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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Despicable Me

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Steve Carell voices the character of Gru in the animated film "Despicable Me."
Though he aspires to be the world's most terrible villain, Gru (voice of Steve Carell)—the character at the heart of "Despicable Me" (Universal), an enchanting 3-D animated comedy—is, in reality, only a slightly wicked rogue who ultimately proves to be a softhearted hero.

With an East European accent somewhat reminiscent of Boris Badenov, the comic heavy of the 1960s television cartoon "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show," Gru occupies the kind of darkly gothic house the Munsters of roughly the same TV era might have comfortably called home.

In between his usually inept larger schemes—such as attempts to steal world landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower—Gru engages in such petty misdeeds as using a "freeze ray" to immobilize a line of fellow customers so he won't have to wait behind them for service.

Challenged by an upstart rival— a nerdy newcomer among evildoers who calls himself Vector (voice of Jason Segel)—Gru embarks on a project he hopes will establish his credentials as the planet's supreme baddie once and for all. With the help of mad scientist Dr. Nefario (voice of Russell Brand) and an army of comically mumbling undersized minions (think Twinkies come to life and sporting goggles), Gru plots to steal the moon out of the sky, no less.

As part of this nefarious plan, Gru winds up taking three young orphans under his wing: Margo (voice of Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (voice of Dana Gaier) and Agnes (voice of Elsie Fisher). Predictably—though nonetheless enjoyably—his temporary adoption of this trio of cuties has a life-altering effect on the would-be tough guy.

In their feature debut, co-directors Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin—who also provide voice work for those irrepressible minions (along with Jemaine Clement)—serve up a delightfully humorous conversion tale spun around themes of loyalty and the transformative power of family love.

Timely satire is included in the form of Mr. Perkins (voice of Will Arnett), the bloated, ruthless CEO of the straightforwardly named "Bank of Evil," while Julie Andrews provides the voice of Gru's perpetually grumpy, eternally unimpressed mother.

Catholic viewers will especially appreciate a scene of the little orphans devoutly reciting their bedtime prayers.

Though the gentle proceedings—ably designed to appeal to both children and their seniors—unroll without the inclusion of any genuinely troublesome material, a few effects that might scare the most timid and a touch of mild bathroom humor may raise concerns with some parents.

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.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.


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Bernard of Clairvaux: Man of the century! Woman of the century! You see such terms applied to so many today—“golfer of the century,” “composer of the century,” “right tackle of the century”—that the line no longer has any punch. But Western Europe's “man of the twelfth century,” without doubt or controversy, has to be Bernard of Clairvaux. Adviser of popes, preacher of the Second Crusade, defender of the faith, healer of a schism, reformer of a monastic Order, Scripture scholar, theologian and eloquent preacher: any one of these titles would distinguish an ordinary man. Yet Bernard was all of these—and he still retained a burning desire to return to the hidden monastic life of his younger days. 
<p>In the year 1111, at the age of 20, Bernard left his home to join the monastic community of Citeaux. His five brothers, two uncles and some 30 young friends followed him into the monastery. Within four years a dying community had recovered enough vitality to establish a new house in the nearby valley of Wormwoods, with Bernard as abbot. The zealous young man was quite demanding, though more on himself than others. A slight breakdown of health taught him to be more patient and understanding. The valley was soon renamed Clairvaux, the valley of light. </p><p>His ability as arbitrator and counselor became widely known. More and more he was lured away from the monastery to settle long-standing disputes. On several of these occasions he apparently stepped on some sensitive toes in Rome. Bernard was completely dedicated to the primacy of the Roman See. But to a letter of warning from Rome, he replied that the good fathers in Rome had enough to do to keep the Church in one piece. If any matters arose that warranted their interest, he would be the first to let them know. </p><p>Shortly thereafter it was Bernard who intervened in a full-blown schism and settled it in favor of the Roman pontiff against the antipope. </p><p>The Holy See prevailed on Bernard to preach the Second Crusade throughout Europe. His eloquence was so overwhelming that a great army was assembled and the success of the crusade seemed assured. The ideals of the men and their leaders, however, were not those of Abbot Bernard, and the project ended as a complete military and moral disaster. </p><p>Bernard felt responsible in some way for the degenerative effects of the crusade. This heavy burden possibly hastened his death, which came August 20, 1153.</p> American Catholic Blog One of the things that we need to remember is that we’re preaching Jesus, not the institutional Church. It’s easy to get caught up in the rules and regulations of the institution and forget that we are saved not by the Church but by the person of Jesus or the Church as the body of Christ.

 
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