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Jumping the Broom

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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Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog I discovered that my sins had created a spiritual racket that drowned out the gentle whispers of God to my soul; God had never actually abandoned me, but I needed repentance and sacramental grace to reawaken all that was good and beautiful in me.

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