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The Hangover Part III

Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service

Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms star in a scene from the movie "The Hangover Part III."
On its surface a defanged and declawed version of the first two installments, "The Hangover Part III" (Warner Bros.) has no sex, no alcohol or drug abuse and almost no nudity, albeit that last element is eventually -- perhaps inevitably -- included via a closing-credits sight gag.

What's left from director Todd Phillips, who co-wrote with Craig Mazin, is what used to be called a "caper comedy" filled with car chases, a few scattershot ethnic slurs involving Asians and Jews and, unsettlingly enough, what proves to be a quite benign view of coldblooded murder.

This time, Alan Garner (Zach Galifianakis), the spoiled rich boy, finally has to mature -- at age 42, it's about time -- following the death of his father, Sid (Jeffrey Tambor). Alan's friends Phil Wenneck (Bradley Cooper) and Stu Price (Ed Helms) stage an intervention to get their unstable pal the help he needs at a mental health facility in Arizona.

En route, "The Wolfpack," as they call themselves, are waylaid by gangster Marshall (John Goodman). Marshall wants them to help retrieve $21 million in gold bars stolen by archcriminal Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), who recently escaped from a Bangkok prison. Marshall holds Alan's brother-in-law, Doug (Justin Bartha), hostage until the loot is returned.

There are long stretches involving bungled criminal activity and hit-and-miss non-sequitur dialogue before a final showdown in Las Vegas, a place "The Wolfpack" now dreads after the group's drug-fueled adventure there in the first film. They reconnect with Jade (Heather Graham), who launched their initial debauch, and Alan finds love with Cassie (Melissa McCarthy), a pawnshop owner.

While the shenanigans that made the earlier entries repellent may mercifully be absent, there's a different, deeper -- and philosophically, at least, potentially more troubling -- recklessness at work in this picture. In the inkiest vein of nihilistic black humor, the frequent intrusion of death -- whether that of disposable animals or of equally disposable people -- is presented as a cue for guffaws.

Thus, whenever the filmmakers run out of uses for a character, as they do for Black Doug (Mike Epps), they simply have him killed.

The film contains stylized gun violence, a fleeting glimpse of frontal male nudity, a brief but vulgar reference to sexual activity, some profanity and pervasive rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.

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Francis of Assisi: Francis of Assisi was a poor little man who astounded and inspired the Church by taking the gospel literally—not in a narrow fundamentalist sense, but by actually following all that Jesus said and did, joyfully, without limit and without a sense of self-importance. 
<p>Serious illness brought the young Francis to see the emptiness of his frolicking life as leader of Assisi's youth. Prayer—lengthy and difficult—led him to a self-emptying like that of Christ, climaxed by embracing a leper he met on the road. It symbolized his complete obedience to what he had heard in prayer: "Francis! Everything you have loved and desired in the flesh it is your duty to despise and hate, if you wish to know my will. And when you have begun this, all that now seems sweet and lovely to you will become intolerable and bitter, but all that you used to avoid will turn itself to great sweetness and exceeding joy." </p><p>From the cross in the neglected field-chapel of San Damiano, Christ told him, "Francis, go out and build up my house, for it is nearly falling down." Francis became the totally poor and humble workman. </p><p>He must have suspected a deeper meaning to "build up my house." But he would have been content to be for the rest of his life the poor "nothing" man actually putting brick on brick in abandoned chapels. He gave up all his possessions, piling even his clothes before his earthly father (who was demanding restitution for Francis' "gifts" to the poor) so that he would be totally free to say, "Our Father in heaven." He was, for a time, considered to be a religious fanatic, begging from door to door when he could not get money for his work, evokng sadness or disgust to the hearts of his former friends, ridicule from the unthinking. </p><p>But genuineness will tell. A few people began to realize that this man was actually trying to be Christian. He really believed what Jesus said: "Announce the kingdom! Possess no gold or silver or copper in your purses, no traveling bag, no sandals, no staff" (Luke 9:1-3). </p><p>Francis' first rule for his followers was a collection of texts from the Gospels. He had no idea of founding an order, but once it began he protected it and accepted all the legal structures needed to support it. His devotion and loyalty to the Church were absolute and highly exemplary at a time when various movements of reform tended to break the Church's unity. </p><p>He was torn between a life devoted entirely to prayer and a life of active preaching of the Good News. He decided in favor of the latter, but always returned to solitude when he could. He wanted to be a missionary in Syria or in Africa, but was prevented by shipwreck and illness in both cases. He did try to convert the sultan of Egypt during the Fifth Crusade. </p><p>During the last years of his relatively short life (he died at 44), he was half blind and seriously ill. Two years before his death, he received the stigmata, the real and painful wounds of Christ in his hands, feet and side. </p><p>On his deathbed, he said over and over again the last addition to his Canticle of the Sun, "Be praised, O Lord, for our Sister Death." He sang Psalm 141, and at the end asked his superior to have his clothes removed when the last hour came and for permission to expire lying naked on the earth, in imitation of his Lord.</p> American Catholic Blog The joy of the Gospel is not just any joy. It consists in knowing one is welcomed and loved by God…. And so we are able to open our eyes again, to overcome sadness and mourning to strike up a new song. And this true joy remains even amid trial, even amid suffering, for it is not a superficial joy: it permeates the depths of the person who entrusts himself to the Lord and confides in him.

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