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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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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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