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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Monte Carlo

By
Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service


Katie Cassidy, Selena Gomez and Leighton Meester star in a scene from the movie "Monte Carlo."
"Monte Carlo" (Fox) is the flimsiest of teen-girl romantic fantasies based on the sturdiest of ancient tropes, the mistaken-identity plot.

While Selena Gomez, the Disney Channel star at the heart of this overly long but inoffensive enterprise, is no comedic actor, her devoted fans are unlikely to notice.

Director Thomas Bezucha, who co-wrote with April Blair and Maria Maggenti, wisely supports Gomez—in the central role of recent high school grad Grace—with Katie Cassidy as pal Emma and Leighton Meester as stepsister Meg—then sets the trio loose on misadventures in Paris as well as in the principality of the title.

The three girls from a small town in Texas have scrimped and saved for their dream vacation in the City of Light, which, predictably enough, turns out to be the stereotypical low-budget nightmare compounded of bad hotels and a breathless sprint through the sights.

Accidentally separated from their tour at the Eiffel Tower, the friends are drying out from a rainstorm at the nearest luxury hotel when they discover that Grace is a dead ringer for one of the upscale hostelry's current guests, British socialite Cordelia Winthrop Scott (Gomez again, with an accent that slides around like her lip gloss).

The ingenues abroad have only to walk out the door again for this resemblance to launch them on Cordelia's intended trip to Monte Carlo, where an expensive necklace is to be auctioned off for the benefit a school for impoverished children in Romania.

Doing the right thing early on would, of course, kill the plot and the opportunities to stay in a roomy hotel suite, dress up, meet handsome fellows, loll on the beach, and all that good stuff. The girls know there's a moral quandary involved, but it's such a fun time—and for such a fine cause as well.

"It's stealing!" Meg reflects out loud. "It's seizing the moment," Grace replies. And that's about as profound as the ethical debate ever becomes.

On the plus side, the soundtrack includes Louis Armstrong singing all the lyrics to the Edith Piaf classic "La Vie en Rose," to the lush strains of which we stroll toward the happiest of happy wrap-ups.

The film contains some mild sensuality. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II—adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

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



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Alphonsus Liguori: 
		<p>Moral theology, Vatican II said, should be more thoroughly nourished by Scripture, and show the nobility of the Christian vocation of the faithful and their obligation to bring forth fruit in charity for the life of the world. Alphonsus, declared patron of moral theologians by Pius XII in 1950, would rejoice in that statement.</p>
		<p>In his day, Alphonsus fought for the liberation of moral theology from the rigidity of Jansenism. His moral theology, which went through 60 editions in the century following him, concentrated on the practical and concrete problems of pastors and confessors. If a certain legalism and minimalism crept into moral theology, it should not be attributed to this model of moderation and gentleness.</p>
		<p>At the University of Naples he received, at the age of 16, a doctorate in both canon and civil law by acclamation, but she oon gave up the practice of law for apostolic activity. He was ordained a priest and concentrated his pastoral efforts on popular (parish) missions, hearing confessions, forming Christian groups. </p>
		<p>He founded the Redemptorist congregation in 1732. It was an association of priests and brothers living a common life, dedicated to the imitation of Christ, and working mainly in popular missions for peasants in rural areas. Almost as an omen of what was to come later, he found himself deserted, after a while, by all his original companions except one lay brother. But the congregation managed to survive and was formally approved 17 years later, though its troubles were not over. </p>
		<p>Alphonsus’ great pastoral reforms were in the pulpit and confessional—replacing the pompous oratory of the time with simplicity, and the rigorism of Jansenism with kindness. His great fame as a writer has somewhat eclipsed the fact that for 26 years he traveled up and down the Kingdom of Naples, preaching popular missions. </p>
		<p>He was made bishop (after trying to reject the honor) at 66 and at once instituted a thorough reform of his diocese. </p>
		<p>His greatest sorrow came toward the end of his life. The Redemptorists, precariously continuing after the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, had difficulty in getting their Rule approved by the Kingdom of Naples. Alphonsus acceded to the condition that they possess no property in common, but a royal official, with the connivance of a high Redemptorist official, changed the Rule substantially. Alphonsus, old, crippled and with very bad sight, signed the document, unaware that he had been betrayed. The Redemptorists in the Papal States then put themselves under the pope, who withdrew those in Naples from the jurisdiction of Alphonsus. It was only after his death that the branches were united. </p>
		<p>At 71 he was afflicted with rheumatic pains which left incurable bending of his neck; until it was straightened a little, the pressure of his chin caused a raw wound on his chest. He suffered a final 18 months of “dark night” scruples, fears, temptations against every article of faith and every virtue, interspersed with intervals of light and relief, when ecstasies were frequent. </p>
		<p>Alphonsus is best known for his moral theology, but he also wrote well in the field of spiritual and dogmatic theology. His <i>Glories of Mary</i> is one of the great works on that subject, and his book <i>Visits to the Blessed Sacrament</i> went through 40 editions in his lifetime, greatly influencing the practice of this devotion in the Church.</p>
American Catholic Blog Those who want to participate more fully in salvation history are comforted by the fact that Jesus wants to walk with us in our suffering and wants to break bread to give us strength on our way.

 
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