Moviegoers were given lumps of coal at the multiplex this Christmas weekend, at least according to Christian critics, who found Hollywood's holiday offerings far from generous. New releases Any Given Sunday, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Man on the Moon were all judged extremely shallow. Fellow newcomer Galaxy Quest wasn't exactly brain food either, but the genial comedy earned upbeat notices for its inventive silliness.

Any Given Sunday ($13.6 million)

Oliver Stone once again plays social critic in this football drama, in which an old-school, purist coach (Al Pacino) fights against a profit-driven owner (Cameron Diaz) and a bloated-ego quarterback (Jamie Foxx) to restore some dignity to the game he loves. In pulling back the curtain on the ugly reality of professional football, Stone was probably hoping to de-glamorize today's gridiron idols, but the unsavory elements (nudity, sex, drug use, drinking, violence, foul language, vomiting, and more) succeeded in turning off most Christian critics. "While Stone may be a technically brilliant filmmaker," writes Tom Neven, editor of Focus on the Family magazine, "and he may even make astute cultural observations and critiques from time to time, that counts for little as Any Given Sunday blasts moviegoers with a constant stream of profanity, full nudity and gratuitous sex scenes." Preview's Paul Bicking concurs: "Any good lessons are lost in a sea of filth." Michael Elliott of Movie Parables identifies several worthy themes in the movie—the development of leadership and teamwork and the devaluing of fame, money, and ego—that make Any Given Sunday "an interesting tale," but likewise feels that "Mr. Stone's directorial style works against the telling of it." A bigger problem for the ...

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