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McCormick's quick takes on angelic films.

The Bishop's Wife (RKO, 1947). Overwhelmed by the twin tasks of raising a family and a cathedral, Bishop Henry Brougham (David Niven) prays for divine intervention. Director Henry Koster puts wings on Car/Grant and sends him to help out.

While dapper, debonair Dudley (Grant) has the magic touch and proves to be quite helpful to everyone else, Henry begins to worry that his wife (Loretta Young), daughter, and parishioners are growing too fond of this heavenly creature.

Still, Dudley has not come to replace the bishop but to remind him that a church and a home are built of living stones and that a bishop has to tend his flock with love. ***

Michael (Columbia TriStar, 1996). In Nora Ephron's small comedy about two tabloid reporters sent to investigate sightings of an angel in middle America, Michael (John Travolta) is a beer guzzling, barroom brawling, bullfighting cherub--definitely not your father's idea of an archangel.

World-weary Frank Quinlan (William Hurt) and cock-eyed optimist Dorothy Winters (Andie MacDowell) have written about three-headed dogs and extraterrestrials' babies, but both are caught off-guard by a molting angel who looks into their hearts and finds the frail seeds of love. Will these fools rush in where their angel wants them to tread? ***

Dogma (Columbia,1999). Writer/director Kevin Smith is a parochial-school theologian who uses arcane Catholic trivia to fashion a film about two fallen angels trying to sneak back to heaven on a technicality.

When Loki (Ben Affleck) and Bartleby (Matt Damon) learn of a wacky bishop (George Carlin) handing out plenary indulgences like candy, they decide to use one as a ticket home. But this would mean God can be outwitted, which would end the universe, so the heavenly headquarters enlists Jesus' grandniece (Linda Fiorentino) and the lost 13th apostle (Chris Rock) to bar the door.

Warning: This film contains as much sex and violence as found in the whole Bible and as much vulgarity as Chaucer. ***

Bruce Almighty (Universal, 2003). Jim Carey finally found a role that gives him room to use all his talents--God.

When bad things happen to newscaster Bruce Nolan (Carey), he complains that the Almighty is asleep at the wheel. But the master of the universe (Morgan Freeman) does not take such complaints lying down and invites Nolan to see if he can do better.

The results are comic as Nolan soon discovers that omnipotence without omniscience produces chaos. By the end he's learned the lesson of the Philippians, that we ought not "grasp equality with God." ***
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Title Annotation:culture in context
Publication:U.S. Catholic
Article Type:Movie Review
Date:Feb 1, 2004
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