NEW YORK (CNS) — Note to self: never take on a dark supernatural
force armed only with a baseball bat; whatever it is, it’s unlikely
to be intimidated. We have actor Sebastian Stan to thank for that lesson.
He plays Ben, half of the couple who are bewitched, bothered and, dare
we say, driven batty by The Apparition (Warner Bros.). His live-in girlfriend
Kelly (Ashley Greene), sad to say, reacts to their sinister situation
in equally illogical ways.
At least Kelly can plead ignorance. She knows nothing of
past dabbling in the occult, nor of his participation in a parapsychology
experiment that unleashed an otherworldly entity. So when that same pesky
something-or-other starts opening locked doors and growing unsightly
mold in the suburban investment property Kelly and Ben are minding for
her parents, it’s hardly surprising that she’s perplexed.
Helming his feature debut, writer-director Todd Lincoln
borrows rather shamelessly from the Paranormal Activities franchise with
results that are mostly bloodless — in both a good and bad sense.
Thus, though it manages to avoid offending, his house of horrors tale
fails to engage. Sometimes inept dialogue combines with generic characters
and their unlikely behaviour to blunt any potential impact.
As the forgoing plot description may have made clear, there is some metaphysical
gobbledygook of the H.P. Lovecraft variety on offer here. But grownups
will easily dismiss these jumbled references, along with a theory that
purgatory holds beings besides as-yet unperfected human souls. These
notions are spouted by Patrick (Harry Potter stalwart Tom Felton), organizer
of the seance that got Kelly and Ben into their mouldy mess in the first
Either as an homage to Hitchcock’s Psycho or for
less lofty reasons, we follow Kelly into the shower at one point, though
we see her only from a distance and through the modesty-preserving medium
of a semi-opaque shower curtain.
She also does some under-the-sheets canoodling with Ben
and demonstrates her distracted state by spending a series of scenes
clad only in her underwear. Presumably, she’s not the only one who’s
meant to be distracted.
The film contains minimal violence and gore, cohabitation,
a brief, non-graphic bedroom scene, blurred upper female and partial
nudity, a couple of crude words, at least one crass term and fleeting
innuendo. 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.
NEW YORK (CNS) — For many New Yorkers, especially those who like
to perambulate their city without risking life and limb, few subcultures
are less sympathetic than that of Gotham’s bicycle messengers.
So it’s a pretty safe bet that there are at least a few hundred
thousand peripatetic potential viewers out there who will have to suspend
a great deal of disbelief to take a liking to the characters in Premium
Further stumbling blocks along the energetically traversed
path of director and co-writer (with John Kamps) David Koepp’s
drama include gritty dialogue that catches viewers in a slipstream of
unrelieved vulgarity and vivid scenes of accidental injury and purposeful
All that said, star Joseph Gordon -Levitt goes a long way
toward making his character, fleet of foot pedaler Wilee — yes,
boomers, as in Wile E. Coyote — more amiable than expected. He’s
cocky, to be sure, but not in the odious way of his main speed-rival
Manny (Wole Parks). Along with trying to outstrip and out-trash-talk
Wilee on the streets, Manny has his eye on Wilee’s girl, their
co-worker Vanessa (Dania Ramirez).
Yes, Virginia, there are some characters in this movie who are not employed as messengers. Take Vanessa’s roommate Nima (Jamie Chung), for example; she toils at prestigious Columbia University.
Columbia’s campus for a pickup one day, Wilee is surprised to find
his acquaintance Nima in the role of client. She has an envelope she
wants to have delivered to Chinatown post haste.
No sweat. Except that — for reasons Wilee can’t initially
fathom, nor can we — someone else wants the contents of Nima’s
envelope really, really bad. That would be half-crazed rogue cop Bobby
Monday (Michael Shannon).
Dangerously in debt due to his gambling addiction — his game of
choice, oddly enough, is a Chinese version of dominoes called Pai Gow — Monday
is on the run from loan sharks. He’s convinced that Nima’s
package holds, shall we say, the ticket to his salvation.
The ensuing dash all around the town gives Koepp the opportunity to serve
up some fluid and suspenseful chase scenes, and he capitalizes on it
But he and Kamps irresponsibly glamorize the recklessness
of the couriers’ lifestyle
as a thrilling alternative to the boredom of office work. Thus daredevil
Wilee — his bike literally has no brakes — is portrayed as
a veteran, perhaps a graduate, of Columbia’s law school who refuses
to take the bar lest he have to wear a suit all day. Way to stick it
to the Man, Wilee!
Though various characters fly through the air and land with a thud, they
take their lumps with such indifference that any implicit warning about
a downside to all this quickly gets left behind on the pavement.
As for Monday, in his increasing desperation and quasi-lunacy, he resorts
to a level of cruelty that even most adults may find difficult to witness.
The film contains scenes of violence, including beatings
and torture, about 20 instances of profanity, at least one use of the
F-word, pervasive crude and crass language and obscene gestures. 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 PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material
may be inappropriate for children under 13.
NEW YORK (CNS) — Things go bump in the night — and during
the day — in The Awakening (Cohen Media Group), an old-fashioned
horror movie set in a big haunted house in the remote English countryside.
First-time director Nick Murphy, who co-wrote the screenplay
with Stephen Volk, has crafted a stylish murder mystery with an intriguing
historical context. The early 1920s were “a time for ghosts” in Europe
since millions had died between 1914 and1919 because of the double scourges
of the First World War and the Spanish influenza. Some survivors turned
to the occult and the paranormal as they desperately sought to “connect” with
their departed loved ones.
But that’s all nonsense, insists Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall).
Her mission is to expose the hoaxers and charlatans who stage phony seances.
She eschews the label “ghost hunter,” though: “You
can’t hunt what doesn’t exist,” she says.
Florence will have to change her mind rather quickly after
she gets a visit from Robert Mallory (Dominic West) and accepts the challenge
he sets her. Robert teaches history at Rookwood, a boys’ boarding
school that occupies what was once a grand country manse. A student there
has died under mysterious circumstances, and his classmates are blaming
a specter who, they claim, haunts the place dressed like one of them.
“These boys are frightened to death,” Robert
Florence — who relies exclusively on science and palpable facts — is
dismissive. “Boys believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy,” she
says. “I’m sure some of them even believe in God.”
To prove her point, Florence sets up all sorts of electrical
contraptions and cameras in the sprawling school. She is assisted by
Maud (Imelda Staunton), the establishment’s sympathetic matron,
and by Thomas (Isaac Hempstead-Wright), a pale, withdrawn lad who, unlike
all his peers, has not gone home for vacation.
As Florence begins her investigation, a cast of stock characters comes
under suspicion, including the peeping-Tom gardener (Cal Macaninch) and
a sadistic teacher (Shaun Dooley) who administers corporal punishment
Before long, wires are being tripped and cameras are flashing
as mysterious phenomena come to light. The Awakening morphs into a roller-coaster
ride through a maze of rooms and hidden passageways. It’s a mildly scary
game of cat and mouse as Florence tracks the ghost — and uncovers
her own personal demons in the process.
The film contains some bloody violence, an attempted rape,
a non-graphic non-marital sexual encounter as well as brief upper female
and rear nudity in a non-sexual context. 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
Hit and Run
NEW YORK (CNS) — Vroom-vroom, boom-boom, yee-haw! Pretentiously
droll and ostentatiously vulgar, Hit and Run (Open Road) is a dreary
road trip of a comedy.
Dax Shepard, who wrote the screenplay and co-directed with David Palmer,
plays Yul Perkins, a sensitive former getaway car driver for a group
of bank robbers who is now in the witness protection program. He decided
to change his name to Charlie Bronson because he thought it sounded macho.
Kristen Bell is his girlfriend Annie, a brainy type with a doctorate
in conflict resolution who has been offered a college teaching job in
Los Angeles. The catch? She has to get there in two days. Her only shot
is for Charlie to drive her the 500 miles from Milton, Calif., to La-La
Land, in his souped-up Lincoln Continental.
Along the way, they’re pursued by Annie’s possessive ex-boyfriend,
Gil (Michael Rosenbaum), Gil’s brother Terry (Jess Rowland), a
lovelorn gay sheriff’s deputy, and bumbling federal marshal Randy
(Tom Arnold), who is befuddled both by driving and by firearms. Also
finding their way into the chase are the thieves (led by Bradley Cooper)
with whom Charlie used to work. They want Charlie to lead them to the
loot he has buried on his father’s property.
When a hillbilly mechanic steals the Lincoln’s engine,
Charlie is forced to purloin other forms of high-powered transport and,
as a result, must confess his past to Annie.
Whoops, there’s some wrinkly naked people holding a motel-room
orgy. And looky at them-there speedin’ cars!
If one detects the Burt Reynolds good ol’ boys oeuvre in this,
that’s probably not the intent. Everyone is far too foul-mouthed
to be likable, and there’s a high gross-out factor as well. Mercifully,
at least the speeding vehicles don’t talk.
The film contains bloody violence and gunplay, strong sexual
content — including
full male and female nudity and references to rape and homosexual activity — marijuana
use, a few instances of profanity and pervasive rough 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.
Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.
NEW YORK (CNS) — Though the horror-themed animated adventure ParaNorman
(Focus) is obviously directed at children, it includes a smattering of
sexual humour and, more significantly, a concluding plot twist that ought
to put parents of faith on their guard. That’s all the more unfortunate
since co-directors Sam Fell and Chris Butler’s frequently witty
stop-motion celebration of the macabre has a basic message to convey
that’s valuable for adults and kids alike.
The story focuses on Norman Babcock (voice of Kodi Smit-McPhee),
an 11-year-old boy whose ability to communicate with ghosts — principally his
beloved Grandma (voice of Elaine Stritch) but also deceased strangers
whom he passes in the street — has caused him to be shunned and
bullied by his unbelieving peers.
Things only get more complicated for Norman when his eccentric
great-uncle Mr. Prenderghast (voice of John Goodman) calls on him to
save their Salem-like hometown from the apocalyptic fulfilment of an
(voice of Jodelle Ferland) curse.
Soon Norman is battling the enraged spirit of the falsely accused sorceress,
as well as the zombielike specters of the puritan judges who condemned
her, through all manner of spooky environments.
He’s helped along the way, with varying degrees of enthusiasm,
by his tubby best friend and fellow outcast Neil (voice of Tucker Albrizzi),
his cheerleader sister Courtney (voice of Anna Kendrick), school quarterback
(and Neil’s older brother) Mitch (voice of Casey Affleck), and
even by reformed bully Alvin (voice of Christopher Mintz-Plasse) whom
the sight of the sprites has scared straight.
What Norman’s quest principally teaches us is that
evil acts are often motivated by fear and that the vengeful desire to
retaliate in kind only makes things worse.
Butler’s screenplay, however, which dabbles in sexual
humour throughout, concludes with the ironic revelation that a seemingly
he-man male character has a boyfriend.
The film contains acceptance of homosexual acts, some sexual
and scatological jokes and potentially frightening scenes of peril. The
Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association
of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material
may not be suitable for children.
NEW YORK (CNS) — Sparkle (TriStar) is a soundtrack album packaged
as a motion picture. But since this is evidently a point of pride for
the filmmakers, take it as an observation, not a criticism.
This remake of the 1976 melodrama about a girl trio, set
in 1968 Detroit, manages to be both as predictably familiar as your grandmother’s
living room and as subtle as a runaway freight train. More overwrought
and stale dialogue you’ve seldom heard. But the charisma of the
performers and the consistently expressed desire of all the principal
characters to lead moral lives hold the enterprise together.
Director Salim Akil together with his wife, screenwriter
Mara Brock Akil, creates a grittily authentic, pulsating period club
scene. There are skinny ties on the men, bouffant hairdos on the women;
everyone smokes cigarettes wherever and whenever they choose. And we’re
shown the precise moment in which wearing an Afro became a political
The three Anderson sisters are Sparkle (Jordin Sparks), a talented songwriter
too shy to sing leads; aggressively sexual Sister (Carmen Ejogo), who
yearns for a show business career as a way to get out of her dead-end
job at a department store; and Dolores (Tika Sumpter), who also sees
performing as a means to an end. In her case, the goal is to earn enough
money to pay for medical school.
Their mother, Emma (the late Whitney Houston in her final role), had
attempted a music career when younger. Embittered by her failure, she
tries to keep her daughters toeing the line with a church-centred life.
They have to conduct their club adventures on the sly.
Everyone takes different paths to their respective dreams, and for a
brief time, it even appears that Emma might have succeeded in keeping
all of them off the stage.
Sister ditches the struggling Levi (Omari Hardwick) to marry the abusive Satin (Mike Epps), a comedian who has built a career telling racist jokes to white audiences. He beats Sister and gets her hooked on cocaine.
finds scholarships for med school, while Sparkle continues to receive
gentle encouragement from boyfriend Stix (Derek Luke).
But decision-making processes and “big” conversations do
not appear. Situations simply change, either for better or worse, and
the audience has to fill in the rest. Shunted to the side is a clergyman,
Rev. Bryce (Michael Beach), who ought to have advice to give, but doesn’t.
Sparkle’s strongest argument to her mother is, “Why did the
Lord give me this gift if he didn’t want me to use it?”
The film builds to the time-honoured conclusion of all
show-business tales, demonstrating that it’s possible to maintain moral standards
and reach one’s potential — and with stunning high notes,
Houston’s hauntingly emotional rendition of the gospel
classic His Eye Is on the Sparrow, performed in church, is about as nice
an epitaph for the singer as anyone could wish.
The film contains marital violence culminating in a homicide,
cocaine use, sexual banter, several racial epithets and a fleeting scatological
reference. 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
The Odd Life of Timothy Green
NEW YORK (CNS) — The first thing to understand about The Odd Life
of Timothy Green (Disney) is that, despite its genuinely wholesome approach,
its themes of infertility and death make it unsuitable for younger children.
The film strains not to offend. But even older children
may find parts of this fable — in which the enchanted 10-year-old boy of the title
(CJ Adams) passes through life leading others by cheerfulness and good
example — somewhat puzzling.
Let’s put it this way: This film has “Discuss
it with your child afterward” written into nearly every scene.
nothing contrary to, or derogatory of, Christian faith. But there’s
a mishmash of imagery, since the original story by Ahmet Zappa draws
on both Christian and wiccan beliefs.
However, there’s no indoctrination going on. There’s
just a lot to think about. And, on the upside, from start to finish,
the story celebrates familial love.
Opening scenes show Jim and Cindy Green (Joel Edgerton
and Jennifer Garner) at an adoption agency explaining why they’re
qualified to become parents. To do so, they first have to explain what
has just happened to them, which is where Timothy Green comes in.
Deeply saddened to learn they were infertile, the Greens wrote down all
of their ideas about what the perfect child ought to be: Honest to a
fault, able to love and be loved, possessing a lively sense of humour,
and so on. They then buried the notes in a wooden box in their backyard
That night, there was a heavy rainstorm, and the next morning, the couple
discovered a precocious, dirt-covered naked boy, freshly sprung from
their garden, exploring their house.
He’s just what they hoped to have, except that he
has what looks like vine leaves on his shins. (This is the wiccan imagery.)
These leaves cannot be cut off.
No problem there: They simply advise him to keep his socks on at all
times. And they begin the process of becoming involved and dedicated
Timothy is extremely kind, very patient, very much an outsider among
other children and endures suffering in a Christ-like way (thus the Christian
He is smitten with Joni Jerome (Odeya Rush), a slightly
older girl who also feels like an outsider because of a large birthmark.
Together, they construct a sort of chapel in the woods with “stained glass” made
from colourful autumn leaves (this is the mixed aspect).
Later on, in classic Hollywood style, Timothy comes up
with a way to keep the town’s pencil factory — at which his father is a
foreman — from closing.
It’s not a spoiler to disclose that, with the arrival of autumn,
Timothy finds that his leaves are deciduous, and knows his time is drawing
short. Yet it’s made clear that his life has had a purpose.
Writer-director Peter Hedges has a little trouble keeping his sentimental
tale on an even keel. The uplifting, break-out-the-hankies ending, though,
is likely to appeal to anyone who enjoys a good cry.
The film contains mature themes, some pagan overtones and
a single scatological reference. 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
The Expendables 2
NEW YORK (CNS) — True to its title — and that of its 2010 predecessor — The Expendables 2 (Lionsgate) is indeed best dispensed with, done without or, in a word, eschewed.
Bruce Willis (first movie circa 1980) gets things rolling when he shows
up to task Sylvester Stallone (screen debut 1970) and his titular band
of mercenaries with recouping a bit of top secret information that went
down in a plane crash.
But villainous — and thus aptly named — Russian
gang leader Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme, whose Brussels-bred muscles
were first sighted on screen in 1984) is out to get his hands on the
Since the item in question is a blueprint showing exactly
where in a vast underground mine a trove of Soviet-era nukes can be found,
the Fate of the World now depends on Stallone and his followers. They
include Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren (who also first hit celluloid in
the mid-1980s), Terry Crews, Randy Couture and Liam Hemsworth. (Granted,
Hemsworth has only been kicking around Hollywood for a few years. But
then again, there’s
a reason his character is nicknamed Billy the Kid.)
As our heroes tangle with Vilain and his hordes of henchmen, aging action
stars become even thicker on the ground with the arrival of Chuck Norris
(first, uncredited role 1969) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (initially seen
that same year in Hercules in New York).
Though it serves to relieve the macho insult-trading to
which too much of the dialogue in Stallone and Richard Wenk’s script is devoted,
the cast’s self-referential and self-deprecating humour fails to
retrieve the queasily gore-stained proceedings.
The film contains excessive bloody violence, including
torture and decapitation, a vengeance theme, about a dozen crude terms
and half that number of crass expressions. 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.
The Bourne Legacy
NEW YORK (CNS) — Can the Bourne franchise continue without Matt
Damon’s Jason Bourne? If the mediocre extension The Bourne Legacy
(Universal) is all we have to go on, perhaps the answer is: Yes, but
with considerably diminished results.
Based on a series of novels by Robert Ludlum, the popular — albeit
frequently violent — trilogy that began with 2002’s The Bourne
Identity reached a satisfying narrative wrap-up, five years later, with
The Bourne Ultimatum.
But Hollywood’s reliance on proven box-office winners
is such that an attempted resuscitation was probably inevitable. Though
Damon abstained from participating, Tony Gilroy, veteran scribe of all
three previous installments, returns to direct and co-write this tangentially
Standard shootouts, fatal vehicular accidents and at least
one close-up scene of medical unpleasantness mark the results as off-limits
for youngsters. Most adults, though, will probably take these elements — along
with the script’s occasional lapses into foul language — in
In the wake of Bourne’s public exposure of a top secret program
that biologically altered government spies to enhance their skills, the
intelligence establishment — led by retired Air Force Col. Eric
Byer (Edward Norton) — decides to terminate a similar defence Department
project. Terminate, that is, with extreme prejudice: They plan to kill
However, one subject, Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), manages to escape
assassination. The weapon sent against him as he trains for future missions
in the Alaskan wilderness? A drone; how topical!
Making his way back to civilization, Cross seeks out Dr.
Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), the researcher who treated him as he was
being endowed with his heightened powers. Shearing has just had a close
call of her own — no coincidence, that — when a drugged or
brainwashed colleague shot up their lab, thus disposing of all his other
Together, the two survivors go on the lam, and struggle
to evade their pursuers’ global reach.
Though it winds up in Manila, Gilroy’s convoluted cat-and-mouse
game — written in collaboration with his brother Dan — doesn’t
amount to much of a thrilla.
With his subdued demeanour, Renner’s Cross makes a less-than-charismatic
centrepiece around which to try to orbit the overly detailed proceedings.
Norton’s Byer, meanwhile, gives vent to such weighty — make
that ponderous — announcements as “We are morally indefensible,
and absolutely necessary!”
Byer is also given no fewer than five malign cohorts (Stacy
Keach, Dennis Boutsikaris, Albert Finney, David Strathairn and Scott
Glenn) with whom to debate, in heated tones, the fate of various hidden
organizations and codenamed schemes. Treadstone, Blackbriar, Outcome,
Candent. . . . “There was never just one,” declares the movie’s
advertising slogan. Well, OK, but did there have to be so many?
The film contains considerable, at times harsh, violence
with some gore, about a half-dozen uses each of profanity and crude language
and a few 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
NEW YORK (CNS) — After helming two much-lauded HBO political dramas — 2008’s Recount and 2012’s Game Change — director Jay Roach (“Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery” and sequels) tries a more humorous approach to the same subject with The Campaign (Warner Bros.).
North Carolina congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) is
enjoying a safe, undisturbed career until an obscene phone call intended
for his mistress is accidentally received instead by a clan of devout
Christians in the midst of a family dinner.
Poll numbers plummet, and Brady’s formerly supportive backers,
the wealthy and powerful Motch brothers (John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd),
decide a shake-up is required at the next election. The money-flushed
siblings settle on Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis) — the bumbling
director of a local tourist centre, and son of a political operator of
their acquaintance (Brian Cox) — as the change they can believe
Huggins is a lovable but naive dunce who simply wants to
make a difference for his hometown. So the brothers install ruthless
Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott) as his campaign manager. Wattley soon transforms
Huggins into a win-at-all-cost contender — much to the disapproval of the candidate’s
lonely wife Mitzi (Sarah Baker) — and the race begins in earnest.
As election day approaches, decency and civility are tossed aside by
both individuals as the contest descends into farce.
Although Chris Henchy and Shawn Harwell’s screenplay includes a
few relatively serious passages of commentary — specifically a
dour-faced final 20 minutes — dealing with issues like campaign
finance reform, the majority of the running time is devoted to sophomoric
humour and repellant shock gags.
While taking some funny swipes at how politicians try to
use religion to win votes, moreover — “America, Jesus, Freedom” runs
Brady’s risible slogan — The Campaign also includes material
genuinely odious to viewers of faith. In particular, a scene involving
Brady’s campaign manager Mitch (Jason Sudeikis) and the words of
the Our Father — which, in a potentially embarrassing lapse, his
pseudo-pious employer has managed to forget — sinks (albeit briefly)
into obscene sacrilege.
The film contains an instance of blasphemy, some mild violence,
an adultery theme, obscured frontal male and partial upper female nudity,
a few uses of profanity, much sexual and occasional irreverent humour,
pervasive rough and crude language and an obscene gesture. 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.
NEW YORK (CNS) — Although fundamentally moral, Hope Springs (Columbia) — a
skillful mix of comedy and drama that focuses on the problems of one
long-married couple — is also significantly flawed.
While grumpy Arnold seems resigned to this fate, feisty Kay is unwilling
to give up so easily. So, at her insistence, the pair sets off to Maine
for a week of intensive therapy with marriage counsellor and self-help
author Dr. Bernard Feld (Steve Carell).
Even discussing their personal problems — much less solving them — proves
a challenge for the buttoned-up duo. Much of the humour plays off the
contrast between their verbal and behavioural inhibitions and Feld’s
unflappable straightforwardness on any and all subjects.
Yet, as he peers into every aspect of their history, as
well as their unfulfilled desires and fantasies, viewers need not be
puritans to share in Kay and Arnold’s discomfiture.
While “Hope Springs” celebrates determined fidelity, and
finds its leads in top form, the proportion of screenwriter Vanessa Taylor’s
script devoted to talk about, or activity in, the bedroom narrows the
appropriate audience for this keenly observed study. Only mature moviegoers
well formed in faith and morals will be up to the task of gleaning its
virtues from its failings.
The film contains considerable sexual content, including
semigraphic scenes of marital lovemaking and masturbation; pervasive
references to sexuality; a benign view of aberrant sex acts; about a
half-dozen uses of profanity; and at least one crude and a few crass
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 PG-13 — parents strongly
cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
NEW YORK (CNS) — Remakes are all the rage in the movie industry at the moment. While some retreads manage to introduce classic films to a new generation, others leave theatregoers scratching their heads, wondering why anyone involved bothered. The latter reaction, alas, is likely to be provoked by Total Recall (Columbia).
The year is 2084. After an apocalyptic war that blighted
the global environment, Earth has been divided between the United Federation
of Britain on one side of the world and the Colony, a stand-in for Australia,
on the other. While people in the Federation live in luxury, the oppressed
working classes who serve them are housed in the Colony. The two regions
are connected by a transport line through the Earth’s core known
Unhappy with his boring life and troubled by nightmares, Everyman Colony drudge Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) seeks relief through the services of a company known as Rekall. Rekall specializes in turning fantasies into memories, thus allowing its customers to believe they really are whoever it is they wish to be.