Movie REviews REviews by scripture reviews by alphabet
About the CRitic links
                             Singing The Same Song
"El Cantante" ("The Singer"):  The life of Puerto Rican singer Hector Lavoe (Marc Anthony), the first "King of Salsa" (of the 1970's), as told in retrospect from his Bronx-born widow (Jennifer Lopez, the "real-life" wife of Marc Anthony).  The pervasive language, constant drug and alcohol abuse, persistent infidelities, and family estrangements in this time-warp biopic are not altogether outweighed by the slick production performances, which are passionate but formulaic, perhaps because there's no new material here.  Aside from the viewer frustration of some Spanglish--both sung and spoken-- not being translated, it's difficult to find anybody to like--much less root for--- in this depressing musical biography.
"Hairspray":  This straight-from Broadway musical is not at all depressing, but it is preachy.  Set in the 1960's in Baltimore, it follows the dreams of a teenage girl (Nikki Blonsky) whose body type does not fit the television image, but her charm, enthusiasm, and perky persistence get her foot in the stage door.  Once on the small screen (in an American Bandstand-style local dance show), she experiences instant fame, because every imperfect person identifies with her (and who among us is not imperfect?), and is unabashedly rooting for her.  She then utilizes her newfound local celebrity status as a platform to march for civil rights, and to integrate the dance show.  They bludgeon us with political correctness in this otherwise old-fashioned musical, but its high-energy song-and-dance performances almost compensate for having to watch John Travolta in drag, in a fat suit, no less, dancing with Christopher Walken, as doting wife and loving husband.  This is a celebration of long-term marital commitment?
"The Simpsons Movie":  The long-running animated television show is now a full-length movie, where the opening scene is Homer complaining about religion as they walk into a worship service late, and in the awkward silence everybody hears him saying things he didn't intend to make public.  Thus begins a series of satirical skits, continuing to feature the awkward and embarrassing, loosely related to a plot about environmental contamination, and the incompetent overreaction of self-important government officials.  Somewhat surprisingly, at the end is a kind of celebration of long-term marital commitment, as well, though hardly connected with spirituality.  Predictably, lots of laughing-at-the-stupidity-of-others kind of joking, and even featuring a semi-serious ecstatic religious experience.  Underneath the crusty exterior of the constant put-down humor, there is some genuine caring, but schmaltz is universally outlawed, except in caricature.
Questions For Discussion:
1)  Have you ever said something unguarded that you thought was in private, but was later made public?  How did you explain yourself?
2)  Do you think that our culture is overly obsessed with bodily perfection?  What is the Christian response to this kind of preoccupation?
3)  What forms of discrimination linger in our country today?  Is it any different in our churches?
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Terrell, Texas