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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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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.</p> American Catholic Blog God is great. God is good. And God, in his fatherly love, has a plan for our lives that will work out for our benefit and salvation. All we have to do is trust and obey.

The Gospel of John the Gospel of Relationship

 
CATHOLIC GREETINGS
Blessed Junipero Serra
This Franciscan friar was instrumental in founding many of California’s mission churches.

Happy Birthday
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Sts. Peter and Paul
Honored both separately and together, these apostles were probably martyred during the reign of the emperor Nero.

Wedding
Help the bride and groom see their love as a mirror of God’s love.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help
God gave Mary to us as a help in our quest for holiness.




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