WASHINGTON (January 16, 1998) -- The 1-800-311-4CCC movie line reviews Wag the Dog for the week of January 16-22. Also included on the toll-free line is a review of Robinson Crusoe on Mars, this week's suggested home video for family viewing.
The 800 movie review line is a project of the Catholic Communication Campaign (CCC).
The January 16-22 list includes the following theater releases and their classifications according to moral suitability. Movies are evaluated according to artistic merit and moral suitability by the U.S. Bishops' Office for Film and Broadcasting.
- Wag the Dog -- Because of sexual references, an off-screen homicide, recurring rough language and occasional profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Wag the Dog is a political satire in which savvy media manipulator Robert De Niro gets pompous movie producer Dustin Hoffman to divert attention from a White House sex scandal by creating a bogus war. Despite the far-fetched plot premise, the result pokes some sharp fun at Washington politics, Hollywood pretensions and media gullibility.
- Star Kid -- Because of fantasy violence, menacing situations, bathroom humor and few coarse words, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. Star Kid is a thin adventure fantasy in which a 12-year-old boy climbs inside the shell of an alien android, then uses its superhuman strength to take revenge on a school bully until confronted by a ferocious spider-like invader from outer space. Pre-teen boys may enjoy the premise of controlling a powerful robot, though most others will find the formula plot as tiresome as the derivative special effects.
- Fallen -- Because of brief violence, much rough language and intermittent profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Fallen is a silly supernatural thriller in which homicide detective Denzel Washington finds himself being framed for murders committed by the demonic spirit of an executed serial killer. The ridiculous premise is more ludicrous than suspenseful in depicting the dead man's spirit entering host bodies to commit his foul deeds.
- Hard Rain -- Because of violence including an attempted rape, much menace, recurring profanity and a sexual expletive, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Hard Rain is a water-logged thriller about an armored car robbery that goes awry when guard Christian Slater hides the money and escapes through rising flood waters pursed by the robbers as well as the police. The cat-and-mouse chase scenes of powerboats racing through a submerged town are as tiresomely repetitive as the formula plot is predictable.
- Good Will Hunting -- Because of stylized violence, sexual situations, recurring rough language and occasional profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-IV -- adults, with reservations. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Good Will Hunting features Matt Damon as a South Boston tough with the mind of a genius but no future unless psychologist Robin Williams can cure his deep-seated emotional problems. The story of a bright youth overcoming a troubled past is helped greatly by credible performances from a talented cast but the story is highly manipulative and needlessly vulgarized.
- Deconstructing Harry -- Because of numerous sexual situations, brief nudity, recurring rough language and some profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-IV -- adults, with reservations. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. In Deconstructing Harry, Woody Allen plays a troubled writer who's beginning to confuse the fictional characters in his stories with people he knows in real life. Despite some witty situations and funny one-liners, the result is an often painful picture of a glib egoist interested only in self-gratification.
The family video of the week is Robinson Crusoe on Mars -- The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. Robinson Crusoe on Mars is an engaging science-fiction variation on the Defoe story which here has astronaut Paul Mantee marooned on Mars with only a monkey as company, until he rescues a human-like slave from an alien spaceship. Released in 1964, the picture tells the story in imaginative fashion holding interest to the end which is really a new beginning.
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.
The movie reviews are produced by the U.S. Catholic Conference (USCC) Office for Film and Broadcasting, which each week provides full length movies reviews, brief capsules and film classifications of new theater releases.
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."