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Freeze Frames

The Monitor Movie Guide

By David Sterritt and Staff Panel / September 8, 1995



Movies containing violence (V), sexual situations (S), nudity (N), and profanity (P) are noted. Ratings and comments by the panel (blue stars) reflect the views of at least three Monitor staffers. Look for more guidance in our full reviews on the Arts pages.

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EVALUATION SYMBOLS

David Sterritt Staff Panel Meaning

O\ O\ Forget it

u u Only if it's free

uu uu Maybe a matinee

uuu uuu Wait in line

uuuu uuuu See it twice

New Releases

THEREMIN - AN ELECTRONIC ODYSSEY (PG)

uuu The life and times of Leon Theremin, the Russian inventor who dreamed up the first electronic musical instrument in 1920, and also pioneered surveillance ''bugs'' for the Soviet government, which showed its appreciation by having the KGB kidnap him. This informative and entertaining documentary was directed by Steve M. Martin, no relation to the other Steve Martin.

TO WONG FOO, THANKS FOR EVERYTHING, JULIE NEWMAR (PG-13)

u Three female impersonators from Manhattan spend an unexpected weekend in a remote little town. Presumably this comedy wants to promote tolerance and diversity - so why is its attitude toward rural people, working men, and other ''normal'' targets so insulting and condescending? Directed by Beeban Kidron from Douglas Carter Beane's aimless screenplay. In all, a pathetic echo of ''The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,'' which had real insights into its unconventional subject. Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, and John Leguizamo star. P V

Currently in Release

u The Amazing Panda Adventure (G)

A 10-year-old American boy, a product of divorce and shopping malls, visits his father in China and finds him too distracted to give him any attention. Despite beautiful scenery and sets, the adventure of finding a wounded panda and cub, and fighting off the poachers, is predictable and marred by bad dialogue. By Carol Hartman

u Disappointing, stilted; wooden acting.

APOLLO 13 (PG)

uu A near-catastrophic NASA mission of 1970 is the subject of this fact-based drama about three astronauts who head for the moon, lose control of their expedition when an oxygen tank explodes, and refocus their attention on getting back to Earth in one piece. There's not much suspense, since audiences know the real-life incident ended safely, but director Ron Howard spins the story with enough gusto and gumption to make it reasonably entertaining. Tom Hanks heads a solid cast that includes Gary Sinise, Kevin Bacon, Ed Harris, and Bill Paxton in lead roles. P

uuuu Intriguing, instructive, glorious.

BABE (G)

uuu He's a pig who longs to be a sheepdog, to the consternation of his barnyard friends and the confusion of the humans who own him. The movie is at times raucous, but its spirits couldn't be higher, and the tale teaches a good-natured lesson about why cooperation is better than coercion. Best of all is the very funny climax, which should have grownups brushing away happy tears along with their kids. Directed by Chris Noonan.

uuu Hilarious, delightful, and appealing to adults.

THE BABY-SITTERS CLUB (PG)

uu A teenage girl renews her relationship with her estranged father (Peter Horton) while helping her friends run a backyard summer camp for little kids. The movie is fresh and friendly, but it doesn't have many surprises and the story sags at times. Based on Ann M. Martin's popular book series and directed by Melanie Mayron.

BATMAN FOREVER (PG-13)

uu As usual, the Caped Crusader (Val Kilmer) is less fun to watch than the villains he's chasing, especially the maniacal Riddler, played by Jim Carrey in a zany performance that's over the top even by his lofty standard. Tommy Lee Jones tries to match him as Two-Face, but quickly falls behind, and Nicole Kidman is fetching as the psychologist who tries to help our hero get in touch with his repressed memories. Directed by Joel Schumacher with occasional gestures toward social commentary, and enough spectacle to mask the movie's deep down emptiness. V

uu Holy hyperbole! bat-lite, cartoonish.

BEYOND RANGOON (R)