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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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Gregory the Great: Coming events cast their shadows before: Gregory was the prefect of Rome before he was 30. After five years in office he resigned, founded six monasteries on his Sicilian estate and became a Benedictine monk in his own home at Rome. 
<p>Ordained a priest, he became one of the pope's seven deacons, and also served six years in the East as papal representative in Constantinople. He was recalled to become abbot, and at the age of 50 was elected pope by the clergy and people of Rome. </p><p>He was direct and firm. He removed unworthy priests from office, forbade taking money for many services, emptied the papal treasury to ransom prisoners of the Lombards and to care for persecuted Jews and the victims of plague and famine. He was very concerned about the conversion of England, sending 40 monks from his own monastery. He is known for his reform of the liturgy, for strengthening respect for doctrine. Whether he was largely responsible for the revision of "Gregorian" chant is disputed. </p><p>Gregory lived in a time of perpetual strife with invading Lombards and difficult relations with the East. When Rome itself was under attack, he interviewed the Lombard king. </p><p>An Anglican historian has written: "It is impossible to conceive what would have been the confusion, the lawlessness, the chaotic state of the Middle Ages without the medieval papacy; and of the medieval papacy, the real father is Gregory the Great." </p><p>His book, <i>Pastoral Care</i>, on the duties and qualities of a bishop, was read for centuries after his death. He described bishops mainly as physicians whose main duties were preaching and the enforcement of discipline. In his own down-to-earth preaching, Gregory was skilled at applying the daily gospel to the needs of his listeners. Called "the Great," Gregory has been given a place with Augustine (August 28), Ambrose (December 7) and Jerome (September 30)as one of the four key doctors of the Western Church.</p> American Catholic Blog Loving trust and total surrender made Our Lady say yes to the message of the angel, and cheerfulness made her run in haste to serve her cousin Elizabeth. So much in our lives, too, is saying yes to Jesus, and running haste to serve him in the poorest of the poor.  –Mother Theresa

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