The Monitor Movie Guide

Red stars denote the reviews of Monitor movie critic David Sterritt unless otherwise noted. Ratings and comments by the Monitor panel ( blue stars) reflect the sometimes diverse views of at least three other moviegoers. Information on violence, drugs, sex/nudity, and profanity is compiled by the Monitor panel.

STAR RATINGS

David Sterritt Monitor panel Meaning

Recommended: Default

**** **** Excellent

*** *** Good

** ** Fair

* * Poor

DUD DUD The Worst

NEW RELEASES

Alice and Martin (R) *** Director: Andr Tchin. With Juliette Binoche, Alexis Loret, Carmen Maura, Pierre Maguelon, Marthe Villalonga, Jeremy Kreikenmayer, Eric Kreikenmayer, Jean-Pierre Lorit, Mathieu Amalric. (123 min.)

The love affair of an attractive musician and a young man with a troubled family history. Tchin's tendency to exert tight control over every aspect of his movies can make them seem chilly, but this drama is richly photographed and enhanced by Binoche's steadily appealing performance. In French with English subtitles

The Girl on the Bridge (R) *** Director: Patrice Leconte. With Daniel Auteuil, Vanessa Paradis. (92 min.)

Wishing she could bring her sensuality under better control, a young woman falls in love with a circus knife-thrower who introduces her to an eccentric and suspenseful new life. Although the story slips into clichs despite its offbeat subject, Leconte's cinematic style is fresh and vigorous, and Auteuil remains one of France's most engaging actors. In French with English subtitles

The In Crowd (PG-13) * Director: Mary Lambert. With Susan Ward, Lori Heuring, Matthew Settle, Ethan Erickson, Nathan Bexton, Daniel Hugh Kelly, Tess Harper. (100 min.)

Downtrodden Adrien wants to keep secret her recent release from a mental hospital when she starts a new life and a new job at Cliffmont Country Club. But not all those who make up the "in crowd" (rich, scantily clad 20-something country-clubbers with not a hangnail among them but perhaps a murder or two under their belts) are willing to let sullied histories remain hidden. Dark and twisted, with sexually suggestive undercurrents, this one's as safe to miss as a sunburn by the club poolside. By Katherine Dillin * Flimsy, boring, plastic characters.

Sex/Nudity: 6 scenes of a sexual nature, including nudity, implied sex, and a lesbian kiss. Violence: 14 scenes with violence, including grisly murders and fights. Profanity: 18 expressions, some harsh. Drugs: 8 scenes with alcohol, 1 with alcohol and smoking.

Loser (PG-13) ** Director: Amy Heckerling. With Jason Biggs, Mena Suvari, Greg Kinnear, Thomas Sadoski, Dan Aykroyd. (100 min.)

College freshman Paul dangles precariously on the losing end of things - he's too nice to be hip, his party-addicted roommates won't let him study, and he's got to woo the girl of his dreams from their snappy-dressing English professor. Can nice guys finish first? A lighthearted winner. By Katherine Dillin ** Sweet, pretty wholesome, spunky.

Sex/Nudity: 4 mildly suggestive scenes, 5 instances of innuendo. Violence: 1 fistfight. Profanity: 15 expressions, some harsh. Drugs: 7 scenes with alcohol, 3 with tobacco, 1 instance of doping fruit juice.

New Waterford Girl (Not rated) *** Director: Allan Moyle. With Liane Balaban, Tara Spencer-Nairn, Mary Walsh, Nicholas Campbell, Cathy Moriarty, Andrew McCarthy. (97 min.)

Feeling emotionally suffocated in her Nova Scotia town, a teenager cooks up an unlikely plan to escape - pretending to be a tramp when she's really quite the opposite, and fleeing the community on the excuse of a (bogus) pregnancy. Balaban's superb performance blends with Moyle's mostly understated directing to produce an uneven but sometimes enchanting comedy-drama.

Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (PG-13) * Director: Peter Segal. With Eddie Murphy, Janet Jackson, Larry Miller, Jamal Mixon, John Ales. (105 min.)

Murphy returns as a brilliant but bashful savant whose exotic elixir has created a foul-mouthed alter ego who wants to sabotage his marriage plans. The star's over-the-top energy isn't enough to make this hopelessly vulgar, numbingly repetitious farce worth watching.

The Wind Will Carry Us (Not rated) **** Director: Abbas Kiarostami. With Behzad Dourani and inhabitants of Siah Dareh, Iran. (118 min.)

A filmmaker visits a small village to document a funeral rite that will take place after the death of an ailing old woman, but the woman has too much life in her to die on schedule, so the visitor must stay longer than expected. The movie draws its power from the subtle tension between the main character's modernized mentality and the more tranquil rhythms of his rural surroundings. Additional fascination comes from Kiarostami's habit of leaving gaps in the story so each viewer's own imagination can come into play. The result is a full-fledged masterpiece. In Farsi with English subtitles

Wonderland (R) *** Director: Michael Winterbottom. With Gina McKee, Molly Parker, Ian Hart, Shirley Henderson, Kika Markham, Jack Shepherd, John Simm, Stuart Townsend, Enzo Cilenti, Peter Marfleet, Sarah-Jane Potts, David Fham, Ellen Thomas. (109 min.)

Tangled family ties are at the center of this comic-dramatic visit with three generations of a working-class London clan. The story is always lively, if not always appealing; the ensemble acting is impressively in tune; and Michael Nyman's surging score adds an extra measure of emotional power.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE

Chicken Run (G) *** Directors: Peter Lord, Nick Park. With voices of Mel Gibson, Miranda Richardson, Jane Horrocks. (86 min.)

It's a dark day for the poultry when their owner decides to switch from the egg industry to the chicken-pie business. Can they escape her automated oven with help from a flying rooster who recently landed in their coop? The suspense isn't exactly breathtaking, but there are some mighty fine laughs in this clever Claymation cartoon from the creator of England's hilarious Wallace and Gromit movies. Family fun for all. *** "Egg-cellent," sweet, top family fare.

Sex/Nudity/Profanity/Drugs: None. Violence: 6 scenes of mild comic violence.

Chuck & Buck (R) *** Director: Miguel Arteta. With Mike White, Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz, Lupe Ontiveros, Beth Colt, Paul Sand. (95 min.)

A successful young man gets a surprise visit from a childhood friend - good fun at first, but less so when he realizes that his old pal has stayed as immature and dependent as he was when they were kids. The psychology of this likable comedy-drama is pretty shallow, especially when it gets into sexual matters. But the acting is excellent and there are amusing views of the independent arts scene when the childlike Buck decides to explore his feelings by writing a play about them. *** Disturbing, original, complex look at difficult issues, surprising.

Sex/Nudity: 3 sexually suggestive scenes, 2 of them between men; 2 instances of innuendo. Violence: None. Profanity: 45 expressions, mostly harsh. Drugs: 6 scenes with alcohol, 4 with tobacco.

The Kid (PG) *** Director: Jon Turteltaub. With Bruce Willis, Spencer Breslin, Emily Mortimer, Lily Tomlin, Jean Smart. (104 min.)

Willis plays an egotistical image consultant who gets a needed dose of self-knowledge from an unexpected visitor: himself as a nine-year-old, equally puzzled by their time-warping encounter but loaded with clues as to how he became the creep he is today. Turteltaub makes the most of a solid screenplay and talented cast, rarely forcing the humor but letting it emerge from situations in its own good time. Fine fantasy fun. **1/2 Light summer flick, adorable, artificial.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 1 mild schoolyard fistfight. Profanity: 5 mild expressions. Drugs: 6 scenes with alcohol.

Me, Myself & Irene (R) ** Directors: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly. With Jim Carrey, Rene Zellweger, Chris Cooper, Robert Forster. (116 min.)

The protagonist is a policeman with two personalities: One is sweeter than American pie, the other is lecherous enough to make Mr. Hyde look like a gentleman, and both are in love with Irene, a new acquaintance who's never quite sure which one she's dealing with. Carrey gives an awesome comic performance, recalling Jerry Lewis's legendary acting in the 1963 version of "The Nutty Professor," which this farce frequently resembles. Look out for huge amounts of gross-out humor, though. ***1/2 Hilarious, over-the-top humor, hollow.

Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of implied sex, 3 suggestive scenes, some innuendo. Violence: 14 scenes of mostly slapstick violence, but includes two gunshot wounds. Profanity: 114 expressions, mostly crude. Drugs: 4 scenes with alcohol, 7 with tobacco.

The Perfect Storm (PG-13) *** Director: Wolfgang Petersen. With George Clooney, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Mark Wahlberg. (127 min.)

The crew of a New England swordfishing boat battles the Worst Weather Ever while their friends and spouses wait anxiously on shore. Fish elsewhere if you want originality, creativity, or a tale dignified enough to match the real-life tragedy that inspired it; but dive right in if you're looking for an old-fashioned entertainment that delivers corny romance, turbulent action, and enough wave-churning seascapes to make "Titanic" seem landlocked. *** An emotional ride, definitely worth seeing, terrifying water scenes.

Sex/Nudity: 2 mildly implied sex scenes. Violence: 6 instances, including a bar fight and a fishing accident. Profanity: 63 expressions, some harsh. Drugs: 4 scenes with alcohol and tobacco, 8 with tobacco.

Pokmon: The Movie 2000 (G) *** Directors: Kunihiko Yuyama, Michael Haigney. With voices by Eric Stuart, Veronica Taylor, Philip Bartlett. (84 min.)

When the powers of fire, ice, and lightning (represented by three large birds) are captured and earth's harmony is thereby disturbed, Pokmon trainer, Ash, discovers that only he can save the day. The challenge of weaving the gazillion Pokmon characters together in one story is met with ease, including threads of subtle, moral lessons and clean, simple jokes. Where other movies seem bound to treat kids like adults, "Pokmon" allows kids to be kids, and just enjoy a wholesome, entertaining, well thought-out animation. By Christy Ellington

Sex/Nudity/Profanity/Drugs: None. Violence: 13 scenes with mild violence, including lightning bolts and big waves.

Scary Movie (R) 1/2 Director: Keenen Ivory Wayans. With Jon Abrahams, Carmen Electra, Shannon Elizabeth, Cheri Oteri. (88 min.)

A supposedly comic succotash of the horror-movie genre, this movie pushes beyond the limits of taste. It is extremely vulgar, coarse, crude, crass, gross, graphic, disgusting, odious, reprehensible, nasty, and unnecessary. Many in the media are wondering how it got away with its "R" rating rather than a much-deserved "NC-17" due to its endless sexual innuendo and images of male nudity. A very few detergent-clean funny moments. By Katherine Dillin *1/2 Insult to one's intelligence, disgusting, no sequel please.

Sex/Nudity: 7 graphic sex scenes, 6 scenes with nudity, 14 with sexual references. Violence: 29 scenes with violence, many graphic in the horror-movie style, including stabbings, a broken leg, and a suicide. Profanity: 40 expressions, many harsh. Drugs: 7 scenes with alcohol, 4 with smoking, 2 with drugs.

Shower (PG-13) **** Director: Zhang Yang. With Pu Cun Xin, Zhu Xu, Jiang Wu. (92 min.)

A broken-down Beijing bathhouse is the setting for this richly filmed comedy-drama about the clash between tradition and modernity, embodied by the attitudes of the sweet old proprietor and his citified young son. The movie is superbly acted, cleverly written, sensitively directed, and garnished with everything from sly humor to a hearty rendition of "O Solo Mio" with a Chinese accent. In Mandarin with English subtitles ***1/2 Gentle, culturally insightful, original, humanistic.

Sex/Nudity: 6 scenes with nudity, mostly mild bathing shots. Violence: 4 instances of violence, including a thug threatening to beat up a man. Profanity: 13 expressions, some harsh. Drugs: 2 scenes with alcohol, 3 with tobacco.

What Lies Beneath (PG-13) *** Director: Robert Zemeckis. With Michelle Pfeiffer, Harrison Ford, Diana Scarwid. (130 min.)

Pfeiffer plays a woman who has good reasons for thinking her New England house is haunted, but can't figure out who the ghost might be, or how to persuade her scientist husband that something sinister is in the air. A few scenes indulge in overstated hokum, but several sequences are suspenseful enough to deserve that overused adjective, Hitchcockian. **1/2 Bloodcurdling, relentless pace.

Sex/Nudity: 1 scene implied sex, 1 suggestive scene. Violence: 7 scenes with violence, including chilling attempts at murder. Profanity: 2 expressions, 1 mild and 1 harsh. Drugs: 5 scenes with alcohol.

X-Men (PG-13)xx ** Director: Bryan Singer. With Patrick Stewart, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen. (105 min.)

Based on a popular comic book, this action-packed adventure takes its cue from the idea that people with exotic powers don't always become superheroes, but may turn bitter and hostile when ordinary folks find their special qualities too "weird" and "different" to tolerate. Stewart is solid as the leader of a school for constructive mutants, McKellen is equally strong as his destructive counterpart, and the screenplay takes a commendably dim view of bias and bigotry. ** Fun, creative, random, aimed at teens.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 12 scenes of violence, including special effects with a bullet. Profanity: 3 mild expressions. Drugs: 2 scenes with alcohol, 2 with tobacco.

OUT ON VIDEO

COMING SOON...

(In Stores august 1)

Romeo Must Die (R) **1/2 Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak. With Jet Li, Isaiah Washington, Russell Wong. (130 min.)

A martial-arts expert, wrongly framed for a crime, breaks out of a Hong Kong prison and comes to the US to find his brother's killer. The stunts are spectacular, Li is a modest and genial hero, and the gunplay is mostly bloodless. By Gregory M. Lamb

Whatever It Takes (PG-13) 1/2 Director: David Hubbard. With Shane West, Marla Sokoloff, James Franco, Jodi Lyn O'Keefe. (92 min.)

Two high school seniors from different cliques strike a deal to help each other get their dream dates for the prom. Catchy premise, but whatever it took to make teen-movie hits like "Sixteen Candles" isn't here. By Katherine Dillin

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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