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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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Maria Goretti: One of the largest crowds ever assembled for a canonization—250,000—symbolized the reaction of millions touched by the simple story of Maria Goretti. 
<p>She was the daughter of a poor Italian tenant farmer, had no chance to go to school, never learned to read or write. When she made her First Communion not long before her death at age 12, she was one of the larger and somewhat backward members of the class. </p><p>On a hot afternoon in July, Maria was sitting at the top of the stairs of her house, mending a shirt. She was not quite 12 years old, but physically mature. A cart stopped outside, and a neighbor, Alessandro, 18 years old, ran up the stairs. He seized her and pulled her into a bedroom. She struggled and tried to call for help. “No, God does not wish it," she cried out. "It is a sin. You would go to hell for it.” Alessandro began striking at her blindly with a long dagger. </p><p>She was taken to a hospital. Her last hours were marked by the usual simple compassion of the good—concern about where her mother would sleep, forgiveness of her murderer (she had been in fear of him, but did not say anything lest she cause trouble to his family) and her devout welcoming of Viaticum, her last Holy Communion. She died about 24 hours after the attack. </p><p>Her murderer was sentenced to 30 years in prison. For a long time he was unrepentant and surly. One night he had a dream or vision of Maria, gathering flowers and offering them to him. His life changed. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria’s mother. </p><p>Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her mother (then 82), two sisters and a brother appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter’s. Three years later, at her canonization, a 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, may the medals we wear be constant reminders of the lives they depict. While wearing them, may we be blessed through the saints’ intercession and protected from harm. Help us to continue to spread the messages of Jesus and Mary and the saints and angels.

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