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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Furry Vengeance

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Brendan Fraser stars in a scene from the movie "Furry Vengeance."
It's fairly obvious that the painfully flat comedy "Furry Vengeance" (Summit)—which sees a cohort of woodland creatures conspiring to halt an unwelcome new housing development—is intended to be a kid-friendly invitation to ecological sensitivity.

But director Roger Kumble's frequently distasteful romp registers as more juvenile than sprightly, while the film's underlying themes—which also include the priority of family life over career advancement—though honorable, are driven home far too ham-handedly.

The main target of the animals' concerted wrath is Chicago-based construction supervisor Dan Sanders (Brendan Fraser). At the bidding of his scheming boss Neal Lyman (Ken Jeong), Dan has moved to the wilds of Oregon—bringing along his unwillingly uprooted wife Tammy (Brooke Shields) and teen son Tyler (Matt Prokop)—to oversee the building of a subdivision he genuinely, though naively, believes will be environmentally responsible.

With their pristine habitat under siege, the local critters unleash a torrent of torments on Dan that range from repeated skunk attacks to an onslaught by the group's raccoon ringleader during which the organizationally gifted varmint urinates in Dan's mouth. So when Dan eventually seeks shelter from a rampaging bear in his workers' Port-o-Potty, it's not hard to guess what will happen next.

A subplot focusing on Tyler's budding relationship with inconveniently green-conscious small-town girl Amber (Skyler Samuels) is remarkably restrained by current screen standards, since Michael Carnes and Josh Gilbert's script portrays the pair's first kiss as a major undertaking, not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly.

But the writing reverts to form as Dan emerges from a nearby swamp into which his anthropomorphized adversaries have succeeded in making him drive his SUV to announce to Tammy, Tyler and Amber that a leech has attached itself to his "no-no zone."

Patches of dialogue designed to make more serious points, charting Dan's gradual conversion from materialist to naturalist and from careerist to caring father, also land with a resounding thud. Thus, when Dan explains to Tammy that he's so focused on his work only because he wants to be able to give her and Tyler everything, she replies—all too predictably—"We don't want everything; we just want you."

The film contains much scatological humor and some comic violence. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-II—adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


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Pio of Pietrelcina: In one of the largest such ceremonies in history, Pope John Paul II canonized Padre Pio of Pietrelcina on June 16, 2002. It was the 45th canonization ceremony in Pope John Paul's pontificate. More than 300,000 people braved blistering heat as they filled St. Peter's Square and nearby streets. They heard the Holy Father praise the new saint for his prayer and charity. "This is the most concrete synthesis of Padre Pio's teaching," said the pope. He also stressed Padre Pio's witness to the power of suffering. If accepted with love, the Holy Father stressed, such suffering can lead to "a privileged path of sanctity." 
<p>Many people have turned to the Italian Capuchin Franciscan to intercede with God on their behalf; among them was the future Pope John Paul II. In 1962, when he was still an archbishop in Poland, he wrote to Padre Pio and asked him to pray for a Polish woman with throat cancer. Within two weeks, she had been cured of her life-threatening disease. </p><p>Born Francesco Forgione, Padre Pio grew up in a family of farmers in southern Italy. Twice (1898-1903 and 1910-17) his father worked in Jamaica, New York, to provide the family income. </p><p>At the age of 15, Francesco joined the Capuchins and took the name of Pio. He was ordained in 1910 and was drafted during World War I. After he was discovered to have tuberculosis, he was discharged. In 1917 he was assigned to the friary in San Giovanni Rotondo, 75 miles from the city of Bari on the Adriatic. </p><p>On September 20, 1918, as he was making his thanksgiving after Mass, Padre Pio had a vision of Jesus. When the vision ended, he had the stigmata in his hands, feet and side. </p><p>Life became more complicated after that. Medical doctors, Church authorities and curiosity seekers came to see Padre Pio. In 1924 and again in 1931, the authenticity of the stigmata was questioned; Padre Pio was not permitted to celebrate Mass publicly or to hear confessions. He did not complain of these decisions, which were soon reversed. However, he wrote no letters after 1924. His only other writing, a pamphlet on the agony of Jesus, was done before 1924. </p><p>Padre Pio rarely left the friary after he received the stigmata, but busloads of people soon began coming to see him. Each morning after a 5 a.m. Mass in a crowded church, he heard confessions until noon. He took a mid-morning break to bless the sick and all who came to see him. Every afternoon he also heard confessions. In time his confessional ministry would take 10 hours a day; penitents had to take a number so that the situation could be handled. Many of them have said that Padre Pio knew details of their lives that they had never mentioned. </p><p>Padre Pio saw Jesus in all the sick and suffering. At his urging, a fine hospital was built on nearby Mount Gargano. The idea arose in 1940; a committee began to collect money. Ground was broken in 1946. Building the hospital was a technical wonder because of the difficulty of getting water there and of hauling up the building supplies. This "House for the Alleviation of Suffering" has 350 beds. </p><p>A number of people have reported cures they believe were received through the intercession of Padre Pio. Those who assisted at his Masses came away edified; several curiosity seekers were deeply moved. Like St. Francis, Padre Pio sometimes had his habit torn or cut by souvenir hunters. </p><p>One of Padre Pio’s sufferings was that unscrupulous people several times circulated prophecies that they claimed originated from him. He never made prophecies about world events and never gave an opinion on matters that he felt belonged to Church authorities to decide. He died on September 23, 1968, and was beatified in 1999.</p> American Catholic Blog In times of intense loss and grief, we take our place with Mary as she embraces all our grief in her own as she is silently holding in her arms the stark presence of our suffering God in the lifeless body of her Son.

 
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