DVD/VIDEO REVIEWS Oct-29-2010
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.
Elf (Ultimate Collector's Edition)
Warmhearted yuletide comedy about a foundling (Will Ferrell) raised by elves in Santa's workshop who travels from the North Pole to New York City to reconnect with his long-lost father (James Caan), a workaholic scrooge bereft of Christmas cheer. Full of goofy candy-cane humor, director Jon Favreau's holiday film imparts a strong family-friendly message but uses a secular sieve to filter out any religious references about the true meaning of Christmas. Minimal mildly crude language and humor. Spanish language and titles options. A-II -- adults and adolescents. (PG) (New Line Home Video; also available on Blu-Ray.) 2003
Dated musical melodrama directed by Richard Whorf with a boatload of romantics singing at the drop of a hat, while the captain (George Brent) has his hands full handling a manipulative daughter (Jane Powell) who wants him to marry a lovely passenger (Frances Gifford). Innocent romantic misunderstandings. A-I -- general patronage. (N/R) (Warner Brothers Archive Collection) 1948
Once Upon a Forest
Animated tale in which three animal youngsters -- a hedgehog, a mole and a wood mouse -- face various dangers in obtaining herbs from a distant meadow needed to cure their sick badger friend. Director Charles Grosvenor turns in a blandly sweet Hanna-Barbera production that ambles along rather listlessly, save for one highly engaging musical number, "He's Gone -- He's Back." Best for the very young. Spanish language and titles options.A-I -- general patronage. (G) (20th Century Fox Home Video) 1993
Paths of Glory
The terrible slaughter of World War I is re-created in this fact-based story of a French colonel (Kirk Douglas) who tries to save his men from being court-martialed for cowardice in a failed attack that should never have been ordered. Director Stanley Kubrick's anti-war classic contrasts the horrors of trench warfare at the front with the indifference and incompetence of the generals (Adolphe Menjou and George Macready) safely quartered in the rear. Graphic battlefield violence and a harrowing execution by firing squad.A-II -- adults and adolescents. (N/R) (Criterion Collection) 1957
Santa Claus: The Movie (25th Anniversary Edition)
The story of Santa Claus (David Huddleston) gets off to a good start but slows down to a crawl when a subplot about a disillusioned elf (Dudley Moore) and a wicked 20th-century toy maker (John Lithgow) is introduced. The beautiful cinematography of the North Pole and Santa's workshop is wasted on an ultimately silly and forgettable story.A-II -- adults and adolescents.(PG) (Lionsgate Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-Ray.) 1985
Summer and Smoke
Leaden version of the Tennessee Williams play set in 1916 Mississippi where a minister's daughter (Geraldine Page) pines for a rakish medical student (Laurence Harvey) who reforms, then breaks her heart by proposing to another. Directed by Peter Glenville, the glossy production undercuts the story of a lonely woman's romantic yearnings by concentrating on the student's flashy escapades and subsequent reformation, with unconvincingly melodramatic results. Sexual situations and innuendo.A-III -- adults. (N/R). (Olive Films) 1961
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.