DAILY CATHOLIC   FRI-SAT-SUN   August 6-8, 1999   vol. 10, no. 147

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 FINAL WEEK OF JULY

  • 1.   RUNAWAY BRIDE
      (Paramount)   $35.1 million in one week:
            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.


  • 2.   THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
      (Artisan)   $29.2 million in one week:
            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.   DEEP BLUE SEA
      (Warner Brothers)   $19.1 million in one week:
            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.


  • 4.   THE HAUNTING
      (Dreamworks)$15.3 million last week/   $65 million in two 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.


  • 5.   INSPECTOR GADGET
      (Disney)$14.1 million last week/   $47.9 million in two 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.


  • 6.   AMERICAN PIE
      (Universal)   $6.8 million last week/   $77.2 million in four 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.


  • 7.   EYES WIDE SHUT
      (Warner Brothers)   $4.3 million last week/   $48.7 million in three weeks:
            Because of graphic sex scenes, full nudity, drug use and rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "Eyes Wide Shut" is a failed cautionary tale about a mixed-up Manhattan physician who sneaks into a satanic cult's sex orgy from which he barely escapes with his life to return home a more sober husband. Director Stanley Kubrick's final picture is a major disappointment in its cold-hearted, heavy-handed treatment of shallow characters in thinly contrived situations that fail to elicit any empathy.


  • 8.   BIG DADDY
      (Sony)   $3.6 million last week/   $152.7 million in six weeks:
            Because of implied affairs, coarse expressions and gestures, some profanity and fleeting violence, 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. In "Big Daddy", Adam Sandler plays an irresponsible 32-year-old temporarily taking custody of a motherless 5-year-old boy to impress a girlfriend, but in the process he learns parenting is more than just hanging out and goofing off. The one-joke movie lurches from toilet humor to blatant brand-name product placements to increasingly sappy sentiment as Sandler's character predictably matures.


  • 9.   STAR WARS: EPISODE ONE - THE PHANTOM MENACE
      (20th Century Fox) -    $3.4 million last week/   $408.6 million in eleven weeks:
            Because of sci-fi swordfights and battle sequences, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification of Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace is A-II - adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. "The Phantom Menace" is a disappointing prequel to the "Star Wars" trilogy in which two Jedi knights (played by Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor) intent on saving the planet Naboo from Federation invaders enlist the help of a young boy who will eventually become the evil Darth Vader. By emphasizing fantastical creatures and myriad special effects, writer-director George Lucas loses much of the movie's human dimension and ends up achieving mostly visual spectacle. May 1999


  • 10.   TARZAN
      (Disney)    $3 million last week/   $158.4 million in seven weeks
            Because of intensely menacing hunting scenes, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G -- general audiences. "Tarzan" is Disney's animated tale about an orphaned baby boy raised by jungle gorillas who grows up before encountering his first humans, including a duplicitous hunter intent on capturing his beloved ape family and spunky Jane, who tempts Tarzan to return to civilization. The classic characters of Edgar Rice Burroughs are appealing, the animation splendid and the music tuneful but some action scenes of predatory violence are too intense for younger children.

    • 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 6-8, 1999      volume 10, no. 147
    MOVIES and MORALS

    DAILY CATHOLIC

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