Movie Review Capsules for April 3

Catholic News Service

4/3/2014

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

"Bad Words" (Focus)

Jason Bateman stars in and makes his directorial debut with this surly comedy about an abrasive underachiever who exploits a loophole in the rules of a national spelling bee in order to compete against its field of kid contestants. His maneuver outrages the children's parents and frustrates the competition's hard-nosed director (Allison Janney) and professorial founder (Philip Baker Hall). But a relentlessly good-natured, unflappably upbeat fellow entrant (Rohan Chand) is determined to befriend the thick-skinned loner. The path of screenwriter Andrew Dodge's script leads, ultimately, toward redemption of a sort for its protagonist. Yet its route takes in not only his strictly physical, and somewhat perverse, relationship with a journalist (Kathryn Hahn) but his deeply corrupt behavior toward Chand's preteen character which involves introducing the boy to alcohol, shoplifting, pornography and the exposed torso of a prostitute. Immoral values, including a benign view of petty theft and underage drinking, graphic nonmarital sexual activity, some of it aberrant, upper female nudity, much sexual and brief scatological humor, several uses of profanity, pervasive rough and 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.

"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" (Disney)

The big guy with the red, white, and blue shield returns to save the planet in this rousing follow-up to 2011's "Captain America: The First Avenger," and 2012's "The Avengers." The director (Samuel L. Jackson) of an international crime-fighting bureau discovers the agency has been compromised from within by one of his fellow leaders (Robert Redford). He turns to Captain America and his sidekicks, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Falcon (Anthony Mackie), to unravel the conspiracy that threatens world peace and freedom. But first they must defeat the baddies, led by the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), whom Captain America seems to have met before. This 3-D popcorn movie, directed by brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, is sure to please fans of the Marvel Comics superhero with its patriotic, gung-ho tone and grandiose action sequences (which may be too intense for younger viewers). Screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who penned the first Captain America script, expand their horizons with a smart and timely story touching on national security, government surveillance and the price of freedom. Intense but largely bloodless violence, including gunplay. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

"Cesar Chavez" (Lionsgate)

Understated but valuable portrait of the famed labor leader and pacifist (Michael Pena) who, together with Dolores Huerta (Rosario Dawson), founded the union that would eventually be known as the United Farm Workers of America in 1962. In director Diego Luna's leisurely paced dramatization, Chavez struggles against the oppressive machinations of various farm owners (most significantly John Malkovich). But his single-minded dedication to achieving justice through nonviolence -- which, at one point, leads him to undertake a prolonged, life-threatening fast -- exacts a toll on his supportive wife (America Ferrera) and alienated eldest son (Eli Vargas). Together with the educational significance of the film as a whole, believers will especially appreciate the fact that Chavez's Catholic faith is always in the background and sometimes front and center as this meditative take on his story unfolds. Possibly acceptable for older teens. Some violence, racial slurs, a few uses of profanity, at least one rough term, occasional crude and crass 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.

"The Grand Budapest Hotel" (Fox Searchlight)

Writer-director Wes Anderson's triumph of smug artifice over substance and storytelling is likely to please his fans. But his saga of a European concierge (Ralph Fiennes) who dreams of lost grandeur, mentors a lobby boy (Tony Revolori) in all the fine points of elegant catering to guests, and romances his hotel's aging female clientele, recounted like a fable, is without a moral or even a clear ending. Implied, and benignly treated, nonmarital and premarital sexual encounters, fleeting upper female nudity, a smattering of rough and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

"Noah" (Paramount)

What begins as a fairly straightforward recounting of the biblical story of the flood veers off into a grim, scripturally unfounded drama about a family dispute driven by the titular patriarch's (Russell Crowe) misguided interpretation of God's purposes in causing the deluge. His extreme pro-nature, anti-human reading of the situation brings him into conflict with his wife, Naameh, (Jennifer Connelly), with his two older sons, Shem (Douglas Booth) and Ham (Logan Lerman), and with his adoptive daughter -- and Shem's destined bride -- Ila (Emma Watson). Director and co-writer Darren Aronofsky serves up predictably impressive special effects, and convincingly portrays the wickedness from which the Earth is to be cleansed -- a range of sinful tendencies embodied in the impious self-proclaimed "King" Tubal-Cain (Ray Winstone). But his script, written with Ari Handel, departs from its inspired source material in order to turn Noah, at least temporarily, into a religious fanatic who will stop at nothing to carry out the mission entrusted to him. Though it approaches its weighty themes with due seriousness, the film requires mature discernment and a solid grounding in the relevant, sometimes mysterious passages of the Old Testament. Much stylized violence with minimal gore, an off-screen encounter that may be premarital, distant partial nudity, some mild sensuality. 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 following is a current list of CNS classifications and MPAA ratings:

Copyright (c) 2014 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: "Bad Words" (Focus); "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" (Disney); "Cesar Chavez" (Lionsgate); "The Grand Budapest Hotel" (Fox Searchlight); "Noah" (Paramount)

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