FRI-SAT-SUN
January 14-16, 2000
volume 11, no. 10

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MOVIES & MORALS      INTRODUCTION
    Because Catholics do go to the movies, we bring you each weekend reviews of the Top Ten Movies of the week as rated by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops so you can check the moralometer before plopping down hard-earned money for something. If it's worthwhile, the Bishops will let you know.

      As you'll see with each review there is almost always something objectionable about each movie so go in with an open mind and keep in mind the best advice before you plunk down your hard-earned money at the box-office: Would Jesus and His Mother Mary watch it with you? If not, think twice about seeing it.

      To the right are the top ten for this last week with the Bishops' reviews. Reviews are categorized by:

A-I -- general patronage;

A-II -- adults & adolescents;

A-III -- adults;

A-IV -- adults, with reservations (an A-IV classification designates problematic films that, while not morally offensive in themselves, require caution and some analysis and explanation as a safeguard against wrong interpretations and false conclusions); and finally, ones no one should see:

O -- morally offensive and should be avoided at all costs!

     Reviews are provided through Film & Broadcasting Division of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and figures provided through Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.


TOP TEN MOVIES
FOR THE FIRST WEEK OF JANUARY
  • 1.   STUART LITTLE
      (Sony)$11.2 million last week:   $95.3 million in four weeks
          Because of scenes of menace and a few cuss words, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents.. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. "Stuart Little" is a fetching live-action fantasy in which a talking white mouse (voice of Michael J. Fox) is happily adopted as the younger son in a human family (in which Geena Davis plays the mom) only to be targeted as a meal by mean neighborhood alleycats. As loosely adapted from E. B. White's 1945 classic, the cheery tale has ample visual appeal, though purists may find the neatly happy ending a cop-out to the author's more probing tale of self-discovery.

  • 2.   THE GREEN MILE
      (Warner Brothers)$9.7 million last week/   $91.3 million in five weeks:
          Because of some violence including an horrific electrocution, occasional profanity and intermittent rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "The Green Mile" is a prison drama set in 1935 Louisana where death-row head guard Tom Hanks comes to believe in the innocence of a huge, gentle black man played superbly by Michael Clarke Duncan whose miraculous healing powers affect those around him in startling ways. Adapted from the serialized 1996 Stephen King novel, the movie is unduly long but presents affecting character studies of good and evil men with spiritual undertones and a sobering depiction of capital punishment.

  • 3.   THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY
      (Paramount)$9.3 million last week/   $54.2 million in three weeks:
          Because of occasional gory violence, and implied affair, discreet homosexual innuendo, fleeting full nudity and a few instances of rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-IV -- adults, with reservations. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "The Talented Mr. Ripley" is a disquieting melodrama set in 1958 Italy where, after befriending a rich expatriate couple (played by Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow), an impoverished young American assumes his identity and stops at nothing to keep the risky charade going. Adapted from Patricia Highsmith's 1955 novel, a chilling cautionary tale of materialism expanding to grotesque evil unfolds replete with seductive visuals and sleek performances -- but an ambiguous ending.

  • 4.   ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
      (Warner Brothers)$8.8 million last week/   $59.2 million in three weeks:
          Because of much stylized violence, brutality, sexual situations, locker-room frontal nudity, drug abuse, recurring rough language and occasional profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-IV - adults, with reservations.. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "Any Given Sunday" is a frenetically jumbled look at a professional football team trying to make the play-offs under veteran coach Al Pacino who puts his career on the line by starting an ailing but reliable old-timer as quarterback rather then the hotshot young maverick favored by the club's devious owner (played by Cameron Diaz). The strictly formula sports story follows the underdogs to the big game in a jazzed-up narrative with jarring scenes of physical and verbal violence on and off the field, in locker rooms, bedrooms and corporate suites, while the coach philosophizes, cajoles, screams and whispers about team unity and the game's dignity.

  • 5.   GALAXY QUEST
      (DreamWorks)$8 million last week/   $38.5 million in three weeks:
          Still no available review from the NCCB on this film as of yet, but it has received favorable reviews and is rated PG so it can't be all bad. Actually is quite funny with Tim Allen as a mock William Shatner from "Star Trek" fame.

  • 6.   TOY STORY 2
      (Walt Disney)$7.2 million last week/   $219.7 million in eight weeks:
          The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G -- general audiences. In "Toy Story 2" the animated adventures of toys that come to life when humans aren't around continues as cowboy Woody voiced by Tom Hanks is stolen by a greedy toy collector, sending Woody's toy buddies, led by Buzz Lightyear, the voice of Tim Allen, on a breathless rescue mission. Featuring even better animation, the briskly paced cartoon sequel is slightly less original, but zippy action scenes and gentle humor should amuse small fry and grown-ups alike.

  • 7.   MAGNOLIA
      (New Line)$5.7 million last week:   $6.6 million in four weeks
          Because of some gory violence, a brief sexual encounter with nudity, numerous sexual references, intense domestic crises, recurring rough language and occasional profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-IV -- adults, with reservations. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "Magnolia," an erratic, undisciplined tale, unfolds in loosely connected vignettes involving, among others, a dying media magnate (played by Jason Robards), his estranged son who's the guru of a macho cult (played by Tom Cruise), as well as a closet homosexual, a quiz show host (played by William Macy), his estranged, cokehead daughter, and a good-hearted cop. The self-indulgent film treats the odd assortment of vignettes with emotional extravagance, resulting in a hodge-podge of uninteresting characters floundering about in sudsy situations.

  • 8.   BICENTENNIAL MAN
      (Buena Vista)$5.3 million last week:   $47.2 million in four weeks
          Because of mild sexual innuendo and references, as well as occasional profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. "Bicentennial Man" is a futuristic fantasy in which a family robot (played by Robin Williams) actively seeks to become fully human over two centuries and eventually to marry the family's great-granddaughter. The bland tale examines what it is to be human in terms of free will, love and mortality, but its poky pace blunts interest in the robot's earnest quest.

  • 9.   DEUCE BIGALOW: MALE GIGOLO
      (Disney)$5 million last week/   $54.1 million in five weeks:
          Because of sexual situations, comically intended violence, brief rear nudity and occasional profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. In "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo" a klutzy loser (played by Rob Schneider) tries and fails at temporary male prostitution in order to pay for accidentally wrecking his bossís condo. The pathetically unfunny comedy dredges up lame double entendres and toilet humor when not mocking characters with assorted physical diseases and disabilities who resort to paying for male companionship.

  • 10.   SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS
      (Universal)$3.9 million last week:   $4.1 million in three weeks
          Because of discreet sexual encounters, wartime violence and an instance of rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 - parents are strongly cautioned that some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. "Snow Falling on Cedars" is a ponderous drama in which the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II has resonance when one of them is put on trial for murder in 1950 and a reporter (played by Ethan Hawke) hesitates to reveal evidence helpful to the accused because he is still obsessed with memories of a love affair with the man's wife (played by Youki Kudoh) when they were both teen-agers. The visually evocative film exploring racial prejudice is flawed by an excess of flashbacks to the affair which stagnate the courtroom drama.

      While the reviews by the NCCB are very good and provide the ratings, we have discovered another site which will give you a much more detailed survey of what to watch out for. Just click on Christian Analysis of Culture Alert.

         

              

  • January 14-16, 2000
    volume 11, no. 10
    MOVIES & MORALS

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