The following are capsule reviews of movies recently reviewed by Catholic News Service.
"The Five-Year Engagement" (Universal)
Romantic comedy tracking a San Francisco sous chef (Jason Segel) and his English fiancee's (Emily Blunt) struggle to get themselves down the aisle. An impoverished presentation of marriage is the principal, but not the only, problematic aspect of director and co-writer (with Segel) Nicholas Stoller's film. His picture has its touching moments, and a genuinely uplifting conclusion that shows love trumping materialistic concerns. But along the way to that acceptable wrap-up, viewers are subjected to coarse, wince-inducing sexual gags. Add to that the dialogue's excess of foul language and what you're left with is a thoroughly distasteful slice of stale cinematic wedding cake. Skewed values, including a benign view of cohabitation; a couple of nongraphic non- and premarital sexual encounters; rear nudity; a few profanities; constant rough language and sexual humor; and frequent crude and crass terms. (O, R)
"The Pirates! Band of Misfits" (Columbia)
Despite many failed attempts to do so, the warmhearted and enthusiastic -- but not overly successful -- captain (voice of Hugh Grant) of a motley shipload of 19th-century buccaneers still dreams of winning the accolade "Pirate of the Year" in director Peter Lord's rollicking 3-D animated comedy. While fleeting elements of Gideon Defoe's script -- adapted from his book "The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists" -- preclude recommendation for all, this historical fantasy, which features humorously revisionist versions of both Charles Darwin (voice of David Tennant) and Queen Victoria (voiced by Imelda Staunton), does teach viewers to place loyalty to friends above worldly ambition. Freighted with that respectable moral, it should make smooth sailing for teens and their seniors. Very mild action violence, a brief scene involving obscured nudity, a couple of crass terms and a few vaguely sexual references. (A-II, PG)
"The Raven" (Relativity)
A serial killer enacts grisly murders described in the works of Edgar Allan Poe, compelling the author (John Cusack) to join forces with a police detective (Luke Evans) to save, among others, his beloved (Alice Eve). Reckoning with the macabre imagination of Baltimore's most famous literary son -- and purporting to explain the mystery surrounding his death in 1849 -- is a promising starting point. Yet director James McTeigue doesn't exhibit adequate storytelling finesse to render the mayhem and melancholia palatable. And injecting enough purple bombast to fill Chesapeake Bay fails to enliven his cadaverous picture, which certainly justifies the titular bird's associations with death and scavenging. Frequent and explicit grisly imagery and violence, some profanity, one instance of rough language, much crude and crass talk, several instances of sexual innuendo. (L, R)
Catholic News Service classifications: A-I --- general patronage; A-II --- adults and adolescents; A-III --- adults; L --- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling; O --- morally offensive. Full-length reviews: www.catholicnews.com/movies.htm.