Well Jesus, Mary and Joseph! We coulda told you that oh . . . 30 years ago.
That said, I give two thumbs up to the Vatican's proclaiming The Blues Brothers a classic. A Catholic classic.
ABC NEWS brings us the story live from Bob's Country Bunker in Kokomo, Ind.:
This week, the official Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano devoted no fewer than five articles to "The Blues Brothers," anointing it as a film with a Catholic message.OF COURSE, some Catholic quarters are horrified, as was the U.S. bishops' film office back in 1980. Moral rigorism always has run strong in the American church, and there will be no plain white toast and whole fried chickens in the lunchroom at the Legion of Christ-owned National Catholic Register:
"The evidence is not lacking in a work where details certainly are not casual," wrote editor Gian Maria Vian, according to a translation from The Tablet newspaper.
He cited examples of a photo of Pope John Paul II on the set, characters like Sister Mary Stigmata, and other religious touches to support his argument. The storyline follows the Blues Brothers as they attempt to raise money for a church-run orphanage where they grew up.
All this in a movie where Jake Blues, played by John Belushi, declares, "Jesus H. Tap-Dancing Christ! I HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT!"
The Blues Brothers joins a lofty list of Vatican-acclaimed films, including "The Ten Commandments," "The Passion of The Christ," and "It's a Wonderful Life."
OR, AS MY BOSS at a Catholic radio station once said to me as she objected to a bar of "Jingle Bells" in a recorded holiday ID, "Christmas is not fun." (Unsurprisingly, she belonged to Regnum Christi, the lay arm of the Legion of Christ, an order which has had troubles far surpassing the Vatican newspaper's "nonspiritual" embrace of pop culture.)
The movie and its music are “memorable”, concludes Vian, and adds: “According to the facts, [it’s] Catholic.” Elsewhere in the paper, a full page article describes the film as a “masterpiece”, “incredibly shrewd” and “full of ideas.”
All quite interesting – but whether this is really something that should court so much attention in L’Osservatore Romano which many see (incorrectly) as the Vatican’s official mouthpiece, is open to question.
Vian is a friendly, hard-working and well-meaning editor who has done much good for the publication, but his enthusiasm to regularly bring pop culture into the ‘Vatican’s newspaper’ may be all right in Italy, but to an increasing number it appears to trivialize the Vatican and, ultimately, the Church.
While movie and music reviews can rightly be a popular feature of many Catholic newspapers, many, myself included, feel L’Osservatore Romano is different and should instead be devoting its pages to more spiritual and lofty matters related to the faith.
Think about that. "Christmas is not fun."
Obviously, for some Catholics, neither are the movies.