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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Love & Other Drugs

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

With a satire of the drug industry in the background and an excess of bare flesh to the fore, "Love & Other Drugs" (Fox)—a potentially touching romance about the ennobling effects of heartfelt ardor—goes thoroughly awry due to misguided values.

In adapting—and fictionalizing—Jamie Reidy's 2005 memoir "Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman," director and co-writer (with Charles Randolph) Edward Zwick tells the tale of slick pharmaceuticals seller Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal) and vulnerable artist Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway).

Smooth-talking womanizer Jamie and relationship-phobic Maggie—afflicted with early onset Parkinson's disease, she's afraid to become a burden to any potential partner— hook up for commitment-free sex. But gradually, despite themselves, they find their alley-cat connection deepening into love.

With Maggie recognizing qualities in self-doubting Jamie's character that others around him fail to notice and with Jamie struggling to find the courage to offer Maggie a lifetime of support, the pair's rise from hedonism has the makings of an engaging conversion story. Their initial high jinks, however, are not only intruded on in a needlessly graphic way, but also presented as perfectly acceptable, if not exactly ideal.

The script consistently confuses vulgarity with sexual frankness and seeks laughs by showcasing wayward behavior. Thus, crowds of extras clamor for their Viagra fix and Jamie plays the panderer for a prominent doctor (Hank Azaria) he's trying to convince to purchase his wares. Doc repays the favor by inviting Jamie to an orgy.

All of this reaches a queasy low point in a scene that plays for laughs the fact that Jamie's brother Josh (Josh Gad)—who has moved in with Jamie after quarreling with his wife—has been pleasuring himself to one of Jamie and Maggie's homemade sex tapes.

The film contains strong sexual content, including brief graphic nonmarital activity; offscreen group sex and masturbation; fleeting pornographic images; upper female, rear and partial nudity; much sexual humor; about 15 uses of profanity; and pervasive rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O—morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R —restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.


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Maria Goretti: One of the largest crowds ever assembled for a canonization—250,000—symbolized the reaction of millions touched by the simple story of Maria Goretti. 
<p>She was the daughter of a poor Italian tenant farmer, had no chance to go to school, never learned to read or write. When she made her First Communion not long before her death at age 12, she was one of the larger and somewhat backward members of the class. </p><p>On a hot afternoon in July, Maria was sitting at the top of the stairs of her house, mending a shirt. She was not quite 12 years old, but physically mature. A cart stopped outside, and a neighbor, Alessandro, 18 years old, ran up the stairs. He seized her and pulled her into a bedroom. She struggled and tried to call for help. “No, God does not wish it," she cried out. "It is a sin. You would go to hell for it.” Alessandro began striking at her blindly with a long dagger. </p><p>She was taken to a hospital. Her last hours were marked by the usual simple compassion of the good—concern about where her mother would sleep, forgiveness of her murderer (she had been in fear of him, but did not say anything lest she cause trouble to his family) and her devout welcoming of Viaticum, her last Holy Communion. She died about 24 hours after the attack. </p><p>Her murderer was sentenced to 30 years in prison. For a long time he was unrepentant and surly. One night he had a dream or vision of Maria, gathering flowers and offering them to him. His life changed. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria’s mother. </p><p>Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her mother (then 82), two sisters and a brother appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter’s. Three years later, at her canonization, a 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, may the medals we wear be constant reminders of the lives they depict. While wearing them, may we be blessed through the saints’ intercession and protected from harm. Help us to continue to spread the messages of Jesus and Mary and the saints and angels.

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