DAILY CATHOLIC   FRI-SAT-SUN   October 15-17, 1999   vol. 10, no. 197

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 OCTOBER

  • 1.   DOUBLE JEOPARDY
      (Paramount)$13.5 million last week/   $65.8 million in three 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.


  • 2.   RANDOM HEARTS
      (Sony)$13 million in one week:
          Because of a discreet sexual encounter, brief violence, minimal profanity and an instance of rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "Random Hearts" is a plodding melodrama about Washington cop Harrison Ford jeopardizing the re-election of Congresswoman Kristin Scott-Thomas when they become romantically involved after their unfaithful spouses are killed in a plane crash. The picture explores the painful aftermath of adultery in a slowpaced narrative that is emotionally uninvolving.


  • 3.   THREE KINGS
      (Warner Brothers)$12 million last week/   $32.7 million in two 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.


  • 4.   AMERICAN BEAUTY
      (Dreamworks)$9.5 million last week/   $31.1 million in four 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.   SUPERSTAR
      (Paramount)$8.9 million in one week:
          No review from NCCB as of yet.


  • 6.   THE SIXTH SENSE
      (Disney)$6.1 million last week/   $242.7 million in ten 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.


  • 7.   BLUE STREAK
      (Sony)$5.7 million last week/   $55.2 million in four weeks:
          Because of its justification of a major crime, some violence, coarse sexual references, occasional profanity and an instance of rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents are strongly cautioned that some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. "Blue Streak" is a routine action-comedy in which thief Martin Lawrence passes himself off as an LAPD detective in order to get access to headquarters where he's stashed a 17 million-dollar diamond. Numerous cliches and Lawrence's comic mugging don't improve a movie where the thief is seen as a hero who deserves his instant millionaire status after escaping with police complicity.


  • 8.   DRIVE ME CRAZY
      (Fox)$4 million in one week/    $11.8 million in two weeks:
          Because of sexual situations and innuendo, alcohol and drug abuse and instances of profanity and 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. "Drive Me Crazy" is a formula teen romance in which high school senior Melissa Joan Hart and surly classmate Adrian Grenier begin dating in hopes of winning back their former heartthrobs by making them jealous, with predictable results. The fitful proceedings are mostly tedious as the cliched adolescent characters moon over the dating game.


  • 9.   THE ADVENTURES OF ELMO...
      (Sony)$2.3 million last week/   $6.2 million in two weeks
          The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G -- general audiences. "The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland" follows "Sesame Street's" shy little Elmo as he searches for his beloved blanket in a subterranean world where grouch Mandy Patinkin refuses to give back the blanket until he learns a lesson in sharing. The Muppet characters go through their paces in endearing fashion, with preschoolers likely to find messy, garbage-filled Grouchland more amusing than threatening.


  • 10.   FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME
      (Universal)$2.1 million last week/   $31.5 million in four weeks:
         For Love of the Game -- Because of an implicit sexual affair, angry outbursts, some course language 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. "For Love of the Game" follows aging pitcher Kevin Costner on the mound at the close of the baseball season as he confronts not only the batters but himself, pondering his future with the club, his all-consuming passion to excel in the sport, and the loss of the woman he loves (played by Kelly Preston) because she feels unneeded. The pitcher's thoughts are shown in flashbacks which mirror mounting tension in the stadium as batter after batter is retired along the way to a possible perfect game -- with equally satisfying results for both baseball fans and romantics.


    • 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.

    October 15-17, 1999      volume 10, no. 197
    MOVIES and MORALS

    DAILY CATHOLIC

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