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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Frankenweenie

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Animated character Edgar is seen in the movie "Frankenweenie."
Director Tim Burton's gothic comedy "Frankenweenie" (Disney) is a skillful 3-D animated spoof of horror conventions built around the heart-warming relationship between a boy and his dog.

This black-and-white, stop-motion cartoon—an expanded version of Burton's 1984 live-action short of the same title—might prove too scary for small fry. But it will delight their older siblings and amuse parents as well.

After his beloved pet Sparky is killed in an accident, socially isolated but scientifically gifted Victor Frankenstein (voice of Charlie Tahan) uses stock monster-movie methods to bring the pooch back to life.

Despite his subsequent efforts to conceal his breakthrough from his parents (voices of Catherine O'Hara and Martin Short) and from his peers—voiced, among others, by Atticus Shaffer and James Hiroyuki Liao—Victor's secret gets out. And when his schoolmates try to emulate his feat, the results are temporarily disastrous.

Said classmates constitute an odd assortment of entertainingly eerie figures, including pint-sized versions of characters long ago made famous by Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre. Another familiar genre persona, the Weird Girl (also voiced by O'Hara), becomes the vehicle for the only material in the picture that some might consider objectionable.

The Weird Girl believes that her cat, Mr. Whiskers, is given to prophetic dreams, and that the subject of each dream can be identified by the fact that Mr. Whiskers' droppings afterward form the first initial of that person's name. The Weird Girl relates all this—visual aid included—to indicate to Victor that something dramatic is about to happen to him.

Victor's interest in experimentation is sparked by his Vincent Price-like science teacher, Mr. Rzykruski (voice of Martin Landau). Though a subplot involves Mr. Rzykruski's persecution at the hands of ignorant townsfolk, there's no direct connection drawn between their fear of him and their adherence to any form of supernatural belief, religious or otherwise. And while Mr. Rzykruski praises the value of science at some length, he never does so to the disparagement of faith.

The light-hearted tone of John August's screenplay, moreover, together with the less-than- scientifically plausible events on which so much of the plot turns, make it doubtful that any serious point is being made—apart, perhaps, from a general endorsement of learning in the broadest sense.

The film contains mild scatological humor and some science-fiction hokum. 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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Gregory the Great: Coming events cast their shadows before: Gregory was the prefect of Rome before he was 30. After five years in office he resigned, founded six monasteries on his Sicilian estate and became a Benedictine monk in his own home at Rome. 
<p>Ordained a priest, he became one of the pope's seven deacons, and also served six years in the East as papal representative in Constantinople. He was recalled to become abbot, and at the age of 50 was elected pope by the clergy and people of Rome. </p><p>He was direct and firm. He removed unworthy priests from office, forbade taking money for many services, emptied the papal treasury to ransom prisoners of the Lombards and to care for persecuted Jews and the victims of plague and famine. He was very concerned about the conversion of England, sending 40 monks from his own monastery. He is known for his reform of the liturgy, for strengthening respect for doctrine. Whether he was largely responsible for the revision of "Gregorian" chant is disputed. </p><p>Gregory lived in a time of perpetual strife with invading Lombards and difficult relations with the East. When Rome itself was under attack, he interviewed the Lombard king. </p><p>An Anglican historian has written: "It is impossible to conceive what would have been the confusion, the lawlessness, the chaotic state of the Middle Ages without the medieval papacy; and of the medieval papacy, the real father is Gregory the Great." </p><p>His book, <i>Pastoral Care</i>, on the duties and qualities of a bishop, was read for centuries after his death. He described bishops mainly as physicians whose main duties were preaching and the enforcement of discipline. In his own down-to-earth preaching, Gregory was skilled at applying the daily gospel to the needs of his listeners. Called "the Great," Gregory has been given a place with Augustine (August 28), Ambrose (December 7) and Jerome (September 30)as one of the four key doctors of the Western Church.</p> American Catholic Blog Loving trust and total surrender made Our Lady say yes to the message of the angel, and cheerfulness made her run in haste to serve her cousin Elizabeth. So much in our lives, too, is saying yes to Jesus, and running haste to serve him in the poorest of the poor.  –Mother Theresa

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