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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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James of the Marche: Meet one of the fathers of the modern pawnshop! 
<p>James was born in the Marche of Ancona, in central Italy along the Adriatic Sea. After earning doctorates in canon and civil law at the University of Perugia, he joined the Friars Minor and began a very austere life. He fasted nine months of the year; he slept three hours a night. St. Bernardine of Siena told him to moderate his penances. </p><p>James studied theology with St. John of Capistrano. Ordained in 1420, James began a preaching career that took him all over Italy and through 13 Central and Eastern European countries. This extremely popular preacher converted many people (250,000 at one estimate) and helped spread devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. His sermons prompted numerous Catholics to reform their lives and many men joined the Franciscans under his influence. </p><p>With John of Capistrano, Albert of Sarteano and Bernardine of Siena, James is considered one of the "four pillars" of the Observant movement among the Franciscans. These friars became known especially for their preaching. </p><p>To combat extremely high interest rates, James established <i>montes pietatis</i> (literally, mountains of charity)--nonprofit credit organizations that lent money at very low rates on pawned objects. </p><p>Not everyone was happy with the work James did. Twice assassins lost their nerve when they came face to face with him. James died in 1476 and was canonized in 1726.</p> American Catholic Blog We all have fears, but we don’t have to be afraid. Jesus is always with us to protect us and give us courage. We only have to remember that the battle is the Lord’s. When Jesus gives us the victory, let’s be sure to thank Him and praise Him for what He has done.

 
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