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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Identity Thief

By
Adam Shaw
Source: Catholic News Service


Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy star in a scene from the movie "Identity Thief."

NEW YORK (CNS)—When Denver family man Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman) discovers that his identity has been stolen—with huge credit card debts racked up in his name and criminal charges pending against him—it's not surprising that he expects the police to intervene on his behalf.

No such luck, at least in director Seth Gordon's morally murky comedy "Identity Thief" (Universal).

Sadly for Sandy, the titular culprit Diana (Melissa McCarthy) is a resident of Florida, which places her outside the reach of Colorado law enforcement. So it could take years to bring her to justice.

But Sandy's ruined credit rating and reputation have placed his newly secured, high-paying finance job at risk. So he decides to travel down to the Sunshine State, take custody of Diana himself and drag her back to his neck of the woods to put things right.

As it turns out, Sandy gets more trouble than he bargained for: Diana's illegal exploits have drawn the unwelcome attention of Julian (Tip "T.I." Harris) and Marisol (Genesis Rodriguez), a pair of ruthless bounty hunters who quickly decide to target Sandy as well.

Despite an interesting, if slightly unbelievable, premise, Craig Mazin's screenplay offers few fresh jokes. He relies instead on exploitative sight gags and foul language.

Additionally, his script seems to wink at theft in situations far removed from those narrow and extreme circumstances within which Judeo-Christian morality might excuse it. Stealing a loaf of bread to feed your starving family is one thing. Using your unappreciative ex-boss' credit card to fund a night of high living in a five-star resort, as Sandy eventually does, is something else entirely.

Do unto others as others have done unto you is, after all, anything but a golden rule.

The film contains skewed moral values, much slapstick and other violence, considerable sexual content including a semi-graphic nonmarital encounter, off-screen masturbation and brief rear nudity, occasional profanity, frequent rough and crude language and an obscene gesture. The Catholic News Service classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
Adam Shaw is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.





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Junipero Serra: In 1776, when the American Revolution was beginning in the east, another part of the future United States was being born in California. That year a gray-robed Franciscan founded Mission San Juan Capistrano, now famous for its annually returning swallows. San Juan was the seventh of nine missions established under the direction of this indomitable Spaniard. 
<p>Born on Spain’s island of Mallorca, Serra entered the Franciscan Order, taking the name of St. Francis’ childlike companion, Brother Juniper. Until he was 35, he spent most of his time in the classroom—first as a student of theology and then as a professor. He also became famous for his preaching. Suddenly he gave it all up and followed the yearning that had begun years before when he heard about the missionary work of St. Francis Solanus in South America. Junipero’s desire was to convert native peoples in the New World. </p><p>Arriving by ship at Vera Cruz, Mexico, he and a companion walked the 250 miles to Mexico City. On the way Junipero’s left leg became infected by an insect bite and would remain a cross—sometimes life-threatening—for the rest of his life. For 18 years he worked in central Mexico and in the Baja Peninsula. He became president of the missions there. </p><p>Enter politics: the threat of a Russian invasion south from Alaska. Charles III of Spain ordered an expedition to beat Russia to the territory. So the last two <i>conquistadors</i>—one military, one spiritual—began their quest. José de Galvez persuaded Junipero to set out with him for present-day Monterey, California. The first mission founded after the 900-mile journey north was San Diego (1769). That year a shortage of food almost canceled the expedition. Vowing to stay with the local people, Junipero and another friar began a novena in preparation for St. Joseph’s day, March 19, the scheduled day of departure. On that day, the relief ship arrived. </p><p>Other missions followed: Monterey/Carmel (1770); San Antonio and San Gabriel (1771); San Luís Obispo (1772); San Francisco and San Juan Capistrano (1776); Santa Clara (1777); San Buenaventura (1782). Twelve more were founded after Serra’s death. </p><p>Junipero made the long trip to Mexico City to settle great differences with the military commander. He arrived at the point of death. The outcome was substantially what Junipero sought: the famous “Regulation” protecting the Indians and the missions. It was the basis for the first significant legislation in California, a “Bill of Rights” for Native Americans. </p><p>Because the Native Americans were living a nonhuman life from the Spanish point of view, the friars were made their legal guardians. The Native Americans were kept at the mission after Baptism lest they be corrupted in their former haunts—a move that has brought cries of “injustice” from some moderns. </p><p>Junipero’s missionary life was a long battle with cold and hunger, with unsympathetic military commanders and even with danger of death from non-Christian native peoples. Through it all his unquenchable zeal was fed by prayer each night, often from midnight till dawn. He baptized over 6,000 people and confirmed 5,000. His travels would have circled the globe. He brought the Native Americans not only the gift of faith but also a decent standard of living. He won their love, as witnessed especially by their grief at his death. He is buried at Mission San Carlo Borromeo, Carmel, and was beatified in 1988. Pope Francis canonized him in Washington, D.C., on September 23, 2015.</p> American Catholic Blog Hope and faith can outshine the darkness of evil. However dense the darkness may appear, our hope for the triumph of the light is stronger still. Though violence continues to stain us with blood, the shadows of death can be dissipated with one act of light.

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