“Blithe Spirit” (IFC)

Isla Fisher and Dan Stevens star in a scene from the movie "Blithe Spirit." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. (CNS/Angus Young, IFC Films)

By Catholic News Service

As part of the research for a screenplay he’s writing, a celebrated crime novelist (Dan Stevens) invites a well-meaning but inept medium (Judi Dench) to conduct a seance at his home, during which she unwittingly conjures up the specter of his late wife (Leslie Mann), significantly complicating his relationship with his current spouse (Ilsa Fisher).

Screenwriters Nick Moorcroft, Meg Leonard and Piers Ashworth use their source material, Noel Coward’s classic 1941 stage comedy, as no more than a springboard, ill-advisedly substituting their merely serviceable dialogue for Coward’s sparkling exchanges, displacing his urbane wit in favor of broad physical humor and introducing bedroom-themed jokes as flat as they are gratuitous. All that remains, under Edward Hall’s direction, are lovely-to-look-at Art Deco interiors and pleasant panoramas of the English countryside.

Comically-treated occult activity, drug use, a couple of scenes of marital intimacy, sexual humor and references, including an impotency theme, at least one use of profanity, a few milder oaths. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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