TV film fare -- week of Feb. 20
The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of Feb. 20. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence and sexual situations.
Sunday, Feb. 20, 7-9 p.m. EST (Lifetime) "August Rush" (2007). Unabashedly romantic fable in which an 11-year-old musical prodigy (Freddie Highmore) embarks on a search for the cellist mother (Keri Russell) and rock-singer father (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) from whom he was separated at birth through the machinations of his grandfather (William Sadler). Along the way, he encounters a Fagin-like ex-musician (Robin Williams) who seeks to exploit him and a social worker (Terrence Howard) who tries to help him. Director Kirsten Sheridan's warm-hearted tribute to the power of music blithely eschews all connection to reality, and will likely strike some as charmingly poetic and others as merely naive. An implied premarital sexual encounter, one use of profanity, one use of the s-word and one crass expression. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
Monday, Feb. 21, 8 p.m.-midnight EST (AMC) "Pearl Harbor" (2001). Hollow drama set against the 1941 Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in which two pilots (Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett) fall in love with the same woman (Kate Beckinsale). Flashy pyrotechnics are the centerpiece of director Michael Bay's prolonged action extravaganza whose cardboard characters, corny dialogue and contrived narrative only superficially capture the human tragedy of warfare. An intense, sustained war sequence, an implied sexual encounter, occasional profanity and intermittent crass language. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Wednesday, Feb. 23, 10 p.m.-12:15 a.m. EST (TCM) "You Can't Take It With You" (1938). Solid adaptation of the George Kaufman-Moss Hart screwball comedy about an impoverished family of eccentrics whose daughter (Jean Arthur) falls for a rich man's son (James Stewart). Directed by Frank Capra, the zany guests of the wacky household come and go as the family's head (Lionel Barrymore) tries to convince the rich man (Edward Arnold) that happiness has nothing to do with money. That sentiment may seem less convincing today than in the Depression but the cheerfully uninhibited antics of this house of sage fools are still very funny indeed. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Friday, Feb. 25, 8-10 p.m. EST (TCM) "On the Waterfront" (1954). Classic labor film about a punched-out boxer (Marlon Brando) who, despite the machinations of his shifty brother (Rod Steiger) and with some encouragement from the woman (Eva Marie Saint) he loves as well as a waterfront priest (Karl Malden), decides to stand up to the criminal boss (Lee J. Cobb) of a corrupt union of dock workers. Budd Schulberg's fact-based script is directed by Elia Kazan with standout performances and a gritty realism grounded in a working-class milieu, abetted by Leonard Bernstein's rousing score and Boris Kaufman's atmospheric photography. Much menace and some violence. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Saturday, Feb. 26, 8-9:30 p.m. EST (HBO) "Date Night" (2010). This well-intentioned but ultimately wayward mix of the romantic comedy and action genres sees an ordinary suburban New Jersey couple (Steve Carell and Tina Fey) caught up in an underworld blackmail scheme after being mistaken for the cohabiting lowlifes (James Franco and Mila Kunis) who are out to sell the damning evidence. Written by Josh Klausner and directed by Shawn Levy, the pair's nocturnal Manhattan odyssey -- during which they flee a duo of thugs (Common and Jimmi Simpson) in the employ of a mob boss (Ray Liotta), and turn for help to a James Bond-like intelligence agent (Mark Wahlberg) -- though its travails aid them to rekindle their flickering love for each other, eventually leads to an underground sex club. There, they briefly find themselves forced to entertain a powerful patron with perverse tastes. Considerable, though bloodless, action violence; partial rear nudity; much sexual humor, including gags about casual sex; masturbation and aberrant practices; at least one use of profanity and of the F-word; and some crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Saturday, Feb. 26, 10 p.m.-midnight EST (Showtime) "Edge of Darkness" (2010). After his adult daughter (Bojana Novakovic) is brutally murdered, a Boston police detective (Mel Gibson) investigates her secretive work for a nuclear research firm (led by Danny Huston), aided by her fearful boyfriend and co-worker (Shawn Roberts) and by a shadowy fixer (Ray Winstone) whose loyalties are ambiguous. In a reasonably absorbing but gritty adaptation of the acclaimed 1985 BBC miniseries of the same title, director Martin Campbell mixes sometimes shocking violence into a stark tale of loss and corruption, and skirts the dark edges of vigilantism. Complex moral issues, considerable and sometimes bloody violence, an implied premarital relationship, a few uses of profanity, and much rough and some crude language. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
TV program notes -- week of Feb. 20
Here are some television program notes for the week of Feb. 20 with their TV Parental Guidelines ratings if available. They have not been reviewed and therefore are not necessarily recommended by Catholic News Service.
Sunday, Feb. 20, 8-9 p.m. EST (PBS) "Broken Tail: A Tiger's Last Journey." This "Nature" presentation showcases the results of the almost 600 days Irish cameraman Colin Stafford-Johnson spent filming a tiger named Broken Tail and his family (TV-PG -- parental guidance suggested).
Sunday, Feb. 20, 10-11 p.m. EST (EWTN) "The Little Shepherds of Fatima." A special featuring footage of Pope John Paul II's trip to Fatima, Portugal, for the beatification of the two visionaries who died in childhood -- Francisco and Jacinta Marto -- during which he also met with the surviving visionary, Sister Lucia (1907-2005).
Monday, Feb. 21, 9-11 p.m. EST (History) "It's Good to Be President." The perks and perils of being the most powerful man in the world are examined in this special about the behind-the-scenes, day-to-day lives of America's chief executives.
Wednesday, Feb. 23, 9-10 p.m. EST (PBS) "Venom: Nature's Killer." This episode of the series "Nova" follows two scientists on their expeditions to track down and capture some of the planet's deadliest creatures; they risk life and limb just to tease out milligrams of venom and get it back to the lab (TV-PG -- parental guidance suggested).
Saturday, Feb. 26, 2-3 p.m. EST (EWTN) "Sudan: And You Do Not Cry With Us." A look at the Sudanese civil war (1983-2005), focusing on the struggle of Sudan's Christians to keep the faith in the midst of tragedy and injustice.