WASHINGTON (May 26, 2000) -- Eastern marshall arts meet western movie cliches in the amusing Shanghai Noon, reviewed this week on the Catholic Communications Campaign's 1-800 movie line. The May 26 - June 1 line-up also includes the much-hyped Mission Impossible, but the viewer might be better off watching reruns of the old TV show on which the film is based.
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:
- Mission: Impossible 2 -- Because of recurring stylized violence, implied affairs and minimal 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. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Mission: Impossible 2 is a diverting action flick in which American spy Tom Cruise and a sultry cosmopolitan thief (Thandie Newton) set out to avoid an international crisis by preventing a secret-agent-turned-terrorist from releasing a deadly virus. The glossy sequel's plot is more streamlined than the original and is tautly edited, but all the razzle-dazzle only adds up to a lightweight thriller.
- 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.
- Shanghai Noon -- because of intermittent stylized violence, implied sexual encounters, fleeting drug use and brief 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. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. In Shanghai Noon an imperial Chinese guard (Jackie Chan) travels to America in 1881 to save the kidnapped princess (Lucy Liu) he loves and is unexpectedly aided by an easygoing outlaw (Owen Wilson) in learning the ways of the wild west. With its kicky kung-fu action and East-meets-West antics, the action-comedy is light-hearted fun with its confrontations and innuendo not to be taken seriously.
- 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.
- 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.
- My Side of the Mountain -- The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America is PG -- parental guidance suggested. In My Side of the Mountain a Toronto youth journeys into the Quebec wilderness to prove that he can take care of himself and is befriended by a migrant folk-singer who eventually rescues him during a snowstorm. The intriguing story has substance instead of cliches, in addition to magnificent photography capturing the beauty of its natural setting. Intelligent family fare whose spirit of adventure and youthful independence can be enjoyed by all.
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.