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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Muppets Most Wanted

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Tina Fey and Kermit the Frog star in a scene from the movie "Muppets Most Wanted."
Viewers of almost any age will find themselves well rewarded for tracking down "Muppets Most Wanted" (Disney).

Some brushes with peril integral to its farfetched story might frighten the very smallest audience members. But this sprightly musical outing for the beloved puppet ensemble created by Jim Henson makes winning, family-friendly entertainment for all others.

It's Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn meets "Hogan's Heroes" as an unlikely plot twist sends the Muppets' gentle leader, Kermit the Frog (voice of Steve Whitmire), to a Siberian gulag. His imprisonment comes courtesy of Russian gangster -- and dead-ringer Kermie look-alike -- Constantine (voice of Matt Vogel), "the world's most dangerous frog."

As part of his plans for a daring jewel heist, Constantine, freshly escaped from the gulag himself, is out to take Kermit's place on a forthcoming Muppet world tour. Aiding Constantine's scheme is his smooth talking human confederate Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais).

Dominic -- who explains away his telltale last name by asserting that it's French and therefore pronounced "Bad-gee" -- has managed to insinuate himself into the role of the Muppet's manager.

While Kermit languishes in the arctic under the supervision of his over-the-top principal jailer Nadya (a hilarious Tina Fey), all his old chums except Animal (voice of Eric Jacobson) are taken in by the impostor. Part of Constantine's success rests on his promise to give the Muppets whatever they want, beginning with Miss Piggy (also voiced by Jacobson) whom the faux Kermit finally -- and all-too-readily -- agrees to marry.

Director and co-writer (with Nicholas Stoller) James Bobin's follow-up to his 2011 re-launch "The Muppets" combines singing, dancing, innocent humor and entertaining cameos. The resulting treat is then topped off with an endearing message about loyalty to friends. Bobin and Stoller's script also cautions against greed and egotism, sending positive signals for youngsters amid the lively fun.

"Muppets Most Wanted" is preceded by a "Monsters University"-inspired short called "Party Central." While this is also generally diverting, at least some parents may find a character's fleeting reference to "making out" an incongruous bit of dialogue in an animated movie obviously aimed at small fry.

The film contains some slapstick 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 Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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Anthony Claret: The "spiritual father of Cuba" was a missionary, religious founder, social reformer, queen’s chaplain, writer and publisher, archbishop and refugee. He was a Spaniard whose work took him to the Canary Islands, Cuba, Madrid, Paris and to the First Vatican Council. 
<p>In his spare time as weaver and designer in the textile mills of Barcelona, he learned Latin and printing: The future priest and publisher was preparing. Ordained at 28, he was prevented by ill health from entering religious life as a Carthusian or as a Jesuit, but went on to become one of Spain’s most popular preachers. </p><p>He spent 10 years giving popular missions and retreats, always placing great emphasis on the Eucharist and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Her rosary, it was said, was never out of his hand. At 42, beginning with five young priests, he founded a religious institute of missionaries, known today as the Claretians. </p><p>He was appointed to head the much-neglected archdiocese of Santiago in Cuba. He began its reform by almost ceaseless preaching and hearing of confessions, and suffered bitter opposition mainly for opposing concubinage and giving instruction to black slaves. A hired assassin (whose release from prison Anthony had obtained) slashed open his face and wrist. Anthony succeeded in getting the would-be assassin’s death sentence commuted to a prison term. His solution for the misery of Cubans was family-owned farms producing a variety of foods for the family’s own needs and for the market. This invited the enmity of the vested interests who wanted everyone to work on a single cash crop—sugar. Besides all his religious writings are two books he wrote in Cuba: <i>Reflections on Agriculture</i> and <i>Country Delights</i>. </p><p>He was recalled to Spain for a job he did not relish—being chaplain for the queen. He went on three conditions: He would reside away from the palace, he would come only to hear the queen’s confession and instruct the children and he would be exempt from court functions. In the revolution of 1868, he fled with the queen’s party to Paris, where he preached to the Spanish colony. </p><p>All his life Anthony was interested in the Catholic press. He founded the Religious Publishing House, a major Catholic publishing venture in Spain, and wrote or published 200 books and pamphlets. </p><p>At Vatican I, where he was a staunch defender of the doctrine of infallibility, he won the admiration of his fellow bishops. Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore remarked of him, "There goes a true saint." At the age of 63, he died in exile near the border of Spain.</p> American Catholic Blog The greatest tragedy of our world is that men do not know, really know, that God loves them. Some believe it in a shadowy sort of way. If they were to really think about it they would soon realize that their belief in God’s love for them is very remote and abstract. Because of this lack of realization of God’s love for them, men do not know how to love God back. —Catherine de Hueck Doherty

 
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