DAILY CATHOLIC   FRI-SAT-SUN   October 1-3, 1999   vol. 10, no. 187

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 FOURTH WEEK OF SEPTEMBER

  • 1.   DOUBLE JEOPARDY
      (Paramount)$23.2 million in one week:
         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.   BLUE STREAK
      (Sony)$12.5 million last week/   $37 million in two 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.


  • 3.   THE SIXTH SENSE
      (Disney)$11.2 million last week/   $213.3 million in seven 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.


  • 4.   FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME
      (Universal)$6.4 million last week/   $23 million in two 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.


  • 5.   AMERICAN BEAUTY
      (Dreamworks)$5.9 million last week/   $7.5 million in two weeks:
          No review available yet.


  • 6.   STIGMATA
      (MGM)$4.7 million last week/   $40.6 million in three weeks:
         Because of its exploitative use of religion with an anti-Catholic flavor, frequent violence involving the stigmata and demonic attacks, a shadowy sexual encounter, occasional profanity and rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "Stigmata" is a schlocky horror tale in which a priest (played by Gabriel Bryne) sent by the Vatican to investigate reports of stigmata-like wounds on the wrists of Pittsburgh hairdresser Patricia Arquette turns to protecting her from demonic forces and a psychotic Cardinal behind a Vatican plot to suppress a supposed "lost Gospel" that would undermine the revelancy of the Catholic Church. The nonsensical plot juggles sexual innuendo as the priest is drawn to the young woman with violent scenes confusing the stigmata with demonic possession as well as the absurd conspiracy plot that a misleading epilogue suggests is truth rather than fiction.


  • 7.   STIR OF ECHOES
      (Artisan)$2.3 million last week/   $15.6 million in three weeks:
          Because of some violence, a shadowy sexual encounter, brief nudity and recurring profanity and rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "Stir of Echoes" is a ghost story in which a family man Kevin Bacon starts having violent hallucinations about a vanished teen and becomes obsessed with locating her body on his property. While Bacon's character is sympathetic the villains are obvious in this minimally suspenseful thriller.


  • 8.   JAKOB THE LIAR
      (Sony)$2.1 million in one week:
          Because of some violence, suicides and an implied pre-marital relationship 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. In "Jakob the Liar," Robin Williams brings hope to despairing fellow Jews fearful of being shipped from their Polish ghetto to Nazi concentration camps by pretending he hears BBC radio reports that Russian liberators are almost at hand. Although well intended, the tragicomedy strains for poignancy amidst bouncy music, forced humor and a halting pace.


  • 9.   MUMFORD
      (Disney)$1.9 million in one week:
          Because of its depiction of sexual fantasies with nudity, a character's prior drug addiction, some rough language and minimal profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "Mumford" is a quirky tale of a bogus psychologist (played by Loren Dean) whose talent for listening actually spurs his smalltown patients to have insights into their own problems while he struggles with the ethics of becoming romantically involved with an especially vulnerable patient (played by Hope Davis). The gentle ensemble comedy is sweet but slight in exploring a well-meaning quack who eventually comes to terms with his own shortcomings in a responsible way.


  • 10.   RUNAWAY BRIDE
      (Paramount)$1.6 million last week/   $146.6 million in nine weeks:
          Because of very discreet sexual innuendo and minimal profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. In "Runaway Bride" cynical big-city reporter Richard Gere comes to a small town to do an exposť on bride-to-be Julia Roberts, who has left several previous suitors at the altar, only to find he wants to replace the groom at the imminent ceremony. With Roberts luminous in her role, the feel-good romantic comedy, though predictable, brims with warmth and charm.


    • 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 1-3, 1999      volume 10, no. 187
    MOVIES and MORALS

    DAILY CATHOLIC

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