The Monitor Movie Guide
Reviews in this weekly guide are written by Monitor critic David Sterritt (the first set of '+' marks in each review) unless otherwise noted. Ratings and comments by the Monitor staff panel (the second set of '+' marks in each review) reflect the sometimes diverse views of at least three other viewers. Information on violence, drugs, sex/nudity, and profanity is compiled by the panel.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
+++1/2 Very Good
++ 1/2 Average
Director: Michael Bay. With Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Liv Tyler, Will Patton, Ben Affleck, Peter Stormare, Keith David, Steve Buscemi. (144 min.)
+Rowdy astronauts rocket to an asteroid that's speeding toward Earth, hoping they can blow it up before a catastrophic collision. Everything about the first half-hour is so outrageously crude that you may hope the asteroid lands on the theater where you're watching the movie. Things improve once the heroes arrive in outer space, where the special effects are reasonably imaginative, but the story's emotions remain forced and artificial to the unsurprising end.
++ Corny, wild space ride, video-game-ish.
Sex/Nudity: One scene of nearly nude dancing, some sexual innuendo and kissing. Violence: 3 scenes involving guns and/or fistfights, many high-action scenes with explosions, 3 scenes of massive destruction. Profanity: 49, mostly mild, expressions. Drugs: 5 instances of drinking in bars.
DEAR JESSE (NOT RATED)
Director: Tim Kirkman. With Tim Kirkman, Allan Gurganus, Jesse Helms. (85 min.)
+++ An open letter to Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina from a gay filmmaker who can't understand how he's earned so much animosity from someone he's never met. Kirkman's documentary explores important social issues with intelligence, insight, and wit.
DOCTOR DOLITTLE (PG-13)
Director: Betty Thomas. With Eddie Murphy, Ossie Davis, Oliver Platt, Peter Boyle. (86 min.)
+New version of the old story about a man whose conversations with animals lead to consternation among his human friends. The animals are cute and Murphy gives a lively performance, but as with his remake of "The Nutty Professor," the original is still the best. Contains a great deal of vulgar dialogue and scatological humor.
++1/2 Lighthearted, droll, fun.
Sex/Nudity: One brief scene of backside nudity. Violence: None. Profanity: About 10, mostly mild, expressions. Drugs: A monkey gets drunk.
THE FARM: ANGOLA USA (NOT RATED)
Directors: Jonathan Stack and Liz Garbus. With Bernard Addison, Burl Cain. (93 min.)
+++ Thoughtful, compassionate study of a high-security prison in Louisiana, focusing on a variety of inmates ranging from a jailhouse preacher to a condemned man awaiting execution. The documentary would carry more weight if it swung more of its attention from individual personalities to overriding issues, but it's still a powerful and moving experience.
JUNK FOOD (NOT RATED)
Director: Masashi Yamamoto. With Shizuko Yamamoto, Miyuki Ijima, Yoshiyuki Onimaru. (84 min.)
++ A murderous office worker, a tattoo artist, and a Pakistani immigrant with a loose-living Japanese girlfriend are among the characters of this multifaceted look at contemporary Tokyo, which emphasizes the city's sad and sleazy sides in a series of moody, often violent vignettes. Yamamoto is a striking visual stylist, but stronger storytelling skills would make him a more effective director.