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The Hangover Part III

Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service

Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms star in a scene from the movie "The Hangover Part III."
On its surface a defanged and declawed version of the first two installments, "The Hangover Part III" (Warner Bros.) has no sex, no alcohol or drug abuse and almost no nudity, albeit that last element is eventually -- perhaps inevitably -- included via a closing-credits sight gag.

What's left from director Todd Phillips, who co-wrote with Craig Mazin, is what used to be called a "caper comedy" filled with car chases, a few scattershot ethnic slurs involving Asians and Jews and, unsettlingly enough, what proves to be a quite benign view of coldblooded murder.

This time, Alan Garner (Zach Galifianakis), the spoiled rich boy, finally has to mature -- at age 42, it's about time -- following the death of his father, Sid (Jeffrey Tambor). Alan's friends Phil Wenneck (Bradley Cooper) and Stu Price (Ed Helms) stage an intervention to get their unstable pal the help he needs at a mental health facility in Arizona.

En route, "The Wolfpack," as they call themselves, are waylaid by gangster Marshall (John Goodman). Marshall wants them to help retrieve $21 million in gold bars stolen by archcriminal Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), who recently escaped from a Bangkok prison. Marshall holds Alan's brother-in-law, Doug (Justin Bartha), hostage until the loot is returned.

There are long stretches involving bungled criminal activity and hit-and-miss non-sequitur dialogue before a final showdown in Las Vegas, a place "The Wolfpack" now dreads after the group's drug-fueled adventure there in the first film. They reconnect with Jade (Heather Graham), who launched their initial debauch, and Alan finds love with Cassie (Melissa McCarthy), a pawnshop owner.

While the shenanigans that made the earlier entries repellent may mercifully be absent, there's a different, deeper -- and philosophically, at least, potentially more troubling -- recklessness at work in this picture. In the inkiest vein of nihilistic black humor, the frequent intrusion of death -- whether that of disposable animals or of equally disposable people -- is presented as a cue for guffaws.

Thus, whenever the filmmakers run out of uses for a character, as they do for Black Doug (Mike Epps), they simply have him killed.

The film contains stylized gun violence, a fleeting glimpse of frontal male nudity, a brief but vulgar reference to sexual activity, some profanity and pervasive rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.

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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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