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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Whip It

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

The hard-edged world of women's roller derby provides the setting for the coming-of-age tale "Whip It" (Fox Searchlight). Rather than serving as a forum for feminist self-expression, as first-time director Drew Barrymore seems to intend, the rough and tumble of the showcased competition—with its skimpy outfits and bruising smackdowns calculated to delight boorish male fans—comes across as more exploitative than empowering.

Throwing herself into this ostensibly liberating underground sport is restless small-town Texas high school student Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page). Since her strong-willed, socially ambitious mother Brooke's (Marcia Gay Harden) fondest wish for Bliss is that she become the queen of the local beauty pageant circuit, Bliss carefully conceals her new enthusiasm both from Mom and from her amiable but henpecked father Earl (Daniel Stern).

With the support of her best friend Pash (Alia Shawkat), and despite not having skated since she was a little girl, Bliss gains a spot on an Austin-based team known as the Hurl Scouts, becoming the protege of their captain, Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig). As her skills improve and her star rises, Bliss—who now goes by the moniker Babe Ruthless— discovers romance, falling for derby fan and local rock singer Oliver (Landon Pigg) whom she meets at one of the Scouts' matches.

Barrymore's genre-blending debut—partly a sports drama and a romantic comedy as well as a chronicle of teen maturation—in which she plays Smashley Simpson, another of Bliss' colorfully nicknamed teammates, is buoyed by heartfelt performances from its principals.

But, though Shauna Cross' script, adapted from her own novel of the same title, has Bliss grapple with the negative consequences of premature freedom—and come to a better appreciation of her parents—it also, at least partially, glamorizes her irresponsible sexual experimentation.

The film contains nongraphic nonmarital underage sexual activity, brief partial nudity, underage drinking, occasional irreverence, a few uses of profanity, some sexual humor and references, about a dozen crude terms and much crass language. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

______________________________
Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


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Alphonsus Liguori: 
		<p>Moral theology, Vatican II said, should be more thoroughly nourished by Scripture, and show the nobility of the Christian vocation of the faithful and their obligation to bring forth fruit in charity for the life of the world. Alphonsus, declared patron of moral theologians by Pius XII in 1950, would rejoice in that statement.</p>
		<p>In his day, Alphonsus fought for the liberation of moral theology from the rigidity of Jansenism. His moral theology, which went through 60 editions in the century following him, concentrated on the practical and concrete problems of pastors and confessors. If a certain legalism and minimalism crept into moral theology, it should not be attributed to this model of moderation and gentleness.</p>
		<p>At the University of Naples he received, at the age of 16, a doctorate in both canon and civil law by acclamation, but he soon gave up the practice of law for apostolic activity. He was ordained a priest and concentrated his pastoral efforts on popular (parish) missions, hearing confessions, forming Christian groups. </p>
		<p>He founded the Redemptorist congregation in 1732. It was an association of priests and brothers living a common life, dedicated to the imitation of Christ, and working mainly in popular missions for peasants in rural areas. Almost as an omen of what was to come later, he found himself deserted, after a while, by all his original companions except one lay brother. But the congregation managed to survive and was formally approved 17 years later, though its troubles were not over. </p>
		<p>Alphonsus’ great pastoral reforms were in the pulpit and confessional—replacing the pompous oratory of the time with simplicity, and the rigorism of Jansenism with kindness. His great fame as a writer has somewhat eclipsed the fact that for 26 years he traveled up and down the Kingdom of Naples, preaching popular missions. </p>
		<p>He was made bishop (after trying to reject the honor) at 66 and at once instituted a thorough reform of his diocese. </p>
		<p>His greatest sorrow came toward the end of his life. The Redemptorists, precariously continuing after the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, had difficulty in getting their Rule approved by the Kingdom of Naples. Alphonsus acceded to the condition that they possess no property in common, but a royal official, with the connivance of a high Redemptorist official, changed the Rule substantially. Alphonsus, old, crippled and with very bad sight, signed the document, unaware that he had been betrayed. The Redemptorists in the Papal States then put themselves under the pope, who withdrew those in Naples from the jurisdiction of Alphonsus. It was only after his death that the branches were united. </p>
		<p>At 71 he was afflicted with rheumatic pains which left incurable bending of his neck; until it was straightened a little, the pressure of his chin caused a raw wound on his chest. He suffered a final 18 months of “dark night” scruples, fears, temptations against every article of faith and every virtue, interspersed with intervals of light and relief, when ecstasies were frequent. </p>
		<p>Alphonsus is best known for his moral theology, but he also wrote well in the field of spiritual and dogmatic theology. His <i>Glories of Mary</i> is one of the great works on that subject, and his book <i>Visits to the Blessed Sacrament</i> went through 40 editions in his lifetime, greatly influencing the practice of this devotion in the Church.</p> American Catholic Blog Ultimately there is no friend who can fully understand us, who can walk with us all the way. We must go forward and walk on our own in response to who we are and who we are called to be in God. —Thomas Merton

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