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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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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 Lord, keep me in your care. Guard me in my actions. Teach me to love, and help me to turn to you throughout the day. The world is filled with temptations. As I move through my day, keep me close. May those I encounter feel your loving presence. Lord, be the work of my hands and my heart. Amen.

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