By John Mulderig Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) -- The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of April 10. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence and sexual situations.
Tuesday, April 12, 9:30-11:15 p.m. EDT (TCM) "Stagecoach" (1939). In this Western classic, a cowboy (John Wayne) wanted by the law on trumped-up charges joins an odd assortment of passengers (Claire Trevor, Thomas Mitchell, Donald Meek, John Carradine and others) on the stage to Lordsburg, New Mexico, in the midst of an Apache uprising. Directed by John Ford, the characters are a microcosm of frontier types, each of whom has a different reason for the journey whose dangers are played out against the majestic vistas of Monument Valley, with a brilliantly staged Indian attack and a final showdown on the streets of Lordsburg bringing the story to a rousing finish. Stylized violence. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association.
Wednesday, April 13, 10 p.m.-midnight EDT (AMC) "Evan Almighty" (2007). Delightful contemporary spin on the Noah story, as a TV anchorman-turned-congressman (Steve Carell) is instructed by God (Morgan Freeman) to build an ark in light of an impending flood, much to the skeptical consternation of his colleagues on Capitol Hill (John Michael Higgins, Wanda Sykes and John Goodman), his wife (Lauren Graham) and his three young sons. Imparting an overall message about how one act of random kindness can change the world, director Tom Shadyac and screenwriter Steve Oedekerk skillfully combine slapstick, sentiment and surprising reverence -- these elements beautifully embodied in Carell's seriocomic central performance -- while the paired animals and the flood effects are wonderfully done. A smattering of mildly crass language and humor, irreverence and innuendo. 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.
Saturday, April 16, 3:15-5:15 p.m. EDT (TCM) "The Maltese Falcon" (1941). Dashiell Hammett's private detective Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) gets involved with a crafty trio of crooks (Mary Astor, Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre), each trying to out-swindle the other in quest of the priceless statue of the title. But all the hard-boiled gumshoe wants is to nab the one who murdered his partner (Jerome Cowan). Writer-director John Huston's classy crime melodrama has taut pacing, snappy dialogue, wry characterizations and an unsentimental payoff. Though there's some menace and violence, it's mainly a mind-over-muscle caper. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association.
Saturday, April 16, 8-9:45 p.m. EDT (Cinemax) "Reservation Road" (2007). Riveting drama about the efforts of an increasingly obsessive father (Joaquin Phoenix) to identify the driver (Mark Ruffalo) who killed his son in a hit-and-run accident, while the guilt-racked offender, a father with a boy the same age, struggles to do the right thing. Director and co-writer Terry George's film -- from co-writer John Burnham Schwartz's 1998 novel -- has considerably more moral complexity than your standard revenge melodrama, while Phoenix and Ruffalo are each superb in difficult roles. A violent though nongraphic car accident; some profanity, rough language and crude expressions, domestic discord. Acceptable for older teens. The Catholic News Service 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.
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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.