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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Rio

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Animated characters Blu and Jewell appear in a scene from the movie "Rio."
There's not much to blame on "Rio" (Fox). Instead, praiseworthy lessons about environmental stewardship and love-inspired loyalty are decked out in kaleidoscopic colors and delivered in an overwhelmingly child-friendly tone in this animated 3-D flight of fancy.

Living as a cosseted pet in chilly Minnesota, Brazilian-born macaw Blu (voice of Jesse Eisenberg) has daily mugs of hot chocolate and—more importantly—the loving protection of his devoted owner, small bookstore proprietor Linda (voice of Leslie Mann), to keep him warm.

Blu's jungle origins and the traumatic experience of being kidnapped by exotic bird traders—only a happy accident eventually landed him in Linda's possession—are long past and barely remembered.

So it comes as a shock when eccentric Rio de Janeiro-based scientist Tulio (voice of Rodrigo Santoro) turns up in the North Star State to inform Linda that Blu is the last living male of his species. As such, Tulio explains, it's imperative that Blu return to his native land, at least temporarily, to mate with his sole remaining female counterpart.

Reluctantly, homebody Linda and thoroughly domesticated Blu agree to Tulio's plan.

But Blu's opposite number—fetching yet feisty Jewel (voiced by Anne Hathaway)—immediately intimidates her shy blind date and proves far more concerned with breaking out of the captivity of Tulio's lab than with perpetuating her kind. Things only go from bad to worse when the lovebirds are suddenly nabbed (in Blu's case, yet again) by illegal avian dealers.

Jemaine Clement's voice work as Nigel, the elegantly odious cockatoo who aids these human villains, is one of the comic highlights of "Rio." Jake T. Austin as Fernando, a boy from the "favelas," or slums, of Rio offers, by contrast, a gentle but poignant reminder that the real life of the Brazilian capital involves more than just bikini-clad girls strolling along the beach at Ipanema.

Perhaps inevitably, director Carlos Saldanha sets the climactic scenes of his buoyant adventure—which also includes a handful of upbeat musical numbers— against the dazzling background of Rio's legendary carnival.

In a bit of possibly excessive realism, though, this occasion is used to show off some questionable costuming choices, not least that of one minor male character who briefly dons a gold lame set of men's underwear. His walk on the wild side—though calculated to make kids laugh—may strike some parents as a step in the wrong direction.

Otherwise, there's just one vaguely sexual joke aimed over the heads of youngsters and a couple of allusions to bodily functions couched in terms even the members of the target demographic might acceptably use.

The film contains a few nursery-level bathroom references and a fleeting double entendre. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I—general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G—general audiences.

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



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Angela Merici: Angela has the double distinction of founding the first teaching congregation of women in the Church and what is now called a “secular institute” of religious women. 
<p>As a young woman she became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis (now known as the Secular Franciscan Order), and lived a life of great austerity, wishing, like St. Francis, to own nothing, not even a bed. Early in life she was appalled at the ignorance among poorer children, whose parents could not or would not teach them the elements of religion. Angela’s charming manner and good looks complemented her natural qualities of leadership. Others joined her in giving regular instruction to the little girls of their neighborhood. </p><p>She was invited to live with a family in Brescia (where, she had been told in a vision, she would one day found a religious community). Her work continued and became well known. She became the center of a group of people with similar ideals. </p><p>She eagerly took the opportunity for a trip to the Holy Land. When they had gotten as far as Crete, she was struck with blindness. Her friends wanted to return home, but she insisted on going through with the pilgrimage, and visited the sacred shrines with as much devotion and enthusiasm as if she had her sight. On the way back, while praying before a crucifix, her sight was restored at the same place where it had been lost. </p><p>At 57, she organized a group of 12 girls to help her in catechetical work. Four years later the group had increased to 28. She formed them into the Company of St. Ursula (patroness of medieval universities and venerated as a leader of women) for the purpose of re-Christianizing family life through solid Christian education of future wives and mothers. The members continued to live at home, had no special habit and took no formal vows, though the early Rule prescribed the practice of virginity, poverty and obedience. The idea of a teaching congregation of women was new and took time to develop. The community thus existed as a “secular institute” until some years after Angela’s death.</p> American Catholic Blog I hear far more people discuss the presence of evil in their lives than they do the supreme power of grace. God is bigger than evil!

 
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