The following are capsule reviews of movies recently reviewed by Catholic News Service.
American Reunion (Universal)
Gutter-crawling comedy sequel in which the "American Pie" franchise's band of boors gather for their high school reunion and continue to obsess about sex. Like the base characters that inhabit it, co-writers and directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg's endlessly crass flick gets old fast, but never matures. Strong sexual content, including graphic sexual activity, masturbation, full nudity and same-sex kissing; gross scatological humor; several uses of profanity; and pervasive rough and crude language. (O, R)
The Cabin in the Woods (Lionsgate)
Director and co-writer Drew Goddard begins with an interesting premise: a stereotypical slasher scenario that's actually being controlled and manipulated from the outside. His plot focuses on a handful of deliberately two-dimensional teens who retreat to a remote house, only to be pushed toward doom by the surprisingly likable office techs of a nearby laboratory. When the novelty and comic relief dry up, however, and the nods to older movies become tiresome, all that remains is a picture that ratchets up the gore to torture-porn levels, constantly drops the F-bomb and exploits drug use and sexuality. Pervasive gory violence, a suicide, frequent drug-use, nongraphic nonmarital sexual activity with upper female nudity, some sexual humor, constant rough language, some crude and profane expressions. (O, R)
This endearing wildlife documentary, set in the Ivory Coast's lush Tai Forest, follows the fortunes of a young chimp named Oscar as he, his devoted mother and the entire extended clan with whom they live become caught up in a turf war with a rival band of simians. Though co-directors Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield's narrative --- recorded, in mostly jaunty tones, by Tim Allen --- veers at times into sentimentality and shameless anthropomorphizing, their expedition nonetheless provides enjoyable viewing for moviegoers of just about every age. Parents of the tiniest tots take note, however: A significant survival-of-the-fittest plot development may prove too emotionally taxing for the most sensitive youngsters. Scenes of animal combat. (A-I, G)
Lockout (Open Road)
Framed for the murder of a fellow operative, a late-21st-century CIA agent (Guy Pearce) is offered a reprieve if he rescues the president's (Peter Hudson) daughter (Maggie Grace) who's been taken hostage by rioting prisoners during a goodwill tour of an orbiting penitentiary. Logical lapses are papered over with macho posturing and wisecracks in directors and co-writers James Mather and Stephen St. Leger's dreary action exercise which features a protagonist who likes his women --- the first filly included --- to shut up and look pretty. Constant action violence with occasional gore, a fleeting gruesome image, several instances of sexual humor, including a gag that's also irreverent, about a half-dozen profanities, at least one use of rough language, numerous crude and crass terms. (A-III, PG-13)
The Lucky One (Warner Bros.)
On returning home from the war in Iraq, a Marine (Zac Efron) seeks out the attractive young stranger (Taylor Schilling) whose photograph he accidentally came across in the midst of battle. Convinced the lucky image preserved his life for the remainder of his tour, he's anxious to thank her. Despite some initial resistance on her part, and to the dismay of her scheming ex-husband (Jay R. Ferguson), the two inevitably fall for each other, cheered on by her wise grandmother (Blythe Danner) and clever-beyond-his-years young son (Riley Thomas Stewart). Director Scott Hicks confects a serviceable date movie from Catholic author Nicholas Sparks' novel, with diversion from the jumbo improbabilities at work provided by Hallmark card-perfect settings and some wry observations from granny and junior. But the generally amiable proceedings are marred by a couple of overheated scenes glamorizing the as-yet unwed leads' serial bedroom encounters. Benign view and semigraphic portrayal of premarital sexual activity, a reference to out-of-wedlock pregnancy, at least one use of profanity, a handful of crude and crass terms. (A-III, PG-13)
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (CBS)
Fishing becomes a metaphor for faith, especially for nonbelievers, in this charming blend of comedy and drama, a fish-out-of-water story about a billionaire Arab sheik (Amr Waked) with a seemingly impossible dream: to transport the titular activity --- his favorite Scottish pastime --- to the Arabian Desert, and thereby build a peace-making bridge between East and West. Helping him in this folly is a glamorous consultant (Emily Blunt) and a skeptical fisheries expert (Ewan McGregor) who copes with Asperger's syndrome. Lives are transformed along with nature in director Lasse Hallstrom's screen version of Paul Torday's novel that covers a lot of ground (or water), ranging from romance and diplomacy to world peace and the ins and outs of fly fishing, all with verve and a sense of fun that, not incidentally, promotes the value of religious faith. Brief war violence, partial nudity, implied pre-marital sex, occasional profanity and crude language. (A-III, PG-13)
Think Like A Man (Screen Gems)
Four couples --- Taraji P. Henson and Michael Ealy, Romany Malco and Meagan Good, Terrence J and Regina Hall, Jerry Ferrara and Gabrielle Union --- learn lessons about maturity and mutual respect in this sprawling romantic comedy based on comic Steve Harvey's relationship-advice book "Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man." Director Tim Story keeps the proceedings light with fast-moving quips and frank talk about how men and women still can't communicate in an era of seemingly unlimited sexual freedom. Since it implicitly treats premarital sex and the option of cohabitation as a given, however, Keith Merryman and David A. Newman's script offers no genuine critique of this supposed freedom, such as would necessarily be posed by those adhering to scriptural values. Unvarnished, earthy, sometimes over the top but never crude, the film does manage to deliver a reassuring --- if secular-minded --- homily about the confusing process of looking for, and finding, true love. Implied premarital relationships, a scene of marijuana use, fleeting profanity, pervasive crude language and sexual banter, a single use of the N-word. (A-III, PG-13)
The Three Stooges (Fox)
Most of the ingredients in this updated version of the titular comedy act's antics are about what you'd expect: A lot of shtick, a little dance, a big live lobster down someone's pants. Far less predictable, and most unwelcome, is the assault on the dignity of those in religious life that also characterizes this highly uneven comedy. Raised in an orphanage run by the Sisters of Mercy but never adopted, Moe, Curly and Larry emerge as true adult innocents, sallying forth into the outside world intent on raising the large sum it will take to keep their home facility from closing. Such tasteless jokes as a character named Sister Mary-Mengele and a sight gag involving a sexualized young nun figure in a swimsuit derail what the directing team of brothers Bobby and Peter Farrelly clearly intended as a sweet-natured tribute to the much-beloved original trio. Irreverent and occasionally offensive humor directed at clergy and religious, some crude comedy, extensive physically abusive slapstick. (L, PG)
Lavish re-creation of the 1912 sea disaster begins with an exploration of the sunken luxury liner today then follows its fateful voyage keyed to the improbable shipboard romance between a first-class passenger and one in steerage until an iceberg sends the ship and more than 1,500 people to the bottom. Writer-producer James Cameron reduces the human dimension of the tragedy to a paltry soap opera about two love-struck youths, though the special effects re-creating the human drama aboard the sinking vessel are truly spectacular. Agonizing death scenes on a massive scale, sexual situations, brief nudity and sporadic rough language and profanity. (A-III, PG-13)
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.
Prayer of the MonthPapal intentions for November: That priests who experience difficulties may find comfort in their suffering, support in their doubts, and confirmation in their fidelity. That as fruit of the continental mission, Latin American Churches may send missionaries to other Churches.
Papal intentions for December: That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need. That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.