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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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Robert Bellarmine: When Robert Bellarmine was ordained in 1570, the study of Church history and the fathers of the Church was in a sad state of neglect. A promising scholar from his youth in Tuscany, he devoted his energy to these two subjects, as well as to Scripture, in order to systematize Church doctrine against the attacks of the Protestant Reformers. He was the first Jesuit to become a professor at Louvain. 
<p>His most famous work is his three-volume <i>Disputations on the Controversies </i><em>of the Christian Faith</em>. Particularly noteworthy are the sections on the temporal power of the pope and the role of the laity. He incurred the anger of monarchists in England and France by showing the divine-right-of-kings theory untenable. He developed the theory of the indirect power of the pope in temporal affairs; although he was defending the pope against the Scottish philosopher Barclay, he also incurred the ire of Pope Sixtus V. </p><p>Bellarmine was made a cardinal by Pope Clement VIII on the grounds that "he had not his equal for learning." While he occupied apartments in the Vatican, Bellarmine relaxed none of his former austerities. He limited his household expenses to what was barely essential, eating only the food available to the poor. He was known to have ransomed a soldier who had deserted from the army and he used the hangings of his rooms to clothe poor people, remarking, "The walls won't catch cold." </p><p>Among many activities, he became theologian to Pope Clement VIII, preparing two catechisms which have had great influence in the Church. </p><p>The last major controversy of Bellarmine's life came in 1616 when he had to admonish his friend Galileo, whom he admired. Bellarmine delivered the admonition on behalf of the Holy Office, which had decided that the heliocentric theory of Copernicus (the sun as stationary) was contrary to Scripture. The admonition amounted to a caution against putting forward—other than as a hypothesis—theories not yet fully proved. This shows that saints are not infallible. </p><p>Bellarmine died on September 17, 1621. The process for his canonization was begun in 1627 but was delayed until 1930 for political reasons, stemming from his writings. In 1930, Pope Pius XI canonized him and the next year declared him a doctor of the Church.</p> American Catholic Blog The joy of the Lord is our strength. Therefore, each of us will accept a life of poverty in cheerful trust. We will minister to Christ in the distressing disguise of the poor with cheerful devotion. If our work is done with joy, we will have no reason to be unhappy.

 
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