NEW YORK (CNS) -- The following are capsule reviews of movies recently reviewed by Catholic News Service.
"Battle of the Year" (Screen Gems)
A trite underdog story provides the framework for a series of energetic break-dancing scenes in director Benson Lee wide-eyed fictional variation on his 2007 documentary "Planet B-Boy." Anxious for the American team he sponsors to win the international competition of the title, a hip-hop mogul (Laz Alonso) hires an old friend (Josh Holloway) from his own groove-busting days to put together an all-star line-up (featuring singer Chris Brown and Jon Cruz among others) and mold them into a cohesive unit. Aided by a young assistant (Josh Peck) and by a choreographer (Caity Lotz), the coach struggles to instill notions of unity and teamwork into his ego-driven charges, even as he battles the drinking problem he developed following the tragic death of his wife and teenage son. Though the street vocabulary deployed by all sets this subculture exploration off limits to younger moviegoers, grown-ups will find little to bother them in its predictable Hollywood homilies about the need for self-confidence, hard work and tolerance. A fleeting scatological image, mature references, including to homosexuality, a few uses of profanity, considerable crude and crass language, numerous obscene gestures. 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.
"The Family" (Relativity)
With a price on their heads, a Mafia insider-turned-informant (Robert De Niro), his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) and children (Dianna Agron and John D'Leo) are sent to hide out in a remote Normandy village as part of the witness protection program (supervised by Tommy Lee Jones). Though their bonds with each other are strong, their behavior toward any outsider who displeases them is viciously violent. Director Luc Besson's troubling comedy, adapted from Tonino Benacquista's novel Malavita, seeks to draw laughs from bombings, beatings, and murder. It also portrays, in considerable detail, a 17-year-old high school student's successful campaign to seduce one of her teachers, and treats sacred subject matter with frivolity. Much harsh and sometimes bloody violence, graphic nonmarital and underage sexual activity, nongraphic marital lovemaking, irreverent humor, numerous mature references, a few uses of profanity, frequent rough and occasional crude language. 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.
"Insidious: Chapter 2" (FilmDistrict)
Ghost-fighting and another visit to The Further -- an astral plane between the world of the living and Paradise -- take up the running time in this not particularly scary sequel to the 2011 original. Director James Wan, who shares writing credits with Leigh Whannell, continues the saga of the Lambert family (chiefly dad Patrick Wilson and son Ty Simpkins). This time, the clan tangles with two threatening spirits: a deceased serial killer (played by various actors and stunt people) and his messed-up mom (Danielle Bisutti). Physical violence, intense scenes involving children, fleeting profane and crude language. 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.
"Prisoners" (Warner Bros.)
After his 6-year-old daughter and a playmate are kidnapped, and the prime suspect (Paul Dano) is released for lack of evidence, a seemingly decent family man (Hugh Jackman) turns vicious vigilante in his desperation to force the mentally challenged loner to reveal the little girls' whereabouts. But the lead detective on the case (Jake Gyllenhaal) doggedly pursues other angles, eventually uncovering a hidden web of satanically evil events and relationships. Though it presents the facade of a thriller, director Denis Villeneuve's powerful drama is primarily a richly symbolic exploration of morality, the human condition, and the role of religious faith in a fallen world. Still, its unflinching portrayal of the measures to which Jackman's character is driven — together with such seamy details as an incidental priest figure who is both a sex offender and an alcoholic — make this bleak foray into psychological darkness anything but casual fare. Harrowing violence, including beatings, torture, and a gory suicide, mature themes, a negative treatment of Catholic clergy, at least one use of profanity, constant rough, and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
The following is a list of recent CNS classifications and MPAA ratings
Copyright (c) 2013 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Movie Review Capsules for Sept. 19: "Battle of the Year"(Screen Gems); "The Family"(Relativity); "Insidious: Chapter 2" (FilmDistrict); "Prisoners"(Warner Bros.)