Reel Reviews

‘Frozen II’

Audience: A-II – adults and adolescents


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Warmed over but enjoyable enough

Both the filmmakers and the central voice cast of the much-loved 2013 original are reunited in “Frozen II” (Disney). They deliver an exuberant animated musical adventure that’s suitable for a wide demographic.

While generally wholesome, however, this sequel is not appropriate for all. Too scary for the littlest patrons, the film’s nature mythos – which deals, among other things, with the “spirits” of the four elements, earth, air, fire and water – may also be confusing for impressionable moviegoers. Teens solidly instructed in the faith, by contrast, will easily let such ideas go.

Queen Elsa of Arendelle (voice of Idina Menzel), having succeeded her father on the throne and healed the breach with her younger sister, Princess Anna (voice of Kristen Bell), is reigning contentedly over her realm and has little use for the magical power to create ice and snow with which she’s endowed. But such placidity will never do, so a complication necessarily arises.

Elsa begins to hear a mysterious voice calling her into the wilderness beyond Arendelle and holding out to her the prospect of discovering the origins of her supernatural gift. Rather than consult a psychiatrist, she responds by embarking on a quest.

Along with Anna, Elsa is accompanied on her journey of discovery by Kristoff (voice of Jonathan Groff), the iceman who would like to make Anna his own, and by merry sentient snowman Olaf (voice of Josh Gad).

As the quartet, together with Kristoff’s faithful reindeer sidekick, Sven, become entangled in a long-standing conflict between the Inuit-like Northuldra tribe and some exiles from Arendelle, Kristoff’s repeated attempts to propose go disastrously -- and amusingly -- awry. Irrepressible Olaf provides further comic relief.

The plot stresses teamwork, family solidarity and upright values, but its somewhat unscriptural outlook on the natural world some adult viewers may put off some viewers of faith. But why look beyond the obvious charm of “Frozen II” and the fun it evokes? Its flaws are ultimately outweighed by sympathetic characters, visual flair and skillful, if sometimes overly complicated, storytelling.

The film contains stylized combat and considerable peril. 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.

By John Mulderig, Catholic News Service

Copyright ©2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

‘Ford v Ferrari’

Audience: A-III – adults


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Test(osterone) Cars

“Ford v Ferrari” (Fox) revels in its 1960s gender stereotypes, evoking an age of auto racers in which the men were men and the women glad of it.

The historical truth of that is, of course, far more complex. But this film doesn’t try to justify old inequalities. Ties and lapels are skinny, tires squeal, engines roar, vintage sunglasses are everywhere – and death lurks around every sharp turn.

It’s a groaning board of vroom-vroom cliches, but told without cynicism, and with some moral core to the principal characters.

The stripped-down plot focuses on the competition between automakers Ford and Ferrari to have their cars win the grueling 24-hour Le Mans road race in France, which Ford finally accomplished in 1966. Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) and Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal) are major players, but the stars are really the sexy muscle cars designed to appeal to daring men and the women who love them.

Ford gets so upset that his stodgy sedans (Fairlane, anyone?) are being overtaken in sales by the Chevrolet Impala, he shuts down one of his assembly lines to chew out the workers -- as if they’d had anything to do with design, engineering or marketing. Iacocca tells Ford, “Kids today, they want glamour. They want sex appeal. They want to go fast.”

Iacocca designs the new Mustang (take that, Chevy!), and suggests, in 1963, that Ford go into international auto racing, where the sex appeal is. He also recommends a partnership, through a takeover bid, with Italian automaker Enzo Ferrari (Remo Girone).

But Ferrari not only betrays Ford by letting Fiat buy his bankrupt company, he insults Ford’s honor by proclaiming that he’s not up to his grandfather’s legacy. So Ford, his manhood on the line, solemnly announces, “I’ll spend whatever it takes. I want the best engineers and the best drivers.”

The car developer is swaggering Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), the last American to race at Le Mans, who has been hobbled with a bad heart valve. The driver is the British daredevil Ken Miles (Christian Bale), who is forever in debt because he seldom makes much money from his race wins.

This, then, is a heroic saga, told in the familiar, old-fashioned but lustily entertaining way, of cowboy-like heroes battling their demons, plotting to win a big race, and keeping all the arrogant corporate boys from Detroit at bay while developing an intense personal bond.

Salty dialogue makes this most fitting for grown-ups. But mature teens may also be given the green light – provided they really enjoy now-vintage automobiles.

The film contains intense action sequences, fleeting crude and crass language and a single racial slur. 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.

By Kurt Jensen, Catholic News Service

Copyright ©2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Monthly List of Recent Film Ratings (June 2015)

CNS 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.
MPAA ratings: G: general audiences. All ages admitted; PG: parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children; PG-13: parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13; R: restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian; NC-17: no one 17 and under admitted.

The Age of Adaline, A-III (PG-13)
Aloha, A-II (PG-13)
Avengers: Age of Ultron, A-III (PG-13)
The Awakening, A-III (R)
Begin Again, A-III (R)
Chappie, L (R)
Child 44, A-III (R)
Cinderella, A-I (PG)
The D Train, O (R)
Danny Collins, A-III (R)
The Divergent Series: Insurgent, A-III (PG-13)
Do You Believe?, A-II (PG-13)
Dream House, L (PG-13)
The DUFF, A-III (PG-13)
Ex Machina, O (R)
Far from the Madding Crowd, A-II (PG-13)
Focus, L (R)
Furious 7, A-III (PG-13)
Get Hard, O (R)
The Gunman, L (R)
Home, A-I (PG)
Hot Pursuit, A-III (PG-13)
It Follows, O (R)
Jupiter Ascending, A-III (PG-13)
Kingsman: The Secret Service, A-III (R)
The Last Exorcism Part II, L (PG-13)
The Lazarus Effect, A-III (PG-13)
Little Boy, A-II (PG-13)
The Longest Ride, A-III (PG-13)
Mad Max: Fury Road, L (R)
Marie's Story, A-II (not rated)
McFarland, USA, A-II (PG)
Monkey Kingdom, A-I (G)
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, A-I (PG)
Pitch Perfect 2, A-III (PG-13)
Poltergeist, A-III (PG-13)
Project Almanac, A-III (PG-13)
The Pyramid, A-III (R)
Run All Night, L (R)
San Andreas, A-III (PG-13)
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, A-III (PG)
Seventh Son, A-II (PG-13)
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, A-I (PG)
Tomorrowland, A-II (PG)
The Trip to Italy, A-III (not rated)
True Story, A-III (R)
Unfinished Business, O (R)
Unfriended, O (R)
The Water Diviner, A-III (R)
Woman in Gold, A-II (PG-13)

Copyright (c) 2015 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops