WASHINGTON (May 19, 2000) -- High technology meets prehistory in a visually amazing Dinosaurs, among this week's film offerings on the Catholic Communication Campaign's May 19-25 movie line. The film commands interest and respect for its technical wizardry, despite its weak story line. Another new entry is Woody Allen's small film, Small Time Crooks.
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:
- Battlefield Earth -- because of much stylized violence, explosive mayhem and brief sexual innuendo, 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. Battlefield Earth is a post-Apocalyptic tale set on Earth in 3000 A.D. when enslaved cavemen-like humans rebel against an occupying alien race personified by their corrupt security head (John Travolta). The virtually unwatchable adaptation of scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's 1982 sci-fi novel has no particular spiritual dimension; its basically a chaotic jumble of one-dimensional characters in muddled action sequences.
- 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.
- Dinosaur -- Because of some scenes of predatory violence, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. Dinosaur is a visually superb animated adventure set in prehistoric times after devastating meteor showers force a herd of dinosaurs to search for their nesting grounds while pursued by larger predators. Although the narrative is skimpy and the pace sometimes lumbering, the spectacular computer-generated digital images are extraordinarily lifelike.
- Small Time Crooks -- because of comic treatment of crime, a few sexual references and occasional profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. Small Time Crooks is a diverting Woody Allen comedy in which a failed bank robbery unexpectedly leads to a fortune for ex-con Allen and his manicurist wife, Tracey Ullman, but the windfall gradually threatens their marriage when they develop different interests. The genial if forgettable tale moves from the hapless crooks' hijinks to contrasting a stubbornly uncultured husband with his suddenly social-climbing wife.
- Center Stage -- because of implied sexual encounters and fleeting 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. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Center Stage is a lightweight musical drama following a talented group of ballet students whose normal teen-age experiences are heightened by a cutthroat atmosphere as they compete for a choice spot in a professional dance company. Energetic choreography and elegant dancers keep the pace moving, but the musty narrative is cluttered with predictable subplots about eating disorders, parental pressures and teen-age self-doubt.
- Road Trip --because several sexual encounters, sporadic nudity, intermittent drug use, comic depiction of suicide and recurring rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Road Trip is a gross-out comedy following four college kids from New York to Texas in pursuit of a video tape accidentally mailed to a girlfriend of one of the students that shows him in bed with someone else. The brainless plot uses an onslaught of tedious vulgarities and dumb sight gags to depict higher education as an excuse for drunken and lewd behavior.
- Born Free -- The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. Born Free is an endearing wildlife story of an African game warden, his wife and Elsa, their pet lion who, when grown, must be taught how to survive in the jungle rather than being confined in a zoo. The 1966 production relishes the natural beauty of the Kenyan game preserve and gets warm prformances from the leads but nothing can stop Elsa from stealing the picture. Splendid family fare.
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.