FREEZE FRAMES

A weekly update of film releases

* SPLITTING HEIRS

Eric Idle, formerly of the Monty Python comedy team, plays an ordinary British bloke who discovers he's a long-lost member of a venerable and extremely wealthy family. In order to claim his inheritance, though, it looks as if he'll have to do away with a feisty American everyone accepts as the proper heir. As often happens in Monty Python shows, some parts of this silly farce are quite amusing while others fall completely flat; only devoted Idle fans are likely to find the whole picture worth watching. B arbara Hershey and Rick Moranis give solid supporting performances, though, and the scenes featuring Idle opposite John Cleese have the split-second timing and hilarious absurdity of Python routines at their most freewheeling. Directed by English filmmaker Robert Young from Idle's screenplay. (Rated PG-13) * JOEY BREAKER

The title character is a high-energy talent agent who's juggling a dozen deals and conducting a romance on the side. At the beginning of the story he's so calculating and efficient that he hardly seems human; but some hard experiences, and the love of a good woman, teach him to slow down and learn compassion for people who are weaker and more vulnerable than he is. Much of this comedy-drama hinges on the starring performance by Richard Edson, who is best known as the sidekick in "Stranger Than Paradise" and the nice-guy brother in "Do the Right Thing." In the early scenes he makes Joey so real and obnoxious that you want to throw something at him. But eventually he shows the character's likable side, and the movie takes on new interest despite its rather rough-hewn style. There's also a first-class acting debut by Cedella Marley, who is captivating as the object of Joey's affections. Written and directed by newcomer Steven Starr, himself a former high-powered talent agent who obviously knows this territory . (Rated R)

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