TV film fare -- week of Nov. 28, 2021
NEW YORK (CNS) -- The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of Nov. 28. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence and sexual situations.
Monday, Nov. 29, 7-9:30 p.m. EST (AMC) "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" (1971). Screen version of Roald Dahl's children's story about a candy manufacturer (Gene Wilder) who conducts an electrifying tour of his factory for five lucky children who learn that greed and selfishness can be their own reward. Even the punishments, occasionally a bit gruesome for younger children, are in good fun. Director Mel Stuart manages to avoid the cloying sentimentality of similar children's movies, though it's never quite as magical as one would have hoped. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association rating was G -- general audiences. All Ages Admitted.
Tuesday, Nov. 30, 5-7:30 p.m. EST (Showtime) "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977). Richard Dreyfuss stars in director Steven Spielberg's epic about UFOs and the humanistic, hopeful and, for some, religious theme of mankind's close encounter with an extragalactic life form. The scenes involving simple person-to-person relationships may be somewhat flat. But the movie boasts some dazzling special effects and is tinged with a feeling of awe rare in science fiction works. Some effects might frighten the very young. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association rating was PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children. (The version being aired is the 1998 "director's cut.")
Thursday, Dec. 2, 8-9:30 p.m. EST (TCM) "No Man of Her Own" (1932). Amusing romantic melodrama in which a crooked New York gambler (Clark Gable) marries a small-town librarian (Carole Lombard) on the flip of a coin, then becomes intrigued with the notion of going straight. Director Wesley Ruggles keeps the situation light and lively with snappy dialogue, a dandy supporting cast (notably Grant Mitchell, Elizabeth Patterson and J. Farrell MacDonald) and the sparks generated by the principals. Some sexual innuendo and criminal activity. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association.
Friday, Dec. 3, 6-8 p.m. EST (TCM) "The Strange Love of Martha Ivers" (1946). Darkly contrived tale in which a troubled heiress (Barbara Stanwyck) and her weakling husband (Kirk Douglas) fear a childhood friend (Van Heflin) who disappeared on the night the woman murdered her wealthy aunt (Judith Anderson), then suddenly turns up in town with a girlfriend (Lizabeth Scott). Though the story is full of cheese, director Lewis Milestone maintains interest in the characters, especially Stanwyck's twisted, tortured lady of the title and Heflin's tough, breezy gambler who knows all the angles. Stylized violence, including a double suicide, and abundant romantic complications. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association.
Saturday, Dec. 4, 8-9:49 p.m. EST (Cinemax) "Adventureland" (2009). Sensitive but downbeat coming-of-age tale, set in 1987 Pittsburgh, about an awkward college graduate (Jesse Eisenberg) who takes a summer job at a third-rate amusement park and falls for one of his co-workers (Kristen Stewart), not realizing she is having an adulterous affair with an older employee (Ryan Reynolds). Though generally restrained in its presentation of sexuality, director Greg Mottola's wryly nostalgic romance takes a benign view of its characters' frequent indulgence in marijuana and reaches a morally unacceptable conclusion. Nongraphic adulterous and premarital sexual activity, brief partial nudity, repeated drug use, some sexual and fleeting scatological humor, pervasive rough and crude language, a few uses of profanity. 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 rating was R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Saturday, Dec. 4, 8-10 p.m. EST (HBO) "Space Jam: A New Legacy" (2021). Strained sequel to the 1996 sports comedy once again blends live action and animation as well as basketball and the Looney Tunes gang of cartoon characters. This time out, LeBron James plays himself, as Michael Jordan did in the original, while Don Cheadle portrays the artificial intelligence that controls the Warner Studios' "server-verse." Resentful at a rebuff from James, the anthropomorphized algorithm concocts a scheme to absorb both the hoops star and his young son (Cedric Joe) into the virtual realm he rules and exploit a temporary rift between the two to pit them against each other on the court, with James leading Bugs Bunny (voice of Jeff Bergman) and his friends while the lad heads a far more formidable squad. Worthy, though obvious, messages about teamwork, altruism, good parenting and the need to give youngsters the freedom to pursue their own goals are ham-handedly driven home amid frantic but harmless mayhem. A few unsuitable words in the script, credited to fully half a dozen screenwriters, make director Malcolm D. Lee's annoyingly self-referential film unfit for the little kids who might be oblivious to its obvious flaws and thus most likely to enjoy it. Cartoonish violence, a few mild oaths. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association rating was PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.