DVD/VIDEO REVIEWS Nov-05-2010
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.
Anywhere but Here
Heartfelt drama in which a level-headed daughter (Natalie Portman) struggles through her teens with a selfishly free-spirited mom (Susan Sarandon) who has impulsively moved them from their Wisconsin roots to Beverly Hills, Calif., with self-delusional dreams of fame and fortune. Directed by Wayne Wang, the finely acted film sensitively explores the unhappy daughter's love-hate relationship up to its deservedly sentimental resolution. An implied affair, sexual references and occasional profanity. Spanish language and titles options. A-III -- adults.(PG-13)(20th Century Fox Home Video) 1999
This absorbing documentary focuses on the struggles involved in responding to a religious vocation as it follows a young male novice and a mother superior, both of whom belong to a small community called the Family of Jesus the Healer. When the group's founder relocates them from Tampa, Fla., to Peru to serve that country's poor, both the newcomer and the veteran find it increasingly difficult to balance their calling with family ties and obligations back home.
Filmmaker David Ranghelli's moving study of sacred aspirations and of the courageous commitment required to fulfill them is all the more effective for not glossing over the emotional cost a generous answer to God's summons can sometimes exact. While the ultimate decisions made by the people Ranghelli chronicles vary, this remains both an uplifting story for a general audience and an excellent tool for realistic vocations work. A brief discussion regarding chastity. Spanish titles option. A-II -- adults and adolescents. (N/R) (Pleasant Avenue Pictures) (www.thecallingdocumentary.com) 2009
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Widowed inventor (Dick Van Dyke) takes his two children and girlfriend (Sally Ann Howes) on a magical mystery tour of the imagination involving an evil baron (Gert Frobe), a cavernous castle in the air, the rescue of imprisoned children and the strange flying car of the title. Though adults may be disappointed by the indifferent lyrics and lackluster special effects of this musical fantasy directed by Ken Hughes, there is still more than enough good fun for the young and uncritical. Spanish language and titles options. A-I -- general patronage. (G) (MGM Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray) 1968
Christmas in the Clouds
Romantic comedy about a young widow (Mariana Tosca) who travels from New York to Michigan to surprise her pen pal-suitor (Sam Vlahos), an elderly man whom she has never met, only to fall in love with his good-looking son (Tim Vahle), a ski resort owner. She mistakes the son for her correspondent, while the son, in turn, confuses her with a hotel critic. Producer-writer-director Kate Montgomery's film was shot in Sundance, Utah. It has assembled an appealing largely Native American cast, offering an agreeable, refreshingly offbeat story of love and forgiveness during the holiday season. Smattering of crude language, mild sexual humor and innuendo, a nongraphic bedroom scene and a permissive view of premarital sex. A-III -- adults. (PG) (Hannover House) 2005
The Goonies (25th Anniversary Edition)
A gang of kids search for pirate treasure to save their homes from foreclosure. A scaled-down version of "Indiana Jones" aimed squarely at children, but many parents will have reservations about exposing their preteens to the vulgar expletives that pepper the dialogue, supposedly as all part of the fun. Spanish language and titles options. A-II -- adults and adolescents. (PG) (Warner Home Video) 1985
Max Fleischer's Gulliver's Travels
Max Fleischer's classic version of Jonathan Swift's tale of the shipwrecked Englishman who is washed ashore in Lilliput, a diminutive land by whose scale Gulliver is a full-blown giant. The adaptation -- a landmark in animation -- still goes over well with youngsters bemused by the images of tiny people coping with an oversized man. The movie's comic invention more than compensates for the subplot of neighboring kingdoms warring over a royal wedding, and the songs, including the Oscar-nominated "Faithful Forever," are quite nice. A-I -- general patronage. (N/R) (Koch Vision; also available on Blu-ray) 1939
The Sound of Music
Particularly fine screen version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical about the formative years of the Trapp Family Singers in Austria between the two world wars. Its interesting story, solid cast (headed by Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer), lovely music and intelligent lyrics, colorful scenery and pleasant fantasy will entertain the mind and enliven the spirit. Directed by Robert Wise, the movie has held up over the years as thoroughly refreshing family entertainment. Spanish language and titles options. A-I -- general patronage. (G) (20th Century Fox Home Video; also available on Blu-ray) 1965
Toy Story 3
A satisfying, action-packed conclusion to the "Toy Story" trilogy that offers valuable lessons in the importance of family, friendship, and destiny. Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), and the rest of the "Roundup Gang" consider their options as their owner Andy (John Morris) heads to college and puts away his childish things. Instead of being safely packed away in the attic, the toys wind up in a daycare center filled with new toys and unruly kids. Lots-O'Huggin Bear (Ned Beatty) soon reveals he is not the benevolent toy leader he appears. Will the toys escape and make it back to Andy's house, or does the recycling bin beckon? Both kids and their parents will find the answer happy, heartfelt and hope-filled. Mild cartoonish violence and scenes of peril. A-I -- general patronage. (G) (Walt Disney Studio Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray) 2010
White Christmas (Holiday Edition)
Cheerful but synthetic musical comedy about two World War II veterans (Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye) who use their popularity as entertainers to make a success out of the winter resort opened by their wartime commander (Dean Jagger). Directed by Michael Curtiz, the postwar feel-good plot is less memorable than Kaye's clowning and Crosby's crooning of the title song among other Irving Berlin numbers originally written for the earlier, better "Holiday Inn" (1942) pairing Crosby with Fred Astaire. While not a classic, it offers some good family entertainment. Spanish titles option. A-I -- general patronage. (N/R) (Paramount Home Entertainment) 1954
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.