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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Did You Hear About the Morgans?

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

Not for the first time on screen, blue-state sophisticates discover the joys of red-state down-home living in the pleasant, if largely predictable, romantic comedy "Did You Hear About the Morgans?" (Columbia/Relativity). In this case though, their enforced retreat to the wilds of the High Plains also gives dyed-in-the-wool New Yorkers Paul (Hugh Grant) and Meryl (Sarah Jessica Parker) Morgan the chance to reassess their recently strained union.

Hotshot real estate agent Meryl has shown high-powered lawyer Paul the door for being unfaithful to her during a West Coast business trip. Paul deeply regrets his one-time-only mistake. But his efforts to reunite go nowhere until the separated, though not yet divorced, pair is thrown back together when they accidentally witness the contract killing of an arms dealer who was one of Meryl's clients.

With their lives in danger—the murderer (Michael Kelly) got a look at them, too, and Meryl's face is on ads all over town—the couple has no choice but to enter the witness protection program which abruptly relocates them to the one-gas-station town of Ray, Wyo. Once there, they're sheltered, and shielded, by no-nonsense local sheriff and federal marshal Clay Wheeler (Sam Elliott) and his gun-toting wife, Emma (Mary Steenburgen).

As Paul and Meryl find out what a starry sky looks like outside a planetarium and learn just how much fun the annual rodeo dance can be, they have an opportunity to reconnect and overcome Meryl's recent but deep-seated mistrust. Particularly effective is a scene in which they recall the nontraditional wedding vows they exchanged; hers drawn from a Shakespearean sonnet, his self-written, and only slightly marred by one of the script's few resorts to vaguely sexual humor.

While, as part of her urban persona, Meryl identifies herself as an agnostic, there's little conviction behind the declaration, and it's further undercut when, in the scene referenced above, Paul acknowledges his belief in, and prayer to, the God she doubts.

Though writer-director Marc Lawrence's fish-out-of-water tale necessarily features extensive discussion of the negative effects of infidelity, and also includes considerable talk about the spouses' efforts to conceive, these topics are dealt with in a restrained way, and genuinely objectionable material is mostly absent. Off-color language, for instance, is pretty well restricted to a single use of the S-word and a British slang exclamation drawn from Paul when he fires a rifle for the first time.

As a result, this unabashed celebration of marital love and family life—the straightforward values underlying the comedy are embodied by Clay and Emma's long-standing mutual dedication, which Paul and Meryl eventually seek to emulate—is probably acceptable for older teens, despite the elements listed below.

The film contains adultery and infertility themes, off-screen marital lovemaking, a few mildly sexual jokes and at least one crude and one crass term. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

******
John 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.

Walk Softly and Carry a Great Bag

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

Happy Birthday
May this birthday mark the beginning of new and exciting adventures!

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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