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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Jack and Jill

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

The sad arithmetic of the latest Adam Sandler offering "Jack and Jill" (Columbia) is that a double serving of its star—one in drag—adds up, in the end, to a half-witted comedy. Too crude for kids and too puerile for their elders, moreover, director Dennis Dugan's grab bag of potty humor, harsh slapstick and pop-culture gags commands an appropriate audience of just about zero.

Sandler plays both titular characters—the former a successful Los Angeles advertising executive, the latter his well-meaning but irksome, Bronx-based twin sister. When Jill comes to town for her annual Thanksgiving visit, she warms the hearts of Jack's dutiful wife Erin (Katie Holmes) and their duo of young'uns, son Gary (Rohan Chand) and daughter Sofia (Elodie Tougne).

But the ad man himself can hardly wait for Jill to leave again. Until, that is, she artlessly manages to win the heart of Al Pacino (playing himself), whom Jack has been trying to convince to appear in a Dunkin' Donuts commercial.

As the unlikely second half of that sentence suggests, Pacino gamely makes fun of his own persona throughout. And there are numerous other celebrity sightings; in one, Johnny Depp shows up beside Pacino at a Lakers game, sporting a Justin Bieber T-shirt.

So much for the high end of the comic spectrum. The nadir of the other extremity is reached when Jill samples Mexican food for the first time, with grimly predictably—and raucous—results. It seems that Jack and Erin's Latino gardener, Felipe (Eugenio Derbez), who's also smitten with Jill, has taken her to a family picnic. So we're treated to some ethnic frolicking before the bathroom bombardment commences.

Incidentally (for so it's treated), as the sight of a lighted menorah in their window indicates, Jack and his close-knit clan are sufficiently observant Jews to mark Hanukkah. It's mentioned in passing that Erin is a convert to Judaism, though from what—if anything—is never specified.

This being Hollywood, one can be grateful for any respectful reference to scriptural faith, however fleeting. As for the rest, it's not worth breaking your crown.

The film contains much violent slapstick and gross scatological humor, brief implied nudity, some sexual jokes and adult references and at least one crass term. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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John Henry Newman: John Henry Newman, the 19th-century's most important English-speaking Roman Catholic theologian, spent the first half of his life as an Anglican and the second half as a Roman Catholic. He was a priest, popular preacher, writer, and eminent theologian in both Churches. <br /><br />Born in London, England, he studied at Oxford's Trinity College, was a tutor at Oriel College and for 17 years was vicar of the university church, St. Mary the Virgin. He eventually published eight volumes of <i>Parochial and Plain Sermons</i> as well as two novels. His poem, "Dream of Gerontius," was set to music by Sir Edward Elgar.<br /> <br />After 1833, Newman was a prominent member of the Oxford Movement, which emphasized the Church's debt to the Church Fathers and challenged any tendency to consider truth as completely subjective.<br /> <br />Historical research made Newman suspect that the Roman Catholic Church was in closest continuity with the Church that Jesus established. In 1845, he was received into full communion as a Catholic. Two years later he was ordained a Catholic priest in Rome and joined the Congregation of the Oratory, founded three centuries earlier by St. Philip Neri. Returning to England, Newman founded Oratory houses in Birmingham and London and for seven years served as rector of the Catholic University of Ireland. <br /><br />Before Newman, Catholic theology tended to ignore history, preferring instead to draw deductions from first principles—much as plane geometry does. After Newman, the lived experience of believers was recognized as a key part of theological reflection.<br /> <br />Newman eventually wrote 40 books and 21,000 letters that survive. Most famous are his book-length <i>Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine</i>, <i>On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine</i>, <i>Apologia Pro Vita Sua</i> (his spiritual autobiography up to 1864) and <i>Essay on the Grammar of Assent</i>. He accepted Vatican I's teaching on papal infallibility while noting its limits, which many people who favored that definition were reluctant to do.<br /><br />When Newman was named a cardinal in 1879, he took as his motto <i>"Cor ad cor loquitur"</i> (Heart speaks to heart). He was buried in Rednal (near Birmingham) 11 years later. After his grave was exhumed in 2008, a new tomb was prepared at the Oratory church in Birmingham.<br /><br />Three years after Newman died, a Newman Club for Catholic students began at the University of Pittsburgh. In time, his name was linked to ministry centers at many public and private colleges and universities in the United States.<br /><br />Pope Benedict XVI beatified Newman on September 19, 2010, at Crofton Park (near Birmingham). The pope noted Newman's emphasis on the vital place of revealed religion in civilized society but also praised his pastoral zeal for the sick, the poor, the bereaved and those in prison. American Catholic Blog God’s job, I think, is to keep lovingly disrupting our lives, and our job is to see if there are fresh opportunities for faith hidden within those disruptions. As a result, God keeps finding fresh ways to shake up our complacencies and challenge us to resist the seductive temptation to play the victim.

 
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