WASHINGTON (May 21,1999) -- The 1-800-311-4CCC movie line reviews Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace for the week of May 21-27. Also included on the toll-free line is a review of Balto, 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 21-27 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.
- William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream -- because of romantic complications and, fleeting nudity, 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.
William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream is an uneven adaptation of the Bard's comedy in which forest fairy Puck causes all manner of romantic upheaval overnight by casting spells on a quartet of mismatched young lovers, a hammy actor (played by Kevin Kline) and fairy queen Michelle Pfeiffer. Not all the cast excel in articulating Shakespearean dialogue but the fanciful and luminous visuals look sprinkled with, fairy dust.
- Trippin' -- Because of fleeting comic violence, sexual situations with brief nudity, repeated racial slurs, much rough language and an instance of profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-IV --adults, with reservations. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -restricted.
Trippin, is a crude high school comedy about an aimless day-dreaming senior (played by Deon Richmond) who pretends to be college bound to impress a serious classmate (played by Maia Campbell) and ends up following her lead. The central character's puerile fantasies perpetuate negative racial stereotypes which are clumsily overcome in the narrative by preachy warnings about staying in school.
- Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace -- Because of sci-fi
swordfights and battle sequences, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification
is A-II - adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America
rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested.
The Phantom Menace is a disappointing prequel to the "Star Wars" trilogy in
which two Jedi knights (played by Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor) intent on
saving the planet Naboo from Federation invaders enlist the help of a young
boy who will eventually become the evil Darth Vader. By emphasizing
fantastical creatures and myriad special effects, writer-director George Lucas
loses much of the movie's human dimension and ends up achieving mostly visual
- The Mummy -- Because of recurring stylized violence and fleeting partial nudity, 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 Mummy is a spirited horror adventure set in 1920's Egypt where a treasure hunting Yank (played by Brendan Fraser) is confronted by a revived 3,000 year-old mummy whose evil powers seemingly know no bounds. The lavishly shot action movie is stuffed with spooky special effects and comical moments that downplay horror in favor of rousing, old-fashioned entertainment.
- The Love Letter -- Because of an off-screen affair, references to a
same-sex relationship, fleeting nudity and a few instances of rough language,
the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-IV, adults, with
reservations. 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 Love Letter is a lightweight tale set in a New England village where
romantic complications ensue among the residents (including Kate Capshaw, Tom
Selleck, Tom Everett Scott and Ellen DeGeneres) when several of them believe
they are the intended recipient of an anonymous love letter. The comedy's
charms are minor and its resolution weakly dramatized.
- Black Mask -- Because of excessive violence with gore, a rough-sex encounter, much rough language and an instance of profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is 0 morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. In Black Mask, set in Hong Kong, a genetically enhanced human (played by Jet Li) joins forces with a cop to battle super criminals intent on world domination. The martial-arts slugfest seems intent only on cataloging myriad ways to maiza and slaughter opponents.
The family video of the week is Balto -- The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G -- general audiences. Balto is an animated adventure about an outcast dog (voice of Kevin Bacon) who gets through an Alaskan blizzard in the winter of 1925 carrying the antitoxin needed to save snowbound Nome from a diphtheria epidemic. The animation is more imaginative than the formula characters in a story which starts slowly, then becomes a series of thrills as Balto overcomes the perils of the frozen wilderness and a nasty canine rival.
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.usccb.org and http://www.CatholicDigest.org/stops/movies/index.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."