WASHINGTON (August 31, 2000) -- An artless action thriller, The Art of War, joins this week's Catholic Communication Campaign (CCC) 1-800 movie review line for the week of August 25-31. The film's high level of violence and bombastic approach may leave viewers asking where the "art" in the title comes from. This week's family video pick is A Man for All Seasons, a film to be featured in the CCC's film festival, "Stories of Christ and Christianity," coming to New York City October 13 and 14.
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 Cell -- Because of disturbing violence and sexual images, some nudity, occasional rough language and fleeting profanity. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-IV -- adults, with reservations. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. The Cell is a bizarre sci-fi thriller in which psychologist Jennifer Lopez uses radical drug therapy to explore the unconscious mind of a comatose, schizophrenic killer hoping to save his latest victim who is hidden in a booby-trapped cell. Stunning, surreal visuals don't make up for a weak narrative whose minimally developed characters produce little suspense.
The Art of War -- Because of excessive violence and mayhem, sexual situations, some nudity, occasional profanity and intermittent rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. The Art of War is a mindless action thriller in which shadowy agent Wesley Snipes is wrongly accused of assassinating a Chinese ambassador to the United Nations and sets out to unravel a murky conspiracy. Presenting brutal violence as exciting, the film's dizzying visuals, pounding soundtrack and choppy editing only serve to emphasize the lack of any compelling narrative.
The Original Kings of Comedy -- Because of some crude sex-related humor with constant rough language and profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-IV -- adults, with reservations. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. The Original Kings of Comedy is a sometimes hilarious comedy-concert revue showcasing stand up comics Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer and Bernie Mac. While the foul language is repelling, the humor is never mean-spirited as the four acerbically poke fun at themselves, their African-American culture and race relations.
Autumn in New York -- Because of a few 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 that some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Autumn in New York is a forgettable romantic drama in which aging playboy Richard Gere discovers true love with a feisty young woman half his age (Winona Ryder) whose grave illness may abbreviate their time together. Swell shots of fall in the Big Apple is the sole attraction as performances are hammy and the tearjerker plot is predictable.
The Crew -- Because of stylized violence, an implied sexual encounter, fleeting nudity, intermittent profanity and an instance 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. The Crew is a comic crime caper set in Miami where Richard Dreyfuss, Burt Reynolds, Dan Hedaya, and Seymour Cassel play retired gangsters who get mixed up in a shady scheme to save their retirement hotel and end up involving a paranoid drug lord and a conniving stripper. Some tart dialogue and wacky situations make the film's sentimental take on these unreformed goodfellas fitfully amusing despite many familiar stereotypes.
Bring It On -- Because of a few fleeting sexual references and some crude slang expressions, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents are strongly cautioned that some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Bring It On is a silly teen flick about a cheerleader (Kirsten Dunst) who discovers that her team's routines were stolen from their fiercest rival in the national competition, an inner-city hip-hop team. By-the-numbers plotting and trite dialogue cast a shadow on the few laughs that make the innocuous film mildly amusing.
Family video of the week:
A Man for All Seasons -- The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G -- general audiences. A Man for All Seasons is an engrossing 1966 drama about the last seven years in the life of Thomas More, Henry VIII's chancellor, who met a martyr's death rather than compromise his conscience. The profoundly entertaining historical dramatization achieves an authentic human dimension that makes its issues more universal, but is heavy-going for children.
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.