WASHINGTON (May 5, 2000) -- This week's Catholic Communication Campaign movie line looks at Gladiator, an over-the-top production on a gruesome subject, and, like the Romans, gives it "thumbs down." Instead, the movie line recommends East-West, a sensitive treatment of a marriage in totalitarian post-war Russia.
The movie line number is 1-800-311-4CCC. Movies are evaluated according to artistic merit and moral suitability by the U.S. Bishops' Office for Film and Broadcasting. The list includes the following theater releases and their classifications:
- The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas -- Because of slight sexual innuendo and fleeting crass language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas is an entertainingly silly live-action comedy about the early days of the popular Stone Age family as poor-boy Fred courts beautiful heiress Wilma, and the whole gang including Barney and his future fiancee Betty, head off for a fun time in Rock Vegas. The spirit of the 1960's animated TV series comes to life with plenty of prehistoric puns, a zippy pace and colorful visuals that give the film its "eye candy" appeal.
- Gladiator -- Because of recurring stylized violence and a depiction of a character's incestuous longings, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-IV -- adults, with reservations. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Gladiator is a larger-than-life epic set in 180 A.D. when Rome's leading general (Russell Crowe) escapes the vicious new emperor's execution order but is enslaved as a gladiator determined to survive the bloodthirsty arena spectacles so he can wreak revenge by usurping the new ruler. The gruesome mortal combat scenes suggest that might is right, but an absorbing narrative and staggering visuals are nonetheless impressive in capturing the brutal era of human sacrifice offered as entertainment for the masses.
- Up at the Villa -- Because of fleeting violence, references to adultery, an implied sexual encounter and a suicide, 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. Up at the Villa is a romantic melodrama set in 1938 Florence, Italy, where an English widow's misguided pity for an Austrian refugee has drastic consequences involving a womanizing American, which then jeopardizes her engagement to an English diplomat. Based on W. Somerset Maugham's novella, the film blends pre-war political intrigue into a dreamy narrative about romantic choices made for all the wrong reasons.
- I Dreamed of Africa -- Because of brief violence and an implied sexual encounter with shadowy nudity, 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. I Dreamed of Africa is an underwhelming, fact-based drama about a wealthy wife and mother (Kim Basinger) who leaves her comfortable life in Italy for the adventures and hardships in Kenya. Visually grand but narratively weak, the film fails to convey what drove the woman to suddenly transplant to Africa while feebly drawn supporting characters and a sluggish tempo also undermine the film.
- East-West -- Because of implied affairs and brief violence, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents are strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. In East-West a physician returns with his family to his Russian homeland just after World War II only to find brutal living conditions that drive his Parisian wife to desperate action endangering several lives. The absorbing film keenly dramatizes life in a totalitarian society where a husband and wife take very different paths in hopes of regaining their freedom. Subtitles. narrative.
- Frequency -- Because of some harsh violence, a few disturbing images and fleeting crass 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. In Frequency, a young cop (Jim Caviezel) communicates with his firefighter dad (Dennis Quaid) thirty years in the past through a ham radio, and, saving him from a fatal blaze, sets off a chain of events, including the grisly murder of the cop's mother -- unless the father-son time-travelers can prevent it. The intriguing fantasy thriller is too neatly tied-up with a sappy resolution, but its twists and surprises are gratifying as is the appealing period detail.
- Old Yeller -- The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G -- general audiences. In Old Yeller Dorothy McGuire, Fess Parker and Chuck Connors star in this 1958 Disney movie about a lovable mongrel that proves a loyal, selfless companion for the youngsters of a frontier Texas family. The nostalgic fun is mixed with some poignant moments that may be tough-going for very young children.
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.