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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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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. Pope Francis canonized him in Washington, D.C., on September 23, 2015.</p> American Catholic Blog Hope and faith can outshine the darkness of evil. However dense the darkness may appear, our hope for the triumph of the light is stronger still. Though violence continues to stain us with blood, the shadows of death can be dissipated with one act of light.

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