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BY Steven D. GreydanusRegister Film Critic
The Mighty Macs (2011) PICK
Puss in Boots (2011) PICK
The Way (2011) PICK
The Way of St. James (2011) PICK
A number of Catholic-themed releases are among recent home-video offerings.
The Way, starring Martin Sheen, is among the better faith-themed entertainments of late. Written and directed by Sheen’s son Emilio Estevez, the film follows the physical and spiritual journey of a lapsed Catholic named Tom whose son dies in a freak accident in the Pyrenees on the first leg of the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James), a pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, where the remains of St. James the Apostle are said to be interred.
A father-son collaboration in honor of the family’s Galician Spanish roots, The Way is a dialogue of sorts between Martin’s revived Catholic faith and Emilio’s secular agnosticism. Though I wish it dug a little deeper, it’s ultimately a valentine to the Camino — and that’s enough.
Fans of The Way might also check out The Way of St. James, a 105-minute documentary available from Ignatius Press. Like the feature film, it offers beautiful vistas of pilgrimage landscapes and landmarks while also providing additional historical and cultural background. Like pilgrims on the Camino, the documentary rambles, and viewers should note that it’s a mainstream production, not a religious one, and opinions expressed are not always the most pious. But the viewer does get a better sense of what walking the Camino is actually like. (A drawback: The DVD navigation is poor, with no main menu or chapter breaks.)
Then there’s The Mighty Macs, a sort-of low-budget Catholic-flavored Secretariat that blends old-fashioned Hollywood piety with standard sports-movie trappings, dramatizing the unlikely true story of tiny Immaculata College’s championship-winning women’s basketball team under Basketball Hall of Fame coach Cathy Rush (Carla Gugino). Pleasant if not remarkable, the film ducks any real spiritual uplift (nobody prays, except for a punchline!).
Even Puss in Boots, a DreamWorks’ spinoff starring Antonio Banderas as the popular swashbuckling gato from the Shrek movies, has a tiny bit of Catholic cache in the beginning: Desperado Puss is looking for a score, but rejects as targets the local church’s new golden statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the orphanage’s silver candlesticks, growling that he doesn’t steal from churches or orphans. The rollicking weirdness that follows is sometimes a bit much, but I enjoyed it more than any of the Shrek films — though not nearly so well as The Secret World of Arrietty.
CONTENT ADVISORY: The Mighty Macs: An instance of mild innuendo; humorous treatment of fraud involving impersonating a nun. Kids and up. Puss in Boots: Intense animated action and menace, including a character coming to a possibly disturbing end; some innuendo and rude humor. Fine for older kids. The Way: Smoking and drug references; brief bathroom humor; some objectionable language; disposal of human remains in a manner inconsistent with canon law. The Way of St. James: Mixed religious comments. Subtitles. Teens and up.