TV film fare -- week of May 21
NEW YORK (OSV News) -- The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of May 21. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence and sexual situations.
Sunday, May 21, 4-7 p.m. EDT (A&E) "Creed" (2015). This imaginative, and surprisingly gentle, reboot of the "Rocky" franchise takes viewers back to the series' Philadelphia roots as the legendary former heavyweight champ (Sylvester Stallone) coaches the illegitimate son (Michael B. Jordan) of his long-deceased adversary-turned-ally, Apollo Creed. Director Ryan Coogler, who co-wrote the screenplay with Aaron Covington, is wise enough to touch lightly on all the familiar notes of the 1976 original, thus reminding his audience that he respects the past even as he reinvents for the future. The script's underlying message is that, no matter what the circumstances, the cherished old values of self-sacrifice and discipline can prevail. That outlook may, in the judgment of many parents, extend the movie's appropriate appeal, making it acceptable fare for mature adolescents. Bloody physical violence, fleeting rough language. The OSV News classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association rating was PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Wednesday, May 24, 8-10:15 p.m. EDT (TCM) "Life With Father" (1947). Fine adaptation of the Howard Lindsay-Russel Crouse play about the domineering head (William Powell) of a New York City household at the turn of the century who sees no need of baptism to be a good Episcopalian, until his wife (Irene Dunne) makes him see the light. Directed by Michael Curtiz, the droll proceedings are based on the reminiscences of Clarence Day Jr., who recalls his father's foibles as well as his own adolescent antics with nostalgic fondness and much good-natured irony. Domestic tensions and youthful hijinks. The OSV News classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association.
Thursday, May 25, 8-11 p.m. EDT (ABC) "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" (2021). Sprightly wit paces the elegant martial-arts showdowns in this Marvel Comics-derived adventure, directed and co-written by Destin Daniel Cretton. To the amazement of his best friend and co-worker (Awkwafina), a mild-mannered, ambitionless San Francisco parking valet (Simu Liu) turns out to be the superhero of the title, trained from his youth to be a semi-supernatural warrior. Decades after he fled China as a teenager to get away from his ruthless gang leader father (Tony Leung), the theft of an amulet that his mother (Fala Chen) gave him before she was murdered by a band of her husband's enemies draws him back to his homeland, with his bestie in tow, and once again embroils him in family tensions, including the resentment his younger sister (Meng'er Zhang) continues to harbor over his abandonment of her in childhood. Behind an overly elaborate mythos and a lot of bloodless action lies a basic story of good versus evil, though one that gains moral subtlety from the fact that dad's latest scheme, which his children eventually come together to oppose, is the product of a delusion, and is fueled by grief and the desire to be reunited with his spouse rather than by any wicked intention. Along with vocabulary unsuitable for kids, the script, penned in collaboration with Dave Callaham and Andrew Lanham, presents viewers with ideas, such as the quasi-immortality of Leung's centuries-old character, that might confuse those inclined to take them seriously. Possibly acceptable for older teens. Frequent stylized violence, nonscriptural religious ideas, at least one use of profanity, a few milder oaths, about a half-dozen crude terms, a couple of crass expressions, an obscene gesture. The OSV News classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association rating was PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Friday, May 26, 6:30-9 p.m. EDT (AMC) "Gran Torino" (2008). Improbable and gritty if ultimately humane redemption tale of a crusty Korean War vet (Clint Eastwood in peak form) who resents the encroachment of the Laotian Hmongs who have moved into his Detroit neighborhood, but becomes their reluctant hero and unlikely friend after he saves the young teen (Bee Vang) next door from being pressured to join a marauding Hmong gang. Eastwood directs with his customary frontier worldview, with the cultural tolerance theme and a positive priest character (Christopher Carley) strong pluses, though the nonstop racial epithets and expletives are, even in this context, excessive. Pervasive rough language, profanity and racial slurs, violence with bloodshed, and a morally tangled ending. The OSV News 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.
Friday, May 26, 8-10:15 p.m. EDT (TCM) "A Walk in the Sun" (1945). World War II classic follows an American infantry platoon as it lands in 1943 Salerno, then moves from the beach in carrying out its orders to take a farmhouse six miles inland. Director Lewis Milestone's strong but poignant depiction of men in war is put over by fine performances from an ensemble cast headed by Dana Andrews, Richard Conte, John Ireland and Lloyd Bridges, and backed by brutally realistic combat scenes whose sense of human loss is punctuated by the soldiers' ironic refrain, "Nobody dies." Wartime violence. The OSV News classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association.Friday, May 26, 10:03 p.m.-12:01 a.m. EDT (Lifetime) "Sleeping with the Enemy" (1991). When a psychotically jealous husband (Patrick Bergin) discovers his abused wife (Julia Roberts) has faked her own death to escape him, he tracks her down and finds her in the arms of her new love (Kevin Anderson). Director Joe Ruben's sleek thriller efficiently creates suspense by making full use of Robert's beautifully played vulnerability but falters with a needless cliche at the end. Some violence, a restrained marital encounter and minimal rough language. The OSV News classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association rating was R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Saturday, May 27, 5:58-8 p.m. EDT (Cinemax) "Lord of War" (2005). Thought-provoking, if at times contrived, morality play about an opportunistic and morally bankrupt Ukrainian emigre (Nicolas Cage) who rises from small-time gunrunner to international arms dealer while living a double life as a respectable family man and managing to stay one step ahead of his rivals, his ruthless clients and the law. Until, that is, his own conscience catches up with him. By turns action drama and black comedy (neither completely successful), the film's serious social commentary and anti-violence themes are saddled with message-heavy melodrama and standard genre cliches that bog down the otherwise effective narrative. Strong images of violence, sexual situations with partial nudity, recurring drug content, some racial stereotyping, pervasive rough and crude language. The OSV News 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, May 27, 8-11:15 p.m. EDT (HBO) "Shazam! Fury of the Gods" (2023). Grown-ups in search of action, special effects and some humorous dialogue will be satisfied with this sequel to the 2019 origin story of the titular DC Comics character. Yet, though diverting, returning director David F. Sandberg's extension of his story is overburdened with lore and less than memorable. After the three daughters of the titan Atlas (Rachel Zegler, Lucy Liu and Helen Mirren) get hold of a mystical artifact, only the lad (Asher Angel) to whom a wizard (Djimon Hounsou) gave the ability to turn himself into an adult (Zachary Levi) endowed with incredible strength and speed in the first chapter can thwart their plan for global destruction. He's aided on this mission by the ensemble of fellow foster kids with whom he later shared his superpowers (most prominently Jack Dylan Grazer who becomes Adam Brody). While Henry Gayden and Chris Morgan's script promotes family bonds and showcases a sweetly innocent teen romance, it also throws the term "gods" around in a way that might be confusing for the poorly catechized and matter-of-factly reveals that one of the protagonist's adoptive brothers (Jovan Armand/D.J. Cotrona) is gay. Much stylized but sometimes harsh violence, brief references to homosexuality and venereal disease, a few mild oaths, a couple of crude terms, occasional crass language. The OSV News classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association rating was PG-13 – parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.- - - John Mulderig is media reviewer for OSV News. Follow him on Twitter @JohnMulderig1.