DVD/VIDEO REVIEWS week of August 2, 2010
This week's DVD and Blu-ray releases
The following are capsule reviews of new and recent DVD and Blu-ray releases from Catholic News Service. Theatrical movies have a Catholic News Service classification and Motion Picture Association of America rating. These classifications refer only to the theatrical version of the films below, and do not take into account the discs' extra content.
It's the last, long night of the summer of 1962 and for two recent California grads (Richard Dreyfuss and Ron Howard) jetting away to college in the morning, it's a last chance to taste the innocent fantasies of a teenage world about to be lost, perhaps forever. The hugely eventful evening is packed with high school nostalgia but, despite the bemused smiles of its star-crossed lovers, the mood ultimately turns sober. Director George Lucas' delightful comedy not only captures the signs of former times but comments on them with eloquence and incisiveness. A-III -- adults. (PG) (Universal Studios Home Video) 1973
Gently involving drama about a sixth-grade spelling prodigy (Flora Cross) whose father (Richard Gere), an academic who believes that words and letters "hold the secrets of the universe," obsessively tutors her for a national spelling bee to the detriment of his mentally unstable wife (Juliette Binoche) and religiously rebellious teenage son (Max Minghella). Co-directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel couple domestic dysfunction and Jewish mysticism, thoughtfully crafting an intelligent, finely acted and visually imaginative, but emotionally muted, exploration of faith and family. A sexual encounter, a scene involving a questionable distribution of Communion, minimal rough and crude language. Spanish language and titles options. A-III -- adults. (PG-13) (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment) 2005
Coal Miner's Daughter
Sissy Spacek, who does all her own singing, gives a warm and utterly winning performance as Loretta Lynn. In this semi-biographical story, director Michael Apted depicts her life from poverty and obscurity in the Kentucky hills to undreamed-of riches and success. Tommy Lee Jones plays Loretta's husband who escorts her along the rocky road to stardom. Frank language about sex and a wedding night sequence would rule out younger children. A-II -- adults and adolescents. (PG) (Universal Studios Home Video) 1980
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Mostly likable, though lightweight, coming-of-age comedy about the travails of a first-year middle school student (Zachary Gordon), whose ill-conceived efforts to gain popularity and status in his new environment -- frequently, though unintentionally sabotaged by the carefree nerdiness of his long-standing best friend (Robert Capron) -- instead see him slipping lower and lower in the lunchroom and recess pecking order, while his home life is made miserable by the petty bullying of his cocky older brother (Devon Bostick). Director Thor Freudenthal's adaptation of Jeff Kinney's best-selling 2007 novel in cartoon format offers lessons about loyalty, self-sacrificing friendship and gaining genuine acceptance by being true to yourself; but the proceedings sometimes veer into mildly off-color humor, and the script makes it clear -- albeit in a restrained way -- that one of the hierarchical divisions separating the students is based on the rate of pubescent physical development. Brief images of a scantily clad woman, a few instances of mildly gross and scatological humor, a couple of vaguely sexual jokes, at least one crass term. Spanish language and titles options. A-II -- adults and adolescents. (PG)
(20th Century Fox Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray.) 2010
Elvis on Tour
Pierre Adidge's documentary of a 15-day concert tour by Elvis Presley reveals nothing new about the man behind the legend, but devotees of the legend will find it entertaining enough. Spanish titles option. A-I -- general patronage. (G) (Warner Home Video; also available on Blu-ray.) 1972
The Great Waldo Pepper
Robert Redford stars as a stunt pilot in the 1920s who realizes his fantasy of meeting a great German ace in air combat. Director George Roy Hill's movie is rather flat, but its aerial photography of the great old biplanes is entertainment enough. Some strong language. A-III --adults. (PG) (Universal Studios Home Video) 1975
Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (Deluxe Edition)
These movies have been evaluated for artistic merit and moral suitability by the media reviewing division of Catholic News Service. The reviews include the CNS rating, the Motion Picture Association of America rating, and a brief synopsis of the movie.
The classifications are as follows:
A-I -- general patronage;
A-II -- adults and adolescents;
A-III -- adults;
L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. L replaces the previous classification, A-IV.
O -- morally offensive.
Note: Some movies previously were designated A-IV. Older films with this classification should be regarded as classified L.