WASHINGTON (May 1, 1998) -- The 1-800-311-4CCC movie line reviews Les Miserables for the week of May 1-7. Also included on the toll-free line is a review of Anastasia, this week's suggested home video for family viewing.
The 800 movie review line is a project of the Catholic Communication Campaign (CCC).
The May 1-7 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.
- Les Miserables -- Because of some sexual innuendo and, violence including a suicide, 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. Les Miserables is a splendid screen version of the Victor Hugo classic, with Liam Neeson as the reformed convict Jean Valjean, and Geoffrey Rush as his implacable pursuer, Inspector Jauvert. Set amidst the strife of early 19th-century France, the movie's strong performances, vigorous narrative and evocative photography compellingly convey the story's themes of human justice and spiritual redemption.
- Tarzan and the Lost City -- Because of some stylized violence, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. Tarzan and the Lost City is a lackluster tale in which the Ape Man and his fiancee help a jungle tribe battle a band of mercenaries out to plunder their sacred treasures. The bland, humorless story limps along with little in the way of adventure but plenty of beefcake shots of the title he-man.
- Black Dog -- Because of intermittent violence, occasional profanity and an instance of rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-111 -- 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. Black Dog stars Patrick Swayze as an ex-con truck driver coerced into transporting assault weapons across state lines while pursued by murderous hijackers and federal agents. The result is a contrived thriller of interest only to undemanding action fans.
- He Got Game -- Because of occasional violence, a brief but graphic sexual encounter with nudity, racial slurs, sexual references and recurring rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-IV -- adults, with reservations. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -restricted. He Got Game is a muddled drama in which high school basketball star Ray Allen ponders whether to go to college or turn pro while being pressured by manipulative friends and relatives, especially his estranged father, Denzel Washington, whose jail sentence will be shortened if he can convince his son to attend the governor's alma mater. The movie convincingly explores the exploitation of student athletes, but is less successful in developing the father-son relationship which is at the story's core.
- The Big Hit -- Because of excessive, jokey violence, implied promiscuity and sexual references, brief nudity and non-stop rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. The Big Hit follows the supposedly comic misadventures of a womanizing hitman targeted for death by his traitorous partner after a bungled kidnapping. The repulsive action comedy glamorizes its macho characters and presents vicious murders as heroic deeds.
- Sliding Doors -- Because of sexual situations including a live-in relationship and a bedroom scene, some crude language and occasional profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-111 -- 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. Sliding Doors is a halting romantic fantasy set in London showing alternate versions of what happens to the same woman (Gwyneth Paltrow in a dual role) after she boards a departing subway train or just misses it. The playfully imaginative premise starts well but the two scenarios become increasingly predictable as the one character goes on to find true romance while her alter ego is stuck with a two-timing lover.
The family video of the week is Anastasia. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G -- general audiences. Anastasia is last year's appealing animated musical about the Czar's youngest daughter who survives the Bolshevik Revolution to grow up with only vague memories of her royal family until a handsome con man takes her to Paris to meet her one surviving relative. The result turns history into a fairy tale with the enchantment of lush animation and spirited musical numbers.
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 movie 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."