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                                                                   Then She Found Me

   "Then She Found Me”:  An emotional roller coaster where a schoolteacher who thinks she’s having a midlife crisis because she’s pushing 40 and not yet pregnant finds out that there are lots of other possible crises out there:  your husband could leave you, you could be pregnant from farewell sex, you could be contacted by your birth mother and find out she lies to you about the circumstances of her abandonment.  You could even mess up a relationship with a parent of one of your students.  Lots of abrupt cutaways, lots of lingering face shots, a seeming determination to insert sight gags, as if adhering to some sort of comedic formula.  Helen Hunt directs herself as the Everywoman who stumbles through her own life a bit battered and bewildered, but somehow she finds strength in her own perseverance, and in others’ forgiveness. The incredible scene for the believer is when she and her birth mother (Bette Midler) have a really serious theological conversation about prayer, anger toward God, and how much God really intersects our lives.  It’s an arresting moment in an otherwise annoyingly formulaic sitcom.

 “Street Kings”:  a gritty underworld drama about dirty cops, where our hero (Keanu Reeves) is a world-weary widower with a death wish.  Lots of back alley fighting, thug posturing, personal violence, gutter language, and pools of blood.  Not much love, and no gentleness at all.  Integrity is a rare virtue, but at least she finds one adherent.

 “Son Of Rambow”:  A gentle, almost whimsical little parody, set in the 1980’s, actually somewhat autobiographical, from a couple of Brits who also brought us “A Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.”  A schoolboy who has led a very sheltered life, because his (single) Mom belongs to a religious sect that forbids both television and movies, manages to befriend another lonely little boy, who introduces him to the entire entertainment culture with an unauthorized viewing of “Rambo: First Blood.”  Now they both want to become filmmakers, and they produce their own amateur video, in which their classmates are quite willing participants, including the weird but talented French exchange student.  A unique tongue-in-cheek coming-of-age film, where at least innocence triumphs over her caustic rival, cynicism.

 “Mrs. Pettigrew Lives For A Day”:  Here, romance prevails over her caustic rival, greed.  A down-on-her-luck English nanny (Frances MacDormand) passes herself off as a social secretary for the rich and ambitious, most of whom prove themselves to have more money than sense.  A period piece that feels old-fashioned and stage-bound, but is helped by the jazzy score.  The beginning of the Blitz is a propitious time to discover that intelligence, prosperity, and love, abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love.

 “Smart People”:   Fresh romance prevails over her popular rival, world-weary cynicism.  A widowed, tenured professor (Dennis Quaid) can get away with being a curmudgeon to everyone around him---students, faculty, even his own kids---but it doesn’t impress the ER doctor (Sarah Jessica Parker) whom he meets as her patient.  Ellen Page, of “Juno” fame, reprises her smart-aleck role as his wisecracking daughter, and Thomas Hayden Church plays the foil, the ne’er-do-well (adopted) brother whose hold on reality is less tenuous than them all.  Witty, clever, and surprisingly upbeat despite its prevailing pessimism.

 Questions for Discussion:

1)      Should a birth mother be able to contact an adopted child?  At what age?

2)      What Big Event in your life has caused you to re-examine your priorities?

3)      Do you know someone who has responded to grieving by becoming a grump?  What’s the antidote?

 Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas