DAILY CATHOLIC   FRI-SAT-SUN   June 25-27, 1999   vol. 10, no. 123

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 and 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.

TOP TEN MOVIES FOR THE THIRD WEEK OF JUNE

  • 1.   TARZAN
      (Disney)    $34.4 million in one week
            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.


  • 2.   AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO...
      (New Line)    $31.4 million last week/   $116.1 million in two weeks
            Because of comically intended violence, frequent sexual innuendo, crude references, rude gestures and a few instances of 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. "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" is a mindless sequel to the '97 spoof in which the swinging British secret agent (played by Mike Myers) time travels back to the '60s to recover his libido and joins forces with a comely CIA agent (Heather Graham) to again save the world from the wacky machinations of a madman and his miniature clone. Silly shenanigans alternate with gross toilet humor and lame sexual innuendo for a mixed bag of goofy, truly tasteless entertainment.


  • 3.   THE GENERAL'S DAUGHTER
      (Paramount)    $22.3 million in one week
            Because of sporadic intense violence including rape, full nudity, videotape of a sadistic sexual encounter, frequent rough language and intermittent profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "The General's Daughter" is a lurid military thriller in which an Army criminal investigator (John Travolta) assigned to solve the brutal strangulation of a promiscuous female captain (Leslie Stefanson), is pressured to participate in a cover-up after he unravels a widespread criminal conspiracy of many years standing. Despite sleek visuals and some strong performances, the movie plays like a cynical and at times grotesque potboiler.


  • 4.   STAR WARS: EPISODE ONE - THE PHANTOM MENACE
      (20th Century Fox) -    $18.9 million last week/   $328.1 million in five 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


  • 5.   NOTTING HILL
      (Universal)   6.9 million last week/   $79.7. million in four weeks:
           Because of an off-screen sexual encounter, some crude references, occasional profanity and minimal 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. "Notting Hill" is a gauzy romantic comedy in which a Hollywood movie star (played by Julia Roberts) and a timid London bookseller (Hugh Grant) fall in love but he finds himself too intimidated by her fame to pursue the relationship. The contrived crowd-pleaser is long on stunning smiles and sugary sentiment but short on realistic romance. May-June 1999.


  • 6.   INSTINCT
      (Disney)   $3.22 million last week/   $27.1 million in three weeks:
           Because of intermittent violence and a few instances of rough language and profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. In "Instinct", psychiatrist Cuba Gooding, Jr. must uncover why imprisoned American anthropologist Anthony Hopkins chose to abandon civilization for life among Ruwandan gorillas which led to his killing two park rangers a few years later. Balancing out a simplistic script and formula scenes of prison brutality are the steely performances of the two intense actors. June 1999.


  • 7.   THE MUMMY
      (Universal)   $3.2 million last week/    $142 million in seven weeks:
            Because of recurring stylized violence and fleeting partial nudity, 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 Mummy" is a spirited horror adventure set in 1920's Egypt where a treasure hunting Yank (played by Brendan Fraser) is confronted by a revived 3,000 year-old mummy whose evil powers seemingly know no bounds. The lavishly shot action movie is stuffed with spooky special effects and comical moments that downplay horror in favor of rousing, old-fashioned entertainment. May 1999


  • 8.   ENTRAPMENT
      (20th Century Fox)    $1.35 million last week/   $82 million in eight weeks
            Because of a romanticized view of crime, fleeting violence and a few instances of rough language and profanity, 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. "Entrapment" is a mindless escapist caper in which a wily insurance investigator (played by Catherine Zeta-Jones) appears to join forces with the world's craftiest art thief (played by Sean Connery) to nail him red-handed. The glossy fantasy of double-crossing daredevils is sluggishly directed which limits the suspense. April 1999


  • 9.   THE MATRIX
      (Warner Brothers)     $1.3 million last week/   $163.9 million in twelve weeks
            Because of excessive violence and recurring profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification, O -- morally offensive. Motion Picture Association of America rating, R -- restricted The Matrix is a convoluted sci-fi tale in which a tiny band of cyber rebels led by Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne do battle with virtually indestructible humanoid killers from the 22nd centry. The action movie's violence is glorified, glamorized and made to look exciting with a dazzling array of eyepopping special effects. April 1999


  • 10.   TEA WITH MUSSOLINI
      (MGM)    $614,000. last week/   $8.7 million in two weeks
            Because of some threatening situations, sexual references and a few instances of coarse language the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. "Tea with Mussolini" is a warmly nostalgic tale in which several art-loving English matrons (played by Maggie Smith, Joan Plowright and Judi Dench) residing in 1930's Florence care for an abandoned boy who returns as a teen to help when they are interned as enemy aliens during World War II. While it shows how the Italian youth lad comes to appreciate English culture what succeeds best is the gently humorous depiction of the women, including their two brassy American pals (Cher and Lily Tomlin) and how they manage to survive the tragic circumstances of wartime Italy. May 1999

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

    June 25-27, 1999      volume 10, no. 123
    MOVIES and MORALS

    DAILY CATHOLIC

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