TV film fare -- week of Dec.26
The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of Dec. 26. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence and sexual situations.
Sunday, Dec. 26, noon-2:15 p.m. EST (TCM) "Swiss Family Robinson" (1960). Good Disney version of the classic adventure about a shipwrecked family (headed by John Mills and Dorothy McGuire) living in a tree house on a deserted island learning to survive offers an engrossing picture of family devotion and solidarity. Nicely directed by Ken Annakin, much of the fun for children will come from the delightful and inventive conveniences the family builds and their relationships with the island's wildlife including an elephant, turtle and ostrich. 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.
Sunday, Dec. 26, 7-11 p.m. EST (ABC) "The Sound of Music" (1965). 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. 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.
Monday, Dec. 27, 8-10 p.m. EST (ABC) "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (2005). Entertaining and stylish remake of 1971's "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," as sweet-natured young Charlie (Freddie Highmore), along with four bratty children, wins a visit to a mysterious emporium, run by the reclusive candy-maker Wonka (Johnny Depp). Tim Burton's take on the Roald Dahl tale is predictably darker than the bright Gene Wilder version, but it's hugely inventive, combining Dickensian atmospherics with mordant wit and featuring an understated, slyly humorous performance by Depp. The plot contains positive messages about family, loyalty and unselfishness, and only a few scenes of tongue-in-cheek peril that might upset the very youngest viewers. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG -- parental guidance suggested.
Tuesday, Dec. 28, 6-8:30 p.m. EST (AMC) "Back to the Future" (1985). Above-average entertainment about a teenager (Michael J. Fox) who is transported back through time and obliged to serve as matchmaker for his parents or face retroactive nonexistence. A major problem is that his mother-to-be finds him far more attractive than she does his father-to-be. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, it is funny and clever with a bit of genuine sentiment, that unfortunately is marred by casual profanity, the depiction of violence as manly and, though there is no depiction of it, an implicit acceptance of sexual promiscuity as standard teenage behavior. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG -- parental guidance suggested.
Wednesday, Dec. 29, 1-4 p.m. EST (EWTN) "Into Great Silence" (2007). Poetically filmed documentary about a Carthusian monastery in the French Alps, which follows the cloistered monks in their daily -- mostly silent and solitary -- routines. German filmmaker Philip Groning's respectful no-frills approach utilizes no narration or background music, but by combining alternately a painterly formality and a verite intimacy, skillfully captures the textures and rhythms of their highly structured existence, resulting in a rewarding -- and, due to the film's austerity and nearly three-hour length -- somewhat demanding cinematic and spiritual experience. In French and Latin. Subtitles. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Friday, Dec. 31, 8-10 p.m. EST (ABC) "Wild Hogs" (2007). Four middle-age biker buddies from suburbia (Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence and William H. Macy) seize the day by taking a cross-country road trip and suffering various humiliating mishaps as they attempt to recapture their youthful vitality. The sputtering comedy of director Walt Becker ("National Lampoon's Van Wilder") subjects the audience to an exhausting barrage of crude humor and off-color banter. Pervasive crude language, much sexual innuendo, rear male nudity, fleeting images and sounds from Internet pornography sites, bathroom humor, a drug reference and some violence. 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.
Friday, Dec. 31, 8-10 p.m. EST (Fox) "Rocky Balboa" (2006). Sixth and ostensibly final round in the "Rocky" saga, in which former heavyweight champ Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), now a widower, estranged from his son (Milo Ventimiglia) and running a restaurant, comes out of retirement, stepping into the ring against the current champ (Antonio Tarver) to prove he has plenty of heart left in his aging body. Written and directed by Stallone, this new chapter is arguably the best in the series since the 1976 original, emphasizing character and emotional drama over fight action, while imparting an inspirational message about perseverance and giving it your all, win or lose. Some bloody boxing violence and a few mildly crude expressions. 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.
Saturday, Jan. 1, 8-10 p.m. EST (HBO) "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" (2010). A mildly troubled New York high school student (Logan Lerman) discovers his true identity as a demigod -- offspring of the Greek sea god Poseidon (Kevin McKidd) and a human mother (Catherine Keener). He embarks on a quest to prevent a war among the deities of Mount Olympus, assisted by a semi-divine teen girl warrior (Alexandra Daddario) and a courageous but untested adolescent satyr (Brandon T. Jackson). Director Chris Columbus' glossy but shallow screen version of the first in novelist Rick Riordan's best-selling series of children's novels relies on slick special effects to keep the adventure moving forward. But the titular hero's transformation from a 12- to a 17-year-old introduces elements unsuitable for some of the book's younger fans, while parents who see the tale's mythological premise as more than a literary device will hesitate to allow impressionable youngsters to view it. Pagan themes, brief domestic discord, a few instances of sexual innuendo and a couple of crass terms. 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.
Saturday, Jan. 1, 10 p.m.-12:15 a.m. EST (TCM) "Pride of the Yankees" (1942). Fine drama 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 that 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. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
TV program notes -- week of Dec. 26
Here are some television program notes for the week of Dec. 26 with their TV Parental Guidelines ratings if available. They have not been reviewed and therefore are not necessarily recommended by Catholic News Service.
Monday, Dec. 27, 9-11 p.m. EST (PBS) "Glenn Gould: Genius Within." This documentary, presented as part of the series "American Masters," pierces through the myths and misconceptions about Gould (1932-1982), a celebrated Canadian pianist (TV-PG -- parental guidance suggested).
Tuesday, Dec. 28, 8-9 p.m. EST (ABC) "Rudolph's Shiny New Year." In this classic animated holiday special, Father Time (voiced by narrator Red Skelton) asks the most famous reindeer of all, Rudolph, to find the next Baby New Year before midnight on New Year's Eve. Also features the voices of Frank Gorshin and Morey Amsterdam (TV-G -- general audience).
Tuesday, Dec. 28, 9-11 p.m. EST (CBS) "33rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors." Singer and songwriter Merle Haggard; composer and lyricist Jerry Herman; dancer, choreographer and director Bill T. Harris; songwriter and musician Paul McCartney; and producer, television host and actress Oprah Winfrey were the honorees at this celebration, taped in Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center Opera House.
Wednesday, Dec. 29, 8-9 p.m. EST (PBS) "Tavis Smiley Reports: Dudamel: Conducting a Life." Host Smiley presents a look at the life and artistry of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's charismatic conductor, Gustavo Dudamel.
Thursday, Dec. 30, 8-8:30 p.m. EST (ABC) "Happy New Year, Charlie Brown." In this classic "Peanuts" special, the gang is preparing to ring in 1986 and Marcie and Peppermint Patty are throwing a big New Year's Eve bash. But Charlie Brown plans to celebrate the holiday by curling up with a big book that weighs nearly as much as he does: Tolstoy's War and Peace. Another "Peanuts" cartoon, "She's a Good Skate, Charlie Brown," follows 8:30-9 p.m. EST (TV-G -- general audience).
Friday, Dec. 31, noon-1:30 p.m. EST (EWTN) "Vespers of Thanksgiving." Pope Benedict XVI will preside at this vespers service of thanksgiving at the year's end in Rome's St. Peter's Basilica.
Saturday, Jan. 1, 4-6:30 a.m. EST (EWTN) "Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God." The Solemn Mass for the feast of Mary, Mother of God with Pope Benedict, presented live from St. Peter's Basilica. The liturgy will be rebroadcast noon-2:30 p.m. EST.
Saturday, Jan. 1, 8-9:30 p.m. EST (PBS) "From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2011." Continuing a long-standing holiday tradition, the series "Great Performances" takes viewers to the stately splendor of Vienna's Musikverein concert hall for its 27th annual New Year's Day celebration (TV-G -- general audience).