Web site TV for Dec.19 – Dec.25 , 2010
TV film fare -- week of Dec. 19
The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of Dec. 19. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence and sexual situations.
Sunday, Dec. 19, 10:15 a.m.-12:45 p.m. EST (AMC) "Christmas in Connecticut" (1945). Breezy romantic comedy in which the unmarried writer (Barbara Stanwyck) of a popular homemaker column has to invent a husband, baby and country home after her unsuspecting publisher (Sydney Greenstreet) invites a war hero (Dennis Morgan) to celebrate Christmas with her "family." Directed by Peter Godfrey, the slickly contrived proceedings benefit from a capable cast, but the slapdash humor is uneven and the romance less than convincing. Romantic situations, sexual innuendo and much comic duplicity. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Sunday, Dec. 19, 7-9 p.m. EST (ABC) "The Santa Clause 2" (2002). Superficial, but moderately enjoyable, live-action fantasy in which Santa (Tim Allen) must tend to his misbehaving 16-year-old son (Eric Lloyd) and satisfy a contract to marry by Christmas Eve. A sequel to 1994's "The Santa Clause," it presumes a familiarity with the original movie and features five of the same major characters. Minor menace. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was G -- general patronage. All ages admitted.
Sunday, Dec. 19, 9-11 p.m. EST (ABC) "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause" (2006). Lame third go-round in which an overwhelmed Santa (Tim Allen) must balance family responsibilities -- including a pregnant Mrs. C (Elizabeth Mitchell) and visiting in-laws (Ann-Margret and Alan Arkin) -- and his stressful seasonal duties. Meanwhile, a jealous Jack Frost (Martin Short) tries to usurp Santa by sabotaging his North Pole operations and tricking him into giving up the red suit. The movie's sweet message about the importance of family and the power of love, unfortunately, comes wrapped in a slapdash script clumsily directed by Michael Lembeck, who, in rightly criticizing the crass commercialization of Christmas, forwards a secular view of the holiday that ignores its religious underpinning. Brief mildly rude humor and a minor divorce theme. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was G -- general patronage. All ages admitted.
Thursday, Dec. 23, 6-8 p.m. EST (TCM) "The Black Stallion" (1979). Strikingly visualized tale about the magical relationship between a youngster (Kelly Reno) and the horse he finds shipwrecked on a deserted island becomes a beautiful metaphor for the force of youthful ambition taming the raw power of nature. Directed by Carroll Ballard from the Walter Farley story, the drama is the perfect children's movie -- unsentimental, gripping and good stimulation for the young imagination. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I - general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was G -- general patronage. All ages admitted.
Thursday, Dec. 23, 8:30-11 p.m. EST (ABC) "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (2000). Less than spectacular adaptation of Dr. Seuss' classic tale in which Jim Carrey stars as the Grinch, a mean-spirited green creature who disguises himself as Santa Claus, sneaks into the town of Whoville on Christmas Eve and steals all the residents' presents. Director Ron Howard's fanciful rendition is crammed with many colorful, teetering sets and zippy one-liners, but it is essentially a vanity vehicle for its star with a secularized definition of the true meaning of Christmas. Some crass humor including mild sexual innuendo. 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.
Friday, Dec. 24, 8-10 p.m. EST (Fox) "Are We Done Yet?" (2007). Only fairly amusing sequel to 2005's "Are We There Yet?" as a couple (Ice Cube and Nia Long), along with her two kids, relocate to the great outdoors and a huge house desperately in need of refurbishing. Director Steve Carr trots out every cliche imaginable and relies too heavily on slapstick humor, but the film does carry a strong affirmation of family and friendship and virtually no objectionable material. Brief innuendo, a comedic physical scuffle and other slapstick violence, scenes of drinking, marital discord and a tense nongraphic birth scene. 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.
Friday, Dec. 24, 8-10:15 p.m. EST (AMC) "Miracle on 34th Street" (1947). Familiar seasonal favorite follows a department store Santa (Edmund Gwenn) as he strives to convince a lonely little girl (Natalie Wood) that he's the genuine article, despite the objections of her rigidly pragmatic mother (Maureen O'Hara) and a court trial that hinges on the U.S. Post Office. Director George Seaton's amusing romantic fantasy has its sentimental moments while spreading a reasonable amount of holiday cheer, largely due Gwenn's charming performance as Kris Kringle. Problems of single parenthood. 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, Dec. 25, 8-9:45 p.m. EST (HBO) "Tooth Fairy" (2010). Feeble fable in which a disillusioned minor-league hockey player (Dwayne Johnson) who discourages children from dreaming big and denies the existence of the titular sprite is sentenced by the matriarch of Fairyland (Julie Andrews) to spend two weeks as a winged tooth fairy. It's a secret mission that complicates his relationship with his girlfriend (Ashley Judd) and threatens his macho standing among his teammates (including skateboarding star Ryan Sheckler). Director Michael Lembeck's mostly family-friendly comedy, which also features Stephen Merchant as Johnson's officious but good-hearted pixie mentor, never really takes flight. The scenes of unnecessary roughness on the ice and an out-of-place exchange about the onset of puberty preclude endorsement for all. Moderate hockey violence, some mild sexual references and brief scatological humor. 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, Dec. 25, 8-11 p.m. EST (ABC) "Transformers" (2007). Engineered to appeal to a wide cross section of the public, this lumbering, mindless summertime entertainment -- based on the Hasbro action toys from the 1980s -- follows a teenager (Shia LaBeouf) embroiled in a battle between two factions of shape-shifting alien robots, with the fate of mankind and the universe hanging in the balance. Director Michael Bay has evidently benefited from working with executive producer Steven Spielberg, because humanistic themes offset Bay's propensity to fetishize weaponry and explosions, but not the movie's large amount of gratuitous material inappropriate for children and teens. Numerous sexual references, some crude language, a vulgar gesture, disrespectful racial jokes, drug references and some moderately violent action sequences. 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.
Saturday, Dec. 25, 10-11:50 p.m. EST (Cinemax) "Up in the Air" (2009). Polished but morally ambivalent comic drama about an emotionally isolated, though contented, single businessman (George Clooney) who spends his life in chain hotels and airports as he travels from city to city firing employees on behalf of downsizing corporate clients. That is, until his rootless lifestyle is threatened by a tech-savvy new colleague (Anna Kendrick), who wants their company to terminate workers via the Internet, and by his deepening feelings for a fellow executive wanderer (Vera Farmiga) with whom he initiated a casual romp. Director and co-writer Jason Reitman's screen version of Walter Kirn's novel is initially engaging and adroitly acted throughout. But the script winks at commitment-free encounters, while what appear at first to be the life-altering events of the plot turn out to be mere incidents with little spiritual impact. Off-screen adulterous and nonmarital sexual activity, brief rear nudity, much sexual talk including lesbianism and masturbation references, a few uses of profanity, much 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 Dec. 19
Here are some television program notes for the week of Dec. 19 with their TV Parental Guidelines ratings if available. They have not been reviewed and therefore are not necessarily recommended by Catholic News Service.
Sunday, Dec. 19, 8-10 a.m. EST (History) "Science of the Soul." Combining history, psychology, science and robotics, this special investigates whether there is a soul and if so, whether it can be measured.
Monday, Dec. 20, 8-9 p.m. EST (PBS) "Naughty or Nice." This "Antiques Roadshow" special presents a lineup of favorite appraisals from the program's past seasons (TV-G -- general audience).
Wednesday, Dec. 22, 8-9 p.m. EST (CBS) "12th Annual A Home for the Holidays." Along with musical performances, this adoption-themed special includes story segments featuring celebrities who either have their own adoption experiences or are involved with children's issues. The stories highlight many exceptional American children and families involved in the adoption process.
Friday, Dec. 24, 4-6 p.m. EST (EWTN) "Solemn Mass of Christmas Eve with Pope Benedict XVI. Solemnity of the Birth of Our Lord: Mass with the Holy Father from Rome's St. Peter's Basilica. The liturgy will be rerun Saturday, Dec. 25, 8-10 a.m. EST and 6-8 p.m. EST.Friday, Dec. 24, 10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. EST (EWTN) "Solemn Mass of Christmas Eve." Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States, is scheduled to serve as celebrant and homilist during this liturgy, broadcast live from Washington's Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. .