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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Hangover Part III

By
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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Apollonia: The persecution of Christians began in Alexandria during the reign of the Emperor Philip. The first victim of the pagan mob was an old man named Metrius, who was tortured and then stoned to death. The second person who refused to worship their false idols was a Christian woman named Quinta. Her words infuriated the mob and she was scourged and stoned. 
<p>While most of the Christians were fleeing the city, abandoning all their worldly possessions, an old deaconess, Apollonia, was seized. The crowds beat her, knocking out all of her teeth. Then they lit a large fire and threatened to throw her in it if she did not curse her God. She begged them to wait a moment, acting as if she was considering their requests. Instead, she jumped willingly into the flames and so suffered martyrdom.</p><p>There were many churches and altars dedicated to her. Apollonia is the patroness of dentists, and people suffering from toothache and other dental diseases often ask her intercession. She is pictured with a pair of pincers holding a tooth or with a golden tooth suspended from her necklace. St. Augustine explained her voluntary martyrdom as a special inspiration of the Holy Spirit, since no one is allowed to cause his or her own death.</p> American Catholic Blog We can find Christ among the despised, voiceless, and forgotten of the world. We have to move beyond that which we wish to ignore and forget about: embrace the seemingly un-embraceable, love the unlovable, and dare to know what we most fear and wish to leave unknowable.

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