NEW YORK — The following are capsule reviews of movies recently reviewed by Catholic News Service.
“Hesburgh” (O’Malley Creadon)
Informative, though wholly uncritical, biographical documentary about Holy Cross Father Theodore Hesburgh (1917-2015) chronicles not only his long tenure as president of the University of Notre Dame but his involvement in cold-war diplomacy, the civil rights movement and shaping the changing character of Catholic higher education.
Filmmaker Patrick Creadon’s profile touches on a number of controversial incidents in the once seemingly ubiquitous cleric’s career and deals with issues that may still divide Catholic viewers. But he also emphasizes his subject’s enduring love of the priesthood.
Mature themes, potentially disturbing sights, a single mild oath. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
“The Hustle” (MGM)
This spiritless, by-the-numbers comedy is a gender-swapped remake of 1988’s “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” which was itself based on 1964’s “Bedtime Story.” Two con artists (Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson) in the south of France collaborate to scam $500,000 from someone they think is a tech mogul (Alex Sharp).
Working from a script by Jac Schaeffer, director Chris Addison relies on hit-or-miss sight gags instead of wit, and the story comes off as an outdated mechanical ride punctuated by occasional attempts at crass humor.
An implied casual sexual encounter, some crude banter, a single profanity, fleeting rough 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.
“Long Shot” (Lionsgate)
Tasteless romantic comedy in which an out-of-work reporter (Seth Rogen) chances to reconnect with his former babysitter (Charlize Theron) who has since become the U.S. secretary of state and a presidential aspirant. She hires him as a speechwriter and the two fall for each other.
Though the relationship is cheered on by his best friend (O’Shea Jackson Jr.), one of her staffers (June Diane Raphael) quickly perceives that his lack of looks and crass manner clash with her elegance in a way that could hurt her chances for the highest office. A debased portrayal of human sexuality and relentlessly vulgar dialogue make director Jonathan Levine’s shrill film unsuitable for all.
Skewed values, semi-graphic premarital sexual activity, benignly viewed drug use, much sexual humor, including sight gags, a blasphemous expression, about a half-dozen uses of profanity, at least one milder oath, 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.
“Pokemon Detective Pikachu” (Warner Bros.)
A 21-year-old insurance worker (Justice Smith) hunts for his estranged father, a detective who may or may not have died in a car crash. He’s helped by dad’s pocket-monster partner (voice of Ryan Reynolds), a wisecracking creature he initially dislikes but eventually befriends, and by an aspiring reporter (Kathryn Newton) with whom he’s soon smitten.
The first live-action feature in the franchise that began with video games in the 1990s showcases too much mayhem for little kids but is acceptable for other age groups, a lot of loose talk about transferring souls from one body to another notwithstanding. Writer-director Rob Letterman salutes teamwork and family ties while keeping the romantic behavior chaste. But viewers not yet initiated into the mysteries of the Pokemon universe may feel both left behind and unimpressed.
Considerable stylized violence, a couple of mild oaths, vague sexual and drug-related jokes, a bit of scatological 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.
“Tolkien” (Fox Searchlight)
Sophisticated profile of the future novelist’s youth traces his passage from impoverished schoolboy (Harry Gilby) to Oxford University scholarship student and beleaguered officer in the trenches of World War I (Nicholas Hoult). Along the way, he bonds with a trio of precociously gifted peers (Anthony Boyle, Patrick Gibson and Tom Glynn-Carney) and falls for his future wife (Lily Collins).
Though the Catholic faith that would help to shape the grown writer’s vision is only represented by the caring but stern priest (Colm Meaney) who served as his guardian after the death of both his parents, director Dome Karukoski and screenwriters David Gleeson and Stephen Beresford successfully convey first the buoyant camaraderie that led the band of friends to regard themselves as brothers and, in the poignant latter part of the film, the horrors of the global conflict in which they were eventually caught up and the toll it exacted on them.
Some harsh combat violence, a few gruesome images, a bit of slightly bawdy humor. 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.