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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Walking With Dinosaurs

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Patchi, voiced by Justin Long, and Scowler, voiced by Skyler Stone, appear in the 3-D mostly animated adventure "Walking With Dinosaurs."
For those who can't tell a Gorgosaurus from a pterosaur, the 3-D, mostly animated adventure "Walking With Dinosaurs" (Fox) is out to set you straight.

While undeniably educational on the subject of the world's most famously extinct group of creatures, however, co-directors Barry Cook and Neil Nightingale's film is only modestly entertaining.

This fictional, big-screen successor to the 1999 BBC television documentary of the same name tells the story of an underdog Pachyrhinosaurus—literally, "thick-nosed lizard"—named Patchi (voice of Justin Long).

With the encouragement of his best friend, Alex (voice of John Leguizamo) -- a colorful prehistoric bird who narrates Patchi's tale, and that of his true love Juniper (voice of Tiya Sircar), plucky Patchi overcomes a variety of obstacles to acquire determination, loyalty and courage as his herd migrates back and forth across what is now Alaska.

The barriers standing in Patchi's path include a childhood disfigurement that draws the negative attention of some of his peers as well as the bullying ways of his domineering brother Scowler (voice of Skyler Stone).

Framing Patchi's saga are brief live-action segments that introduce us to avid archaeologist Zack (Karl Urban) and his teen nephew, Ricky (Charlie Rowe). Having outgrown his youthful enthusiasm for dinos, Ricky is bored by Zack's ongoing work with them. At least, that is, until Alex arrives on the scene to wow him with Patchi's eventful biography.

Overall, there isn't much to object to in all this, even if the special effects on display far outstrip the shopworn against-the-odds plot. Some potentially frightening situations might overwhelm the youngest moviegoers, while parents will likely sigh with resignation at the predictable smattering of mild gross-out jokes.

Along the same lines, grown-ups may also wonder why the word "butt" occurs so frequently in the dialogue, and why one character resorts to the vulgar expression "bite me." Of course, in the context of two animals talking to each other, kids may innocently interpret that as a challenge from the stronger to the weaker to do something he lacks the moxie to attempt. Adults will have to hope so.

More troubling is the fact that screenwriter John Collee's script includes the idea that whichever male becomes the leader of the pack automatically commands the companionship of its females, including, to Patchi's temporary sorrow when Scowler takes over at one point, Juniper's. However factual this may be, it seems a confusing concept to present to children, especially if they are misled by the anthropomorphized setting to imagine that it applies, to any extent, in the human realm.

The film contains some childish scatological humor and a single double entendre. 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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Alphonsus Rodriguez: Tragedy and challenge beset today’s saint early in life, but Alphonsus Rodriguez found happiness and contentment through simple service and prayer. 
<p>Born in Spain in 1533, Alphonsus inherited the family textile business at 23. Within the space of three years, his wife, daughter and mother died; meanwhile, business was poor. Alphonsus stepped back and reassessed his life. He sold the business and, with his young son, moved into his sisters’ home. There he learned the discipline of prayer and meditation. </p><p>Years later, at the death of his son, Alphonsus, almost 40 by then, sought to join the Jesuits. He was not helped by his poor education. He applied twice before being admitted. For 45 years he served as doorkeeper at the Jesuits’ college in Majorca. When not at his post, he was almost always at prayer, though he often encountered difficulties and temptations. </p><p>His holiness and prayerfulness attracted many to him, including St. Peter Claver, then a Jesuit seminarian. Alphonsus’s life as doorkeeper may have been humdrum, but he caught the attention of poet and fellow-Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins, who made him the subject of one of his poems. </p><p>Alphonsus died in 1617. He is the patron saint of Majorca.</p> American Catholic Blog People mess up, and it’s especially hard to watch as our children and other young people go down paths we know are likely to lead to heartbreak. Providing gentle guidance when it’s needed, and love even when that guidance isn’t followed, helps them to start fresh.

 
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