DVD/VIDEO REVIEWS Jan-23-2011
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.
Hoosiers/ The Jackie Robinson Story/ Pride of the Yankees/ Eight Men Out
In "Hoosiers," a dedicated but dictatorial coach (Gene Hackman) leads a small town high school basketball team to the 1952 Indiana state championship while effecting some attitude adjustments in the community and rebuilding his self-esteem along the way. Director David Anspaugh's film recalls and celebrates a vanishing American rural ethic where integrity is everything and winning is the spice of life. Brief instances of mildly vulgar language and a courtside scuffle. A-I -- general patronage. (PG) 1987
"The Jackie Robinson Story" stars Robinson himself in a dramatized account of his life from college athlete and World War II service to being hired in 1946 by Brooklyn Dodgers president Branch Rickey (Minor Watson) as the first black player in major league baseball. Directed by Alfred E. Green, the low-budget production emphasizes Robinson's prowess on the field and his resolve to be -- in the language of the time -- a credit to his race, despite insults and threats by white bigots. Halting but sincere treatment of its era's struggle for racial equality. A-I -- general patronage. (N/R) 1950
"Pride of the Yankees" makes a fine drama of the life of New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig (Gary Cooper), who never missed a game in 14 years of outstanding play until forced to retire in 1939 by an incurable disease which has since borne his name. Directed by Sam Wood, the result has interest beyond the story of a baseball hero because it captures the universal qualities of character and spirit underlying the career of a man who gave his unfailing best for team, fans and family. Memorable movie even for those who don't like baseball. A-I -- general patronage. (N/R) 1942
"Eight Men Out," based on the 1919 scandal over bribe-taking Chicago White Sox players in the World Series won by the Cincinnati Reds is a morality tale about compromising a lifetime of professional credibility for big bucks and revenge on a stingy ballclub owner (Clifton James). Writer-director John Sayles does well contrasting honest and dishonest players, but the movie bogs down in too much detail and too many indistinguishable characters. Some locker-room language and a theme involving bribery and threats of violent retribution. A-III -- adults. (PG) 1988 (MGM Home Entertainment)
Igor/ Little Monsters
"Igor" is a slight but entertaining animated horror spoof in which the titular character (voice of John Cusack), a hunchbacked assistant to an evil inventor (voice of John Cleese), aspires to become a mad scientist himself and, with the bungling help of two sidekicks, a brain in a jar (voice of Sean Hayes) and a rabbit (voice of Steve Buscemi), mistakenly creates a nice monster (voice of Molly Shannon) with theatrical ambitions. Director Tony Leondis' family comedy, which also features voice work by Jennifer Coolidge, Jay Leno and Arsenio Hall, fails to capitalize fully on the wealth of talent on tap. It also occasionally ventures into needless potty humor and contains some scenes of destruction that might frighten very young viewers. However, it does offer lessons about overcoming stereotypes, pursuing dreams and freely embracing goodness. A-I -- general patronage. (PG) 2008
"Little Monsters" is a sophomoric comedy about a sixth-grader (Fred Savage) who befriends a 200-year-old monster (Howie Mandel) from the demon world beneath his bed where the boy almost becomes a monster himself. Directed by Richard Alan Greenberg, the plot is witless and the fantasy effects are nothing special. Bad taste abounds in its crude, at times gross, humor, comic violence and coarse language. A-III -- adults. (PG) (MGM Home Entertainment) 1989
The Naked Kiss
Ragged melodrama in which a former prostitute (Constance Towers) finds a new life as a children's nurse in a distant town, then kills her rich fiance in shock after discovering him molesting a child. Writer-director Samuel Fuller's tough-minded tale of a woman's struggle to break with her past has some effective scenes, but the plot never quite hangs together and the result is largely unconvincing. Stylized violence and story elements involving prostitution, pedophilia and abortion. A-III -- adults. (N/R) (Criterion Collection) 1964
Crime drama that devolves into a cliched exercise in gunfire, explosions and insipid dialogue. Director and co-writer John Luessenhop tells the story of a gang of five skilled thieves (Idris Elba, Paul Walker, Chris Brown, Michael Ealy and Hayden Christensen) joined, on his release from prison, by a former cohort (Tip "T.I." Harris) with a plan for the highly engineered robbery of an armored truck. Giving chase is a grumpy Los Angeles police detective (Matt Dillon). Constant stylized gun violence, an instance of male rear nudity, pervasive crude and fleeting profane and crass language. Spanish titles option. A-III -- adults. (PG-13) (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray) 2010
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.