WASHINGTON (March 10, 2000) -- The Catholic Communications Campaign's 1-800 movie line this week takes a Mission to Mars, a fanciful sci-fi comedy. For family video viewing, Mulan is the pick of the week.
The 800 movie review line is a project of the Catholic Communication Campaign (CCC).
The March 10-16 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.
- Mission to Mars -- Because of brief sci-fi violence and mild profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. Mission to Mars is a sleek space fantasy set in 2020 when four NASA astronauts (led by Tim Robbins and Gary Sinise) head for Mars to rescue the sole survivor (Don Cheadle) of the first manned landing after a catastrophic but unexplained event on the barren red planet. The intriguing sci-fi film is a visually alluring if quite fanciful tale of aliens and their connection to human life on Earth.
- The Ninth Gate -- Because of a devil worshiping theme, intermittent violence, a few sexual situations with nudity and minimal 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. The Ninth Gate is an atmospheric but dramatically dull satanic thriller in which venal rare books dealer Johnny Depp becomes entangled in a demonic web while trying to authenticate a centuries-old book supposedly authored by Lucifer. Despite sumptuous cinematography, the nonsensical plot goes nowhere with its callous characters intent on summoning the devil to their midst.
- 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.
- Erin Brockovich -- Because of an implied affair, sexual references, some 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. Erin Brockovich is a fact-based tale of an earthy single mom (Julia Roberts) who persuades her litigator boss (Albert Finney) to pursue a class-action suit against a major California utility for contaminating local waters. Roberts vividly captures a foul-mouthed but good-hearted woman who makes something of herself in doggedly seeking justice for families beset by cancers.
- Mulan -- The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G -- general audiences. Mulan is an animated feature set in ancient China where a rebellious daughter disguises herself as a man to take the place of her sickly father to fight the invading Huns. The 1998 Disney release offers a musical tale of female empowerment in which romance plays second fiddle to issues of self-identity, honor and patriotism.
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.