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FREEZE FRAMES

By David Sterritt / July 1, 1988



COMING TO AMERICA - Eddie Murphy plays several roles, including the hero of this farce, an African prince who travels to New York in search of ``real-life experiences'' and a bride. Murphy has his moments, and so does Arsenio Hall as his sidekick. Often the two seem to be merely showing off, though, and the action has plenty of dead spots. Look out for some of Murphy's trademark vulgarity, too. Directed by comedy specialist John Landis, who fills the screen with engaging characters and comes up with several striking images, but allows the story to drag on too long. What could have been a 90-minute lark is no fun at more than two hours. (Rated R) RED HEAT - Two cops destroy half of Chicago in order to save it from the ravages of drug-related crime. In a half-hearted bid to give the story an original slant, the screenwriters have made one hero a visitor from the Soviet Union, where the idea of ``Miranda warnings'' has apparently not caught on yet. Noisily performed by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jim Belushi; noisily directed by action specialist Walter Hill. (Rated R) SHY PEOPLE - Partly to research an article, and partly to remove her teen-age daughter from the temptations of New York City, a journalist goes to Louisiana swamp country in search of an obscure branch of her family. The first half of the story has an honest sense of adventure, spiced with ironic digs at urban snobbery and professional pretensions. The second half sinks into a bayou of overcooked melodrama. Soviet filmmaker Andrei Konchalovsky directed this American production with a hand that gets heavier and heavier. But he coaxes a good performance from Jill Clayburgh and an excellent one from Barbara Hershey. (Not rated) WEDDING IN GALILEE - Even though his village has been put under a curfew by Israeli authorities, an Arab man wants to celebrate his son's wedding long into the night, according to custom. His neighbors don't think he should ask the Israelis for permission, but he confounds everyone by inviting them to the feast itself. The story has fascinating social and political implications, but it's visually and dramatically unexciting. Directed by Michel Khleifi, who was born and raised in Nazareth. (Not rated) WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT - This comedy takes place in a fantasy-skewed version of Hollywood during the 1940s. Some of the characters are regular people; others are animated figures called ``Toons,'' who work as second-class citizens in the movie-cartoon business. The hero is a human detective named Eddie Valiant, who's trying to save a Toon from a phony murder charge. The action is more frantic than funny. The mix of live and animated footage is technically brilliant, though, and the cartoon that opens the movie is an instant classic. Also noteworthy is the critical comment on American racism that's implicit in the unequal relationship between Toons and humans. Bob Hoskins and Christopher Lloyd, two of the world's most cartoonlike actors, head the lively cast. Robert Zemeckis is the director. (Rated PG) RATINGS: Films with ratings other than G may contain varying degrees of vulgar language, nudity, sex, and violence.

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