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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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Monica: The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism. 
<p>Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine (August 28) , is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy (all flesh is evil)  and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted. </p><p>When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan. </p><p>In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste. </p><p>She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death. </p><p>Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of St. Augustine, especially his <i>Confessions</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog The Church really is my mother, too. She isn’t a vague maternal force for a generic collection of anonymous people. This Mother truly nurtures us—each one of us. And for those of us who are baptized Christians, the Church has actually given birth to us on a spiritual level.

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