The following are capsule reviews of movies recently reviewed by Catholic News Service.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Fox Searchlight)
A gaggle of British retirees heads to India in search of enlightenment and excitement in this adaptation of Deborah Moggach's 2004 novel "These Foolish Things," directed by John Madden. An ensemble of stock characters are present: the sympathetic widow (Judi Dench); the unhappily married couple (Penelope Wilton and Bill Nighy); two randy seniors (Celia Imrie and Ronald Pickup); a gay man (Tom Wilkinson) searching for his childhood lover; and a mean-spirited bigot (Maggie Smith) who needs a hip replacement. They all live in a dilapidated hotel whose manager (Dev Patel) brims with optimism. The film offers a mixed, and problematic, moral message about the twilight years, presenting them as a time for forgiveness and reconciliation, but also for cutting matrimonial ties and embracing hedonism. A benign view of premarital sex and homosexual acts, partial nudity, gruesome images of a corpse, some sexual innuendo, occasional rough language. (O, PG-13)
Chernobyl Diaries (Warner Bros.)
Grueling horror exercise in which a quartet of young Americans abroad (Jonathan Sadowski, Devin Kelley, Jesse McCartney and Olivia Taylor Dudley) get more than they bargained for when they hire an extreme-tourism travel guide (Dimitri Diatchenko) to take them to a Ukrainian city that had to be instantly evacuated in the wake of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and that has remained ostensibly deserted ever since. When their vehicle is mysteriously sabotaged, they, their dodgy docent and two of his other clients (Ingrid Bolso Berdal and Nathan Phillips) find themselves stranded amid radiation, predatory wild animals and an even more sinister source of danger the embattled ensemble only gradually come to understand. In his feature debut, director Brad Parker conjures up the occasional jolt. But unlikely plot elements and largely unsympathetic --- and shallow --- characters work against audience involvement. Gruesome scenes of the wounded and the dead, moreover, together with a barrage of foul language from the jittery and the doomed, make this morally unsuitable for most. Intermittent but intense violence with gore, a few uses of profanity, pervasive rough and crude language, occasional sexual references, an obscene gesture. (L, R)
Crooked Arrows (Peck)
Lacrosse returns to its Native American roots in this spirited drama about a ragtag high school team and its flawed manager --- who must somehow chart a path to victory and redemption. The boss (Brandon Routh) of a sleazy casino on an Indian reservation wants to expand the business, but requires the approval of the tribal council, led by his estranged father (Gil Birmingham). Seeing an opportunity for his worldly son to reconnect with his heritage, Dad demands that he return home to coach the lacrosse team and "restore pride to our game." Directed by Steve Rash, the film includes some thrilling moments on the lacrosse pitch as it builds to a David-vs.-Goliath climax. Intense contact-sports violence, brief rear locker-room nudity, some sexual innuendo, a few crude terms. (A-III, PG-13)
Men in Black 3 (Columbia)
Moderately fun, but ultimately forgettable third round for the well-established secret alien crime-fighting duo of Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones). In this outing, J wakes up in an alternate timeline to find that an extraterrestrial villain (Jemaine Clement) has killed K off, and begun the enslavement of humanity. So J must set the clock back --- all the way to 1969 --- and dissuade a younger version of K, played by Josh Brolin, from pursuing the course that would eventually lead him to his doom. Director Barry Sonnenfeld delivers a slightly tired retread of the comedy franchise, the premise for which derives from Lowell Cunningham's comic book "The Men in Black." And screenwriter Etan Cohen's dialogue makes wholly unnecessary forages into vulgar language and profanity, putting this beyond the pale for younger audiences. Frequent action violence, at least two instances of profanity, occasional crude and crass language. (A-III, PG-13)
Catholic News Service classifications: A-I --- general patronage; A-II --- adults and adolescents; A-III --- adults; L --- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling; O --- morally offensive. Full-length reviews: www.catholicnews.com/movies.htm.
Prayer of the MonthPapal intentions for November: That priests who experience difficulties may find comfort in their suffering, support in their doubts, and confirmation in their fidelity. That as fruit of the continental mission, Latin American Churches may send missionaries to other Churches.
Papal intentions for December: That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need. That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.