Home Viewing Roundup for Nov. 28, 2023

NEW YORK (OSV News) – The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies available now for streaming or scheduled for broadcast on network or cable television during the week of Dec. 10, as well as notes on TV programming for the same week. Televised films may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence and sexual situations while the programs listed have not been reviewed and therefore are not necessarily recommended by OSV News.

Streaming Now:

"Harriet" (2019; Netflix)

Long-overdue but flawed drama chronicling the exploits of the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad, Maryland-born Harriet Tubman (Cynthia Erivo). When her owner (Mike Marunde) dies suddenly and his son (Joe Alwyn) threatens to sell her South, she successfully escapes. Connecting with other abolitionists (including Leslie Odom Jr. and Janelle Monae), she takes numerous trips back across the Pennsylvania border hoping to liberate her family and others. Director and co-writer Kasi Lemmons' film, which also features Zackary Momoh as Tubman's husband, celebrates life and reminds audiences of the price some of our forebears had to pay for the freedoms we enjoy. And Erivo, a veteran of the London stage, breathes spirit and pathos into the titular character. Yet the pace lags and the tense moments that could have made this portrayal worthy of its heroic subject are mostly absent, though the script, on which Lemmons collaborated with Gregory Allen Howard, does pay due attention to Tubman's deep religious faith. Probably acceptable for teens. Racial slurs and a few crude and crass terms. The OSV News classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

"Heaven Is for Real" (2014; Amazon Prime)

After coming close to death during an operation, a 4-year-old boy (Connor Corum) startles his Wesleyan minister father (Greg Kinnear) and choir-director mother (Kelly Reilly) by announcing that he visited heaven and met Jesus -- as well as two deceased family members. But his matter-of-fact statements about paradise stir controversy in his family's small-town Nebraska community and, ironically, provoke a crisis of faith for his dad. Director and co-writer Randall Wallace's adaptation of Todd Burpo's best-selling account of his son Colton's experiences is substantial and moving, thanks in large part to the mature way in which it grapples with fundamental issues of religious belief and doubt. A few scenes involving illness and a painful accident might not be suitable for the littlest moviegoers; an unspoken innuendo between husband and wife will sail well over their heads. The OSV News classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

Looking Ahead:

Sunday, Dec. 10, 8-10 p.m. EST (ABC) "Frozen" (2013). Animated musical, loosely based on the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale "The Snow Queen" and directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee. The new queen (voice of Idina Menzel) of a mythical kingdom accidentally unleashes her power to create ice and snow, causing an eternal winter. She retreats into exile, but her princess sister (voice of Kristen Bell) is determined to find her and undo the spell. Joining the younger royal's epic odyssey are an amiable mountain man (voice of Jonathan Groff), his silent reindeer sidekick, and a comedic snowman (voice of Josh Gad). This good-natured film, suitable for all but the smallest tykes, who might be frightened by its storm sequences, has something for everyone: Broadway-style show tunes, thrilling adventure, gorgeous visuals, cute-as-a-button characters, and a nice message about the enduring bonds of family. There are even a few respectful religious overtones likely to please believers. A few mildly perilous situations, a bit of slightly gross humor. The OSV News classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association rating was PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

Tuesday, Dec. 12, noon-1:30 p.m. EST (EWTN) "Holy Mass on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe." Live broadcast from Rome as Pope Francis celebrates the Eucharistic liturgy for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Patroness of Mexico and the Americas and protector of unborn children (TV-G – general audience).

Tuesday, Dec. 12, 8-9:30 p.m. EST (PBS) "Season of Light: Christmas With the Tabernacle Choir." This holiday special also features singer Lea Salonga and actor David Suchet (TV-PG – parental guidance suggested).

Tuesday, Dec. 12, 10-11 p.m. EST (PBS) "The Discord Leaks." This episode of the series "Frontline" examines how a young National Guardsman allegedly leaked classified documents onto the Discord chat platform.

Saturday, Dec. 16, 5:50-8 p.m. EST (HBO) "Black Adam" (2022). Five thousand years after he became his native land's legendary liberator, before mysteriously disappearing, the superhero of the title (Dwayne Johnson) is reawakened in the present day and takes on the nation's current oppressors, aided by a resistance fighter (Sarah Shahi) and her teen son (Bodhi Sabongui). But the metahuman agents of a law enforcement organization (led by Aldis Hodge) intervene to thwart the protagonist, maintaining that he is, in reality, an uncontrollably violent villain rather than a champion of freedom. As scripted by a trio of screenwriters, director Jaume Collet-Serra's adaptation of DC Comics lore paces its dustups with debates about the true nature of justice and heroism as well as the proper use of force. Yet, while it also showcases self-sacrificing dedication, none of its themes ultimately ring true and the grown viewers for whom the film is acceptable are unlikely to connect with its characters. Mostly stylized but sometimes nasty combat with some gore, a couple of mild oaths, about a half-dozen uses each of crude and 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 X (formerly Twitter) @JohnMulderig1.