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Tyler Perry's Single Moms Club

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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<p>James was born in the Marche of Ancona, in central Italy along the Adriatic Sea. After earning doctorates in canon and civil law at the University of Perugia, he joined the Friars Minor and began a very austere life. He fasted nine months of the year; he slept three hours a night. St. Bernardine of Siena told him to moderate his penances. </p><p>James studied theology with St. John of Capistrano. Ordained in 1420, James began a preaching career that took him all over Italy and through 13 Central and Eastern European countries. This extremely popular preacher converted many people (250,000 at one estimate) and helped spread devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. His sermons prompted numerous Catholics to reform their lives and many men joined the Franciscans under his influence. </p><p>With John of Capistrano, Albert of Sarteano and Bernardine of Siena, James is considered one of the "four pillars" of the Observant movement among the Franciscans. These friars became known especially for their preaching. </p><p>To combat extremely high interest rates, James established <i>montes pietatis</i> (literally, mountains of charity)--nonprofit credit organizations that lent money at very low rates on pawned objects. </p><p>Not everyone was happy with the work James did. Twice assassins lost their nerve when they came face to face with him. James died in 1476 and was canonized in 1726.</p> American Catholic Blog Let us never tire of seeking the Lord—of letting ourselves be sought by him—of tending over our relationship with him in silence and prayerful listening. Let us keep our gaze fixed on him, the center of time and history; let us make room for his presence within us.

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