Movie Review Capsules for December 19

By Catholic News Service

12/19/2013

NEW YORK (CNS) -- The following are capsule reviews of movies recently reviewed by Catholic News Service.

"American Hustle" (Columbia)

Con-game comedy set in the late 1970s centers on a pair of flimflam artists (Christian Bale and Amy Adams) forced by an FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) to entrap politicians using a fake Arab sheik eager to invest in Atlantic City casinos. Inspired by the real-life Abscam scandal and concerned with the theme of self-creation, the fictionalized story makes dynamic use of the period's music, fashion, beauty, and decor trends. Director and co-writer David O. Russell adopts a simultaneously mocking and sympathetic tone; laudable tolerance and hints of moral relativism are both detectable. In the end, despite being fundamentally optimistic, the movie's ceaseless barrage of vulgar language and its emphasis on carnality, alongside other notes of disrespect and condescension, will lead viewers to conclude that somebody is trying to make a sucker out of them. Some violence, a nongraphic nonmarital sexual encounter, constant sensuality -- including frequent partial upper female nudity, numerous gropings and sexually aggressive poses -- several brief instances of drug use, much profanity, pervasive rough and crude language, considerable banter and innuendo. The Catholic News Service classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

"Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" (Paramount)

The one-note joke of a clueless TV anchor played by Will Ferrell goes all stale and moldy when he enters the dawn of 24-hour cable news in 1980. This satire, directed by Adam McKay, who co-wrote the script with Ferrell, is done in by gags left over from the first film, 2004's "Anchorman." Additionally, the racism on display, though intended as comic, is instead off-putting. A scene of nongraphic premarital sexual activity, drug use, some racist dialogue, fleeting sexual banter and profane language, frequent crude and crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

"Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas" (Lionsgate)

Broad-strokes comedy is interspersed with a strained family drama as the freewheeling matriarch of the title (Tyler Perry in drag) travels from Atlanta to rural Alabama in the company of her uptight niece (Anna Maria Horsford) to surprise the latter's grown daughter (Tika Sumpter) with a holiday visit. Their hostess is less than pleased to see them, however, since she has been concealing from her overbearing mom her elopement with a white agriculturalist (Eric Lively) whose kindly redneck parents (Kathy Najimy and Larry the Cable Guy) know about the marriage and have been invited to spend Christmas with the newlyweds. A subplot involving a corporate sponsor's efforts to denude the local yuletide festival of all references to Christianity finds the townsfolk determined to stay focused on the reason for the season. But in adapting his stage play for the screen, writer-director Perry stuffs viewers' stockings with an excess of vulgar wisecracks. Much crude and some mildly irreverent humor, at least one use of profanity, drug references, numerous crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

"Walking With Dinosaurs" (Fox)

Brief live-action segments about a teen (Charlie Rowe) bored by his archaeologist uncle's (Karl Urban) work on a dinosaur find frame the 70 million-year-old, 3-D animated story of an underdog Pachyrhinosaurus (voice of Justin Long). With the encouragement of his best friend (voice of John Leguizamo) -- a colorful bird who narrates the tale -- and that of his true love (voice of Tiya Sircar), the plucky creature overcomes a childhood disfigurement as well as his brother's (voice of Skyler Stone) bullying ways to acquire determination, loyalty and courage as his herd migrates back and forth across prehistoric Alaska. Undeniably educational, directors Barry Cook and Neil Nightingale's adventure -- a big-screen successor to the 1999 BBC television documentary of the same name -- is only modestly entertaining. Besides some potentially frightening situations and a predictable smattering of mild gross-out jokes, moreover, screenwriter John Collee's script includes the idea that whichever male becomes the leader of the pack automatically commands the companionship of its females, including Sircar's character. This seems a confusing concept to present to children, especially if they are misled by the anthropomorphized setting to imagine that it applies, to any extent, in the human realm. Some childish scatological humor and a single double entendre. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

The following are current CNS movie classifications and MPAA ratings:

Copyright (c) 2013 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops  

NEW YORK (CNS) -- The following are capsule reviews of movies recently reviewed by Catholic News Service.

"American Hustle" (Columbia); "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" (Paramount); "Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas" (Lionsgate); "Walking With Dinosaurs" (Fox).

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