WASHINGTON (July 3, 1997) -- If you're trying to escape the summer heat in a cool theater this Independence Day weekend, the choices for families are limited, according to the U.S. Catholic Conference's toll-free move review line.
Aside from Hercules, which makes another appearance on the line, the five other movies reviewed by the USCC Office of Film and Broadcasting are recommended for adolescents and adults. Movie-goers can hear the reviews of the six current releases, along with a family video by calling 1-800-311-4CCC. The line is funded by the Catholic Communication Campaign.
Each week the U.S. Catholic Conference's Office for Film and Broadcasting provides full-length movie reviews, brief capsules, and film classifications of new theater releases. Each review includes the movie's classification and evaluation according to artistic merit and moral suitability.
The text of the capsule reviews for July 4-July 11 follows:
- Men in Black -- Because of broad comic violence 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-13 -- parents are strongly cautioned that some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Men in Black is a zany sci-fi comedy with brassy New York cop Will Smith joining taciturn government agent Tommy Lee Jones in monitoring extraterrestrial activity to save Earth from being overrun by aliens disguised as humans. The two leads are aptly paired in a story mixing understated hip humor with witty puppet creatures and amusing special effects.
- Hercules -- The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G -- general audiences. Hercules is a buoyantly animated tale of ancient Greece where the baby Hercules is kidnaped from Mt. Olympus and raised as a mere mortal until proving himself a true hero by rescuing a damsel from the fiery god of the underworld. The music-filled adventures of these mythological characters are told in the style of today's pop culture, though toddlers may be frightened by a few menacing scenes and the fun is tainted midway by a shameless plug for Disney's line of Hercules products.
- Wild America -- Because of scenes with menacing animals, mild sexual innuendo and a profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. Wild America is the story of two Arkansas teens and their 12- year-old brother as they drive across the country filming wildlife footage of endangered predators in hope of becoming documentary film makers. The fact- based tale of these high-spirited lads has several scary moments in the bush, but their various adventures otherwise are fairly tame.
- Out to Sea -- Because of sexual situations and innuendoes as well as 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. Out to Sea is a thin formula comedy with two cranky elders, inveterate schemer Walter Matthau and long-suffering pal Jack Lemmon, finding unexpected romance aboard a cruise liner. It's a good-natured vehicle for a veteran comedy team backed by a seasoned supporting cast in what adds up to a light-hearted, light-weight sentimental entertainment.
- Face/Off -- Because of excessive violence, sexual innuendo and much rough language as well as profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Face/Off is an ultraviolent action movie in which the faces of federal agent John Travolta and sociopathic terrorist Nicolas Cage are surgically switched, enabling the criminal to pose as the law officer in deadly pursuit of his nemesis. The slickly contrived premise is used primarily to generate prolonged and gratuitous scenes of bloody mayhem.
- Ulee's Gold -- Because of some scenes of violence and harrowing menace, drug abuse and occasional profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Ulee's Gold features Peter Fonda as an aging Florida beekeeper who tries to protect his family from a pair of murderous thugs. The story, though flawed by some gritty melodramatics, has real human substance as the beekeeper's simple, down-home virtues are tested by irrational violence from the world outside.
This week's family video reviewed on the movie review line is appropriate for the holiday -- Yankee Doodle Dandy. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. Yankee Doodle Dandy is a nostalgic, flag-waving musical starring James Cagney as George M. Cohan, the feisty entertainer who was born on the Fourth of July and went from vaudeville to Broadway in a songwriting career blending patriotism with Irish charm. The 1942 production features a grand collection of Cohan's best-remembered songs as well as Cagney at the top of his form singing and dancing his way to an Academy Award.
The classifications are 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); O -- morally offensive.
Reviewers include Henry Herx, Director, and Gerri Pare, Associate Director, of the Film and Broadcasting Office, which is funded by the CCC.
The capsule reviews are available on the World Wide Web. They can be found on two sites: http://www.nccbuscc.org and http://www.CatholicDigest.org/stops/movies/movies1.html.
Full-length reviews of the above and other movies are available through America Online at the Catholic News Service site on AOL, and can be accessed by AOL members using the keyword, "CNS."