Reel Reviews


A-III – adults


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Calling all Ghosts

Few films released over the last several decades have embedded themselves as firmly in the public consciousness as the 1984 comedy “Ghostbusters.”

Both the lyrics and the tune of its impossible-to-forget theme song cling tenaciously in the collective memory. So too do any number of its one-liners and visual images (“He slimed me!”).

While the franchise offerings that followed generally failed to live up to the quality of the original, they did extend across several media, from the 1989 big-screen sequel (unimaginatively titled “Ghostbusters II”) to television, comic books and video games. And now – lo, these many years later – there arrives a reboot.

The plot of this 3-D “Ghostbusters” (Columbia) runs a similar course to that of its long-ago progenitor. But director and co-writer (with Katie Dippold) Paul Feig mixes things up by shifting the gender balance. In lieu of the Reagan-era male specter collectors -- played by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson and Harold Ramis -- we get lady metaphysical musketeers.

The first of these we meet is Columbia University physics professor – and tenure aspirant – Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig). With her future on the line, the last thing Erin can afford is to have her colleagues discover that she once collaborated on a book about the paranormal with her now-estranged best friend, Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy).

So when Abby, who continues to research the subject, puts their volume up for sale on the internet, Erin pays a visit to Abby’s lab to protest. There she’s introduced to Abby’s current sidekick, tech whiz Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon).

Spooky circumstances soon have Erin and Abby patching up their differences and teaming with Jillian to track the numerous ghosts that have suddenly started popping up around New York City. They’re eventually joined on their hunt by no-nonsense transit worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), whose subway station has fallen victim to one of the hauntings.

Rounding out the band of wraith wranglers is Kevin (Chris Hemsworth), the ditzy hunk of a secretary the women hire after renting office space for their new partnership. The dumb-blond/eye-candy gags aimed at Kevin typify the overall tone of the proceedings, a light note that’s eventually drowned out by an increasingly heavy emphasis on (admittedly spectacular) special effects.

The movie’s treatment of the supernatural is unlikely to lead even the impressionable astray. But the fact that the jokes, though generally harmless, sometimes drift into mild raunchiness makes this suitable for grownups only.

The film contains occult themes, some strong but stylized violence, a suicide, brief irreverence, occasional sexual and scatological humor, at least one use each of profanity and crude language, several crass terms and a series of obscene gestures. 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 John Mulderig, Catholic News Service

‘Finding Dory’

A-I – general patronage


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A funny fish story

Fans of the 2003 animated adventure “Finding Nemo” have reason to rejoice. The long wait for a sequel is over, and the follow-up, “Finding Dory” (Disney), once again turns vast expanses of salt water into tasty taffy. The result is a dandy treat for moviegoers of almost all ages.

The buoyant new film’s entertainment value, moreover, is moored to solid morals.

Working with co-director Angus MacLane, writer-director Andrew Stanton sets the earlier picture’s trio of main characters on another epic journey. This one is undertaken to reunite the absent-minded blue tang of the title (voice of Ellen DeGeneres) with her long-lost parents, Jenny (voice of Diane Keaton) and Charlie (Eugene Levy).

Accompanying Dory on her eventful quest are Marlin (voice of Albert Brooks) and Nemo (voice of Hayden Rolence), the father-and-son duo of clownfish she befriended in the first outing. In fact, this can be seen as a tale of two families since Dory’s bond with widowed worrywart Marlin goes deeper than mere friendship, while the care she provides sprightly Nemo is distinctly maternal. All of that is left largely unspoken however.

Dory’s hunt eventually leads to the Marine Life Institute, a fictional aquarium on the coast of California. There she gains the help of three more pals: curmudgeonly octopus Hank (voice of Ed O’Neill); Bailey (voice of Ty Burrell), a beluga whale with defective sonar skills; and nearsighted whale shark Destiny (voice of Kaitlin Olson).

Through it all, the plot conveys life lessons about family loyalty, teamwork and the proper balance between courage and caution via a script full of gentle humor and appealing personalities. But his most impressive achievement is the use to which he puts the various disabilities on display. While these challenges are sometimes milked for comedy, at a more basic level Stanton portrays them to send an implicit anti-bullying and pro-life message to youthful viewers.

Objectionable elements are virtually absent. During an underwater schoolroom scene, Dory – mistakenly believing that one of the kids has asked her about the birds and the bees – launches into a boilerplate explanation that only patrons of a certain age will understand. She’s quickly cut off.

At a moment of danger, Hank instinctively releases a wave of black ink. Dory tries to relieve his subsequent embarrassment about this with a brief verbal reaction that the strictest might insist on identifying as a bit of potty humor.

On the other hand, the dangers lurking in the deep lead to brief incidents of jeopardy for our buddies on screen that may prove too intense for small fry.

The film contains scenes of peril, a distant reference to clichés about the facts of life, and equally vague bathroom humor. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I – general patronage. 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

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