DAILY CATHOLIC   FRI-SAT-SUN   October 22-24, 1999   vol. 10, no. 202

MOVIES & MORALS

To print out entire text of Today's issue,
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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 THIRD WEEK OF OCTOBER

  • 1.   FIGHT CLUB
      (Fox)$11 million in one week:
          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.


  • 2.   DOUBLE JEOPARDY
      (Paramount)$10.2 million last week/   $80.3 million in four 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.


  • 3.   THE STORY OF US
      (Universal)$9.7 million in one week:
          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.


  • 4.   THREE KINGS
      (Warner Brothers)$7.3 million last week/   $43.7 million in three 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.


  • 5.   AMERICAN BEAUTY
      (Dreamworks)$6.6 million last week/   $41.2 million in five 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.


  • 6.   RANDOM HEARTS
      (Sony)$5.7 million last week/   $22.6 million in two weeks
          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.


  • 7.   SUPERSTAR
      (Paramount)$5.6 million last week/   $16.5 million in two weeks:
          Because of considerable sexual innuendo, comic religious stereotypes, occasional vulgar language and a sexual expletive, 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 "Superstar" Molly Shannon brings her TV comic skit character of a klutzy Catholic adolescent to the big screen but the thin story of her high school hi-jinks has little humor and no wit as the dopey central character grows increasingly tiresome.


  • 8.   THE SIXTH SENSE
      (Disney)$5.2 million last week/   $249.9 million in eleven 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.   BLUE STREAK
      (Sony)$3.8 million last week/   $60.7 million in five 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.


  • 10.   THE OMEGA CODE
      (Providence)$2.4 million in one week:
          No review yet available from the NCCB.


    • 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 22-24, 1999      volume 10, no. 202
    MOVIES and MORALS

    DAILY CATHOLIC

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