WASHINGTON (February 25, 2000) -- Reindeer Games is anything but fun, according to this week's 1-800 movie review line. This week's listing also includes the new comedy, Wonder Boys.
The 800 movie review line is a project of the Catholic Communication Campaign (CCC).
The February 25- March 2 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 Whole Nine Yards -- Because of some stylized violence, a few sexual encounters, brief nudity and some rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. In The Whole Nine Yards, mob hit man Bruce Willis, hiding from a dangerous Chicago crime family, moves next door to dim-witted dentist Matthew Perry whose wife (Rosanna Arquette) wants to collect on his life insurance policy. The amusing dark comedy can be off-putting in its breezy treatment of crime but is cleverly plotted and shows off Perry's talent for physical comedy.
- Wonder Boys -- Because of recurring recreational drug abuse, an implied homosexual encounter an adulterous affair and some rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Wonder Boys is a fitfully amusing comedy in which grouchy, pot-smoking English professor Michael Douglas struggles to finish his second novel while unwittingly taking under his shaky wing an odd but gifted writing student (played by Tobey Maguire). The character-driven movie's good performances and its picturesque campus setting aren't enough to sustain interest in the sluggish and insubstantial narrative.
- Reindeer Games -- Because of recurring violence and mayhem, a sexual encounter, some nudity, much profanity and constant rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. In Reindeer Games multiple double crosses abound when a paroled car thief Ben Affleck is pressured by his new girlfriend Charlize Theron into joining murderous thugs (led by Gary Sinese) to rob a casino on Christmas Eve. The cynical crime thriller has the sole good character committing deliberate murder after a slew of implausible plot twists.
- Hanging Up -- Because of some rough language and brief sexual situations, 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. Hanging Up is a manipulative comedy-drama about harried middle daughter (Meg Ryan) coping with her difficult senile father (Walter Matthau) with little help over the phone from a domineering older sister (Diane Keaton) and a flighty younger sister (Lisa Kudrow). The movie's approach to familial relationships relies on stereotypes of sibling rivalry, using the telephone as a hokey prop.
- Boiler Room -- Because of a sexual encounter, some drug abuse, much rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Boiler Room is a derivative drama about a college drop-out (Giovanni Ribisi) who is seduced by the enticements of greed at a shady, suburban brokerage firm where he hopes to earn a quick million and the respect of his stern father (Ron Rifkin). The film delivers deft characterizations but offers an uninspired narrative that gradually becomes predictable while losing credibility.
- Pitch Black -- Because of intermittent stylized violence, a character's drug abuse, occasional profanity and much rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Pitch Black mixes sci-fi with horror as the survivors of a spaceship crash-landed on a barren planet are pursued by maurading monsters and must turn to a convicted murderer in their midst (Vin Diesel) to lead them to safety. The menacing Diesel anchors a murky movie that seems a patchwork quilt of Alien, The Birds and Lost in Space.
Selma, Lord, Selma -- The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. Seen through the eyes of two African-American schoolgirls, Selma, Lord, Selma is a fine dramatization of the 1965 struggle led by Martin Luther King Jr. (Clifton Powell) to register black citizens to vote in Selma, Alabama -- television coverage of which led to passage of a voting rights bill. In vividly re-creating the pivotal civil rights events the film also humanizes the participants and the solidarity that developed among blacks, whites and members of various religious denominations united in the cause of social justice.
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 Gerri Pare, Director, and Anne Navarro, Officer, of the USCC Film and Broadcasting Office.
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.