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Monte Carlo

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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John of Monte Corvino: At a time when the Church was heavily embroiled in nationalistic rivalries within Europe, it was also reaching across Asia to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Mongols. John of Monte Corvino went to China about the same time Marco Polo was returning. 
<p>John was a soldier, judge and doctor before he became a friar. Prior to going to Tabriz, Persia (present-day Iran), in 1278, he was well known for his preaching and teaching. In 1291 he left Tabriz as a legate of Pope Nicholas IV to the court of Kublai Khan. An Italian merchant, a Dominican friar and John traveled to western India where the Dominican died. When John and the Italian merchant arrived in China in 1294, Kublai Khan had recently died. </p><p>Nestorian Christians, successors to the dissidents of the fifth-century Council of Ephesus’ teaching on Jesus Christ, had been in China since the seventh century. John converted some of them and also some of the Chinese, including Prince George from Tenduk, northwest of Beijing. Prince George named his son after this holy friar. </p><p>John established his headquarters in Khanbalik (now Beijing), where he built two churches; his was the first resident Catholic mission in the country. By 1304 he had translated the Psalms and the New Testament into the Tatar language. </p><p>Responding to two letters from John, Pope Clement V named John Archbishop of Khanbalik in 1307 and consecrated seven friars as bishops of neighboring dioceses. One of the seven never left Europe. Three others died along the way to China; the remaining three bishops and the friars who accompanied them arrived there in 1308. </p><p>When John died in 1328, he was mourned by Christians and non-Christians. His tomb quickly became a place of pilgrimage. In 1368, Christianity was banished from China when the Mongols were expelled and the Ming dynasty began. John’s cause has been introduced in Rome.</p> American Catholic Blog We look ahead to the coming of the Son of Man, standing erect and with heads held high. We live in hope, not in fear. Our experience of God is no longer limited by human weakness or even human sinfulness. God has always been one step ahead of us, with a plan that exceeds our greatest desires.

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