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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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John Bosco: John Bosco’s theory of education could well be used in today’s schools. It was a preventive system, rejecting corporal punishment and placing students in surroundings removed from the likelihood of committing sin. He advocated frequent reception of the sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion. He combined catechetical training and fatherly guidance, seeking to unite the spiritual life with one’s work, study and play. 
<p>Encouraged during his youth to become a priest so he could work with young boys, John was ordained in 1841. His service to young people started when he met a poor orphan and instructed him in preparation for receiving Holy Communion. He then gathered young apprentices and taught them catechism. </p><p>After serving as chaplain in a hospice for working girls, John opened the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales for boys. Several wealthy and powerful patrons contributed money, enabling him to provide two workshops for the boys, shoemaking and tailoring. </p><p>By 1856, the institution had grown to 150 boys and had added a printing press for publication of religious and catechetical pamphlets. His interest in vocational education and publishing justify him as patron of young apprentices and Catholic publishers. </p><p>John’s preaching fame spread and by 1850 he had trained his own helpers because of difficulties in retaining young priests. In 1854 he and his followers informally banded together, inspired by St. Francis de Sales [January 24]. </p><p>With Pope Pius IX’s encouragement, John gathered 17 men and founded the Salesians in 1859. Their activity concentrated on education and mission work. Later, he organized a group of Salesian Sisters to assist girls.</p> American Catholic Blog How do you expect to reach your own perfection by leading someone else’s life? His sanctity will never be yours; you must have the humility to work out your own salvation in a darkness where you are absolutely alone.

 
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