DAILY CATHOLIC   THURSDAY    December 23, 1999    vol. 10, no. 244

MOVIES & MORALS

To print out entire text of this weekend's issue,
go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO
    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 THIRD WEEK OF DECEMBER

  • 1.   STUART LITTLE
      (Sony)$15 million in one week:
          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)$12.6 million last week/   $36.6 million in two 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.   TOY STORY 2
      (Walt Disney)$12.1 million last week/   $156.2 million in five 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.

  • 4.   DEUCE BIGALOW: MALE GIGOLO
      (Disney)$8.3 million last week/   $24.3 million in two 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.

  • 5.   BICENTENNIAL MAN
      (Buena Vista)$8.2 million in one week:
          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.

  • 6.   ANNA AND THE KING
      (Fox)$5.2 million in one week:
          Because of sporadic violence and references to polygamy and concubines, 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. In "Anna and the King", 19th-century English schoolmarm Jodie Foster and imperious king of Siam Chow Yun-Fat learn much from each other as she teaches his 58 children, while a duplicitous general plots to kill the king and all his heirs. After a sluggish start the lavish historical drama goes beyond sumptuous visuals to explore contrasting East-West cultures and beliefs while maintaining suspense about the assassination plot.

  • 7.   THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH
      (MGM)$4 million last week/    $105.3 million in five weeks:
          Because of much stylized violence and a few discreet bedroom scenes, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-IV -- adults, with reservations. 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 World Is Not Enough" is typical breathless Bond fare in which Pierce Brosnan's agent 007 must outwit a dangerously duplicitous female and a sinister psychopath intent on seizing control of the world's oil supply. The escapist fantasy's fast and furious action eventually wears itself out in an overlong and overly elaborate plot.

  • 8.   END OF DAYS
      (Universal)$3.4 million last week/   $57.8 million in four weeks:
          Because of excessive violence, frequent mindless mayhem, a perverted sexual encounter with nudity, some profanity and much rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "End of Days" is an ultraviolent millennium thriller in which ex-cop Arnold Schwarzenegger struggles to prevent satan, played by Gabriel Byrne, from impregnating a young woman, thus ushering in the devil's reign. The big-budget action movie simply exploits a religious theme to showcase murder, mayhem and explosive special effects far removed from genuine spiritual concerns.

  • 9.   SLEEPY HOLLOW
      (Paramount)$3 million last week/   $85.9 million in five weeks:
          Because of recurring grisly decapitations and a discreet sexual encounter, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-IV -- adults, with reservations. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. In "Sleepy Hollow," a violent adaptation of Washington Irving's spooky tale of the headless horseman, Johnny Depp's Ichabod Crane is a pompous, fearful NYC constable sent to Sleepy Hollow to find a triple murderer who has made off with the victim's heads. Although it's a visually gorgeous period piece, the contrived humor doesn't work and the narrative overdoses on scenes of the horseman and another villain gleefully butchering their prey.

  • 10.   THE BONE COLLECTOR
      (Universal)$979,440. last week   /$62.4 million in seven weeks:
          Because of grisly violence, an implied affair, occasional profanity and recurring 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 Bone Collector" is a grim thriller in which paralyzed police forensics expert Denzel Washington relies on rookie cop Angelina Jolie to gather evidence and clues to the identity of a serial killer who is taunting the bedridden cop with a series of increasingly grotesque murders. The police procedural slides from engrossing to disappointing with its unsatisfying revelations and gory wrap-up. selfdestruction.


    • 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.

    December 23, 1999      volume 10, no. 244
    MOVIES and MORALS

    DAILY CATHOLIC

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