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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Bandslam

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Tim Jo, Alyson and Charlie Saxon star in a scene from the movie "Bandslam."
Residents of Lodi, N.J., will likely be pleased with the plot of "Bandslam" (Summit/Walden); the citizens of Cincinnati not so much. That's because the teenage hero of this genial comedy with music finds social success in the former burg after being bullied and harassed by his peers in the latter, the Queen City.
 
When his divorced mother, Karen (Lisa Kudrow), relocates east, friendless high school student Will (Gaelan Connell) sees the chance for a fresh start with a new image. Even his fondest hopes are surpassed, though, when popular, attractive cheerleader-type Charlotte (Alyson Michalka) befriends him, initially drafting him to work at the day care center where she volunteers.
 
Discovering that Will possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of pop music, Charlotte makes him the manager of the floundering rock group she fronts as lead singer. They're preparing for the titular competition, where they hope to best the formidable band led by Charlotte's ex-boyfriend, Ben (Scott Porter).
 
As Will—with a swiftness only possible on the big screen—transforms both himself and his new proteges, his confidence gets a further boost from his blossoming romance with bookish goth Sa5m (Vanessa Hudgens). (The 5, she explains, is silent.)
 
Naturally there are complications, and the youthful cast, which generally delivers the comic and musical material with aplomb, is less adept at navigating the dramatic passages.
 
These more downbeat scenes deal with a few mature topics, such as the fatal consequences of a long-ago drunk-driving accident. But the nearest thing to edgy material is a running gag about the group's drummer, Basher (Ryan Donawho), who declares his preference for "older chicks," and becomes mildly infatuated with Karen.
 
The script, co-written by director Todd Graff and Josh A. Cagan, makes it abundantly clear that this comic fancy will lead to nothing.
 
Despite its classification, "Bandslam" is unlikely to interest very young viewers. But this exuberant salute to clique-defying friendship is free of anything unsuitable for the tween-and-up audience at whom it's aimed.
 
The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-I—general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
 
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Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.




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Monica: The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism. 
<p>Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine (August 28) , is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy (all flesh is evil)  and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted. </p><p>When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan. </p><p>In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste. </p><p>She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death. </p><p>Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of St. Augustine, especially his <i>Confessions</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog The Church really is my mother, too. She isn’t a vague maternal force for a generic collection of anonymous people. This Mother truly nurtures us—each one of us. And for those of us who are baptized Christians, the Church has actually given birth to us on a spiritual level.

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