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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Valentine's Day

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

Director Garry Marshall's ensemble romantic comedy "Valentine's Day" (New Line)—though chockablock with talented stars—is as unengaging as it is unwieldy. Worse, as penned by Katherine Fugate, this tale of loves lost and found, while rejecting marital infidelity, otherwise takes the full physical expression of affection as a given, before marriage, before college and between members of the same gender.

The script charts the amorous ups and downs of a series of interconnected Los Angelenos over the titular holiday, beginning with the early-morning proposal of starry-eyed florist Reed (Ashton Kutcher) to his work-obsessed girlfriend Morley (Jessica Alba). Since the pair already lives together, Reed only has to go around the foot of the bed to pop the question.

Reed's best friend is elementary school teacher Julia (Jennifer Garner), who wakes up beside her newfound beau, cardiologist Harrison (Patrick Dempsey). He's off on a trip to San Francisco that will prevent him from taking Julia to dinner on the most sentimentally significant night of the year, so we immediately sense there's something wrong, even if Julia doesn't.

Edison (Bryce Robinson), one of Julia's fifth-graders, lives with his grandparents Estelle and Edgar (Shirley MacLaine and Hector Elizondo), who are preparing to renew their vows after more than 50 years of marriage. But former screen ingenue Estelle has a long pent-up secret that could derail their return to the altar.

Edison's 18-year-old baby-sitter Grace (Emma Roberts) plans to spend the afternoon consummating her relationship with high school classmate, boyfriend and fellow virgin Alex (Carter Jenkins). Though Grace eventually has second thoughts, her reasons for delay are as irresponsible as Alex's unabashed longing for immediate gratification.

Other plotlines involve Jamie Foxx as a sportswriter, Eric Dane as pro football player with a clouded future, Queen Latifah as the athlete's no-nonsense agent, and Anne Hathaway as a secretary at the agent's office who moonlights as a sex phone worker. And that's not to mention Julia Roberts as a furloughed army Captain.

While, as the Bard assures us, "The course of true love never did run smooth," here, neither does the course of shacking up, talking dirty for extra pay or bedding down—as Hathaway's character also does—with someone you've been dating for all of two weeks.

The film contains implicit approval of nonmarital sexual activity and homosexual acts, partial nudity, adultery and phone-sex themes, sexual references and jokes, brief irreverent humor and a half-dozen crude and some 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.

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


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Augustine of Hippo: A Christian at 33, a priest at 36, a bishop at 41: Many people are familiar with the biographical sketch of Augustine of Hippo, sinner turned saint. But really to get to know the man is a rewarding experience. 
<p>There quickly surfaces the intensity with which he lived his life, whether his path led away from or toward God. The tears of his mother (August 27), the instructions of Ambrose (December 7) and, most of all, God himself speaking to him in the Scriptures redirected Augustine’s love of life to a life of love. </p><p>Having been so deeply immersed in creature-pride of life in his early days and having drunk deeply of its bitter dregs, it is not surprising that Augustine should have turned, with a holy fierceness, against the many demon-thrusts rampant in his day. His times were truly decadent—politically, socially, morally. He was both feared and loved, like the Master. The perennial criticism leveled against him: a fundamental rigorism. </p><p>In his day, he providentially fulfilled the office of prophet. Like Jeremiah and other greats, he was hard-pressed but could not keep quiet. “I say to myself, I will not mention him,/I will speak in his name no more./But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,/imprisoned in my bones;/I grow weary holding it in,/I cannot endure it” (Jeremiah 20:9).</p> American Catholic Blog Silence is the ability to trust that God is acting, teaching, and using me—even before I perform or after my seeming failures. Silence is the necessary space around things that allows them to develop and flourish without my pushing. God takes it from there.

 
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