Sunday, March 28, 2010

Book Review: Brother Andre

Brother Andre: Friend of the Suffering, Apostle of Saint Joseph
by Jean-Guy Dubac
Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 2010

On February 19, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI announced that Blessed Brother Andre Bessette of Canada is scheduled to be canonized on October 17, 2010. Brother Andre was a humble porter at Notre Dame College in Quebec, Canada. He had very little formal education and wrote nothing, yet he became known internationally. At his death in 1937, more than one million people filed by his casket, acclaimed as a saint by the people long before the Church formally made that designation.

In “Brother Andre: Friend of the Suffering, Apostle of Saint Joseph,” Jean-Guy Dubac relates the life story of this simple man. He also includes a history of his family as well as background information on Saint Joseph’s Oratory which Brother Andre helped to build. Brother Andre was known for two main things – his devotion to St. Joseph and his ability to work cures in God’s name. Despite life-long physical illness, he lived an ascetic life – both eating and sleeping little. He spent many hours in prayer and was scrupulous in performing all his duties as a Brother of the Congregation of the Holy Cross.

One of the earliest cures attributed to Brother Andre’s intercession was of a young boy in the college infirmary. He asked the child, who was sick with fever, why he was being so lazy. When the boy responded that he was sick, Brother Andre told him to get up and go play with the other boys. When he did so, suddenly healed of his illness, it was to the astonishment of all. He was cured, with no explanation. Over the course of his lifetime, countless sick would come to seek Brother Andre’s aid. He greeted all with love, cured many, and directed all to seek St. Joseph’s help.

“Brother Andre: Friend of the Suffering, Apostle of Saint Joseph” offers an interesting, highly readable introduction to the life and times of one of the Catholic Church’s newest saints. From Brother Andre, one can learn much about patience, simplicity, and devotion to St. Joseph.

Book Review by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

Friday, March 26, 2010

Review of "The Handbook for Catholic Moms"

By Lisa M. Hendey
IN, Ave Maria Press, 2010

This is a lonely time to be a mother. Neighborhoods are empty during the day, playgrounds are occupied with babysitters, and the parking lot after church looks more like a traffic jam than an opportunity for fellowship. Where is a Catholic mom to get solid advice on things like; prayer, fitness, finances, time management, doctor visits, and creating a culture of faith in our homes? We Catholic Moms are confronted with a culture which considers us at best, quaint, and we long for acceptance and a sisterly arm about our shoulders. Lisa Hendey, the woman behind the popular internet gathering spot, Catholic Mom, has given us just that in her book “The Handbook for Catholic Moms”. .

For more than ten years, Catholic has provided Catholic women with a place for friendship and counsel, wit and wisdom. Now she has organized the insights of her talented cadre of seasoned Catholic writers into several important themes to form a book to reach the mom in the trenches of laundry, dishes, teens and potty training with the message that they are not alone. They are part of a blessed sisterhood.

Lisa does not see herself as a Mom-guru, giving advice from on high; she’s far too humble for that. Her attitude throughout the book is “I found some great ideas on this subject from a friend, come and see”, or “here’s how I struggled with this problem”. I enjoyed reading about her experiences as a young mother moving to a new parish with a husband working long hours, and the story of her stirring victory over breast cancer.

The Handbook has sound, balanced advice on matters practical as well as spiritual, and the topics are so diverse, that any mom is bound to find a personally relevant section. The two which stood out to me were the nutrition and fitness sections; these are two areas where my husband and doctor have been trying to motivate me. Lisa’s upbeat, affirming words have helped me take another look at how I care for my body. She has helped convince me that my health is worth taking time out of my schedule, and that taking care of me is an act of love for my family. Encouragement is her particular gift and she uses it well throughout this book. .

Lisa is a natural cheerleader, and when it comes to sharing her faith, her enthusiasm is contagious, yet she doesn’t get too theoretical. For example, in her section on prayer, she acknowledges the difficulty most mothers have maintaining an active prayer life and proposes practical solutions;

“The demands of our motherly vocation, couple with an ever-increasing societal “noise” level and the busyness of the schedules we keep, leave our spiritual reserves running on empty. In this chapter, we look at different types of prayer and how busy moms have succeeded in prioritizing prayer in their lives.”

Hands-on strategies, heartfelt sharing of triumphs and tragedies, and authentically Catholic advice based on Scripture, the saints, and the Catechism are what make “The Handbook for Catholic Moms” an essential resource, you will consult frequently. As Lisa says, in her section on creativity, “When we take time to tap into our creative abilities, we acknowledge the God who placed them within us, and who crafted us, just so, knowing every aspect of us and loving every hair on our heads”.”The Handbook for Catholic Moms” reflects both the creativity of its author and the love of the God who made us.

Looking for good Palm Sunday family Viewing?

Take a look at "Amish Grace" on Lifetime Television at 8PM on Sunday evening.
Read my review at Faith and Family Live.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Movie Review: The Last Song - PG

cross-posted from A Catholic View

warning: possible spoilers

Written by Nicholas Sparks, The Last Song is about a teenager, Ronnie (Miley Cyrus) and her younger brother  spending a summer with their father Steven, who is divorced from their mother.  Ronnie is angry with her father for leaving.  For the first half-hour or so, she is actually hard to watch. While there, Ronnie meets Will, and they start dating.  There are several factors such as her friend and his friends and family, which complicate things.  There are a couple of touching moments: Ronnie and Will spend the night on the beach to protect turtle eggs that haven't hatched, and  Steve and his son make a new stained-glass window for the church.  Steve also writes a song for Ronnie, who hasn't played the piano in years.

My problem with the movie is the characters: most of them are dysfunctional in some way.
It is a wholesome story;  there is no objectionable content or language.  It is also an engaging story, but unfortunately it is overwhelmed by the characters. 

The Last Song opens March 31.  

Book Review: The Shroud Codex by Dr. Jerome Corsi

cross-posted from A Catholic View

I received an advance copy of "The Shroud Codex" to review, and  it is one of the best books of the year.

The central character is Fr. Paul Bartholomew, a former physicist who became a priest and  recently died in a car accident and was resuscitated.  Since his accident, Paul has begun to exhibit both the stigmata and other signs of Christ's passion.  He has also begun to resemble Christ, as he appears in the Shroud of Turin.   Paul states that it is all part of God's mission for him.  The Vatican hires Dr. Stephen Castle, a surgeon turned psychiatrist, to determine both the cause and authenticity of Paul's experience.  Castle is an atheist, but the Pope trusts Castle because he helped the Pope while he was still a Cardinal.   Other characters include Archbishop Duncan of New York, Fr. Morelli,who was sent by the Vatican to work with Castle on investigating Fr. Bartholomew, Fr. Bartholomew's sister Anne Cassidy, and Fernando Ferrar, a news reporter covering the story (he wants to be the next Geraldo :)

I very much like the way Dr. Corsi defines his characters; they all have distinct personalities, and a specific role in the story.

Much of the story focuses on the authenticity of the shroud itself, both its history and the specifics of the image on the shroud.   The investigation begins in New York City, and continues at the Vatican in Rome, the CERN in Geneva, and the Chapel of the Shroud itself in Turin.

As the story progressed,  I tried to anticipate the various ways it might end. None turned out to be correct.

There were several  reasons I enjoyed"The Shroud Codex": I have long been very interested in the Shroud of Turin, and I like  mystery, action and drama stories involving the Catholic church. (I also recently reviewed "The Death of a Pope").  I especially appreciate Dr. Corsi's somewhat fast-paced writing style.  I liked the pace at which the story progresses.

An excellent book...I highly recommend!

No Turning Back: A Witness to Mercy

Father Donald H. Calloway, MIC, has written an autobiographical book about his conversion from a drug-addicted teenager with a criminal record to a well-spoken priest responsible for helping to form young men for the priesthood. He now travels quite extensively bringing the moving and inspiring story of “No Turning Back: A Witness to Mercy” far and wide.

This book has an important message for a wide audience, both worldly and religious, but I will tell about reading it from a mother’s perspective. Father Calloway and I don’t have much in common except for being born in 1972 and loving the beach. I don’t as a general rule read autobiographies, books by priests, or conversion stories, and yet this narrative had me from page one.

Father Calloway introduces himself as a priest with an important testimony about the Divine Mercy and the radical changes it has brought into his own life. Then he dives into the midst of his teenage drama as he is being caught by the military police in Japan. He is a migrant military-child-brat who loves surfing, girls, and drugs; he will steal without compunction to get what he wants. The story is unbelievably captivating. As I read this I was thinking to myself that here is this now-very-educated, spiritual, and well-spoken man telling this story, relating the thoughts of his younger self that was so ignorant, worldly, and unsocial; and I was wondering how on earth this was possible.

As he relates the details of his upbringing, it is obvious that the constant uprooting from place to place and step-father to step-father has a great deal to do with his rebellion from his parents. Yet he never blames his mother for the hard decisions she had to make, and gives her credit for always taking him back with open loving arms, and patiently waiting for him to come back both to her and to God. He compares her to Saint Monica, who prayed endlessly for her son Augustine; he was a great sinner who eventually became one of the most esteemed of the Church’s scholarly saints. His mother’s present husband he compares to Joseph, who quietly and loyally supported Mary and Jesus.

About three-fifths through, after reading how he went from one rock bottom to another and wondering how low he has to go before he changes, the reader is hit by the same “Divine two-by-four” that hit Father Calloway in the head. One night he stays in his parents’ home alone and reads a book about Mary that they had in their bookshelves. He reads all night and then in the morning tells his mother he needs to speak to a Catholic priest. Seeing the extraordinary event that has happened to him, she tells him to RUN to the military priest. When he goes to Mass he miraculously understands the mystery of the Eucharist and that day is converted.

When I read this part, I was sitting on the beach watching my three-year-old play on the playground, surrounded by other moms and children. The way his conversion happens is so beautiful and amazing it was all I could do to not freak everybody out by crying right there. He makes it clear how a Catholic conversion through Mary and Jesus is fundamentally different from what is understood as the Evangelical-defined “born-again” experience. From that point, Father Calloway details the journey from his calling to the priesthood to where he is now.

The whole story was so compelling and insightful. I would recommend it to any teen or adult.

For more information see the author's website at

Father Calloway sent me this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Interview with Quinton Aaron of "The Blind Side"

Interview with Quinton Aaron about his role as Michael Oher in “The Blind Side”

Leticia Velasquez of Catholic Media Review

CMR:Did you enjoy playing opposite Sandra Bullock? You two had great chemistry.

Aaron: “I was surprised when I found out Sandra Bullock was in this film”.

Aaron was also surprised (as the producers were) at the outstanding success of the film, which proved to be Bullock’s most successful, and the one which earned her both her first Academy Award nomination for Best Actress and her first Oscar, winning over grand dames Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep.

CMR: “My girls and I were so excited that Sandra Bullok won best actress, we were jumping up and down”

Aaron: “I was excited too, but since I was there at the Awards, I couldn’t jump up and down!”.

Aaron has never met the real Michael Oher, but he would like to. “I heard he enjoyed the film”, he said.

Unlike Oher, who is estranged from his mother because of her ongoing crack addiction, QuintonAaron has a great relationship with his mother, “We are best friends, I tell her everything”, This explains Aarons’ confidence that young people can reach out to someone in their lives for support to reach their goals, whether or not they have a life like Michael Oher. “The Blind Side” tells the story of Oher;s adoption by Leigh Anne Tuohy, but does not go into detail about how his mother bore 11 children while addicted to crack, moved several times, neglected her children and never told Michael even once that she loved him. Michael’s shrugged of the pain of his childhood, “We’ve got to go through some things in life. Take it and run with it.” And run he did, from a football scholarship at Ole Miss to the 2009 draft of the NFL where he was picked up by the Baltimore Ravens.
When Leigh Anne Tuohy found Michael at her children’s exclusive Christian school, he was homeless, having been ousted form the home of the family who paid his tuition. For the first year he stayed with the Tuohys, he disappeared frequently, only becoming a steady member of the family a year later. Yet, despite the tragic circumstances of his childhood, Oher was never one to hold a grudge, Sean Tuohy says of him,

”Michael’s gift is his ability to forget”. “He’s not mad at anybody. He should be. He has a lot of fire, but no anger. God has blessed him with more than physical ability.”

I asked Quinton how he thought Leigh Anne Tuohy overcame the violent racism of her family of origin. “She doesn’t let anybody tell her what to do, she’s her own woman” he replied. Quinton is a professed Christian who sees importance in being a role model though his work as an actor. “I don’t want to be in films I can’t take my whole church to”. He doesn’t want his extraordinary size (6’9”, 350 lbs) to limit his acting roles. “I don’t want to play the bodyguard and the bouncer, I’m an actor first” Aaron has taped an eptisode of Law and Order coming out in April.

When I asked if he thought that “The Blind Side” had a message to American families, he replied, “Yes, they should love more”. Love like the Tuohy family did, overcoming a past of racism, and a comfortable place in Southern society which understood charity as an activity like a hobby, to be taken up in one’s spare time. But to actually take a homeless teen into your home, that was going off the deep end, according to some of Leigh Anne Touhy’s well-heeled lunch lady friends in the film. Yet the openness of Mrs Tuohy provided unexpected benefits for her family, according to Aaron; ”They learned to spend more time as a family, and to have family meals. Before they didn’t eat together except on Thanksgiving, they learned a lot from Michael.” Said Aaron.

It seems that the message was well received, “The Blind Side” was Sandra Bullock’s best selling film.

The Blind Side

The Blind Side Directed by John Lee Hancock (Alcon Entertainment, 2009)

When the subject of homelessness is brought up, as it rarely is in polite conversation, it evokes a variety of responses; hand wringing, finger pointing and guilty donations to charity among them. The reaction rarely seen is action. How many of us want to roll up our sleeves and get involved with the homeless personally like Mother Teresa? The Blind Side is the true story of Leigh Anne Tuohy(Sandra Bullock), a Southern Belle who did just that, remaking the life of Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron) so well that he ended up getting a scholarship to play football at her alma mater, Ole Miss, and becoming an offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens.

At 6-foot-9, 350 pounds, Oher certainly stood out at Wingate, a mostly white upper-class school in Memphis. He had been admitted to the school for his athletic prowess, since his sketchy academic record and GPA of 0.6 showed little promise.

Taciturn and shy, Big Mike traveled the halls of the school like a shadow, seen but not heard, until one night, when the fact that he was wearing a short-sleeved shirt on a cold fall evening caught Leigh Anne Tuohy's attention. The Tuoys took Mike home ‘for just one night' and an unusual new relationship was born.

Sean Tuohy (Tim McGraw) is a successful entrepreneur who owns as his son SJ (Jae Head) explained to Mike "about a million Taco Bells" and was providing his family a lavish lifestyle, yet something was missing. Somehow, the homeless teen became the final link completing the Tuohy family, despite the comments of Leigh Anne's well heeled lunch lady friends. Only one of her friends was positive: "You've changed that boy's life." Leigh Anne replied, "No, he's changed ours."

A football film that's not really about football, The Blind Side has garnered two awards, Sandra Bullock's first Oscar for Best Actress, and The Critics' Choice Award, but more importantly, it captured the imagination of the American public. The film was released November 20, 2009, yet when I finally got to see it after Christmas, the theater was packed. A mixed crowd with a number of senior citizens laughed and cried at this remarkable film.

Not expected to be the huge success it was, The Blind Side is the most popular film of Sandra Bullock's career. Part of the film's success is a talented cast with chemistry which sends sparks flying; Sandra Bullock is as Leigh Anne Tuohy whose effervescence stands in bold relief against Quinton Aaron's inscrutability.

The heart of the film is the story about someone who followed her faith to go beyond her comfort zone and reach out to a young man who had every right to bitterness, but left it behind and accepted her help gratefully. It seems that the tired theme of a person haunted by a traumatic childhood which drives him or her over the edge has finally played itself out. In tough economic times, we need more encouragement than self-pity. As Michael Oher says, "We all have tough times. What we have to do is taking it and run with it."

The Blind Side does just that.

By Leticia Velasquez, whose film reviews have been published by Reuters, USA Today, and her own site Catholic Media Review.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Movie Review: Alice in Wonderland - PG

cross-posted from A Catholic View

At age 19, Alice falls into a hole, ends up in Wonderland and encounters the Mad Hatter,  Cheshire Cat, Tweedledee and Tweedledum and others, most notably the red queen and the white queen.  They are sisters, and the white queen is good.  The red queen is mean, and likes to yell "off with their heads!"  Some are questioning if Alice is the "real Alice".  She is indeed, as she later recalls that she's been there before, when she was younger.  She has a mission, to find a special sword (I don't recall the name) and return  it to the white queen.  The bigger challenge is, Alice must slay the jabowocky, a large dragon-like creature.

To be honest, it has been way too many years since I heard or read the fairytale to judge how faithful this story was to the original,  but my nephews told me it is pretty close :)

Having seen the previews, I had expected Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter to be a wild and  crazy character.  He was indeed strange, but more tame than I expected.   At times, they made him almost a Jesus-like character in the way he sacrificed himself for Alice.

There was a bit more of a plot than I expected.  It clearly is oriented toward a younger audience.  It is very entertaining, and there is no objectionable content.   I would definitely recommend, especially for the kids.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

To save a thousand soul

For a thorough handbook for discerning priesthood "To save a thousand souls" is a great title. Fortunately the book lives up to the title in that it is both a serious and worthwhile guide to those thinking about and further discerning a call to the priesthood.

As the author points out int the book, this is for those specifically discerning the Diocesan priesthood. I would suggest that even those who are looking at becoming a priest in a religious order also take a look at this book since it so well illustrates what the diocesan priesthood is -- plus a lot of the advice would apply to them also.

Even as a layman reading this book there is a lot to recommend in it. I really loved the first chapter "This is Just What Priests Do!" as it tells stories out of the lives of Diocesan priests. As the book progresses it touches on the theology of the priesthood and the issue of what is a vocation in the first place. Fr. Brett Brannen takes great care for the most part in explaining what a vocation is and what indeed is all of our primary vocations -- to grow in holiness. As he mentions, so often vocation is talked about in reference to the priesthood only and not the callings to consecrated and married life.

Fr. Brett Brannen has taken his wealth of experience to answer all those questions that someone discerning the priesthood is bound to have. He also provides solid spiritual advice along the way to help in this discernment and how to develop the spiritual life of prayer. Several chapters address this specifically, but the topic is integral to both discernment and to what happens after the man decides he is being called to the priesthood.

There is tons of practical advice spread throughout the book and presented quite simply. One of the best parts of the book are the multiple stories from both his personal experience and from many others in regard to both discernment and being a priest. Fr. Brett Brannen provides lots of clarity and he doesn't just rollover difficult questions. The book is solidly orthodox and the chapter titled "Celibacy, Chastity, Charity, and Cheerfulness" presents the subject of celibacy forthrightly and also goes into the Vatican document regarding proposed seminarians and same-sex attraction. This chapter was especially well written in regards to sexual integration and what might disqualify someone from the priesthood. The topic of masturbation is also addressed in some detail. Another chapter addresses prerequisites and impediments to the priesthood.

There is also a lot of important information such as what is seminary like and a look a the day to day life as a seminarian along with the educational requirements. The types of assignments a Diocesan priest might experience and a look at ordination day are other important chapters.

In close to 400 pages I only had one quibble with this book. The chapter on vocations talked of the single life led in generosity as a specific vocation. I don't believe that this is something the Church has really taught. Mary Beth Bonachi wrote an article on this previously that she could find "no mention of an unconsecrated single “vocation” in Church teaching anywhere" and references Mulieris Dignitatem and notes John Paul II says that God calls all women to give themselves in one of two ways — in motherhood or in consecration to Christ. No mention of singleness in there. Though maybe this is an area that will be developed more fully by the Church in the future. Often though I get the feeling people talk about the single life itself as a vocation to keep from hurting feelings. But I am not close to being an expert or really a fully informed layman on this subject.

Like I said I had just the one quibble and otherwise I think this book would make a great resource throughout the Church to help those in discernment and to give much good advice to others that want to help promote vocations to the Diocesan priesthood. Besides as a thorough handbook on the subject people don't have to read it cover to cover, but could also use it as a handy reference -- especially with the question index in the back. This book has also been praised by many people such as the always reliable Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R. and others with a solid reputation.

Available via Vianney Vocations

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Leticia's review of "The 13th Day" quoted in Ignatius Press

I was excited to see the enticing array of films in the new Ignatius Press catalogue, but I was more thrilled to see my review of "The 13th Day" quoted with that of Steve Greydanus and Daria Stockey. "Catholics need a wake-up call on what it means to be the Church Militant. In the face of a darkening world landscape, "The 13th Day" is just that" says the quote on page10.

I was even more amazed when I read the other quote from my review on the Ignatius Press website page for "The 13th Day". My heart beat faster when I saw those whose quotes were chosen.

I was quoted with Fr Andrew Apostoli, CFR, the Official Fatima Shrine and Most Rev Vincent Nichols the Archbishop of Westminster, UK. Such august company!

"Directors Ian and Dominic Higgins, accomplished more than a pious revival of a fond moment in Catholic history, they re-cast familiar images of a story whose relevance has grown with time."
– Leticia Velasquez, Hartford Catholic Examiner
(read full review - also on Catholic Media Review)

This is a great honor for me as a writer to have my work quoted by such a fine publisher and in such respected company. I consider it part of my calling as a writer to help interpret books and film for busy Catholics who are wading their way through the filth of the culture of death. I will be interviewing a cast member of "The Blind Side" next week, and publishing my review in "US Catholic".

Monday, March 8, 2010

Book Review: The Death of a Pope

cross-posted from A Catholic View

This story is not so much about the death of Pope John Paul II as it is about the events surrounding the election of his successor.   The central character is Juan Uriarte, a Basque who has recently been acquitted of  charges of terrorist activity.  He  now works for Misericordia, an international aide organization.  He wants to make sure that the most liberal Cardinal he knows is elected Pope.  And above all, he doesn't want someone like Ratzinger elected :)  Kate Ramsey is a reporter who covered Juan's trial and has now become infatuated with him. She becomes unknowingly involved in his plot to affect the Papal election. 

Add to the story Kate's Uncle Luke, who is is a Priest in the Vatican, and David Kotovski, who is an intelligence guy who posed as a reporter during Juan's trial, and is keeping a very close eye on him since his acquittal, and this is a multi-faceted story whose various sub-plots are very nicely woven together.  I like an involved plot, and this was a fairly sophisticated story, but not so much as to make it hard to enjoy.  And I did enjoy it very much. 

I highly recommend this book; an excellent story.

Oscars Recap

Academy Awards; my take

Live blogging the Oscars. . . surprised and delighted that Sandra Bullock won Best Actress for her awesome  performance in "The Blind Side". She was electric in that role, and the film was her most popular. I liked her thanking her mom for "not letting me ride in cars with boys till I was 18 because I probably would have done what you said I would". Sounds like she had a wise Christian mom like Mrs Touhy! See her speech here.
Loved the score of "Up" and have enjoyed hours with it stuck in my head. It's tender and reminiscent, with a touch of whimsy, helping to make "Up" my favorite film this year.
As for other awards, ho-hum, Hollywood politics as usual has dominated the awards.
But, on a brigher note, the gowns were fabulous this year ladies, glamorous and romantic without showing too much, they had flair and presence allowing your beauty to shine, with a wonderful resurgence of my favorite color; Scarlett.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Country Music Star Randy Travis to Headline Terri Schiavo Benefit Concert

Country music stars Randy Travis and Collin Raye will both be performing in Indianapolis in April to benefit the foundation set up in honor of Terri Schiavo and to help commemorate the five year anniversary of her death.

Randy Travis is headlining The Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Concert scheduled for Sunday, April 11, 2010, 7 PM at the Murat Theatre in Indianapolis.

Bobby Schindler, Terri Schiavo’s younger brother, spoke with about the event. “Randy Travis was part of our efforts way back in helping Terri,” he said. “He attached his name to a press release with some other celebrities speaking out on behalf of Terri and our family. So he was kind of the first one we wanted to approach because of his support.”

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

17 Again

[Spoiler alert.]

In "17 Again", Zac Efron plays Mike O’Donnell, the once-college-bound athlete with promises of a “free ride” scholarship, who later thinks that he threw it all away to marry his pregnant girlfriend Scarlett. At the age of 17 his girlfriend tells him of her pregnancy right before the biggest game of his life. With the scouts watching and his girlfriend walking away, he walks off the court to chase after her and ask her to marry him.

Flash forward to middle-age, wherein Mike (now played by Michael Perry) has a nowhere job and does nothing but complain about his family life. His wife (Scarlett, played by Leslie Mann) throws him out and he is forced to move in with his wealthy software genius nerd and best friend Ned Freedman (Thomas Lennon). He walks to the high school to reminisce. There a mysterious janitor apparently casts a spell on him and he meets with an accident that transforms himself into his 17-year-old self. He is still, however, in his own time.

After he convinces Ned that he is himself, Ned enrolls him in the high school, thinking he is meant to live out the basketball-college-star-dream he was once on track for. However, Mike soon realizes that his true path is to help his own children, who are also presently enrolled in the same school. His daughter is dating a boy who is pressuring her to have sex, and his son is a talented basketball player who just needs a confidence boost to get himself on the team and make some friends. Mike is able to befriend his children in a way he would not have been able to in the state of their previous father-child relationship.

Meanwhile, Scarlett is starting to date, while forced to remember the good old days because of the haunting presence of this young man who looks exactly like her husband did when he was 17. Things escalate to the point of divorce proceedings before all is made right. The kids’ problems are solved, Scarlett and Mike fall back in love, and Mike is transformed back into his normal aged body – with no regrets.

This movie is a great conversation-starter for parents and kids. The messages are pro-life, pro-abstinence, and pro-marriage. I recommend this film for teens; and for pre-teens with parental guidance. It can also be used as part of an abstinence program in any youth program.

Presently playing on HBO.