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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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Exaltation of the Holy Cross: Early in the fourth century St. Helena, mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, went to Jerusalem in search of the holy places of Christ's life. She razed the second-century Temple of Aphrodite, which tradition held was built over the Savior's tomb, and her son built the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher over the tomb. During the excavation, workers found three crosses. Legend has it that the one on which Jesus died was identified when its touch healed a dying woman. 
<p>The cross immediately became an object of veneration. At a Good Friday celebration in Jerusalem toward the end of the fourth century, according to an eyewitness, the wood was taken out of its silver container and placed on a table together with the inscription Pilate ordered placed above Jesus' head: Then "all the people pass through one by one; all of them bow down, touching the cross and the inscription, first with their foreheads, then with their eyes; and, after kissing the cross, they move on." </p><p>To this day the Eastern Churches, Catholic and Orthodox alike, celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on the September anniversary of the basilica's dedication. The feast entered the Western calendar in the seventh century after Emperor Heraclius recovered the cross from the Persians, who had carried it off in 614, 15 years earlier. According to the story, the emperor intended to carry the cross back into Jerusalem himself, but was unable to move forward until he took off his imperial garb and became a barefoot pilgrim.</p> American Catholic Blog Just as sin came into the world through Eve’s no to God, salvation came into the world through Mary’s yes. She is “blessed” not just among women but among all of humanity. We see in Mary the perfect disciple, the perfect humility, the perfect obedience.

 
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