DAILY CATHOLIC     FRI-SAT-SUN TO FRI-SAT-SUN     July 10-19, 1998     vol. 9, no. 134

MOVIES & MORALS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

TOP TEN MOVIES FOR SECOND WEEK OF JULY

      A meteor hurtled into theaters over the Fourth of July and exploded to the tune of 36.1 million for the first week to garner top spot among films for the second week of July. Dropping out of the top ten was "Can't hardly wait". Most can hardly wait for the movies scheduled out within the next few weeks which includes a rehash of the highly popular "Lethal Weapon" series, and an excellent vehicle for Antonio Banderas and Anthony Hopkins, birth father of the former, in a new take on "Zorro". 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. Below are the top ten for this last week with the Bishops' reviews. Reviews are categorized by A-I -- general patronage; A-II -- adults and 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.
  • 1. ARMAGEDDON 37.1 million in one week Disney
          Many have said the concept of Armageddon is unbelieveable. We're not talking about their views on the end event in the Apocalypse, but rather the movie of the same name. We have always assimilated Armageddon with a place where a catastrophic event will occur that cannot be described. Little did we know it would also be boring! Don't know about you but "Armageddon" pretty tired of all the meteor disaster fare we've been subjected to lately. The latest is probably the dumbest, but add in some name "hunks" like same-ol' Bruce Willis and your stereotype characters and it will sell with more explosions and destruction than the human celebrum can handle, especially with the pumped up sound systems in the multiplexes these days. So if you want to waste two hours on this rehash of '"Independence Day" meets "Volcano" with "Deep Impact,"' then be our guest, but don't say we didn't warn you about "Armageddon".

      Armageddon -- Because of explosive mayhem, an implied affair, occasional 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 PG-13 -- parents are strongly cautioned that some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Armageddon is a bloated disaster story with Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck planting a nuclear warhead on a humongous asteroid in a desperate attempt to blast it out of its collision course with Earth. The result is an overlong tale of macho heroics, pumped up with special effects, then doused in weepy emotions.
  • 2. DR. DOLITTLE 19.7 million last week, 64.8 million over two weeks 20th Century Fox
         Whether it was the talkin' animals or the drawing power of Eddie Murphy, "Dr. Dolittle" maintained its drawing power with a strong second-week. Even though it fell nearly 15 million behind the runnaway meteor, it held strong considering the status of the rest. Still, the competition hasn't really begun to heat up. We'll see how strong it is after the next two weeks. As we said last week, a Noah's ark it is not. It's the only movie we can think of where the animals need therapy! Below is the bishop's review on it.

      Dr. Doolittle -- Because of much bathroom humor, coarse language and several instances of 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. Dr. Dolittle is a comic misfire with Eddie Murphy as a San Francisco physician whose life becomes complicated when he starts talking to animals but no one else can hear what they say to him. The result is a dull sentimental comedy paced by crude gags and verbal insults.
  • 3. MULAN 11.5 million last week, 77 million over three weeks Disney
         Disney's newest animation continued a strong showing for the third week, though dropping to third it was the only film, other than the two ahead of it, to maintain double figures in the millions. With this being the only "kid show" for the weekend it is not surprising. Add to that all the press hype about Clinton's China visit and it will be interesting to see if it maintains this kind of pace next week. The hype from McDonald's are also helping it stay popular with the kiddies. Since there is nothing offensive about this film, that can't be all bad! Below is the review of the number three movie this past week:

      Mulan -- The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G -- general audiences. "Mulan" offers a boisterous animated tale of ancient China where a rebellious daughter disguises herself as a man to fight invading Huns in place of her sickly father. Blending sumptuous visuals with catchy songs and some contrived humor, the picture's theme of female empowerment downplays romance to focus on issues of self-identity, honor and patriotism.
  • 4. OUT OF SIGHT 6.6 million last week, 23.2 million over two weeks Universal
         Maybe the producers figured if they cast George Clooney they could sell anything. Clooney should be ashamed. This is typical Elmore Leonard fare which translates to immoral trash. Can you say "sleaze?" The saddest thing about this movie is that for some unforseen Godforsaken reason it maintained its number four ranking. We're still hoping that "Out of Sight" will drop out of sight soon so audiences won't be subjected to any more of Leonard's fables. The trailors promote it as "the sexiest movie of the summer" and "steam heat." The closest we can assimilate to "steam heat" is that inferno where the fire burns forever! Below is the bishops' review of this film:

      Out of Sight -- Because of some nasty violence, jokey treatment of criminal activity, an implied sexual encounter, 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. Out of Sight is a giddy crime caper in which federal marshal Jennifer Lopez is torn between arresting or romancing charming con man George Clooney who's about to pull off a diamond heist with traitorous partners. The movie's stylish direction isn't enough to compensate for shallow characterizations and a highly contrived plot.
  • 5. THE X-FILES 6.3 million last week, 67.1 million over three weeks 20th Century Fox
         Slipping from number one three weeks ago to number three the next to five this week, is there a pattern here that shows this paranormal thriller gleaned from the Fox TV series is about to be whisked out of the theaters by the alien known as "not interested" and returned to the planet "video store" where it will enjoy a brief run before ending up collecting foreign dust. Even Agent's Fox Mulder and Dana Sculley don't have the answer to this one unless you don't know who they are either! Below is the bishops' review of this film:

      The X Files -- Because of brief violence, menacing situations, occasional 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 PG-13 -- parents are strongly cautioned that some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. "The X Files" tells a meandering story of stubborn FBI agents Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny on the trail of frozen aliens, a mutating virus and the possible colonization of Earth by extraterrestrials. In what amounts to a two-hour episode of the TV series on which it is based, the result is a murky mix of dimly seen menacing aliens amidst elaborate theories of global conspiracies.
  • 6. THE TRUMAN SHOW 6 million last week, 106.8 million over four weeks Paramount
         The first movie of the summer to go over the century mark at the earliest, "The Truman Show" maintained its middle of the ground status which isn't bad considering the way others have dropped so fast. Whether it is due to Jim Carrey's drawing power or a very good movie, it promises to continue strong for the next few weeks before going the way of all movies - even the number one box-office draw of all time "Titanic": out of the top ten and into video stores. Below is the Bishops' review:

      The Truman Show-- Because of mature themes, marital discord and a few instances of profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. "The Truman Show" is a beguiling fantasy in which 30-year-old Jim Carrey suddenly discovers his life from day one has been secretly televised 24 hours a day and all the people in his tranquil island community are paid actors. The emotionally involving tale gingerly scratches the surface of moral issues concerning media manipulation and the right to privacy.
  • 7. SIX DAYS, SEVEN NIGHTS 5.8 million last week, 56.9 million over four weeks Disney
         Number seven for "Six Days, Seven Nights" might mean we're about to say good night to this one which calculated badly in casting Anne Heche, who is flaunting her lesbian affair with Ellen, with the likeable Harrison Ford. Ford fans, count us among them, feel betrayed and have stayed away from this one in droves. Too bad, it could have been a wonderful, fun movie. Whatever happened to the chemistry Ford had with Karen Allen in "Raiders of the Lost Ark"? For our money that is still the most enjoyable movie of our time. But then we grew up on the Saturday morning and movie matinee serials. Below is the Bishops' review:

      Six Days, Seven Nights-- Because of brief violence, some sexual innuendo, recurring 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 PG-13 -- parents are strongly cautioned that some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. "Six Days, Seven Nights" is a mildly comic adventure in which Harrison Ford and Anne Heche crash land on an uninhabited tropical island where they must fend off pirates from the sea and an unwanted mutual attraction. The tired formula is made palatable by the airy banter between appealing performers in an otherwise completely predictable movie.
  • 8. A PERFECT MURDER 3.3 million last week, 61.1 million over five weeks Warner Brothers
         This "R" rated rip-off of Alfred Hitchcock's masterful "Dial M for Murder" continues to hang in there and we wonder why. Michael Douglas' films have not had the box-officeability compared to his famed father Kirk. Maybe dad should have a talk with his son and convince him to get away from the "sex thug" stereotype role that glorifies sleaze. Maybe audiences will come back if he cleans up his act. Below is the Bishops' review:

      A Perfect Murder-- Because of a fleeting sexual encounter, brief but intense violence, some rough language and profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "A Perfect Murder" is a glossy thriller in which heartless husband Michael Douglas plots to have rich wife Gwyneth Paltrow killed by her ex-con lover, but all goes murderously awry. Loosely based on Alfred Hitchcock's 1954 "Dial M for Murder," the twisty plot is weakened by adding scenes of adultery and hard-edged violence as melodramatic padding.
  • 9. HOPE FLOATS 1.6 million last week, 51.9 million over six weeks 20th Century Fox
          To everyone's amazement two tearjerkers filled out the hind-end of this week's top ten. Both were surprises that they were still there. Blame it on the fact there is so little good fare out there. Because of that hope is still afloat for "Hope Floats", the latest Sandra Bullock vehicle, a far-cry from her action-packed roles the past three summers ("Speed," "The Net", and "Speed II") Below is the Bishops' review:

      Hope Floats-- Because of fleeting violence and marital infidelity, 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. "Hope Floats" is the syrupy tale of jilted wife Sandra Bullock taking her young daughter back to rural Texas where her mom and a childhood admirer help restore her self-confidence. The consequences of adultery are treated earnestly but tend to get lost in an episodic story filled with gauzy sentimentality.
  • 10. THE HORSE WHISPERER 1.3 million last week, 68.9 million over eight weeks Disney
          Clinging to the bottom spot once again in this ten-horse race is the surprising Robert Redford vehicle which has shown an unusual gallop at the gate, trotting in with just under the same take as last week, and continuing to cling to the ratings. Like its title it is not shouting any great numbers but slowly adding up respectable revenue in whispers. Below is the Bishops' review:

      The Horse Whisperer-- Because of a gory accident, mild sexual innuendo and a few instances of profanity, The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. 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 Horse Whisperer, a gruesome riding accident injures a 14-year-old girl and traumatizes her horse, prompting her mother to seek out Montana horse healer Robert Redford with whom the mother falls in love during the healing process. The visually stunning and sensitively observed drama makes a moral point while exploring troubled parent-child and adult relationships.
    Reviews provided through Film & Broadcasting Division of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and figures provided through Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.

    July 10-19, 1998       volume 9, no. 134
    Movies & Morals

    DAILY CATHOLIC

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