DAILY CATHOLIC   FRI-SAT-SUN   November 19-21, 1999   vol. 10, no. 220

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 SECOND WEEK OF NOVEMBER

  • 1.   POKEMON: THE FIRST MOVIE
      (Warners Brothers)$50.8 million in one week:
          The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G -- general audiences. "Pokemon: The First Movie" is a Japanese animated movie based on the TV cartoon series in which youngsters and their pocket monsters called pokemons gather on a remote island where they must defend themselves against an evil pokemon clone and his minions intent on enslaving the world. Colorful but crudely animated, the movie's characters battle one another while a preachy voice-over asserts that violence is wrong, thus sending a mixed message to little ones.


  • 2.   THE BONE COLLECTOR
      (Universal)$12 million last week   /$35.2 million in two 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.


  • 3.   it's-a-DOG, MA
      (Lyin' Gate)$8.7 million in one week:
          Because of anti-religious buffoonery, intense violence, sexual references, substance abuse, assorted vulgarities, 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. It's-a-"Dog, ma" is a sophomoric religious satire in which a heavenly messenger persuades the last descendant of Joseph and Mary to leave her job in an abortion clinic and set out to stop a pair of fallen angels from regaining heaven by means of a plenary indulgence. The unfunny proceedings rely on a mindless mix of irreverence and absurdity in poking fun at biblical characters and Christian stereotypes.


  • 4.   THE MESSENGER: THE STORY OF JOAN OF ARC
      (Buena Vista Pictures)$6.4 million in one week:
         Because of much graphic violence, including a murderous rape, occasional profanity and considerable 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 Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc" is a medieval action movie offering little insight in the life and times of the French teenager who followed her voices to defeat the English before being betrayed and burnt at the stake. The French production is uninterested in the religious aspects of this story, with Joan portrayed not as a saint but as an hysteric whose visions are of her own making.


  • 5.   ANYWHERE BUT HERE
      (Fox)$5.6 million in one week:
          Because of an implied affair, sexual references and occasional 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. "Anywhere But Here" is a heartfelt drama in which a level-headed daughter played by Natalie Portman struggles through her teens with free-spirited mom Susan Sarandon who has rashly moved them from their Wisconsin roots to Beverly Hills with self-delusional dreams of fame and fortune. The finely acted film explores the unhappy daughter's love-hate relationship up to its sentimental resolution.


  • 6.   THE INSIDER
      (Buena Vista Pictures)$5 million last week/   $14.1 million in two weeks
          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.


  • 7.   THE BACHELOR
      (New Line Cinema)$4.7 million last week/   $14.5 million in two weeks
         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.


  • 8.   HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL
      (Warner Brothers)$4.3 million last week/  &nsp;$34.8 million in three 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.


  • 9.   DOUBLE JEOPARDY
      (Paramount)$3 million last week/   $108.7 million in eight 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.


  • 10.   THE SIXTH SENSE
      (Disney)$2.6 million last week/   $267.7 million in fifteen 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.


    • 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 19-21, 1999      volume 10, no. 220
    MOVIES and MORALS

    DAILY CATHOLIC

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