At the Movies

Capsule Movie Reviews

“Believe” (Freestyle)

Evangelical Christian faith hovers in the background of this holiday-themed drama about a cash-strapped factory owner (Ryan O’Quinn) facing both the collapse of his business and the end of the annual Christmas fair his family has long sponsored in his small hometown. As he struggles to decide whether to sell his company to save the festival – from which many of his neighbors make a substantial profit, though he puts it on for free – he draws support from his best friend (Shawnee Smith) and from newfound acquaintances: an impoverished, ailing mother (Danielle Nicolet) and her indefatigably cheerful little boy (Issac Ryan Brown).

As its Job-like protagonist doggedly holds out for a Capraesque happy ending, writer-director Billy Dickson’s film mostly avoids preachiness and keeps the imperative of its title Bible-based but nondenominational. Though not as rose-colored as some religiously inspired projects – O’Quinn’s character doesn’t shy away from confrontation – the movie, which is suitable for most ages, lacks polish. Some nonlethal violence, a single crass term.

The Catholic News Service classification is A-II – adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG – parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

“Moana” (Disney)

The eponymous heroine of Disney’s 56th animated film is a spunky Polynesian princess (voice of Auli’i Cravalho) who seeks not a boyfriend but a grand adventure on the high seas. Racing against time, she must join forces with a demigod (voice of Dwayne Johnson) to vanquish evil and restore the natural order. As directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, the film is an entertaining romp, gloriously rendered in 3-D, with a delightful array of characters and toe-tapping songs co-written by Lin-Manuel Miranda of “Hamilton” fame.

There are also lessons about family, friendship and responsibility. Christian parents may be concerned upon finding the story line steeped in indigenous mythology, and presenting a view of creation at odds with the biblical account. While well-catechized teens will likely slough these elements off, their impressionable juniors could be confused. Nonscriptural religious ideas, mildly scary action sequences, occasional bathroom humor.

The Catholic News Service classification is A-II – adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG – parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

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