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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

This Means War

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Tom Hardy, Reese Witherspoon and Chris Pine star in "This Means War."
Ill-conceived cinematically, and pervaded by a misguided view of human sexuality, the action and romance blend "This Means War" (Fox) quickly fights itself to a stalemate.

Director McG tracks the rivalry between two CIA agents and best friends, FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy), after they both fall for perky consumer goods tester Lauren (Reese Witherspoon). While her suitors bring the resources of the spy world to bear in an increasingly frantic effort to thwart each other, confused Lauren turns for advice to her closest pal Trish (Chelsea Handler). Trish's pointers, though meant to be comic, are more often low-minded. Indeed, the occasional one-liner aside, the humor on offer here rarely works.

Suave FDR — named, and nicknamed, for the 32nd president — is the footloose playboy type. Tuck, the divorced father of a young son, is not only out of practice at playing the field; he's also shown, early on, to be anxious for reconciliation with ex-wife Katie (Abigail Leigh Spencer).

The path to a generally moral -- though not unmixed — wrap-up sees FDR sufficiently smitten with Lauren to consider a committed lifestyle. Still, Timothy Dowling and Simon Kinberg's script takes it for granted that a dating couple reach the bedroom together long before they get anywhere near the altar. And, since Lauren is a partner in two such pairings simultaneously, we are left in at least temporary suspense as to how many beds she may be occupying in sequential short order.

The fairly transparent effort to craft a date movie with appeal to both genders, moreover, means that the main duo's competitive wooing is interspersed with explosions, gunplay and hand-to-hand combat. The springboard for introducing these elements is a subplot about an international arms dealer named Heinrich (Til Schweiger) whose machinations FDR and Tuck have been assigned to foil.

"War ... what is it good for?" demanded a classic 1970 Motown tune. In the case of this onscreen dust-up, the answer is, not a whole lot.

The film contains considerable action violence, skewed sexual values, brief semigraphic premarital sexual activity, a few instances of profanity, some adult humor and references, at least one use of the F-word and about a dozen crude or crass terms. 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.

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



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Maria Goretti: One of the largest crowds ever assembled for a canonization—250,000—symbolized the reaction of millions touched by the simple story of Maria Goretti. 
<p>She was the daughter of a poor Italian tenant farmer, had no chance to go to school, never learned to read or write. When she made her First Communion not long before her death at age 12, she was one of the larger and somewhat backward members of the class. </p><p>On a hot afternoon in July, Maria was sitting at the top of the stairs of her house, mending a shirt. She was not quite 12 years old, but physically mature. A cart stopped outside, and a neighbor, Alessandro, 18 years old, ran up the stairs. He seized her and pulled her into a bedroom. She struggled and tried to call for help. “No, God does not wish it," she cried out. "It is a sin. You would go to hell for it.” Alessandro began striking at her blindly with a long dagger. </p><p>She was taken to a hospital. Her last hours were marked by the usual simple compassion of the good—concern about where her mother would sleep, forgiveness of her murderer (she had been in fear of him, but did not say anything lest she cause trouble to his family) and her devout welcoming of Viaticum, her last Holy Communion. She died about 24 hours after the attack. </p><p>Her murderer was sentenced to 30 years in prison. For a long time he was unrepentant and surly. One night he had a dream or vision of Maria, gathering flowers and offering them to him. His life changed. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria’s mother. </p><p>Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her mother (then 82), two sisters and a brother appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter’s. Three years later, at her canonization, a 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, may the medals we wear be constant reminders of the lives they depict. While wearing them, may we be blessed through the saints’ intercession and protected from harm. Help us to continue to spread the messages of Jesus and Mary and the saints and angels.

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