The Monitor Movie Guide
(Page 3 of 3)
uuu In a rundown urban neighborhood, unlikely friendship develops between a dignified old man and a streetwise young woman who hides in his apartment after escaping from her abusive boyfriend. Bob Balaban has directed the slender story with commendable sensitivity, helped by excellent performances from Armin Mueller-Stahl and Olivia d'Abo. (Not rated) S N V PSkip to next paragraph
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uuu Two years after losing her baby while in a drug-induced haze, an African-American woman tries to regain custody from the affluent white family that's adopted him. The drama raises many sensitive issues, and while it doesn't explore their complexities very deeply, it treats its characters with respect and compassion. Directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal with strong visual imagination. (R) P V
THE MADNESS OF KING GEORGE
uuu Maybe it's family problems, or the stress of losing the American colonies; but whatever the cause, the monarch's mental health has become shaky, and this is of enormous interest to friends and enemies alike. Excellent acting undergirds this historical comedy-drama, directed by Nicholas Hytner. (Not Rated) P
qqqq Droll, powerful; fine acting by Nigel Hawthorne.
uu He's a tough-as-nails Marine who'd rather be dodging battlefield bullets than whipping a squad of prep-school kids into shape. Most of the jokes are dumb and dumber, but Damon Wayans is a riot as the hero, and military machismo is an excellent target for his satire. The film is less painful than the title leads you to expect. Nick Castle directed. (PG-13) P V
uuu Muriel is a misfit who's desperate to get married, but has everything from overbearing parents to nasty friends stand ing in her way. Australian newcomer P. J. Hogan wrote and directed this high-energy comedy, which earned several of this year's Australian Academy Awards. (R) S N P
qq1 Tragicomic, fast-moving plot, superb characters.
u A virus developed for biological warfare breaks loose in a California town, and military brass debate the issue while Dustin Hoffman tries to save the day. It's sad to see such an empty-headed movie on such an attention-worthy subject. Clunkily directed by Wolfgang Petersen. Morgan Freeman and Rene Russo head the hard-working but ill-fated supporting cast. (R) P V
uu While wrestling with questions of conscience arising from his homosexuality, a Roman Catholic priest agonizes over whether he should break the secrecy of his confessional and intervene in a child-molesting case involving a local family. Antonia Bird's drama is serious, heartfelt, but ultimately too superficial for comfort especially when compared with a vastly superior effort like ''The Boys of St. Vincent.'' (R) S V P
uuu Four interlocking stories about sex, drugs, violence, and other sensational stuff, tempered with an interest in redemption that suggests filmmaker Quentin Tarantino might be growing up a little. John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson are terrific as talkative hit men, and Bruce Willis is equally good as a boxer who refuses to throw a fight. Look out for over-the-top scenes of mayhem and brutality, though. (R) V S N P
qqq Surprising, wry, gory.
q The fearless comic strip-come-to-life ''Becca'' and her two mousy sidekicks face crisis after crisis in a dark and violent futuristic world. Predictably, they fight off a legion of bad guys and enlist some weird victims-turned-good guys to help. Not successful at shattering stereotypes, the film ends as Becca is reunited with her team of girl fighters and smiles dreamily at her newly won, genetically altered man. (R) V N P By Christina Nifong.
q Chris Farley and David Spade (from ''Saturday Night Live'') star in this sophomoric slapstick comedy. Farley plays Tommy Boy, a witless kid who must save his father's auto-parts company from a conniving couple (played by Rob Lowe and Bo Derek); Spade is his smart-aleck sidekick. The two travel across the Midwest to sell brakes and find themselves in silly situations (such as when a deer they hit comes back to life in their back seat). There are a few good laughs in this corny movie, but overall, it's a no-brainer. (PG-13) P By Lisa Parney.