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TV film fare -- week of Dec. 8, 2019


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NEW YORK (CNS) -- The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of Dec. 8. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence and sexual situations.

Sunday, Dec. 8, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. EST (AMC) "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (2005). Entertaining and stylish remake of 1971's "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," as sweet-natured young Charlie (Freddie Highmore), along with four bratty children, wins a visit to a mysterious emporium, run by the reclusive candy-maker Wonka (Johnny Depp). Tim Burton's take on the Roald Dahl tale is predictably darker than the bright Gene Wilder version, but it's hugely inventive, combining Dickensian atmospherics with mordant wit and featuring an understated, slyly humorous performance by Depp. The plot contains positive messages about family, loyalty and unselfishness, and only a few scenes of tongue-in-cheek peril that might upset the very youngest viewers. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

Sunday, Dec. 8, 6-8 p.m. EST (TCM) "Three Godfathers" (1948). After robbing a bank, an outlaw trio (John Wayne, Pedro Armendariz and Harry Carey Jr.) pause to help a dying woman (Mildred Natwick) deliver her infant son on Christmas Eve, then take the babe with them as they are pursued across a desert wasteland. Dedicated by director John Ford to Western actor Harry Carey Sr., the story may be unabashedly sentimental and the action romanticized, but its lyrical images and religious resonances celebrate the myth of the Old West and its rugged heroes with good hearts. Offscreen suicide of one of the principals. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.

Monday, Dec. 9, 4:30-7 p.m. EST (AMC) "Miracles From Heaven" (2016). Remarkable fact-based story of a 10-year-old Texas girl (Kylie Rogers) who develops a rare, painful and incurable disease that prevents her body from digesting food. Though her parents (Jennifer Garner and Martin Henderson) are both churchgoers, persistent Mom -- after struggling to obtain a correct diagnosis and access to the care of a kindly specialist (Eugenio Derbez) -- loses her faith in the face of her daughter's current torment and impending death. Yet a startling, almost inexplicable, turnaround awaits her. While it's clearly designed for believers, and sometimes feels padded, director Patricia Riggen's squeaky clean drama minimizes neither its protagonist's crisis of doubt nor the larger mystery of innocent suffering. Mature themes, potentially upsetting incidents and medical procedures. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

Tuesday, Dec. 10, 6-8 p.m. EST (TCM) "Crossing Delancey" (1988). A 33-year-old New York career woman (Amy Irving) is aghast when her meddling grandmother (Reizl Bozyk) and a matchmaker friend (Sylvia Miles) pair her up with a Lower East Side pickle seller (Peter Riegert), but soon finds herself falling for the guy. Director Joan Micklin Silver's wonderful, sweet-natured story of the collision between old-world and modern-day customs features some fine performances and a knowing portrayal of New York life. Some rough language and sexual situations outside marriage. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

Friday, Dec. 13, 8:15-10 p.m. EST (Showtime) "Second Act" (2018). Appealing workplace comedy posits that street smarts should rate at least as highly as an educational pedigree. Director Peter Segal and screenwriters Justin Zackham and Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas have turned the plucky old formula sideways, with the result that their heroine (Jennifer Lopez) is not facing predations such as sexual harassment or a phalanx of poisonous, scheming co-workers, but rather dealing with crises rooted in self-confidence and her difficult past. After her social-media-whiz godson (Dalton Harrod), unbeknownst to her, creates a largely imaginary new resume for her, including a Harvard degree and a stint in the Peace Corps, she's hired by a Manhattan cosmetics firm (headed by Treat Williams) where she gets into a rivalry with a fellow executive (Vanessa Hudgens) who is also the boss' daughter. Deceptions pile up, as the plot formula dictates, until everyone finds ways to reveal their own truths, gain emotional release and make their lives better. Possibly acceptable for mature adolescents. References to sexual activity and an out-of-wedlock birth, some crude 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.

Saturday, Dec. 14, 9-11:25 a.m. EST (Showtime) "Sense and Sensibility" (1995). Splendid adaptation of Jane Austen's tale of two devoted but emotionally dissimilar sisters (Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet) who endure unexpected heartbreak only to eventually triumph in securing suitable husbands. Director Ang Lee's spirited period piece offers frequent subtle humor in its wry observation of the characters and social conventions of the day. Romantic complications. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

Saturday, Dec. 14, 8-10:05 p.m. EST (HBO) "Hellboy" (2019). The demon-fighting title character (David Harbour), who appeared in two films in 2004 and 2008, gets a gritty reboot courtesy of director Neil Marshall and screenwriter Andrew Cosby. In adapting graphic novels by Mike Mignola, they've given him a considerable existential crisis, nagging father issues and an arch-nemesis (Milla Jovovich) who dates back to the Middle Ages. Although he's on the side of good, or at least his interpretation of what's right. the percussive violence and high splatter factor have a deadening effect, making this difficult to take as casual entertainment. Gun and knife violence with pervasive gore, some profanities, frequent rough and crude 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.

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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

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