FREEZE FRAMES

A weekly update of film releases

* I.Q. - The setting is Princeton, N.J., about 40 years ago. The main characters are Albert Einstein, his brilliant and beautiful niece, and a handsome garage mechanic who's fallen crazily in love with her. Einstein knows the heart is more reliable than the head when love is in the air, and he's convinced his niece will be happier with the easygoing mechanic than with the stuffy psychologist she's supposed to marry; so he arranges with some of his learned cronies to pass the young man off as a newly discovered genius, hoping a relationship will take root before their ruse is revealed. Walter Matthau makes an ideal Einstein, and there's no beating Tim Robbins or Meg Ryan in the attractive-star department. The movie is too love-struck for its own good, though, piling up scenes of wistful romance when the story cries out for goofy twists in the old screwball-comedy tradition. Directed by Fred Schepisi, whose talent for quietly expressive cinema doesn't mesh comfortably with the potentially antic screenplay by Andy Breckman and Michael Leeson. (Rated PG)

* THE MADNESS OF KING GEORGE - It's late in the 18th century, and the king's behavior has become eccentric enough to cause a stir among his family, his physicians, and his enemies. Nigel Hawthorne heads a first-rate British cast in Alan Bennett's energetic comedy-drama about the unpredictable fortunes of a monarch's mental health, spiritedly directed by Nicholas Hytner. (Not rated)

* MIXED NUTS - Raucous jokes, ridiculous romance, and a lot of running around are the main ingredients of this alleged comedy about the staff of a suicide-hotline service that receives its most desperate calls during the Christmas season. Veteran comics like Steve Martin and Madeleine Kahn wrestle valiantly with the incoherent story and ham-fisted dialogue, but it's a losing battle all the way. Juliette Lewis and Rob Reiner are among the similarly doomed supporting players. Directed by Nora Ephron from a screenplay she wrote with Delia Ephron. (Rated PG-13)

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