TV film fare -- week of March 20
The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of March 20. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence and sexual situations.
Monday, March 21, 9-11 p.m. EDT (Lifetime) "The Secret Life of Bees" (2008). Beautifully produced adaptation of Sue Monk Kidd's best-seller set in South Carolina about a spiritual beekeeper (Queen Latifah) and her sisters (Alicia Keys and Sophie Okonedo) who take in a 14-year-old runaway (Dakota Fanning) and her caretaker (Jennifer Hudson) fleeing the girl's abusive father (Paul Bettany). Writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood elicits well-judged performances from the cast, with Latifah and Dakota outstanding, and the compassionate -- albeit melodramatic -- story includes elements of forgiveness and redemption. Possibly acceptable for older teens. Some profanity and crude language, racial epithets and violence, nonsexual child abuse, light underage sensuality, murder and suicide. 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.
Thursday, March 24, 8-11 p.m. EDT (AMC) "For Love of the Game" (1999). While on the mound at the close of the baseball season, an aging pitcher (Kevin Costner) confronts not only the batters but himself as he ponders his future with the club, his passion to excel in the sport which has consumed his life and the loss of the woman he loves (Kelly Preston) because she feels he doesn't need her. Directed by Sam Raimi, the pitcher's thoughts are shown in flashbacks which mirror the mounting tension in the stadium as batter after batter is retired along the way to a possible perfect game, with equally satisfying results for both baseball fans and romantics. Implicit sexual affair, angry outbursts, some course language and occasional profanity. 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.
Thursday, March 24, 9-11 p.m. EDT (Lifetime) "Bridget Jones's Diary" (2001). Fitfully entertaining comedy about a single, thirty-something British woman (Renee Zellweger) who obsesses about her weight and her bad habits in her diary as she searches for the perfect man. Witty dialogue and an appealing cast in director Sharon Maguire's film help to overcome one-dimensional characterizations and a predictably structured plot, yet its atmosphere of promiscuity is troublesome. A fleeting sexual encounter and some implied encounters, recurring rough language and some profanity. 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.
Friday, March 25, 8-10 p.m. EDT (TCM) "The More the Merrier" (1943). Zestful World War II comedy set in overcrowded Washington, where a patriotic government worker (Jean Arthur) takes in an elderly male boarder (Charles Coburn) who turns matchmaker by subletting his half of the apartment to an eligible bachelor (Joel McCrea) bound for overseas duty. Director George Stevens makes the contrived situation sparkle with sight gags and witty dialogue but the gay wartime romance sours in a last-minute quickie marriage which the bride is assured can be easily annulled. Romantic complications with a questionable resolution. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Saturday, March 26, 8-9:45 p.m. EDT (HBO) "Just Wright" (2010). This appealing, seamless blend of the best elements of both romantic comedy and inspirational sports films charts the triangular love story of a hardworking physical therapist (Queen Latifah), a professional basketball star (rapper Common) and the attractive but shallow material girl (Paula Patton) who is both her "godsister" and his fiancee. Director Sanaa Hamri and screenwriter Michael Elliot use the lightest of touches to create a warm, likable environment and convey a message about relationships founded on enduring values. Probably acceptable for more mature teens. A single use of rough language, an implied premarital encounter. 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.
Saturday, March 26, 10 p.m.-midnight EDT (Cinemax) "Green Zone" (2010). Idealistic but raw combat drama, set in the early days of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, as a dedicated Army officer (Matt Damon) tries to discover why his unit's search for the Saddam regime's weapons of mass destruction continually comes up empty. He also finds himself caught in a power struggle between a Defense Department intelligence agent (Greg Kinnear) who's indifferent to the justification for American intervention and a rogue CIA station chief (Brendan Gleeson) who believes the whole operation rests on a foundation of lies and fabrications. Director Paul Greengrass' uneasy mix of political conspiracy yarn and action adventure, loosely inspired by journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran's 2007 best-seller "Imperial Life in the Emerald City," increasingly takes on the qualities of a personal crusade by its hero, thus blunting its ability to dissect larger questions of real-life morality. Considerable action violence, some of it bloody, torture, several uses of profanity, frequent rough and 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 March 20
Here are some television program notes for the week of March 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, March 20, 1:30-2:30 p.m. EDT (EWTN) "Dana Sings: Ireland's Classic Melodies." Dana blends the breathtaking scenery of her homeland, the Emerald Isle, with familiar melodies that celebrate Ireland, the Irish people, and their deep faith.
Sunday, March 20, 9-10:30 p.m. EDT (PBS) "Chicago Symphony Orchestra: Pierre Boulez Conducts Mahler's 7th" In this episode of the series "Great Performances," Chicago Symphony Orchestra Conductor Emeritus Pierre Boulez leads the Windy City's renowned orchestra in Gustav Mahler's "Symphony No. 7" (TV-G - general audience).
Monday, March 21, 9-10 p.m. EDT (PBS) "A Class Apart." Documentary recounting how, in the early 1950s, a seemingly unremarkable small-town murder trial emerged as a landmark civil rights case that changed the lives and legal standing of tens of millions of Americans. This is the little-known story of a band of underdog Mexican-American lawyers who took their case, Hernandez v. Texas, to the Supreme Court, where they successfully challenged Jim Crow-style discrimination against Mexican Americans. Part of the series "American Experience" (TV-PG/L -- parental guidance suggested; infrequent coarse language).
Tuesday, March 22, 9-11 p.m. EDT (ABC) "Best in Film: The Greatest Movies of Our Time." What's the greatest film of all time? The best action film and comedy ever made? What's the most memorable line ever delivered in a movie? ABC News and People Magazine collaborated to give movie fans the opportunity to vote online for their favorite films of all time. The results are revealed during this special hosted by Tom Bergeron and Cynthia McFadden. Guests include Harrison Ford, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Newton-John.
Wednesday, March 23, 9-11 p.m. EDT (History) "Journey to the Earth's Core." Humans have mapped every corner of the globe, from jungles and deserts to the depths of space. Yet we've gone only seven miles below the earth's surface -- just one five-hundredth of the way to the core. This documentary goes deeper, delving 4,000 miles down to the heart of the planet.
Wednesday, March 23, 10-11 p.m. EDT (EWTN) "St. Margaret Clitherow." This special explores the remarkable life -- and death -- of an English martyr who was executed for hiding hunted Catholic priests during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.