WASHINGTON (January 21, 2000) -- Angela's Ashes leads the list on the 1-800 movie line this week. The January 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.
The 1-800-311-4CCC movie line is a project of the Catholic Communication Campaign (CCC).
- Angela's Ashes -- Because of intense depiction of domestic crises, numerous sexual situations and references, alcoholic excess, 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. Angela's Ashes is a faithful though emotionally bleak dramatization of Frank McCourt's Pulitzer Prize-winning account of growing up in 1930s-1940s Limerick where he lives in desperate poverty with his long-suffering mother (played by Emily Watson), alcoholic father (Robert Carlyle) and younger siblings until stealing his fare to America at age 19. Although a realistic depiction of an impoverished youth's struggles through puberty and growing alienation from his family and Catholic upbringing, the sober, disciplined movie lacks both the poetic flair and humorous punctuation of the book.
- Play it to the Bone –- Because of recurring, gory boxing violence, fairly graphic sexual encounters and references, brief nudity, negative references to religion and constant rough language and profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is O -– morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R – restricted. Play it to the Bone is a tawdry drama in which best friends who are professional boxing rivals (played by Woody Harrelson and Antonio Banderas) battle it out in Las Vegas for big prize money and a chance at the middleweight championship title. Brutal boxers, artificially voluptuous women and crude dialogue make a poor substitute for plot and character development.
- The Cider House Rules -- Because of its positive treatment of abortion, references to incest, violent and suicidal behavior, drug abuse, a fleeting sexual encounter and brief nudity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is O -- morally offensive. 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 Cider House Rules is a romanticized 1940s drama in which a young man (played by Tobey Maguire) leaves the Maine orphanage run by the doctor (played by Michael Caine) who had raised him to carry on in his footsteps, but the youth refuses to perform illegal abortions until he resorts to the procedure when a farm worker (played by Erykah Badu) becomes pregnant by her own father (played by Delroy Lindo). The movie adaptation of John Irving's 1985 novel is emotionally manipulative in its pro-abortion stance with the story's humanist themes failing to apply to life within the womb.
- Down to You -- Because of implied affairs, sexual references 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. Down to You is a romantic comedy about college sweethearts (played by Freddie Prinze Jr. and Julia Stiles) who become serious when they are too young to cope with the work involved in making a relationship last. The cookie-cutter film romanticizes the thrill of first love then wraps up all the loose ends too predictably.
- Next Friday -- Because of sexual situations, intermittent violence, recurring recreational drug use, bathroom humor and much rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-IV -- adults, with reservations. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R –- restricted. Next Friday is an unfunny sequel to the juvenile 1995 "Friday" in which central character Ice Cube moves to his uncle's home in the Los Angeles suburbs trying to escape a bully only to find trouble with his uncle's Chicano neighbors. The characters become caricatures as the cast squeezes out nothing but cheap laughs from the thin material.
- Sweet and Lowdown -- Because of a live-in relationship, brief recreational drug abuse and some 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. Sweet and Lowdown is a modest comedy-drama about a brilliant but utterly egotistical Depression-era jazz guitarist (played by Sean Penn) who callously dumps his adoring mute girlfriend (Samantha Morton) only to marry a sophisticate (Uma Thurman) who betrays him with a common gangster. The Woody Allen movie highlights an extensive jazz soundtrack as he amusingly mocks the artist who feels he is above pedestrian morality.
Family video of the week:
- 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 the appealing 1997 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 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 Gerri Pare, Director, and Anne Novarro, Officer, 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/index.html.
Reviews of movies classified by the USCC can also be found in Our Sunday Visitor's Family Guide to Movies and Videos, edited by Henry Herx and available in bookstores for $29.95 per copy. They can also be ordered direct from OSV by calling 1-800-348-2440 or ordered online at www.osv.com.