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‘The Fluffy Movie’ — Iglesias’ comedy similar to Cosby’s

July 29th, 2014 Posted in Movies Tags: ,

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Catholic News Service

Like Bill Cosby, Gabriel Iglesias tells stories, not jokes. In “The Fluffy Movie,” the rotund Mexican-American comic, whose tales are as soft around the edges as the man himself, shares engaging accounts of weight loss and the difficulties of being the stepfather of a teenage boy.

Gabriel "Fluffy" Iglesias stars in a scene from the movie "The Fluffy Movie." 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. (CNS photo/Anthony Nunez, Open Road Films)

Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias stars in a scene from the movie “The Fluffy Movie.” 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. (CNS photo/Anthony Nunez, Open Road Films)

Not a lot happens in Iglesias’ anecdotes, filmed during a concert appearance in San Jose, California, by director Manny Rodriguez. He aims to get appreciative nods with his laughs, whether discussing his shedding of a hundred pounds after he became diabetic, the vagaries of driving during his recent tour in India, or the effort to explain to his privileged stepson, Frankie, how 1980s video games sometimes required mechanical skill.

Just 16, Frankie also has no idea how collect calls from pay phones used to work. The trick, his stepdad explains, lay in talking fast enough to insert a message when identifying yourself; in this case so Iglesias’ mother, on the other end, could duck having to pay the toll. “That was ghetto texting!” Iglesias cracks.

A visit to the “Center for the Morbidly Obese” ends in failure when Iglesias learns that gastric-band surgery won’t work for him. So he switches to a low-carb diet.

All this leads up to his most gripping routine, actually, a pair of interlocking routines, in which he talks about seeing his father, a singer in a mariachi band, for the first time in 30 years, along with the sudden reappearance of Frankie’s biological dad.

Iglesias doesn’t trade in mordant jabs or lachrymose bitterness. He quietly tells the truth, and trusts that his audience, which is shown as encompassing all generations and ethnicities, will accept it.

The film contains a few references to sexuality and fleeting 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.

 

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‘Hercules’ travels with a posse of super mercenaries

July 28th, 2014 Posted in Movies Tags: , , ,

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Catholic News Service

This much can be said for the passable 3-D adventure “Hercules”: By comparison with this year’s earlier cinematic addition to the store of lore about antiquity’s most acclaimed strongman, “The Legend of Hercules,” the new film is practically a masterpiece.

Dwayne Johnson stars in a scene from the movie "Hercules." 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. (CNS photo/Kerry Brown, Paramount)

Dwayne Johnson stars in a scene from the movie “Hercules.” 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. (CNS photo/Kerry Brown, Paramount)

Considered on its own, though, director Brett Ratner’s mildly demythologizing take on the subject, which stars Dwayne Johnson in the title role, nets out as amiable and reasonably diverting, but unlikely to linger in moviegoers’ memories.

Based on Steve Moore’s graphic novel “Hercules: The Thracian Wars,” this variation on a durable theme finds the hero, who may or may not be a demigod, following up on the completion of his 12 canonical labors by leading a band of super-skilled mercenaries around the political patchwork of ancient Greece.

His quintet of comrades is comprised of fighting prophet Amphiaraus (Ian McShane), brainy strategist Autolycus (Rufus Sewell), mute, feral slaughter survivor Tydeus (Aksel Hennie), Amazon archer Atalanta (Ingrid Bolso Berdal) and callow warrior, but gifted storyteller, Iolaus (Reece Ritchie). In addition to being Hercules’ cousin, young Iolaus is also the ancient equivalent of his PR man.

When fetching Princess Ergenia (Rebecca Ferguson) turns up to offer this formidable ensemble a job, her proposal seems straightforward enough at first. She wants Hercules and his followers to help her father, King Cotys of Thrace (John Hurt), rid his realm of a marauding rebel called Rhesus (Tobias Santelmann). Their reward? Hercules’ weight in gold.

Of course, anyone familiar with court intrigue, at least as it’s portrayed on screen, will realize that all is not what it seems and that Hercules and company will end up getting more than they bargained for when they struck their initial deal with Ergenia.

The odd witticism and some on-target messages about believing in oneself and putting strength at the service of goodness are scattered through Ryan J. Condal and Evan Spiliotopoulos’ script. But the real agenda of Ratner’s sweeping movie is large-scale combat and plenty of it.

Still, for those grown-ups content to munch popcorn in an air-conditioned theater, this summer dole out of derring-do will no doubt do.

The film contains constant, mostly bloodless violence, some gory images, a glimpse of rear nudity, occasional sexual references, at least one use of the F-word and a handful of 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.

 

 

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‘Lucy,’ never boring, rates an L, limited adult audience

July 25th, 2014 Posted in Movies Tags: ,

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Catholic News Service

No one can accuse French writer-director Luc Besson of having made a dull film in “Lucy

But giddy sci-fi notions pepper his bizarre action thriller, while harsh events unfold amid its gritty setting, making this breakneck outing a suitable ride only for those grown-ups with seasoned judgment.

Morgan Freeman and Scarlett Johansson star in a scene from the movie "Lucy." The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling.  (CNS/Universal)

Morgan Freeman and Scarlett Johansson star in a scene from the movie “Lucy.” The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (CNS/Universal)

It’s a safe bet that nothing good is going to happen to the streetwise but impressionable waif of the title once Lucy’s boyfriend, Richard (Pilou Asbaek), tricks her into delivering a briefcase with unknown contents to a recipient he’s clearly afraid to face. So it’s no surprise when the case turns out to hold a large quantity of a cutting-edge narcotic belonging to brutal Taiwanese crime lord Mr. Jang (Choi Min Sik).

Though the initial transfer of the drug is harrowing enough, worse is to follow: Beaten unconscious, Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) wakes up to find that a portion of the crystalline substance has been implanted in her, and that she’s being compelled to serve as one of Jang’s beleaguered crew of unwilling mules.

Held in captivity pending her departure, Lucy is accidentally exposed to the influence of her cargo when one of Jang’s henchmen, whose advances she’s repelled, responds by putting her through another drubbing. The startling result is that, rather than merely getting high or even overdosing, Lucy rapidly begins using more and more of her brain’s untapped capacity for thought.

This process of intellectual expansion not only enables Lucy to escape, but keeps her several steps ahead of the pursuing bad guys, led by Jang’s underling Jii (Nicolas Phongpheth). While they’re intent on recovering their product, and punishing the runaway, Lucy is determined to turn her unique experience to the benefit of science.

To that end, she uses the Internet to locate Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman), one of the world’s leading experts on the subject of evolutionary consciousness. Scenes of Norman lecturing on his chosen topic have earlier been interspersed, somewhat mysteriously, with the sequences recounting Lucy’s mounting misfortunes.

Religiously dedicated moviegoers will appreciate the brief but fervent prayer Lucy offers up once she realizes that she’s fallen into Jang’s clutches. They’ll be more ambivalent about her encounter with her namesake, the earliest ancestor of the human race from whom, scientists surmise, all subsequent homo sapiens descend.

During their meeting, the two reach out, finger to finger, in a gesture strongly reminiscent of the iconic one shared between God and Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Is this a Darwinian redrawing of Michelangelo’s familiar image of creation? Or are we to infer that Lucy’s ascent to some version of omniscience makes her a stand-in for God?

Plot details also call for careful sifting. As Lucy approaches intellectual totality, she gains the ability to control the material world. From a Christian perspective, of course, that’s an off-kilter portrayal of the relationship between thought and matter. Lucy’s ever-deepening insights into the nature of things, moreover, have more to do with a sort of low-rent Zen Buddhism than with revealed religion.

These philosophical factors, together with a steady stream of nasty mayhem, suggest a wary stance toward “Lucy” would be best, even for adults.

The film contains themes requiring mature discernment, considerable gory violence, drug use, a scene of sexual aggression and about a half-dozen crude terms. 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.

 

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Adults ‘won’t mind’ leafy romance ‘And So It Goes’

July 25th, 2014 Posted in Movies

By

Catholic News Service

The indignities of romance in one’s 60s entwine with a mortifyingly weak and implausible script for two aging actors in “And So It Goes.”

Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton star in a scene from the movie "And So It Goes."  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. (CNS photo/Clay Enos, Clarius Entertainment)

Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton star in a scene from the movie “And So It Goes.” 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. (CNS photo/Clay Enos, Clarius Entertainment)

Michael Douglas, who plays grumpy widower and real estate agent Oren, and Diane Keaton as lissome widow and aspiring singer Leah, are engaging as they go through their paces. It’s just that director Rob Reiner and screenwriter Mark Andrus have nothing new to say about either the vicissitudes of aging or the need to connect with family members.

It’s a mostly moral story told in the style of a family film, although so weakly, its intended audience isn’t even clear. Adults won’t mind it. Anyone under the age of 20 probably won’t be interested.

In leafy Fairfield, Connecticut, Oren, whose wife died 10 years ago, has been trying to sell his mansion for $8.6 million, but has found no takers, in part because of his occasional racial insensitivity. He’s staying in a small apartment building he owns, along with Leah, whose late-life singing career stalls because she bursts into tears whenever she mentions her dead husband and the love they shared.

Into this comes Oren’s son, Kyle (Austin Lysy), with a granddaughter, Sarah (Sterling Jerins), that Oren didn’t even know he had. Kyle fathered the girl, who’s about to turn 10, back in his drug-addiction days. He’s about to serve a jail term, not for narcotics, but on a trumped-up charge related to his boss being investigated for insider trading.

Oren makes a single attempt to return Sarah to her junkie mother, an episode that seems tacked on. More troubling, Oren makes no attempt to get the woman into any kind of rehab program. Once her addiction is evident, he simply takes Sarah away.

Formula takes over after this. Sarah teaches her caustic granddad the importance of compassion. This, in turn, helps him come up with a way to set Leah’s singing on a more lucrative path, and Oren and Leah both stumble into the perils of a physical relationship.

Ambling, philosophical stories about adult romances in pretty settings can be enjoyable. But here, the philosophy is reduced to wisecracks and the ambling obstructs reality. Fairfield, however, has never looked lovelier.

The film contains implied premarital sexual activity, a scene of childbirth, a few uses of profanity and fleeting 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.

 

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Fresh music should ‘Begin Again’ without stale plot

July 21st, 2014 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

Competent pop tunes are strung together by a hackneyed plot line in the romantic comedy “Begin Again.”

CeeLo Green and Mark Ruffalo star in a scene from the movie "Begin Again." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America

CeeLo Green and Mark Ruffalo star in a scene from the movie “Begin Again.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America

Despite all of the time writer-director John Carney’s script spends railing against cliches and stereotypes in the recording industry, the formulaic dialogue in this redemption story of a plucky singer and an alcoholic record executive sounds left over from an inspirational lecture.

“I think that music is about ears, not about eyes,” says Gretta (Keira Knightley) to Dan (Mark Ruffalo), the A&R (artists and repertoire) executive just fired from the label he’d help found.

Dan was once a genius at discovering new talent. Now he’s a bitter boozer and estranged from wife Miriam (Catherine Keener) and daughter Violet (Hailee Steinfeld). British-born Gretta used to be the girlfriend and muse for recording star Dave (Adam Levine).

Gretta’s talent for lyric writing landed Dave a major label contract and all the wealth that went with it. But she’s astute enough to realize from a single demo recording for his latest album that Dave’s no longer singing for her, but in celebration of a new romance.

Gretta and Dan both end up in reduced circumstances in Greenwich Village. All it takes is a single hearing of her breathy singing voice in a basement dive, and Dan is inspired. He’s an unpleasant drunken slob at this point with a habit of running out on his bar tabs. Yet Gretta is still intrigued enough to drop her plan to return to Britain and enroll in college.

Without money and a recording studio at his disposal, Dan strikes on the idea of cobbling together Gretta’s demo album using moxie, drive and whatever “free” musicians he can corral.

All you need is love. Don’t sell out. Be your own person. Mismatched people can still find romance. It’s a stout formula with attractive lead actors. But, aside from the appealing music, this rendition of the recipe is fairly stale.

The film contains fleeting profanity and frequent rough and crude 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.

 

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‘Planes: Fire & Rescue’ a pleasant sequel for kids

July 21st, 2014 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

By

Catholic News Service

Anthropomorphic aircraft take to the skies again in “Planes: Fire & Rescue,” a lively follow-up to last summer’s “Planes.”

“Planes: Fire & Rescue” is that rare sequel which surpasses the original in action, adventure, and 3-D animation. That last element is especially vivid and immersive. In fact, the looping aerial scenes may even make some viewers queasy.

Animated characters appear in the movie "Planes: Fire & Rescue."  The Catholic News Service classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents.

Animated characters appear in the movie “Planes: Fire & Rescue.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents.

The humanless universe that originated with Disney’s “Cars” film series is cleverly expanded, with new autos, boats and trains joining the fun.

Amid the many sight gags and puns, there’s a positive message about personal sacrifice on behalf of those in need, expressed by the fearless air-attack teams and smoke jumpers battling fires deep in the California forest.

Picking up where “Planes” left off, the sequel finds Dusty Crophopper (voice of Dane Cook), the humble cropduster-turned-racing-champion central to the first movie, an international celebrity. Life is good, until an accident reveals a deadly secret: Dusty’s gearbox is failing.

For a racer, this spells doom. Unless Dusty slows down, he may never fly again.

An opportunity to switch gears and careers arises in Piston Peak National Park. There an elite firefighting crew, led by veteran rescue helicopter Blade Ranger (voice of Ed Harris), is dedicated to protecting the forest — and the tourists who frequent a new hotel, the Grand Fusel Lodge.

Assisting Dusty in his training regimen are Lil’ Dipper (voice of Julie Bowen), a love-struck “super-scooper” aircraft (which carries water or flame retardant), and Windlifter (voice of Wes Studi), a heavy-lift helicopter who serves as the park’s resident sage.

When a major fire burns out of control and threatens the hotel, Dusty is put to the ultimate test and witnesses true heroism in action.

Some of the nail-biting action scenes in “Planes: Fire & Rescue” may be a bit intense for the youngest viewers. Additionally, a few double entendres may raise concerns for parents. While these one-liners are likely to pass at well above kids’ heads, their slightly incongruous presence precludes endorsement for all.

Adults, on the other hand, will appreciate the cameo voices and inside jokes. As one depressed car says to a hotel bartender, “She left me for a hybrid. I didn’t even hear him coming.”

The film contains a few perilous situations and some mildly suggestive humor. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.

 

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It’s dawn again on the Planet of the Apes

July 11th, 2014 Posted in Movies Tags: , , ,

By

Catholic News Service

Those super-sentient simians are back in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”

Though it’s not a film for kids, this latest addition to a franchise based on the work of French science-fiction author Pierre Boulle (1912-1994) has enough going for it to please

Caesar, voiced by Andy Serkis, appears in the movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. (CNS/Fox)

Caesar, voiced by Andy Serkis, appears in the movie “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. (CNS/Fox)

most adults. Grown-ups also will find the themes underlying director Matt Reeves’ 3-D follow-up to the 2011 reboot “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” congruent with Christian values.

A decade after a pandemic called Simian Flu wiped out most of the human race, a band of survivors, led by a former law enforcement official named Dreyfus (Gary Oldman), occupies the ruins of San Francisco. With their fuel supply running dangerously low, they send out an expedition aimed at restoring a damaged hydroelectric plant to the north of the city.

En route, however, the mission’s team members, including widowed architect Malcolm (Jason Clarke), his teen son, Alex (Kodi Smit-McPhee), and his nurse girlfriend, Ellie (Keri Russell), encounter, and clash with, a community of genetically evolved apes living in nearby Muir Woods.

As a potential war looms, the primates’ wise chief, Caesar (Andy Serkis), works with Malcolm to prevent bloodshed.

If this peaceable duo represents the best of their respective species, each is shown to be motivated by concern for his family, the other end of the spectrum is embodied by Caesar’s aggressive deputy Koba (Toby Kebbell) and Malcolm’s irascible colleague, Carver (Kirk Acevedo). Koba was a victim of torturous lab experimentation, while Carver holds the apes responsible for the ravages of Simian Flu.

Via these positive and negative role models, Reeves blends pleas for tolerance and trust in with the considerable, though largely bloodless, combat action. While thoroughly honorable, the script’s messages are delivered somewhat heavy-handedly. Still, Serkis’ striking performance, together with top-notch special effects, elevates Reeves’ sequel above run-of-the-mill entertainment.

The film contains frequent stylized violence, at least one use each of profanity and rough language as well as several crude and crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III, adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13.

Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

 

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Nonsensical ‘Tammy’ hits the road with salty grandmother

July 3rd, 2014 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

“Tammy” makes a stab at adding pathos to the well-worn genre of road-trip-with-salty-granny.

It doesn’t quite come off, since the childlike title character, played by Melissa McCarthy, starts out as blithely stupid, with earthbound self-esteem, and ends up just the same. Not only does she fail to become any more self-aware as the story proceeds, she also lurches through an escalating series of bad choices, including robbery and destruction of property.

Pearl, the grandmother played by Susan Sarandon, is no dispenser of elderly wisdom. She’s an alcoholic, diabetic oxycontin addict interested only in her own carnal adventures. The journey through a dreary Midwest that Tammy undertakes in hopes of bringing clarity to her existence becomes only a burden, unrelieved by a nonsensical romance that appears to have been tossed in at the last minute.

McCarthy, who co-wrote the script with director Ben Falcone, evidently had a sympathetic character in mind. As the story begins, Tammy is fired from her fast-food job and finds that her husband Greg (Nat Faxon) has been having an affair with her co-worker, Missi (Toni Collette).

Sucker-punched by life, Tammy escapes to her mother’s house, conveniently located in the same block, and announces her plan to hit the road to set her life in order. Mother Deb (Allison Janney) isn’t interested, but Pearl takes the bait right away and offers her Cadillac and $6,700 in cash for a journey to Niagara Falls.

Tammy and Pearl never get there, instead spinning through Kentucky and Missouri. Pearl just wants to get drunk and carry on with Earl (Gary Cole), while Tammy strikes up a tentative friendship with Earl’s son, Bobby (Mark Duplass).

Their eventual “rescue” comes from Pearl’s wealthy and gay cousin Lenore (Kathy Bates). But that doesn’t prevent law enforcement from catching up with Tammy’s destruction of the Cadillac and a jet ski.

Tammy’s response to every crisis is to make non-sequitur wisecracks while generally letting Pearl have her way. McCarthy has ditched the gross-out routines she’s utilized in other movies, but as a character sketch, “Tammy” is a botched portrait that bogs down in a moral morass.

The film contains an implied bedroom encounter, some profanities and sexual banter and pervasive rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III, adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted.

 

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‘E.T.’ is so 32 years ago in ‘Earth to Echo’

July 3rd, 2014 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

By

Catholic News Service

Originality is not the main selling point of the youthful sci-fi adventure “Earth to Echo.” In fact, its plot is a mash-up of familiar story elements.

Brian Bradley, Ella Linnea Wahlstedt, Reese Hartwig and Teo Halm star in scene from movie “Earth to Echo.” Th Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children. (CNS photo/Patrick Wymore, Relativity Media)

Yet director Dave Green’s gentle film, which employs a found-footage approach to its narrative and conveys positive lessons about loyalty and trust, is not without its rewards. These are more reliably found, however, in its humorous moments than in its attempts to be touching.

Aimed at tweens, the movie’s script includes some jokes and vocabulary that may not please all parents. But they’re likely no worse than the kind of exchanges heard on a daily basis in the halls of your local middle school.

That’s where you might run across the real-life counterparts of the picture’s trio of main characters: vulnerable foster kid Alex (Teo Halm), extrovert Tuck (Brian “Astro” Bradley) and tech nerd Munch (Reese Hartwig). Bound by their shared status as social outcasts, the three find solace in their mutual friendship.

But, as opening scenes explain, their bond is under threat. They’re about to be separated by the demolition of their suburban Nevada neighborhood, through which a highway is to be built.

Still, some mysterious cell phone activity they and others in the doomed community have recently been experiencing does offer the opportunity for one last exploit together. Since the source of the disruption seems to be located in the desert, the boys plan an overnight trip there to investigate. Their cover story involves spending the night playing video games at one another’s houses.

Reaching the wilderness, the nervous lads are stunned and thrilled to encounter the real cause of the ongoing communications glitch: a small stranded alien they dub Echo. Echo’s endearing, petlike personality quickly wins the pals over, and they commit themselves to helping him return home.

They’re eventually joined on this quest by Emma (Ella Wahlestedt), one of their most popular classmates and the seemingly unattainable lass for whom Alex carries a secret torch.

Yes, it’s “E.T.” meets “Stand by Me” with “Goonies” thrown in for good measure. But “Earth to Echo” is mildly diverting, with its wry observations on contemporary mores and a convincing subplot about Alex’s experience-based fear of desertion. While not appropriate for the youngest moviegoers, it may manage to charm its target audience without alienating, so to speak, their elders.

The film contains some teen sexual talk and a few crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

 

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Bronx detective confronts Satan in ‘Deliver Us From Evil’

By

Catholic News Service

As exorcism movies go, “Deliver Us From Evil” is better than most.

Special ops NYPD officers Sarchie (Eric Bana), center,) and Butler (Joel McHale)) in ‘ “Deliver Us From Evil.” (CNS/Screen Gems)

Though sensational at times, director and co-writer Scott Derrickson’s screen version of Ralph Sarchie’s memoir “Beware the Night” (written with Lisa Collier Cool) does at least treat faith seriously. That’s hardly a surprise, however, given the sober tenor of Derrickson’s earlier take on the subject, 2005′s “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.”

Even so, its dark subject matter and some intense and bloody interludes suggest a cautious approach toward Derrickson’s latest dance with the devil on the part of all but the most resilient screen patrons.

The film’s credibility and effectiveness derive in large part from the profile of its main character. A no-nonsense New York City police officer and lapsed Catholic, Sgt. Sarchie (Eric Bana) is the last person to attribute the depraved behavior he encounters every day to supernatural causes.

So it’s all the more remarkable when Sarchie’s investigation of a series of peculiar crimes taking place on his beat in the South Bronx eventually leads him to suspect that more than ordinary evil is at work in them. He’s helped to that conclusion by Father Joe Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez), a priest whose ties to the church are frayed, but whose spiritual outlook is orthodox enough.

Father Mendoza’s freelancer status and checkered past may not sit well with some Catholic moviegoers. Yet, as Derrickson’s script, written with Paul Harris Boardman, suggests, who better to battle Satan than someone with demons of his own that he’s managed to vanquish?

At any rate, Sarchie gradually comes to accept the fact that his main suspect, Iraq War veteran Mick Santino (Sean Harris), is indeed possessed. But not before the evil emanating from Santino has begun to affect Sarchie’s wife, Jen (Olivia Munn), and young daughter, Christina (Lulu Wilson). Later, Santino’s shadow will fall over Sarchie’s sardonic partner, Butler (Joel McHale), as well.

Whatever his earlier shortcomings, Father Mendoza certainly takes his priesthood seriously. He insists, for instance, that to be properly armed for his forthcoming struggle with the forces of darkness, Sarchie must humble himself before God, preferably by going to confession.

That Sarchie, for all his initial scoffing, does so indicates that “Deliver Us From Evil” is not just out to evoke chills. It’s also, in the strictest sense, a conversion story as well as an exploration of the reality of superhuman malevolence. In the face of such iniquity, the movie suggests, only an active and trusting faith will suffice.

The film contains mature themes, occasional gory violence, about a dozen uses of profanity, frequent rough and crude language and an obscene gesture. 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.

 

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