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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Madagascar 3

By
Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service


Vitaly the tiger, voiced by Bryan Cranston, and Alex the lion, voiced by Ben Stiller, are seen in the animated movie "Madagascar 3."
The Holy Father plays straight man to an amorous lemur in "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" (DreamWorks).

It's one of dozens of "Bet you didn't see that one coming!" moments, and all in good fun in this fast-moving, animated 3-D adventure, the third installment in the "Madagascar" franchise.

Explaining cartoon silliness not intended to give offense is the most tedious exercise possible, but since this one involves the Holy See, here goes:

King Julien, the lemur from the first two films (voiced by Sacha Baron Cohen), is besotted with Sonja, a performing circus bear. In a swift montage that goes from Rome to Vatican City, they have a private audience with the pope (It's cartoon logic, remember) and while kissing the papal ring (all of the pope that's seen), King Julien sucks it off the papal finger so he can buy his new love a fancy motorbike to replace her tricycle. Police descend on the motorcycle dealer to retrieve the ring, so the theft is quickly punished—although not King Julien.

So it's more weird than funny, but so is the notion that a zebra can fly, and that happens, too. Laws of physics don't apply here.

The plot picks up where the second film ended, with the four principal characters: Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe and Gloria the hippo (voices of Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer and Jada Pinkett Smith, respectively) stranded in Madagascar by the mischievous penguins and chimpanzees, and trying to return to New York City and their home in the Central Park Zoo.

They swim (how else?) to Monaco to catch up with the penguins, chimps and their cache of jewels at a casino, and while escaping from French animal-control officer Chantel DuBois (voice of Frances McDormand), who only wants Alex's head as a trophy, they stumble onto a decrepit European circus, which they then buy with the jewels so they can turn the circus around so it will tour in America.

At this point, the film takes on its moral footing, since the gang has to restore confidence to the animal performers, including Vitaly, a Russian tiger (voice of Bryan Cranston) who has lost his courage to dive through an ever-smaller set of rings. Co-directors Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath and Conrad Vernon, with a script co-written by Darnell and Noah Baumbach, fill their story with a rich vein of European circus lore, combined with an uplifting message about believing in one's special abilities.

Young children will delight in the silly faces and fast-moving action, while the adults who take them will groan at dated references to the Spice Girls and "Driving Miss Daisy." Astute parents of perceptive older children may have to explain that Edith Piaf's "Non, je ne regrette rien" ("No, I Have No Regrets") as sung by DuBois is not, in fact, the French national anthem, although it is hilariously presented that way.

The film contains intense action sequences. 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.

*****
Kurt Jensen 

Jensen is a guest reviewer for 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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