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John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

The seemingly never-ending search, among some in Hollywood, for those rare screen taboos that have yet to be toppled results in the jaw-dropping spectacle of Mindy Macready, aka Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz).

She's the blithely murderous masked tween with a fondness for spouting such vulgarities as the C-word whose viciously efficient mowing down of her enemies is central to the plot of "Kick-Ass" (Lionsgate), an intentionally outrageous but deeply perverse action comedy.

Home-schooled as an assassin by her father, Damon (Nicolas Cage)—a deranged ex-police officer who also has a costumed alter ego named Big Daddy—Hit Girl serves as an ally in Big Daddy's feud with Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong), the straight-from-central-casting mob boss who frame-up of Damon landed the honest cop in prison. The trauma of Damon's jail time, we learn, resulted in the death of Hit Girl's mother and the birth of an obsessive vendetta.

Stumbling into the midst of this conflict comes the film's hero, ordinary high school student Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson). Fed up with the petty thievery by which he's constantly victimized, nerdy Dave has taken time off from habitually pleasuring himself with the help of Internet porn to create the would-be superhero of the title.

As Dave soon discovers, however, it takes more than the mail-order wetsuit that constitutes Kick-Ass' outfit to bring down the bad guys, and he first encounters Hit Girl when she saves him from the potentially fatal consequences of his well-intentioned but ill-advised overreaching.

Intent on using Kick-Ass to get to his father's enemies, Frank's spoiled son Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), a fellow student of Dave's, creates a persona of his own called Red Mist whose hip lifestyle includes a fancy sports car and easy access to marijuana.

As the plot approaches its ultra-violent conclusion, director and co-writer (with Jane Golman) Matthew Vaughn's adaptation of Mark Millar and John S. Romita Jr.'s series of comic books fills the screen with bloody mayhem. Characters from either side who fall into the wrong hands find themselves crushed by machinery, riddled by Gatling guns and even exploded inside a giant microwave designed to dry lumber.

The film contains much gory violence including torture and dismemberment, brief graphic nonmarital sexual activity and offscreen masturbation, upper female nudity, drug use, a few instances of profanity and pervasive rough and crude language. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is O—morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

John Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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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 Let us never tire of seeking the Lord—of letting ourselves be sought by him—of tending over our relationship with him in silence and prayerful listening. Let us keep our gaze fixed on him, the center of time and history; let us make room for his presence within us.

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