For whatever ails any character in "The Good Catholic," there's a snarky sitcom answer, and that puts writer-director Paul Shoulberg's hot-under-the-priestly-collar comedy-drama on shaky footing early. The questioning cleric in this Indiana-set story is handsome young Father Daniel (Zachary Spicer), dutiful to the gig since it would have made his late, faith-driven dad proud, but uncertain it's the calling for him.
Then a young local singer-songwriter (Wrenn Schmidt) shows up for confession, razzes him on Catholic custom, claims to be dying and leaves Daniel confused about her motives and intrigued by her personality. The changes in Daniel aren't lost on his mentor, Father Victor (Danny Glover), a humorless man of God, and jokey Franciscan friar Ollie (John C. McGinley).
Though there's never any real doubt that the rules of rom-com (even the platonic kind) and the sanctity of Catholicism will be given a once-over, what's annoying in this otherwise well-meaning movie is how the barbs become a kind of armor against real feeling, and the bland direction offers nothing. Though its affability will be enough for some, if you're looking for a truly complex story of sexual tension, dark humor, and religious sparring between a beautiful troublemaker and a man of God, there's always Jean-Pierre Melville's "Leon Morin, Priest."
'The Good Catholic'
Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes
Rating: PG-13, for language including a sexual reference
Playing: AMC Rolling Hills 20, Torrance