittent harsh violence with gore, brief obscene images, much sexual and some scatological humor, over a dozen uses of profanity, pervasive rough and crude language.

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“Aloha” (Columbia)

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

Unstable yet genuinely poignant romantic comedy about a military contractor (Bradley Cooper) with a checkered past who returns to Hawaii where his ex-girlfriend (Rachel McAdams) resides and where his billionaire boss (Bill Murray) is funding a mysterious space project for the U.S. government.
When he falls in love with an Air Force captain (Emma Stone) his assignment, which entails negotiating with the leader of Hawaii’s independence movement, is jeopardized.
With his trademark use of rock ‘n’ roll music and a talent for penning witty dialogue, writer-director Cameron Crowe aims for a loose, improvisational feel that can feel manufactured; yet he understands the appeal of his terrific cast and that movie magic occurs when palpable, primarily nonverbal connections are established in which to ground loving human relationships. An instance of off-camera non-marital relations between a man and a woman, one use of rough language, several crude phrases, some sexual innuendo.

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“Poltergeist” (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 1982 horror film that gave new meaning to the term “haunted house” is reimagined in 3-D, directed by Gil Kenan.
An ordinary family moves into a new home on the edge of town, unaware that it was built over an old cemetery. The parents (Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt) and children (Saxon Sharbino, Kyle Catlett, Kennedi Clements) try to adjust to their new surroundings, but before long, things go bump in the night and really angry spirits make a really big mess. It’s up to a paranormal expert (Jared Harris) and his ex-wife (Jane Adams) to save the day.
This sometimes scary but mostly silly tale of suburbia under siege is suitable for mature viewers only. Scenes of supernatural horror and child peril, and fleeting crude and profane language.

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“San Andreas” (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.

An eye-popping, ear-splitting 3-D chronicle directed by Brad Peyton of a California earthquake when the eponymous tectonic fault line splits open.
A seismology professor (Paul Giamatti) invents a system to predict earthquakes before they happen. It works, and with the help of a television reporter (Archie Panjabi), he sounds the alarm from Los Angeles to San Francisco for everyone to “drop, cover and hold on.” Amid the mayhem, a helicopter rescue pilot (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and his estranged wife (Carla Gugino) unite to rescue their daughter (Alexandra Daddario) and her friends (Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Art Parkinson).
Meticulously rendered in CGI, this film is often thrilling, sometimes silly, and frequently preposterous — in other words, a typical summer popcorn movie, although not for the young or faint of heart. Relentless, intense but mostly bloodless disaster-related violence and mayhem, and occasional crude language.

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“Tomorrowland” (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.

Borrowing the name but little else from the futuristic-themed section of Disneyland and other Disney parks, this delightful science-fiction film is great fun for the entire family, directed and co-written by Brad Bird.
A young woman (Britt Robertson) is recruited by a mysterious robot (Raffey Cassidy) for a mission to save both Earth and the eponymous utopia that exists in another dimension. They join forces with a former inventor (George Clooney) to wrest control of the future from a coldhearted bureaucrat (Hugh Laurie). Cartoonish but bloodless action sequences and a few mild oaths.

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