DAILY CATHOLIC   FRI-SAT-SUN   November 5-7, 1999   vol. 10, no. 210

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 OCTOBER

  • 1.   HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL
      (Warner Brothers)$15.9 million in one week:
         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.


  • 2.   THE BEST MAN
      (Universal)$6.3 million last week:/   $17.9 million in two 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.


  • 3.   DOUBLE JEOPARDY
      (Paramount)$5.4 million last week/   $98.3 million in six 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.


  • 4.   AMERICAN BEAUTY
      (Dreamworks)$3.8 million last week/   $54.1 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.


  • 5.   MUSIC OF THE HEART
      (Miramax)$3.7 million in one week:
          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.


  • 6.   BRINGING OUT THE DEAD
      (Paramount)$3.4 last week:/   $11.4 million in two weeks:
          Because of brief violence including an instance of euthanasia, a gory childbirth, some substance abuse, occasional profanity and recurring rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "Bringing out the Dead" is a grim tale of burned-out NYC paramedic Nicolas Cage whose frantic nocturnal-ambulance runs expose him to all manner of desperate individuals as he is haunted by visions of those he could not save on the city's mean streets. Intense life-and-death encounters capture the traumatizing effects of the job, but the movie doesn't build sufficient momentum as the paramedic vacillates between a breakdown and the possibility of redemptive love with a patient's daughter.


  • 7.   FIGHT CLUB
      (Fox)$3.3 million last week/   $27.7 million in three 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.


  • 8.   THE SIXTH SENSE
      (Disney)$3.2 million last week/   $259.8 million in thirteen 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.   THE STORY OF US
      (Universal)$3 million last week:/   $22.3 million in three weeks
          Because of much shrill marital discord with profanity and rough language, a few sexual references and fleeting rear nudity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. In "The Story of Us" Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer portray an unhappy couple with two children who are vacillating about whether to divorce as they recall the highs and lows of their 15-year marriage. Despite an ultimately positive message, the movie's repetitiveness and heavy-handedness reduce the characters to unappealing spouses constantly lurching between fury and mushy hysteria.


  • 10.   THREE KINGS
      (Warner Brothers)$2.5 million last week/   $53.7 million in five weeks:
          Because of some fairly graphic violence, a brief sexual encounter and recurring profanity as well as rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "Three Kings" tells of American soldier George Clooney and three comrades going AWOL at the end of the Gulf War to look for hidden gold but they pause along the way to protect pro-Western Iraqi villagers from marauding nationalist soldiers. The result mixes intense action with sudden spurts of satire and frenzied visuals that ultimately underline the hypocrisy of politics and the insanity of war as well as its inhumanity.


    • 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 5-7, 1999      volume 10, no. 210
    MOVIES and MORALS

    DAILY CATHOLIC

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