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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Men in Black 3

By
Adam Shaw
Source: Catholic News Service


Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones star in a scene from the movie "Men in Black 3."
A Chinese saying holds that good things come in pairs, while trifectas we know to be rare by definition. And those guidelines, alas, hold true for "Men in Black 3" (Columbia).

This moderately fun but ultimately forgettable outing for the well-established secret alien crime-fighting duo of Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) puts itself beyond the pale for younger audiences, moreover, by dabbling in some distasteful language.

Director Barry Sonnenfeld's slightly tired retread of the comedy franchise—the premise for which derives from Lowell Cunningham's comic book "The Men in Black" first published in the early 1990s—manages to maintain the humorous spirit of the two previous movies, which he also helmed, but shifts the focus to a younger version of K, played by Josh Brolin.

After the escape of an infamous extraterrestrial villain known as Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) from the secret lunar base on which he was being held, J wakes up in an alternate timeline in which his sidekick no longer exists. Boris has mischievously gone back in time, killed K off, prevented his own incarceration, and begun the enslavement of humanity.

As a result, wisecracking J must set the clock back—all the way to 1969—so that he can dissuade the youthful K from pursuing the course that would eventually lead him to his doom.

Needless to say, this chronology bending makes for some amusing set pieces, including one revolving around the yet-to-be-launched Apollo 11 space mission. A surprisingly poignant ending, by contrast, sheds compassionate light on the origins of the elder Agent K's habitual grumpiness.

While the proceedings are mostly harmless, at least for mature viewers, they end up providing more chuckles than belly laughs. Like a wan smile, "MIB 3" comes across as rather insipid.

Smith is, undeniably, in his usual top-notch form. But removing the equally excellent Jones for the majority of the picture proves an ill-advised gambit; his presence is greatly missed throughout.

Additionally, screenwriter Etan Cohen's dialogue makes wholly unnecessary forages into vulgar language and profanity. That's all the more unfortunate since teens would likely appreciate the antics on screen more than their seasoned seniors.

The film contains frequent action violence, at least two instances of profanity and occasional crude and crass language. 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.

****
Adam Shaw is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.





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Bartholomew: In the New Testament, Bartholomew is mentioned only in the lists of the apostles. Some scholars identify him with Nathanael, a man of Cana in Galilee who was summoned to Jesus by Philip. Jesus paid him a great compliment: “Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him” (John 1:47b). When Nathanael asked how Jesus knew him, Jesus said, “I saw you under the fig tree” (John 1:48b). Whatever amazing revelation this involved, it brought Nathanael to exclaim, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel” (John 1:49b). But Jesus countered with, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this” (John 1:50b). 
<p>Nathanael did see greater things. He was one of those to whom Jesus appeared on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias after his resurrection (see John 21:1-14). They had been fishing all night without success. In the morning, they saw someone standing on the shore though no one knew it was Jesus. He told them to cast their net again, and they made so great a catch that they could not haul the net in. Then John cried out to Peter, “It is the Lord.” </p><p>When they brought the boat to shore, they found a fire burning, with some fish laid on it and some bread. Jesus asked them to bring some of the fish they had caught, and invited them to come and eat their meal. John relates that although they knew it was Jesus, none of the apostles presumed to inquire who he was. This, John notes, was the third time Jesus appeared to the apostles.</p> American Catholic Blog While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.<br /> –St. Francis of Assisi

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