DAILY CATHOLIC   FRI-SAT-SUN   November 12-14, 1999   vol. 10, no. 215

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 WEEK OF NOVEMBER

  • 1.   THE BONE COLLECTOR
      (Universal)$16.7 million in one week:
          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.


  • 2.   HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL
      (Warner Brothers)$7.7 million last week/  &nsp;$28 million in two weeks:
         Because of sporadic violence, brief nudity and frequent profanity and rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. In "House on Haunted Hill" a murderous married couple and five strangers are locked overnight in a crumbling insane asylum whose spirits rise, intent on killing all within its walls by dawn. The uninspired re-make of the 1958 original lacks subtlety, offering more gore than goosebumps and some nasty characters to boot.


  • 3.   THE BACHELOR
      (New Line Cinema)$7.5 million in one week:
         Because of some sexual references, occasional profanity and an instance of rough language, 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. In "The Bachelor" commitment-shy Chris O'Donnell is rejected by girlfriend Renee Zellweger then learns he must marry someone within 24 hours or he will lose a multimillion dollar inheritance. The lightweight romantic comedy has appealingly goofy characters but its depiction of a priest willing to marry a couple on a moment's notice should not be taken seriously.


  • 4.   THE INSIDER
      (Buena Vista Pictures)$6.7 million in one week:
          ecause of frequent rough language, and mature subject matter, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R restricted. "The Insider" is a fact-based, largely riveting account of how a CBS news producer (Al Pacino) is prevented from airing a -60 Minutes" interview with a tobacco company whistleblower (Russell Crowe) because the CBS corporate parent feared a costly lawsuit. Superbly acted, the lengthy, documentary-like drama explores corporate manipulation of journalism as well as the human cost to those involved in complex ethical issues.


  • 5.   THE BEST MAN
      (Universal)$4.3 million last week:/   $24 million in three weeks:
          Because of a fleeting sexual encounter, crude bachelor-party lap dancing, brief violence, occasional profanity and much 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 Best Man" is an uneven romantic comedy about a group of affluent African-Americans in which a wedding is jeopardized when the best man's autobiographical novel suggests he was intimate with the bride-to-be while she was dating his best friend, the now-enraged groom. Often raunchy despite the groom's fervently-held Christian beliefs, which finally lead him to forgiveness, the comedy strains for laughs about the war of the sexes and the double standard.


  • 6.   DOUBLE JEOPARDY
      (Paramount)$4.3 million last week/   $104.3 million in seven weeks:
         Because of some violence, a shadowy sexual encounter, and intermittent profanity and rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "Double Jeopardy" is a sleek thriller in which probation officer Tommy Lee Jones chases parolee Ashley Judd across country to prevent her from murdering the two-timing husband who framed her. The straightforward fugitive story maintains suspense without relying solely on the expected revenge motive.


  • 7.   AMERICAN BEAUTY
      (Dreamworks)$3.3 million last week/   $58.9 million in seven weeks:
          Because of brief gory violence, sexual situations including adultery, masturbation and nudity, some 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. "American Beauty" is a nihilistic black comedy in which a husband (Kevin Spacey) lusts after a blond teen-ager (Mena Suvari), his shrill wife (Annette Bening) has an affair with a business rival (Peter Gallagher) and their teen daughter (Thora Birch) finds solace with a drug-dealing classmate from an equally dysfunctional family. Director Sam Mendes paints a corrosively bleak portrait of family life in which the increasingly desperate behavior of self-absorbed characters culminates in murder.


  • 8.   THE SIXTH SENSE
      (Disney)$3.1 million last week/   $264 million in fourteen weeks:
          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.


  • 9.   MUSIC OF THE HEART
      (Miramax)$2.8 million last week/  &nsp;$7.7 million in two weeks:
          Because of an implied affair and an instance of rude language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance. "Music of the Heart" is a fact-based story about an abandoned wife and mother (played by Meryl Streep) who turns her life around teaching underprivileged Harlem schoolchildren the disciplined art of playing the violin. Anchored by Streepís finely-tuned performance, the inspiring movie captures a devastated womanís personal growth as well as the enduring value of the arts in the educational curriculum.


  • 10.   FIGHT CLUB
      (Fox)$2.4 million last week/   $31.9 million in four weeks:
          Because of excessive violence, sexual encounters, nudity, rough language and profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "Fight Club" begins as a dark satire of materialistic society, then turns into a slap-happy fantasy of underground male terrorists out to destroy that society. Overlong and emotionally primitive, the convoluted plot is an unsatisfying exercise in self-destruction.


    • 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.

    November 12-14, 1999      volume 10, no. 215
    MOVIES and MORALS

    DAILY CATHOLIC

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