DAILY CATHOLIC     FRI-SAT-SUN     June 26-28, 1998     vol. 9, no. 124

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 FIRST OFFICIAL WEEK OF SUMMER

     For the first time since December the all-time blockbuster "Titanic" sunk out of the top ten. The best news of the first list of top ten for the new summer season was that only one movie was rated "R." 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. THE X-FILES 30.1 million in one week
         The number one movie this past week was the FOX thriller that has been so popular as a sci-fi television series that centers around FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully on the trail of alien plots. With so many programs overemphasizing sexual innuendo, it is refreshing to see the intelligence of this movie and series. However, as the bishops review below, the violence can sometimes be disturbing:

      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.
    • 2. MULAN 22.7 million in one week
           Disney's newest animation ties in with all the hype on China. The timing of the release of the movie "Mulan" and Bill Clinton's obtrusive trip to Tiannamen Square is ironic. This Disney vehicle targeted toward young girls may be limited in audience appeal and isn't expected to maintain high numbers. 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 TRUMAN SHOW 12.4 million last week, 85.2 million over three weeks
             Knocked from the top spot after two weeks as the number one box office draw, "The Truman Show" is a vehicle that allows Jim Carrey to blossom into a full-fledge actor. This satire is the kind of movie that leaves one reflecting on it long after the popcorn goes stale and days after seeing it. 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.
        • 4. SIX DAYS, SEVEN NIGHTS 10.7 million last week, 34.4 million over two weeks
               This movie surprised experts by only pulling one third of the audience of "The X-Files", especially with the box-office magnetism of star Harrison Ford. But they overlooked the moral turpitude of the American public who refuse to pander to the homosexual platform paraded by Ford's co-star Anne Heche. 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.
          • 5. A PERFECT MURDER 7.4 million last week, 46.5 million over three weeks
                 This, of course, is an oxymoron since nothing that is a sin against the Commandments can be perfect...but then, this is Hollywood and that's the sad part. The good part is that this is the only R-rated movie in the entire top ten this week and is slipping badly. It should. 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.
            • 6. CAN'T HARDLY WAIT 3.8 million last week, 16 million over two weeks
                   Oh, I think we can! But this teen flick is fairly harmless fare which features Jennifer Love Hewitt. For male teens reaching puberty this "girl-next-door-type" is what Leonardo di Caprio is for the teen girls. As with most teen flicks it's nonsensical and lacks depth, but that won't stop your teen from seeing this "in" flick. 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.
              • 7. HOPE FLOATS 3.3 million last week, 44.4 million over four weeks
                      Many might think hopes sink in this tearjerker that is trying to attract a male audience with the presence of Sandra Bullock but it falls flat because of its slow-moving pace. It is a good vehicle for Bullock, but there's little hope even she can save it as it continues to sink with movie-goers. 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.
                • 8. GODZILLA 3 million last week, 1298.2 million over five weeks
                        The lizard is on its last legs. It is getting more play on the Taco Bell commercials than in theatres as it plods into summer failing badly at the box-office and rightfully so for just as word of mouth elevated "Titanic", everybody's telling everyone else that the streaky black and white, out of sync Japanese farces were better! Below is the Bishops' review:

                    Godzilla-- Because of recurring fantasy violence with much mayhem and intermittent 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. "Godzilla" is an overhyped monster movie in which New York City's landmarks and citizens are stomped on by the giant beast whose hatching eggs prove an even greater threat, especially to four adults in imminent danger. The special effects-thriller utterly lacks the consistent excitement or goofy humor that would make it fun-filled escapist fare.
                  • 9. DEEP IMPACT 2.7 million last week, 133 million over seven weeks
                          The first disaster film of the summer, while it had done well for the first six weeks, is hurtling toward earth on the seventh week as another film of the same genre "Armageddon" blazes into theatres this weekend. It seems like you've seen one meteor movie you've seen them all. Below is the Bishops' review:

                      Deep Impact-- Because of a massive natural disaster, sexual innuendo, suicidal references, 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. "Deep Impact" is a low-voltage disaster movie about the chaotic proceedings after President Morgan Freeman announces the failure of a space mission to deflect a huge comet from its deadly collision course with Earth. The spectacular special effects are brief and fleeting while the personal stories are overly sentimentalized.
                    • 10. THE HORSE WHISPERER 2.6 million last week, 63 million over six weeks
                            Some things are worth waiting for, but sitting through this movie until the poignant finale might be too much for most, especially those who aren't into Robert Redford and his smaltzy ecology. That is why the numbers are so low because of its lack of appeal for the male audience. The whispers are that this movie will end up in the artsy section of video shelves. 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.

                      June 26-28, 1998       volume 9, no. 124
                      Movies & Morals

                      DAILY CATHOLIC

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