NEW YORK (CNS) — The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies and programs on network and cable television the week of March 5. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence, and sexual situations.
Sunday, March 5, 9-11:02 p.m. PST (Lifetime) "The Proposal" (2009). To avoid being deported back to Canada, a hard-driving New York book editor (Sandra Bullock) coerces her brow-beaten executive assistant (Ryan Reynolds) into getting engaged. But the hostility underlying their charade of love mellows during a visit to his parents' (Mary Steenburgen and Craig T. Nelson) Alaska home for his grandmother's (Betty White) 90th birthday. Brief interludes of questionable humor and a largely predictable plot aside, director Anne Fletcher's effervescent romantic comedy is mostly a valentine to family affection and against-the-odds ardor. Implied premarital sexual activity, fleeting nudity, some sexual humor, a couple of crude and a dozen crass words, at least two uses of profanity. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Monday, March 6, 6:30-10 p.m. PST (AMC) "Avatar" (2009). Among the most expensive and highly anticipated films ever made, director James Cameron's visually arresting science-fiction adventure sends a paraplegic soldier (Sam Worthington) to a planet called Pandora where he falls in love with a native princess (Zoe Saldana) and must choose between her ecologically enlightened culture and his own violent, rapacious species. Amid passages resembling a Vietnam War movie, a Western — pitting bellicose interlopers against spiritual natives in harmony with their natural environment — and a Disney-animated musical, Cameron marshals impressive resources to tell an entertaining story, though whether the aliens' pantheistic religion is meant to be a model for humanity or merely an indigenous cult remains unclear. Frightening action sequences with much intense, war-related violence, an implied sexual encounter, partial upper female and rear nudity, a consistently sensual undercurrent, frequent profanity, considerable crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Tuesday, March 7, 2-3:30 p.m. PST (EWTN) "Opening Mass of the Napa Institute Symposium." The opening liturgy for this annual gathering that seeks to deepen American Catholics' understanding of their faith (TV-G — general audience).
Wednesday, March 8, 5-7 p.m. PST (Showtime) "You Can Count on Me" (2000). Family drama in which a wayward drifter (Mark Ruffalo) returns to his small hometown to visit his loving sister (Laura Linney), the single mother of an 8-year-old son (Rory Culkin), but her brother's inappropriate behavior disrupts their peaceful existence. Although its slow rhythm takes some getting used to, writer-director Kenneth Lonergan's sensitive film skillfully explores the complex bond between adult siblings orphaned at a young age. An extramarital affair, several sexual encounters, sporadic marijuana use, brief fisticuffs and some profanity with intermittent rough language. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Saturday, March 11, 3-5 p.m. PST (TCM) "Ride the High Country" (1962). Hired by a bank to escort a gold shipment from a mining camp in the Sierra Mountains, a retired lawman (Joel McCrea) takes along an old friend (Randolph Scott) who has his own plans for the ore. Director Sam Peckinpah's off-beat Western mixes in a farmer's daughter (Mariette Hartley), a novice gunfighter (Ronald Starr) and a brawling brood of brothers. But the focus is on the two veteran cowboys and their differing notions of duty and honor. Some stylized violence, sexual references and ribald humor. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III — adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Saturday, March 11, 5-6:30 p.m. PST (EWTN) "Dominic: Light of the Church." Dramatization of the life of St. Dominic de Guzman (1170-1221), a renowned preacher who was a tireless defender of the faith and famous for his profound learning, heroic sanctity and apostolic zeal. He founded the Order of Preachers, popularly known as the Dominicans, in 1215 (TV-PG — parental guidance suggested).
Saturday, March 11, 6:55-8:55 p.m. PST (Cinemax) "Hardball" (2001). Prosaic story of a compulsive gambler (Keanu Reeves) who is forced to repay a loan by coaching a Chicago inner-city Little League team. The time-worn plot in director Brian Robbins' film has its moments, mainly in the natural performances of the child actors, but the disturbing ending adds little to its message of overcoming obstacles. A tragic death, brief gunplay, a few menacing scenes of fisticuffs and recurring crass language with fleeting profanity. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.