WASHINGTON (March 24, 2000) -- The 1-800-311-4CCC movie line gives high marks this week to Beyond the Mat, a gritty but artful documentary about wrestlers and the wrestling industry. Those with a more escapist approach may prefer the sentimental Here on Earth.
The 800 movie review line is a project of the Catholic Communication Campaign (CCC).
The March 24-30 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.
- Here on Earth -- Because of an implied sexual encounter, brief violence and 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. Here on Earth is a sweet, schmaltzy teen melodrama about a poor girl (Leelee Sobieski) who falls in love with a rich prep-school boy (Chris Klein) and encounters many obstacles on the path to happiness, including familial opposition, a jealous boyfriend and serious illness. The manipulative plot is filled with contrived dialogue and few surprises in serving up a sentimental look at first love.
- Whatever It Takes -- Because of several sexual references, adolescent drinking and some 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. Whatever It Takes is a forgettable romantic teen comedy in which a socially awkward boy and a popular high school jock hatch a plan to woo their respective dream girls, producing unexpected results. The "Cyrano de Bergerac'' imitator lacks any original spark with its predictable plot and strained comedic efforts.
- Romeo Must Die -- Because of recurring violence, brief recreational drug use and homosexual innuendo, fleeting 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. Romeo Must Die is a lively hip-hop action drama about an ex-cop (Jet Li) who escapes from a Hong Kong prison to avenge his brother's murder in California only to get caught in a gang war between Asians and African-Americans while falling in love with the rival gang leader's daughter (Aaliyah). The martial-arts action is skillfully choreographed but surprising twists and double crosses produce a convuluted plot marred by skimpy character development.
- Beyond the Mat -- Because of intermittent wrestling violence with some gore, minimal profanity and some rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Beyond the Mat is a well-done, surprisingly interesting documentary following the lives of some famous and not-so-famous wrestlers while it examines the bizarre, complex industry. The compelling documentary is a candid behind-the-scenes look at the controversial sports entertainment, but its inherent brutal nature may be too gruesome for the casual viewer.
- 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.
- Challenge to Lassie -- The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. Challenge to Lassie tells the story of a dog who overcomes all obstacles to keep vigil each night beside her master's grave in 1860 Scotland. Produced in 1949, the fact-based picture of a dog's steadfast loyalty to the old man who raised her from a pup is engaging family fare, especially for youngsters.
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, 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 also can 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.