DAILY CATHOLIC   FRI-SAT-SUN   September 3-5, 1999   vol. 10, no. 167

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 AUGUST

  • 1.   THE SIXTH SENSE
      (Disney)$20.1 million last week/   $138.9 million in four 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.


  • 2.   THE 13th WARRIOR
      (Disney)$10.3 million in one week:
          Because of some gory battlefield violence with decapitations, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "The 13th Warrior" is a chaotic tale of tenth-century Vikings who force a traveling Arab diplomat Antonio Banderas to fight with them against savage cannibals decimating one of their kingdoms. The constantly panning camera, murky visuals and often incomprehensible dialogue amount to a dark and dreary horror film.


  • 3.   RUNAWAY BRIDE
      (Paramount)$6.3 million last week/   $124.4 million in five 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.


  • 4.   BOWFINGER
      (Universal)$6.6 million last week/   $46.4 million in three weeks:
          Because of its comic treatment of a starlet's implied promiscuity, an instance of rough language and a few crude expressions, 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 "Bowfinger", a desperate Hollywood producer (played by Steve Martin) secretly shoots footage of a top action star (played by Eddie Murphy) to use in his sci-fi-alien movie, but the star's paranoid fear of alien invaders produces comic complications. Steve Martin's script lampoons all sorts of Tinseltown pretensions with wry affection.


  • 5.   MICKEY BLUE EYES
      (Warner Brothers)$5.4 million in one week/   $19.7 million in two weeks
          Because of brief violence, some profanity, irreverent depictions of religious art and a few instances of 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. "Mickey Blue Eyes" is a frail mob comedy in which expatriate British auctioneer Hugh Grant becomes engaged to schoolteacher Jeanne Tripplehorn whose gangster family immediately ensnares him in mob business that could get him killed. The fish-out-of-water premise is stretched pretty thin through the course of some mildly amusing situations.


  • 6.   THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR
      (MGM)$7 million last week/    $42.2 million in three weeks:
          Because of sexual encounters with nudity, occasional profanity and a few instances of 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 Thomas Crown Affair" is a cat-and-mouse drama in which a billionaire art thief (played by Pierce Brosnan) and the insurance investigator (Renee Russo), who will net five million for nailing him, become romantically involved, complicating whether she will do her job or take off with him as he suggests. An update of the 1968 Steve McQueen-Faye Dunaway crime caper, the bedroom scenes are more explicit in this glossy escapist fantasy of riches and romance without consequences.


  • 7.   IN TOO DEEP
      (Dimension)$4.2 million in one week:
          No bishops' review is available yet.


  • 8.   THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
      (Artisan)$4.2 million last week/   $128.1 million in seven weeks:
          Because of fleeting violence, much menace, some profanity and constant rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is, A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "The Blair Witch Project" is a documentary-like horror film showing footage found a year after the disappearance of three young filmmakers who entered a Maryland woods to explore an old myth about a resident witch, leaving only the filmed record of their frightened final days. The low-budget effort has a sense of urgency as the footage shows the trio increasingly lost and terrified, but the dialogue is soon reduced to shrill, incessant cursing, which undermines the film's ominous atmosphere.


  • 9.   THE ASTRONAUT'S WIFE
      (New Line)$4 million in one week:
          Because of some intense violence, explicit sex, an attempted abortion, rough language and profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "The Astronaut's Wife" is a lame sci-fi thriller in which a woman begins to suspect her husband has been replaced by an alien, then fears she will give birth to its alien offspring. The movie's weak premise, pedestrian pacing and predictable ending turn this supposed thriller into a limp misfire.


  • 10.   THE MUSE
      (USA)$3.9 million in one week:
          Because of a few instances of profanity and a flash of nudity, 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 "The Muse" a failing screenwriter (played by Albert Brooks) is forced to indulge every pampered wish of a woman (Sharon Stone) he believes to be a genuine muse whose inspiration will turn around his career. Brooks, who also directs, mocks the Hollywood value system quite amusingly, but has nowhere to go with the silly premise beyond clever one-liners.


    • 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.

    September 3-5, 1999      volume 10, no. 167
    MOVIES and MORALS

    DAILY CATHOLIC

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