DAILY CATHOLIC   FRI-SAT-SUN through FRI-SAT-SUN   August 13-22, 1999   vol. 10, no. 152-157

MOVIES & MORALS

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    INTRODUCTION

      Summer is once upon us and it means reviving our weekly feature we bring you each weekend of the summer of 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 HALF OF AUGUST

  • 1.   THE SIXTH SENSE
      (Disney)$26.7 million in one week:
            Because of gory violence, a menaced child and coarse 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. "The Sixth Sense" is a clunky psychological thriller in which child psychologist Bruce Willis tries to help a shaky 8-year-old who keeps seeing dead people walking around, though matters ultimately are not what they seem. The story's vague assumptions and boring situations are suddenly thrown into an entirely new light by a twist ending, though few will find the "surprise" worth waiting for.


  • 2.   THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
      (Artisan)$24.3 million last week/   $80 million in four weeks:
            Because of fleeting violence, much menace, some profanity and constant rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is, A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "The Blair Witch Project" is a documentary-like horror film showing footage found a year after the disappearance of three young filmmakers who entered a Maryland woods to explore an old myth about a resident witch, leaving only the filmed record of their frightened final days. The low-budget effort has a sense of urgency as the footage shows the trio increasingly lost and terrified, but the dialogue is soon reduced to shrill, incessant cursing, which undermines the film's ominous atmosphere.


  • 3.   RUNAWAY BRIDE
      (Paramount)20.8 million last week/   $73.8 million in two weeks:
            Because of very discreet sexual innuendo and minimal profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. In "Runaway Bride" cynical big-city reporter Richard Gere comes to a small town to do an exposť on bride-to-be Julia Roberts, who has left several previous suitors at the altar, only to find he wants to replace the groom at the imminent ceremony. With Roberts luminous in her role, the feel-good romantic comedy, though predictable, brims with warmth and charm.


  • 4.   THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR
      (MGM)$14.6 million in one week:
            Because of sexual encounters with nudity, occasional profanity 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 Thomas Crown Affair" is a cat-and-mouse drama in which a billionaire art thief (played by Pierce Brosnan) and the insurance investigator (Renee Russo), who will net five million for nailing him, become romantically involved, complicating whether she will do her job or take off with him as he suggests. An update of the 1968 Steve McQueen-Faye Dunaway crime caper, the bedroom scenes are more explicit in this glossy escapist fantasy of riches and romance without consequences.


  • 5.   DEEP BLUE SEA
      (Warner Brothers)$11.2 million last week/   $45.5 million in two weeks:
            Because of gory maritime violence, coarse expressions and rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "Deep Blue Sea" is a wildly implausible thriller in which three genetically enhanced sharks devastate a floating sea laboratory experimenting on them, then roam through the lab's lower levels hunting down trapped survivors, including the lead scientist (played by Saffron Burrolip) and the project's financial backer (Samuel L. Jackson). The synthetic characters bring little human interest to the frantic proceedings as sudden, ferocious shark attacks punctuate the contrived action.


  • 6.   MYSTERY MEN
      (Universal)$10 million in one week:
           Because of intermittent comic violence and some toilet humor, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents are strongly cautioned that some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. "Mystery Men" is a dopey spoof in which seven would-be superheroes (including Ben Stiller, Hank Azaria, Janeane Garofalo and William H. Macy) combine their kooky talents to outwit a nasty megalomaniac (Geoffrey Rush) intent on leveling their metropolis. The ensemble cast offers only sproadic laughs and a chaotic script further dilutes the comedy-fantasy.


  • 7.   INSPECTOR GADGET
      (Disney)$9.2 million last week/   $64.8 million in three weeks:
            Because of comic violence and mild sexual innuendo, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. "Inspector Gadget" is a dopey adventure comedy starring Matthew Broderick as a bionic policeman slowly learning how to use the various crime-fighting gadgets with which his body has been equipped. Based on a TV cartoon character, this live-action Disney misfire is a waste of time.


  • 8.   THE HAUNTING
      (Dreamworks)$6.4 million last week/   $77.3 million in three weeks:
            Because of gory violence, including a decapitation, and intermittent profanity, 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. "The Haunting" is set in a spooky old house in rural New England where a psychologist uses three volunteers for an experiment in fear that goes awry as the house begins to come alive with the evil spirit of its builder. The special effects horror is laboriously overdone and leaves nothing to the imagination, a mistake not made in the 1963 original which remains the one to see.


  • 9.   THE IRON GIANT
      (Warner Brothers)$5.8 million in one week:
            Because of some intense cartoon combat violence and menace to a child, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. "The Iron Giant" is an absorbing animated adventure about a young boy trying to protect a towering alien robot from a paranoid government agent bent on its elimination even if it means destroying the boy's hometown. The well-crafted tale is both political allegory adults can enjoy and a sweet story of friendship that older children can relate to.


  • 10.   AMERICAN PIE
      (Universal)   $4.1 million last week/   $85.5 million in five weeks:
           Because of its scornful treatment of premarital virginity, sexual situations including masturbation and oral encounters, some nudity, gross toilet humor, occasional profanity and recurring rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. In "American Pie" a quartet of sex-obsessed high school seniors make a pact to all lose their virginity by prom night and set about lining up willing partners. The gross comedy's focus on sex as mere sport with no consequences is relentlessly one-track and clearly aimed at impressionable teens.

    • 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.

    August 13-22, 1999      volume 10, no. 152-157
    MOVIES and MORALS

    DAILY CATHOLIC

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