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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Kick-Ass

By
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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Alphonsus Liguori: 
		<p>Moral theology, Vatican II said, should be more thoroughly nourished by Scripture, and show the nobility of the Christian vocation of the faithful and their obligation to bring forth fruit in charity for the life of the world. Alphonsus, declared patron of moral theologians by Pius XII in 1950, would rejoice in that statement.</p>
		<p>In his day, Alphonsus fought for the liberation of moral theology from the rigidity of Jansenism. His moral theology, which went through 60 editions in the century following him, concentrated on the practical and concrete problems of pastors and confessors. If a certain legalism and minimalism crept into moral theology, it should not be attributed to this model of moderation and gentleness.</p>
		<p>At the University of Naples he received, at the age of 16, a doctorate in both canon and civil law by acclamation, but he soon gave up the practice of law for apostolic activity. He was ordained a priest and concentrated his pastoral efforts on popular (parish) missions, hearing confessions, forming Christian groups. </p>
		<p>He founded the Redemptorist congregation in 1732. It was an association of priests and brothers living a common life, dedicated to the imitation of Christ, and working mainly in popular missions for peasants in rural areas. Almost as an omen of what was to come later, he found himself deserted, after a while, by all his original companions except one lay brother. But the congregation managed to survive and was formally approved 17 years later, though its troubles were not over. </p>
		<p>Alphonsus’ great pastoral reforms were in the pulpit and confessional—replacing the pompous oratory of the time with simplicity, and the rigorism of Jansenism with kindness. His great fame as a writer has somewhat eclipsed the fact that for 26 years he traveled up and down the Kingdom of Naples, preaching popular missions. </p>
		<p>He was made bishop (after trying to reject the honor) at 66 and at once instituted a thorough reform of his diocese. </p>
		<p>His greatest sorrow came toward the end of his life. The Redemptorists, precariously continuing after the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, had difficulty in getting their Rule approved by the Kingdom of Naples. Alphonsus acceded to the condition that they possess no property in common, but a royal official, with the connivance of a high Redemptorist official, changed the Rule substantially. Alphonsus, old, crippled and with very bad sight, signed the document, unaware that he had been betrayed. The Redemptorists in the Papal States then put themselves under the pope, who withdrew those in Naples from the jurisdiction of Alphonsus. It was only after his death that the branches were united. </p>
		<p>At 71 he was afflicted with rheumatic pains which left incurable bending of his neck; until it was straightened a little, the pressure of his chin caused a raw wound on his chest. He suffered a final 18 months of “dark night” scruples, fears, temptations against every article of faith and every virtue, interspersed with intervals of light and relief, when ecstasies were frequent. </p>
		<p>Alphonsus is best known for his moral theology, but he also wrote well in the field of spiritual and dogmatic theology. His <i>Glories of Mary</i> is one of the great works on that subject, and his book <i>Visits to the Blessed Sacrament</i> went through 40 editions in his lifetime, greatly influencing the practice of this devotion in the Church.</p> American Catholic Blog Ultimately there is no friend who can fully understand us, who can walk with us all the way. We must go forward and walk on our own in response to who we are and who we are called to be in God. —Thomas Merton

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