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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Tyler Perry's Single Moms Club

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Zulay Henao, Cocoa Brown and Nia Long star in "Tyler Perry's Single Moms Club."
Consummate funnyman Groucho Marx is said to have observed that he didn't want to belong to any club that would have him as a member.

Moviegoers considering enrollment in "Tyler Perry's Single Moms Club" (Lionsgate) should exercise a similar, if less ironic, sense of caution.

There's an artificial air to this ensemble seriocomedy. That's primarily because the socially diverse but uniformly beleaguered women at the heart of the story come across more as serviceable types than real individuals.

They range from uptight, career-obsessed publisher Jan (Wendi McLendon-Covey) to diner waitress —and don't-mess-with-me Earth mother—Lytia (Cocoa Brown). Hovering between those two extreme poles are journalist May (Nia Long), overwhelmed suburban housewife Hillary (Amy Smart) and unemployed Esperanza (Zulay Henao), whose lack of a career makes her dependent on the largesse of her manipulative former husband, Santos (Eddie Cibrian).

The prospect of new love helps at least some of the ladies cope with such challenges as troubled kids, professional setbacks and domineering exes. May falls for theater technician T.K. (Perry), Esperanza has been cohabiting with bartender Manny (William Levy) but concealing it from Santos, while Lytia keeps rebuffing the determined advances of happy-go-lucky auto repairman Branson (Terry Crews).

In charting his central quintet's growing friendship—they eventually form the grouping of the title to offer one another support in their travails—Perry, who also wrote and directed, shows many of the negative effects of divorce.

But his script implicitly accepts Esperanza and Manny's sexual relationship. It also affirms the never-married Jan in her long-ago decision to conceive her daughter, Katie (Cassie Brennan), through artificial insemination. This is at least partially balanced, though, by Katie's outspoken objection to the fact that she will never know who her father is.

Finally, passing, almost pro-forma approval is given to homosexual acts after one character mistakenly assumes that another is a lesbian: The price of the joke is a "not that there's anything wrong with that"-style backtrack.

Given these off-kilter bedroom (and laboratory) ethics, adult viewers will have to decide whether the forced proceedings on offer are worth the effort of straining out such currently widespread but scripturally unwarranted attitudes.

The film contains misguided sexual values, a premarital situation, much adult humor and some crass language. 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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Monica: The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism. 
<p>Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine (August 28) , is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy (all flesh is evil)  and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted. </p><p>When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan. </p><p>In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste. </p><p>She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death. </p><p>Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of St. Augustine, especially his <i>Confessions</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog Heavenly Father, I am sure there are frequently tiny miracles where you protect us and are present to us although you always remain anonymous. Help me appreciate how carefully you watch over me and my loved ones all day long, and be sensitive enough to stay close to you. I ask this in Jesus's name. Amen.

 
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