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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Kung Fu Panda 2

By
John P. McCarthy
Source: Catholic News Service


Characters seen in Dreamworks' animated movie "Kung Fu Panda 2."
The summer movie season for kids begins with the lackluster animated sequel "Kung Fu Panda 2" (DreamWorks).

Perfunctory if unobjectionable, this follow-up to 2008's hit about a rotund bear with martial-arts prowess moves at a brisk pace. Adults have that to be thankful for, along with the absence of inappropriate material.

When we meet up again with the goofy, perpetually hungry Dragon Warrior Po (voiced by Jack Black), he's firmly established as protector of the Valley of Peace, yet curious about his identity. It's finally dawned on the lovable oaf that Mr. Ping (James Hong), a goose, is probably not his natural father.

This desire to learn about his origins coincides with the rise of the power-hungry peacock Lord Shen (Gary Oldman). Armed with a new class of mechanized weaponry, Shen seeks to conquer all of ancient China. But a soothsaying goat (Michelle Yeoh) predicts he'll be thwarted by a practitioner of kung fu with whom he has a history.

Indeed, flashbacks to Po's earliest days reveal Shen was responsible for the death of his parents during a raid on their village. With Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) counseling him to strive for inner peace, Po and the Furious Five (Angelina Jolie, David Cross, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu and Jackie Chan) set out to derail Shen's evil plan.

Director Jennifer Yuh Nelson oversees by-the-numbers visuals, available in 3-D, while imparting an anodyne message concerning the necessity of moving beyond the past and focusing on the present.

The emphasis on pratfalls and breezy jokes will prevent wandering attention spans, but at a price. What felt relatively original and distinguished by fresh aplomb three years ago now seems to lack both flair and substance. Of course that's never stopped the studios. Judging by the ending of "Kung Fu Panda 2," part three is in the offing.

The film contains mild fantasy violence. 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 P. McCarthy is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.





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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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CATHOLIC GREETINGS
St. Monica
The tears of this fourth-century mother contributed to her son's conversion to Christ.

Religious Profession
Lord of the harvest, thank you for all those Men and Women Religious who have answered your call to service.

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The love of husband and wife is the wellspring of love for the entire family.

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