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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Jumping the Broom

By
Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service


Laz Alonso and Paula Patton star in a scene from the movie "Jumping the Broom."
Expertly performed faith-tinged family comedies such as "Jumping the Broom" (TriStar) are such a rare and welcome treat, is it even fair to quibble?

We must. The family secret at the heart of the plot is so emotionally painful and morally and legally complex, it would stop people in their tracks in real life, after which they would probably seek out the likes of Dr. Phil.

There is a clergyman on hand -- the Rev. James, played by Bishop T.D. Jakes, senior pastor of the Potter's Field megachurch in Dallas, and also a producer of this film. But director Salim Akil and screenwriters Elizabeth Hunter and Arlene Gibbs use him mostly as window dressing; he offers some wisdom about soul mates early on, and delivers a sermonette at the end.

But, in between, the characters are left to sort out their serious conflicts without his counsel.

It's a false note in an otherwise engaging story about the lead-up to a Martha's Vineyard wedding. The nuptials will unite stockbroker Jason Taylor (Laz Alonso), the son of overprotective Brooklyn postal worker Pam (Loretta Devine), who struggles with anger issues, and lawyer Sabrina Watson (Paula Patton), the daughter of wealthy Claudine and Greg (Angela Bassett and Brian Stokes Mitchell), who are edging toward a divorce.

There are unexpected twists mixed in with the helpings of sweet potato pie and the time-honored formula of upscale vs. downscale. Sabrina and Jason have known each other only six months, and because of a promise she made to God about leading a chaste life, they're not having premarital sex.

Pam's devoted Bible reading, though sincerely pursued, is shown to be less than effective in keeping her on the side of righteousness. And, of course, the Watsons' money and accoutrements prove useless in shielding them from devastating family issues.

Problems are resolved in a series of quick conversations, since the bickering and divergences between the two families (both mothers are masters of the comic slow burn) are mere speed bumps on the way to...well, it is a comedy.

The film contains mature themes; fleeting, mild sexual banter; and a couple of references to masturbation. The Catholic News Service 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.

*****
Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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Katharine Drexel: If your father is an international banker and you ride in a private railroad car, you are not likely to be drawn into a life of voluntary poverty. But if your mother opens your home to the poor three days each week and your father spends half an hour each evening in prayer, it is not impossible that you will devote your life to the poor and give away millions of dollars. Katharine Drexel did that. 
<p>She was born in Philadelphia in 1858. She had an excellent education and traveled widely. As a rich girl, she had a grand debut into society. But when she nursed her stepmother through a three-year terminal illness, she saw that all the Drexel money could not buy safety from pain or death, and her life took a profound turn. </p><p>She had always been interested in the plight of the Indians, having been appalled by what she read in Helen Hunt Jackson’s <i>A Century of Dishonor</i>. While on a European tour, she met Pope Leo XIII and asked him to send more missionaries to Wyoming for her friend Bishop James O’Connor. The pope replied, “Why don’t you become a missionary?” His answer shocked her into considering new possibilities. </p><p>Back home, Katharine visited the Dakotas, met the Sioux leader Red Cloud and began her systematic aid to Indian missions. </p><p>She could easily have married. But after much discussion with Bishop O’Connor, she wrote in 1889, “The feast of St. Joseph brought me the grace to give the remainder of my life to the Indians and the Colored.” Newspaper headlines screamed “Gives Up Seven Million!” </p><p>After three and a half years of training, she and her first band of nuns (Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored) opened a boarding school in Santa Fe. A string of foundations followed. By 1942 she had a system of black Catholic schools in 13 states, plus 40 mission centers and 23 rural schools. Segregationists harassed her work, even burning a school in Pennsylvania. In all, she established 50 missions for Indians in 16 states. </p><p>Two saints met when Katharine was advised by Mother Cabrini about the “politics” of getting her Order’s Rule approved in Rome. Her crowning achievement was the founding of Xavier University in New Orleans, the first Catholic university in the United States for African Americans. </p><p>At 77, she suffered a heart attack and was forced to retire. Apparently her life was over. But now came almost 20 years of quiet, intense prayer from a small room overlooking the sanctuary. Small notebooks and slips of paper record her various prayers, ceaseless aspirations and meditation. She died at 96 and was canonized in 2000.</p> American Catholic Blog Our task during these forty days is to examine our lives in light of God’s Word and see where we’ve allowed darkness to creep in, where we’ve taken the bait of the diabolical fisher of men. It’s time to use the sword of the Spirit to cut through his web of deception, to free ourselves from the net that holds us as prey.


 
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