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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Croods

By
Joseph McAleer
Source: Catholic News Service


Animated characters appear in the movie "The Croods."
"The Flintstones" on steroids may best describe "The Croods" (Fox). Echoing the premise of the popular 1960s TV series, this 3-D animated comedy follows the rollicking adventures of another "modern Stone Age family."

Written and directed by Chris Sanders ("How to Train Your Dragon") and Kirk DeMicco ("Space Chimps"), "The Croods" is a refreshing change of pace for Hollywood family fare. Its punning title notwithstanding, the film's humor is not at all crude—there's not a potty joke within sight (or smell).

Instead, we have a fast-paced, good-humored and beautifully rendered romp that provides fun for moviegoers of just about any age. Only frightening interludes that might overwhelm the littlest viewers pose any concern for parents.

Climate change is in the air, and that fills Crood family patriarch Grug (voice of Nicolas Cage) with dread. Grug is overprotective of his loving wife, Ugga (voice of Catherine Keener), and of their three kids: Eep (voice of Emma Stone), a rebellious teen; Thunk (voice of Clark Duke), an outsized dimwit; and rambunctious toddler Sandy, who growls rather than speaks.

Throw in Grug's sassy mother-in-law, Gran (voice of Cloris Leachman), with whom he continually feuds, and you have a recipe for dysfunction and chaos.

Every day at sunset, Grug gathers his tribe and together they retreat to the safety of a dark cave. Thanks to him, the Croods are the only family which has survived the terrors of the wild.

"Darkness brings death," Grug teaches his brood. "Fear keeps us alive. Never not be afraid. Curiosity kills."

But inquisitiveness gets the better of Eep, who wanders off one night, intrigued by a flickering light in the distance. It leads her to a stranger named Guy (voice of Ryan Reynolds). Guy is an orphan who has survived through sheer resourcefulness -- and the discovery of fire.

Eep is enchanted by the hunky lad. (Who knew Neanderthals had abs of steel?) But Guy predicts doom and gloom unless the Croods follow his lead to a safe haven he calls "Tomorrow." Grug is suspicious, and resents relinquishing his role as guardian.

When the earth quakes and volcanoes erupt, the Croods have no choice but to join Guy on the ultimate road trip toward their destiny. Awash in psychedelic colors, the many otherworldly landscapes they encounter are reminiscent of James Cameron's "Avatar."

Whether intentional or not, "The Croods" carries an intriguing Christian subtext. The characters of the title live in fear in the dark. Guy arrives and persuades them to "live in the light" and "follow the sun." Doing so will lead to a kind of salvation as well as a renewal of the bonds of family and friendship.

The Catholic News Service classification is A-I—general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

*****
Joseph McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi: Mystical ecstasy is the elevation of the spirit to God in such a way that the person is aware of this union with God while both internal and external senses are detached from the sensible world. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi was so generously given this special gift of God that she is called the "ecstatic saint." 
<p>She was born into a noble family in Florence in 1566. The normal course would have been for Catherine de' Pazzi to have married wealth and enjoyed comfort, but she chose to follow her own path. At nine she learned to meditate from the family confessor. She made her first Communion at the then-early age of 10 and made a vow of virginity one month later. When 16, she entered the Carmelite convent in Florence because she could receive Communion daily there. </p><p>Catherine had taken the name Mary Magdalene and had been a novice for a year when she became critically ill. Death seemed near so her superiors let her make her profession of vows from a cot in the chapel in a private ceremony. Immediately after, she fell into an ecstasy that lasted about two hours. This was repeated after Communion on the following 40 mornings. These ecstasies were rich experiences of union with God and contained marvelous insights into divine truths. </p><p>As a safeguard against deception and to preserve the revelations, her confessor asked Mary Magdalene to dictate her experiences to sister secretaries. Over the next six years, five large volumes were filled. The first three books record ecstasies from May of 1584 through Pentecost week the following year. This week was a preparation for a severe five-year trial. The fourth book records that trial and the fifth is a collection of letters concerning reform and renewal. Another book, <i>Admonitions</i>, is a collection of her sayings arising from her experiences in the formation of women religious. </p><p>The extraordinary was ordinary for this saint. She read the thoughts of others and predicted future events. During her lifetime, she appeared to several persons in distant places and cured a number of sick people. </p><p>It would be easy to dwell on the ecstasies and pretend that Mary Magdalene only had spiritual highs. This is far from true. It seems that God permitted her this special closeness to prepare her for the five years of desolation that followed when she experienced spiritual dryness. She was plunged into a state of darkness in which she saw nothing but what was horrible in herself and all around her. She had violent temptations and endured great physical suffering. She died in 1607 at 41, and was canonized in 1669.</p> American Catholic Blog Let us never tire, therefore, of seeking the Lord—of letting ourselves be sought by him—of tending over our relationship with him in silence and prayerful listening. Let us keep our gaze fixed on him, the center of time and history; let us make room for his presence within us.

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