DAILY CATHOLIC     FRI-SAT-SUN     July 3-5, 1998     vol. 9, no. 129

MOVIES & MORALS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO

TOP TEN MOVIES FOR SECOND OFFICIAL WEEK OF SUMMER

     The Lizard's dead and "Deep Impact" is in deep, having dropped out of the top ten along with "Godzilla". Replacing these two were two mediocre films that shouldn't sustain once the Fourth of July movies make their debut this weekend. Topping the list was Eddie Murphy's newest vehicle for exhibiting his crass, toilet humor called "Dr. Dolittle" which does little to uphold family fare. The animals are cute, but a little too precosious. Something that reaches beyond the scope of family fare was the number four movie this week "Out of Sight" which hopefully this time next week will be just that - out of sight for it is the time-warped recipe of steamy sex, violence and immoral values. 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. DR. DOLITTLE 29 million in one week 20th Century Fox
         What could have been another "Babe" or "Pauli" vehicle, fell short in quality but scored big in quantity - dollar wise this past week as "Dr. Dolittle" wrested the top spot, riding the crest of Eddie Murphy's star billing. The problem is that if foul-mouthed Murphy is in it, you know it's going to be crass in some way. Exhibit A - his blatantly offensive "The Nutty Professor" a few years ago. The animals are cute, but like another critter caper that debuted late last year "Mouse Hunt", humor is at the expense of others and when that's the case it isn't funny. This gross-out movie will gross big at the box office until it meets it "Armageddon" this weekend! In short, a Noah's ark it is not. It's the only movie we can think of where the animals need therapy!
      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.
  • 2. MULAN 17 million last week, 54.2 million over two weeks Disney
         Disney's newest animation has one thing going for it: consistency. Coming in last week at number two, it stayed at number two, proving Avis has nothing on "Mulan" which, we suspect, is also benefiting from the coincidental media coverage of Clinton's China visit. That, and the hype from McDonald's helped 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 two 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.
  • 3. THE X-FILES 13.3 million last week, 54.9 million over two weeks 20th Century Fox
         Slipping from the top spot this week was this FOX thriller which indicates that possibly all X-philers have seen it and, with a marathon begun last week on television of airing each of the 100 episodes in succession, prospects for this film sustaining numbers are bleak. If they are out there, they are not making themselves visible at the box office. Another disastrous week and the "X-Files" may have to be relegated to the X-Files. 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.
  • 4. OUT OF SIGHT 12 million in one week 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?" Our only hope is 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 TRUMAN SHOW 8.5 million last week, 99.5 million over four weeks Paramount
         After two weeks as the number one box office draw, "The Truman Show" dropped to number three last week and to number 5 this week, meaning look for it at number seven next week. Even Jim Carrey may not be able to offset the barrage of new movies that debut within the next few weeks that could catapult Truman Burbank off the Nielsen charts with the fabricated audience in the movie and with real audiences who may long for Carrey's comedy antics over his superb dramatic presentation. 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.
  • 6. SIX DAYS, SEVEN NIGHTS 7.6 million last week, 47.1 million over three weeks Disney
         Number six for "Six Days, Seven Nights". Like "The Truman Show" it also dropped two spots and threatens to drop faster in the next few weeks. Even the box-office draw of Harrison Ford can't save this one. The script is witty, the cinematography outstanding, so blame it on whoever cast Anne Heche who, because of her abnormal sexual behavior, is the albatross of this film. You can bet Ford, who has always carefully selected his projects is mighty embarrassed over his association with the whole Heche-Ellen fiasco. 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.
  • 7. A PERFECT MURDER 5.3 million last week, 55.2 million over four weeks Warner Brothers
         This "R" rated rip-off of Alfred Hitchcock's masterful "Dial M for Murder" has also dropped two spots and should fall out of the top ten after this week. It is a far cry from the original and should be put to death in the most humane way possible. Is it just us or has Michael Douglas, who once showed so much promise in the footsteps of the heroic roles of his dad, fallen into the "sex thug" stereotype role rut with another cliche-ridden vehicle that permeates sex, profanity and violence? 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.
  • 8. HOPE FLOATS 2.4 million last week, 48.9 million over five weeks 20th Century Fox
          Executives at 20th Century may not be holding out too much hope for "Hope Floats", especially now that they are focusing all their attention on "Dr. Dolittle". Though the movie only slipped one spot, it dropped down another million. Like other one-time wonders, even name stars can't sustain. Since "Titanic" the standard has been set higher and most fall far, far short including this one. Look for it soon on video 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.
  • 9. CAN'T HARDLY WAIT 2.1 million last week, 21.2 million over three weeks Sony
         This teen flick dropped farther than any others in the top ten, falling from sixth to ninth. After all teens have got more to do in summer than sit through this nonsensical patter, especially with so many other things to do at the beach. In fact, many are simply living out the fantasies of this movie in real life. Not that that's a good thing, but how do you tell your teen that? Below is the Bishops' review:

      Can't Hardly Wait-- Because of an implied sexual encounter, some underage drinking, crass expressions and minimal 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. In "Can't Hardly Wait" -- an unsupervised high school graduation party becomes the occasion for couples to make up, break up or generally act wild and crazy. All the characters in this derivative party movie are reduced to predictable stereotypes whose lame shenanigans fail to amuse.
  • 10. THE HORSE WHISPERER 1.9 million last week, 66.5 million over seven weeks Disney
          Clinging to the bottom spot once again in this ten-horse race is this tear-jerker pitting an aging Robert Redford with his newest young protege starlet. Actually the most spectacular aspect of this movie are the horses. Squeezed out of theaters by newer entries, it's being shouted, not whispered that this will be its last week in the top ten as others gallop in and put "The Horse Whisperer" one out to pasture. 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 3-5, 1998       volume 9, no. 129
    Movies & Morals

    DAILY CATHOLIC

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