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TV film fare -- week of July 26, 2020


Roman Griffin Davis, Taika Waititi and Scarlet Johansson are seen in the movie "Jojo Rabbit." The Catholic News Service 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.(CNS photo/Fox Searchlight)

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NEW YORK (CNS) -- The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of July 26. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence and sexual situations.

Sunday, July 26, 2-4:30 p.m. EDT (Showtime) "Catch Me If You Can" (2002). Fact-based breezy comedy in which a runaway teen (Leonardo DiCaprio) successfully poses as a pilot, a doctor and a lawyer and cashes fraudulent checks over several years as a dogged FBI agent (Tom Hanks) methodically chases his slippery prey. Director Steven Spielberg turns in a high-style cat-and-mouse tale made interesting by the agent's determination not only to catch the youthful culprit but to rehabilitate him as well. Light-hearted treatment of crime, implied sexual encounters, abortion reference, occasional profanity, an instance of rough language. The Catholic News Service 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.

Tuesday, July 28, 8-10 p.m. EDT (TCM) "Enter Laughing" (1967). Autobiography based on comedian Carl Reiner's first break into show biz. Reni Santoni is somewhat bland as the young comic, but Elaine May creates an outlandishly laughable neurotic character and Michael J. Pollard adds a fine folksy touch to the laughter. Also directed by Reiner, viewers will exit, if not laughing, at least smiling. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association.

Wednesday, July 29, 5:30-7:05 p.m. EDT (Showtime) "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" (2009). Largely good-natured slapstick comedy relies on the physicality of Kevin James, who, in addition to co-writing the script, portrays the titular plus-size security guard defending a New Jersey mall from a pack of acrobatic thieves on the busiest shopping day of the year. Because the loveably hapless hero embodies numerous qualities infrequently championed on-screen nowadays -- including chivalry, diligence and honesty -- any moderately untoward moments in director Steve Carr's effort are eclipsed by a positive message concerning respect for those not usually deemed successful or attractive, particularly those who don't fit the ideal body mold in our looks-conscious society. Frequent violence of a slapstick nature, some suggestive humor, several instances of crude and crass language and one sequence involving alcohol use. 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.

Wednesday, July 29, 8-9:45 p.m. EDT (TCM) "The Thin Man" (1934). Classic murder mystery from the Dashiell Hammett story of private detective Nick Charles (William Powell) announcing his retirement after marrying rich socialite Nora (Mryna Loy), then getting involved in trying to help a young woman (Maureen O'Sullivan) find her missing father, the eccentric inventor of the title (Edward Ellis). Director W.S. Van Dyke II paces the suspenseful plot with numerous suspicious characters, witty dialogue and affectionate kidding between happily married Nick and Nora. Menacing atmosphere, some stylized violence, hard-boiled types and heavy drinking. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association.

Friday, July 31, 8-10:30 p.m. EDT (AMC) "Major League" (1989). Lighthearted comedy about misfit Cleveland Indians baseball players who rally for one last hurrah when they learn the team's new owner (Margaret Whitton) is trying to engineer a losing season in order to move the franchise to Miami. Although strapped with a feel-good plot as old as the hills, writer-director David Ward keeps his action fun and funny with a topnotch cast of losers (Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Corbin Bernsen, Wesley Snipes and James Gammon). Much locker room language and implied sexual trysts. 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.

Saturday, Aug. 1, 8-9:50 p.m. EDT (HBO) "Jojo Rabbit" (2019). Writer-director Taika Waititi's thoroughly offbeat satire, adapted from Christine Leunens' 2004 novel "Caging Skies," pretty much exemplifies the expression "not to all tastes" since it sees Waititi also playing a young German boy's vision of Adolf Hitler as his imaginary friend during the final year of World War II. Roman Griffin Davis is Jojo, a 10-year-old seduced by what he's learned in the Hitler Youth, at least until a teenage Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) hidden by his mother (Scarlett Johansson) begins to challenge his blind nationalism. Waititi shows, often in a deadpan way, the deadly consequences of surrendering to ideologies that marginalize entire categories of humanity and the singular evil of inculcating children with hateful beliefs. Viewers interested in challenging, thoughtful fare will be left with much to consider. Mature themes, images of the aftermath of executions, anti-Semitic dialogue, a single rough term, fleeting crude language. The Catholic News Service 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.

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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

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