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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Larry Crowne

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

I wanted to like “Larry Crowne”, a new film directed by the brilliant Oscar-winner Tom Hanks and co-written with Nia Vardalos, who gave us the wonderful film “My Big Fat Greet Wedding” in 2002. Yes, I was looking forward to seeing “Larry Crowne” but the best thing about it was seeing it after “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”. It gave me a chance to unwind. Unfortunately, I almost fell asleep.
 
Larry (Tom Hanks) is a middle-aged retail worker who gets along with everyone. He’s been employee of the month nine times. But he is fired because he does not have a college diploma and cannot advance in the company. He was in the Navy for twenty years but this does not seem to count. Recently divorced with no children, he regroups – and buys a motor scooter from his next-door neighbor with a never-ending yard sale, Lamar (Cedric the Entertainer), to save on gas.
 
An advisor suggests that Larry take a speech class and another on basic economics. The speech teacher, Mercedes (Julia Roberts), is unhappy but her class of ten students responds to her reluctant teaching, much to her surprise. When Larry offers her a ride after a disastrous dinner with her porn-addicted husband,  Mercedes responds to his genuine and gentle kindness.
 
The class is made up of interesting people but they really never get a chance to develop, and the storyline for one girl who drops out to open a business, is never really concluded. There was one student, though, that caught my eye; she looked just like Mamie Gummer, daughter of Meryl Streep, who has had a recurring role as a deliciously devious and brilliant attorney on CBS “The Good Wife”.  The credits listed her as Grace Gummer, another of Meryl Streep’s four children. Grace has a small role here, but she may be an actress to watch.
 
The economics class starts off well; the professor, Dr. Matsutani (George Takei)  thinks he’s a comedian but he speaks so slowly that the film’s energy drops every time we end up in his class.
 
“Larry Crowne” is a good-hearted film that wants to encourage people in economically depressed times, to re-train, go back to school, and for some audiences, this will resonate.  It makes a great point that pornography destroys relationships (without showing any). But the mega-watt star power of Hanks and Roberts overwhelms the simplicity of the script that never quite finds its footing.




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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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