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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Stepfather

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

"The Stepfather" (Screen Gems) is director Nelson McCormick's tedious remake of Joseph Rubin's 1987 chillfest of the same title which, like its two sequels, received an "O" classification from the Office for Film & Broadcasting. Though the homicidal episodes in this misguided attempt at a reboot are relatively restrained, the moral outlook of the latest version earns it a similar thumbs-down.

Returning home from the military school to which he has been consigned for past unruliness, Michael (Penn Badgley) finds his divorced mother, Susan (Sela Ward), living with, and engaged to, David (Dylan Walsh), a seemingly affable but strangely resume-free fellow she met in a grocery store.

As the audience knows from the opening scenes, and as Michael gradually begins to suspect, David's smiles and pro-family sentiments disguise a murderous agenda, though no coherent motive is ever suggested for his pursuit of it. With viewers thus deliberately tipped off to the mystery man's true identity from the start, the only potential for suspense lies in waiting for the other characters—a remarkably dense lot—to catch up with the audience.

In the interval, we're introduced to Michael's girlfriend, Kelly (Amber Heard), whose wardrobe seems to consist almost entirely of bikinis and underwear, and to Susan's sister, who is involved in a lesbian relationship that J.S. Cardone's script implicitly and matter-of-factly endorses.

Though scenes of Michael and Kelly clinching on his bed or in the backyard pool are not overly explicit, the fact that both are still in high school suggests that such activity is not only maritally but developmentally premature.

The film contains a benign view of homosexual acts, cohabitation, brief nongraphic nonmarital (possibly underage) sexual activity, moderate criminal violence, a half-dozen uses of profanity, and a few crude and crass terms. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is O—morally offensive. 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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Gregory VII: The 10th century and the first half of the 11th were dark days for the Church, partly because the papacy was the pawn of various Roman families. In 1049, things began to change when Pope Leo IX, a reformer, was elected. He brought a young monk named Hildebrand to Rome as his counselor and special representative on important missions. He was to become Gregory VII. 
<p>Three evils plagued the Church then: simony (the buying and selling of sacred offices and things), the unlawful marriage of the clergy and lay investiture (kings and nobles controlling the appointment of Church officials). To all of these Hildebrand directed his reformer’s attention, first as counselor to the popes and later (1073-1085) as pope himself. </p><p>Gregory’s papal letters stress the role of bishop of Rome as the vicar of Christ and the visible center of unity in the Church. He is well known for his long dispute with Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV over who should control the selection of bishops and abbots. </p><p>Gregory fiercely resisted any attack on the liberty of the Church. For this he suffered and finally died in exile. He said, “I have loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore I die in exile.” Thirty years later the Church finally won its struggle against lay investiture.</p> American Catholic Blog In Christ, true God and true man, our humanity was taken to God. Christ opened the path to us. If we entrust our life to him, if we let ourselves be guided by him, we are certain to be in safe hands, in the hands of our Savior.

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