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John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

Selena Gomez and Ethan Hawke star in a scene from the movie "Getaway."
Can the trauma of having your wife kidnapped make you drive faster and more, um, furiouser? Ethan Hawke finds out in the senseless car-chase flick "Getaway" (Warner Bros.).

Hawke plays ex-racer and devoted hubby Brent Magna. Poor Brent's yuletide gets off to a bad start when he returns to his apartment to find that his lovely spouse Leanne (Rebecca Budig) has been violently abducted while decorating their Christmas tree.

And you thought Grandma getting run over by that reindeer was a bummer!

Well, anyway, it seems that the unnamed criminal mastermind (Jon Voight) behind the whole thing isn't after a ransom. Instead, he wants Brent to use a souped-up vehicle he's purloined to cause mayhem on the streets of Sofia, Bulgaria, in order to facilitate a bank heist he's planning.

What's a red-blooded American like Brent doing in exotic Sofia? A belated exchange of dialogue eventually informs us that it's Leanne's hometown and that Brent and Leanne moved there after Brent said goodbye to the speedway. And fire-sale production costs had nothing to do with it.

No sooner has Brent begun to follow orders than his designated auto's teenage owner (Selena Gomez)—who also remains nameless throughout—shows up, waving a gun and demanding her classy chassis back.

Brent, who no doubt recognizes Selena from the Disney Channel, or perhaps "Ramona and Beezus," is having none of that. So the hood toting Miss Anonymous winds up becoming first Brent's unwilling passenger and later his computer-savvy partner in the ongoing effort to foil his adversary.

Though Brent refuses a direct order to kill what's-her-name, director Courtney Solomon does place him in the morally shaky position of endangering hordes of innocent bystanders—and innumerable pursuing police officers—for the sake of safeguarding a single life. But ethical considerations take a back seat as the wheels squeal and the windshields shatter—and as viewers run a gauntlet of crashes, collisions and illogical plot developments.

Since Brent only has eyes for the absent Leanne, there's no bedroom detour on his journey. But Selena puts distance between herself and her magical-kingdom past by labeling everyone she doesn't like with the A-word. Presumably for variety's sake, on one occasion, she settles for flipping some opponent the bird instead.

On the whole, moviegoers would do well to take this woeful picture's title as a piece of friendly advice.

The film contains much action violence, a few uses of profanity, considerable crude and crass language and an obscene gesture. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

John Mulderig is on the staff of 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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