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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Muppets

By
Joseph McAleer
Source: Catholic News Service


Amy Adams and Jason Segel are seen with puppet characters in the movie "The Muppets."
Jim Henson's singing, dancing, wise-cracking band of puppets returns to the big screen in "The Muppets" (Disney), an old-fashioned and genuinely funny homage to a simpler age of wholesome family films.

Refreshingly restrained when it comes to the toilet humor and rude behavior so often spoon-fed to young filmgoers these days, "The Muppets" will appeal to nostalgic baby boomers, even as it introduces a new generation to the decidedly low-tech felt figures for whom charm is a strong suit.

Gary (Jason Segel, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Nicholas Stoller) and his brother Walter (voice of Peter Linz) live in Smalltown, U.S.A. They're good pals, despite the fact that Walter is decidedly different—in fact, he's a Muppet. Together they watch TV reruns of "The Muppet Show," which, as many viewers will remember, originally aired in first-run syndication from 1976 to1981.

When Gary decides to take his girlfriend, Mary (Amy Adams), to Los Angeles for their 10th anniversary, he invites Walter to come along and see the Muppet Studios where their favorite series was produced.

To their horror, they find that the Muppets have disbanded and the theater is in shambles. Walter stumbles upon the designs of wicked oil baron Tex Richman (Chris Cooper), who wants to tear down the studios and drill for oil—unless $10 million can be raised in just two days.

Walter persuades Gary and Mary to mount a rescue. "As long as there are singing frogs and dancing bears the world is a good and kind place," Walter says. "There is hope."

They locate Kermit the Frog (voice of Steve Whitmire), down and out in his Beverly Hills mansion, surrounded by memories of long-ago fame.

Kermit agrees to stage a telethon, and sets out in his Rolls-Royce with his new friends to round up the old gang. Fozzie Bear (voice of Eric Jacobson) is discovered in Reno performing with a tribute band called "The Moopets." Animal (also voiced by Jacobson), the manic rock-and-roll drummer, is taking anger management classes with Jack Black, who reluctantly becomes the celebrity host of the telethon.

In Paris (the Rolls drives there, underwater), Miss Piggy (also voiced by Jacobson) is the plus-size editor for Vogue magazine. She still pines for Kermit, whom she hoped to marry. "We could have had a home and raised tadpoles and grown old together," she tells him.

But felt proves thicker than water, and the Muppets reunite, clean up the old theater, and start rehearsals for the telethon. As they assume their old identities, the brothers rediscover their own.

"Am I a man or a Muppet?" Gary asks. "Am I a Muppet or a man?" Walter asks. The answers come with good lessons about family, friendship, believing in yourself and following your dreams.

Directed by newcomer James Bobin, "The Muppets" contains several catchy songs and some exuberant dance numbers. Among the many celebrity cameos is Mickey Rooney, that old hoofer who knew a thing or two about putting on a fun show for the entire family.

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.

*****
Joseph McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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Robert Bellarmine: When Robert Bellarmine was ordained in 1570, the study of Church history and the fathers of the Church was in a sad state of neglect. A promising scholar from his youth in Tuscany, he devoted his energy to these two subjects, as well as to Scripture, in order to systematize Church doctrine against the attacks of the Protestant Reformers. He was the first Jesuit to become a professor at Louvain. 
<p>His most famous work is his three-volume <i>Disputations on the Controversies </i><em>of the Christian Faith</em>. Particularly noteworthy are the sections on the temporal power of the pope and the role of the laity. He incurred the anger of monarchists in England and France by showing the divine-right-of-kings theory untenable. He developed the theory of the indirect power of the pope in temporal affairs; although he was defending the pope against the Scottish philosopher Barclay, he also incurred the ire of Pope Sixtus V. </p><p>Bellarmine was made a cardinal by Pope Clement VIII on the grounds that "he had not his equal for learning." While he occupied apartments in the Vatican, Bellarmine relaxed none of his former austerities. He limited his household expenses to what was barely essential, eating only the food available to the poor. He was known to have ransomed a soldier who had deserted from the army and he used the hangings of his rooms to clothe poor people, remarking, "The walls won't catch cold." </p><p>Among many activities, he became theologian to Pope Clement VIII, preparing two catechisms which have had great influence in the Church. </p><p>The last major controversy of Bellarmine's life came in 1616 when he had to admonish his friend Galileo, whom he admired. Bellarmine delivered the admonition on behalf of the Holy Office, which had decided that the heliocentric theory of Copernicus (the sun as stationary) was contrary to Scripture. The admonition amounted to a caution against putting forward—other than as a hypothesis—theories not yet fully proved. This shows that saints are not infallible. </p><p>Bellarmine died on September 17, 1621. The process for his canonization was begun in 1627 but was delayed until 1930 for political reasons, stemming from his writings. In 1930, Pope Pius XI canonized him and the next year declared him a doctor of the Church.</p> American Catholic Blog The joy of the Lord is our strength. Therefore, each of us will accept a life of poverty in cheerful trust. We will minister to Christ in the distressing disguise of the poor with cheerful devotion. If our work is done with joy, we will have no reason to be unhappy.

 
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