FREEZE FRAMES

A weekly update of film releases

* MRS. DOUBTFIRE After his wife divorces him and gets custody of their three children, an out-of-work actor disguises himself as a comfy English nanny in order to spend time with the kids. Earlier in his movie career, what Robin Williams needed was more discipline as an ensemble actor. Now he's acquired that discipline, and it's given him a more polished and controlled image, but it's also made him kind of dull; the best parts of this movie are when he cuts verbally or visually loose, and this doesn't happen frequently enough to make the picture as energetic as it wants to be. Sally Field is lively and likable as the wife, though, and Pierce Brosnan is amusing as her handsome new boyfriend. Randi Mayem Singer and Leslie Dixon wrote the screenplay, which capably navigates the comic-poignant territory between ``Tootsie'' and ``Kramer vs. Kramer.'' Chris Columbus, of ``Home Alone'' fame, directed with his usual mixture of the clever and the crass. (Rated PG-13)

* THE NUTCRACKER

Macaulay Culkin is as adorable as ever, but he doesn't seem quite at home as he bravely pantomimes a supporting role among the trained dancers of the New York City Ballet, whose stage production of the George Balanchine classic is the basis for this prettily filmed movie. The star of the show is Darci Kistler as the Sugarplum Fairy, and Damian Woetzel makes a splendid Cavalier at her side. Also delightful is 12-year-old Jessica Lynn Cohen as Marie, whose dream sparks the Christmastime magic of the tale. Tchaikovsky's score is as fetching as ever under David Zinman's baton, and the sets by Rouben Ter-Arutunian translate well to the wide screen. Peter Martins staged the ballet; the movie was directed by the late Emile Ardolino, who numbered ``Dirty Dancing'' among his credits. Kevin Kline recites the flatly written narration. (Rated G)

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