Reel Reviews

‘Faith of Our Fathers’

Audience:
A-II – adults and adolescents

 

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A bumpy road trip with the right destination

“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13). That’s the overarching theme of “Faith of Our Fathers” (Pure Flix), a well-intentioned but awkwardly uneven account of Christianity’s impact on two generations of families.

Director Carey Scott can’t seem to decide whether his film is a serious drama or a slapstick comedy. The overall result thus falls between two stools.

Still, a faith-promoting message of an evangelical stripe pervades the proceedings—no bad thing these days, especially for adolescents who are more usually bombarded with secular narcissism at the multiplex.

In 1997 California, John Paul George (Kevin Downes) – whose Beatles-evoking name the script treats as a running joke – is a humble, God-fearing postman who’s preparing to marry his fiancee, Cynthia (Candace Cameron Bure). While cleaning out the garage, John Paul discovers a box of military items that had belonged to his late father Steven (Sean McGowan). In circumstances that remain unclear to John Paul, Steven was killed in Vietnam just after his son’s birth.

Intrigued by a letter about Steven’s platoon mate Eddie (Scott Whyte), John Paul sets out to find his dad’s erstwhile comrade, and learn the truth about his death. The search brings him to Mississippi, where he encounters Eddie’s hillbilly son, Wayne (David A.R. White, also a co-writer along with Downes and Harold Uhl). Like Steven, Eddie, it turns out, perished in combat.

As for Eddie’s ornery offspring, the shotgun Wayne brandishes makes it obvious that he’s none too happy to see this uninvited stranger. “You’re not a Jesus freak, are ya?” Wayne loudly demands.

Needless to say, the kid has issues. But John Paul is insistent, and an improbable bargain is struck. In exchange for access to Eddie’s letters, John Paul agrees to accompany Wayne on a trip to Washington to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and seek “closure.”

“Faith of Our Fathers” morphs into a spiritual version of “Thelma and Louise” as this odd couple gets into all sorts of trouble on the road while debating big-ticket topics like forgiveness and destiny.

As they bond, flashbacks recall the friendship shared by their fathers, forged in harm’s way. The earlier duo, it seems, were also oil and water: Steven, pious and Bible-reading; Eddie, a master of ridicule.

Slowly, we’re shown, Steven’s sincerity won Eddie over -- and the whole platoon with him. Even the skeptical Sgt. Mansfield (Stephen Baldwin) came around, later telling John Paul, “You father taught me that men don’t have to die when they die.”

Despite hokey dialogue and contrived situations, “Faith of Our Fathers” deserves some credit for its godly and patriotic outlook.

The film contains brief scenes of mostly bloodless combat. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II – adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 – parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

By Joseph McAleer, Catholic News Service 

‘Minions’

Audience:
A-I – general patronage

 

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Minions dominion – or Minions rule

Fillet it how you will, “Minions” (Universal) is a rare treat.

This bright 3-D animated comedy traces the history of the yellow, capsule-shaped creatures whose endearing presence in the background contributed to the success of both 2010’s “Despicable Me” and its rather unimaginatively titled 2013 sequel, “Despicable Me 2.”

In hauling these sweetly bumbling beings to the fore, and providing them with an ever upbeat—though not always tightly crafted—adventure of their own, co-directors Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda avoid any genuinely objectionable material. Only a few scenes of combustive mayhem and a couple of mildly out-of-place visuals may give some parents pause.

After an origins story that reaches all the way back to the primordial ooze, the proceedings settle down in the swinging London of the 1960s. There, motivated by their natural inclination is to serve a villainous master, the central trio of minions—Kevin, Stuart and Bob (all voiced by Coffin)—assist famed criminal Scarlet Overkill (voice of Sandra Bullock) and her mad scientist husband Herb (voice of Jon Hamm) in their wild scheme to steal the British crown from Queen Elizabeth II (voice of Jennifer Saunders).

Narrated by Geoffrey Rush, and interspersed with familiar hippie-era musical standards, the freewheeling plot that follows pursues its own logic down curious courses, some of which feel like detours. But the underlying morality is sound enough.

In contrast to Gru, the supposed bad guy of the earlier outings, Scarlet is a truly negative character given to selfishness, greed and disloyalty. Her evil tendencies, which carry straightforward consequences, are all the more obvious when compared to the virtues consistently displayed by Kevin and his pals—an appreciation for one another and a sensitivity to the common good prominent among them.

The climactic conflict might prove too much for small fry. In the buildup to it, a few possible irritants for vigilant grown-ups also appear, including a sumo wrestler’s frequently glimpsed backside and the brief presence of a mustachioed bystander whose enthusiasm for Scarlet leads him to dress exactly like her. While treated comically, his quirky behavior may not sit well with some adults.

The film contains occasional cartoonish violence, fleeting anatomical sight gags and a touch of scatological 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.

A
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)
B
Begin Again, A-III (R)
C
Chappie, L (R)
Child 44, A-III (R)
Cinderella, A-I (PG)
D
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)
E
Ex Machina, O (R)
F
Far from the Madding Crowd, A-II (PG-13)
Focus, L (R)
Furious 7, A-III (PG-13)
G
Get Hard, O (R)
The Gunman, L (R)
Home, A-I (PG)
Hot Pursuit, A-III (PG-13)
I
It Follows, O (R)
J
Jupiter Ascending, A-III (PG-13)
K
Kingsman: The Secret Service, A-III (R)
L
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)
M
Mad Max: Fury Road, L (R)
Marie's Story, A-II (not rated)
McFarland, USA, A-II (PG)
Monkey Kingdom, A-I (G)
P
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)
R
Run All Night, L (R)
S
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)
T
Tomorrowland, A-II (PG)
The Trip to Italy, A-III (not rated)
True Story, A-III (R)
U
Unfinished Business, O (R)
Unfriended, O (R)
W
The Water Diviner, A-III (R)
Woman in Gold, A-II (PG-13)

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