WASHINGTON (March 3, 2000) -- The comedy whodunit Drowning Mona joined the Catholic Communications Campaign 1-800 movie line list this week. Although rather mean-spirited at times, Mona might be considered the darkly funny best of an unpleasant lot.
The 800 movie review line is a project of the Catholic Communication Campaign (CCC).
The March 3-9 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 Next Best Thing -- Because of sexual situations, a tolerant view of the gay lifestyle, fleeting nudity, and an instance 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. In The Next Best Thing, unlucky-in-love Madonna accidentally becomes pregnant by her gay best friend (Rupert Everett) after a boozy one-night stand and they decide to raise their child together. Its earnest portrayal of a loving if unconventional family is flawed by a clumsy opening, plot contrivances and an abrupt change of tone halfway through the drama.
- 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.
- Drowning Mona -- Because of comic treatment of extra-marital affairs, fleeting violence and homosexual innuendo, and a few instances 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. Drowning Mona is a black comedy-whodunit in which Danny DeVito's morally upstanding chief of police is hard-pressed to find who is responsible for the drowning death of his working-class, small town's most despised resident (Bette Midler) since everyone wanted her dead. Although mean-spirited in tone, the movie humorously captures the essence of a motley crew of crass hicks.
- What Planet Are You From? -- Because of sexual encounters with nudity, comic treatment of promiscuity, crass sexual references and intermittent profanity and rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-IV -- adults, with reservations. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. What Planet Are You From? is a flat comedy-fantasy in which alien Garry Shandling, sent to Earth to impregnate a female as part of a world domination plot, marries, then actually falls in love with his pregnant bride (Annette Bening), causing interplanetary complications. By and large laughless and tasteless, the movie has nothing fresh or funny to say on the comic notion that men are from Mars while women are from Venus.
- Three Strikes -- Because of sexual situations, some violence and recreational drug abuse, degrading treatment of women 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. Three Strikes is a terminally dumb comedy about a young black man (Brian Hooks) with two prior felony convictions whose unwitting participation in a car theft puts him at risk of going to jail for life. Mindless and laugh-free, the comic bomb is barely stitched together with a predictable, drawn-out narrative.
King Solomon's Mines -- The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. The 1950 version of King Solomon's Mines is a rousing adventure saga with Stewart Granger acting as guide for an Englishwoman Deborah Kerr searching for her lost brother in the African jungle where, along the way, they find the fabulous diamond mines of the title. The picturesque African locales and colorful action make this a dandy family safari.
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.