WASHINGTON (September 5, 2000) -- For the week of September 1-7 the Catholic Communication Campaign (CCC) 1-800 movie review line includes the new feature Highlander: Endgame. Concluding a series of mythical fantasies, Highlander: Endgame is the weakest story of the lot. This week's family video pick is Disney's Cinderella, a children's classic now 50 years old.
The movie line number is 1-800-311-4CCC. Films 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 U.N. 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.
Highlander: Endgame -- Because of intermittent stylized violence, a sexual encounter with fleeting nudity and a few instances of crass language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Highlander: Endgame is the convoluted conclusion to the fantasy series in which immortal humans (including Adrian Paul and Christopher Lambert) engage in a final battle with the worst and most powerful immortal as the fate of mankind is said to hang in the balance. The lame film's nonsensical plot is clumsily pasted together with melodramatic performances and kitschy special effects.
Whipped -- Because of many explicit sexual encounters and constant rough language with some profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Whipped is a dismal sex comedy about three wily womanizers (Brian Van Holt, Zorie Barber, Jonathan Abrahams) who get their comeuppance when they chase the same seductive woman (Amanda Peet). Aside from the deplorable depiction of men and women as sex objects, the bawdy film has a predictable plot that trudges along with doltish dialogue and trashy humor.
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. 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:
Cinderella -- The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G -- general audiences. Cinderella is the 1950 animated feature made by Walt Disney retelling the traditional tale of the downtrodden stepdaughter who leaves her chores to attend the prince's ball in a pumpkin coach wearing glass slippers. The fairy tale proceedings are paced with comedy supplied by playful mice Jaq and Gus-Gus, a mean old cat aptly named Lucifer, and an amusingly daffy fairy godmother. Enjoyable entertainment for all the family.
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. 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.
Reviewers include Gerri Pare, Director, and Anne Navarro, Officer, of the USCC Film and Broadcasting Office.
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.