The Monitor Movie Guide
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The Replacements (PG-13)Skip to next paragraph
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Director: Howard Deutsch. With Gene Hackman, Keanu Reeves, Brooke Langton, Jack Warden. (115 min.) * The heroes are a bunch of strike-breaking athletes who agree to replace a picketing football team. The movie is so vulgar and incoherent that even Hackman's gifts can't score a touchdown. Add the grotesque racial stereotypes, the irresponsible gunplay, the treatment of a bitter strike as an occasion for smirks and mockery, and the demeaning depiction of women, and you have a losing package all around.
Sex/Nudity: 3 instances of innuendo. Violence: 14 scenes with roughhousing, punches, and bar fights. Profanity: 88, mostly harsh. Drugs: 6 instances of drinking, 8 with smoking.
Saving Grace (R)
Director: Nigel Cole. With Brenda Blethyn, Craig Ferguson, Martin Clunes, Tcheky Karyo, Phyllida Law. (93 min.) ** Faced with overwhelming debts after her husband's untimely death, a feisty widow puts together her remaining assets - a flair for gardening and a few shady friends - and starts a marijuana farm in her greenhouse, hoping for a quick profit that will end her woes. Blethyn's lively acting and some visually amusing moments lend spice to this minor but engaging comedy. *** Likable characters, unexpected, chuckle-filled.
Sex/Nudity: 1 scene with nudity, 3 instances of innuendo. Violence: 4 scenes with violence, including a threat with a knife. Profanity: 28 expressions, many harsh. Drugs: 9 scenes with alcohol and/or tobacco, 6 with marijuana.
Space Cowboys (PG-13)
Director: Clint Eastwood. With Clint Eastwood, Donald Sutherland, Tommy Lee Jones, James Garner. (126 min.) *** Three aging test pilots undertake a NASA mission to repair a Soviet space satellite in orbit, uncovering a cold-war secret along the way. The story takes a while to get started, but the acting is lively, the special effects are snazzy, and the picture's last couple of minutes pack a bittersweet punch. It's not "Grumpy Old Astronauts," and that alone is cause for gratitude! *** Classy, fun, engaging, intelligent.
Sex/Nudity: 1 instance of mild nudity. Violence: 2 mild fistfights. Profanity: 83 expressions, only one of them harsh. Drugs: 4 scenes with alcohol.
Steal This Movie (R)
Director: Robert Greenwald. With Vincent D'Onofrio, Janeane Garofalo, Jeanne Tripplehorn. (108 min.) * D'Onofrio plays 1960s radical Abbie Hoffman, whose talent for guerrilla theater and love of left-wing causes made him one of the most colorful and influential members of the countercultural scene. Hoffman's ideas and exploits are certainly important enough to merit Hollywood's attention, but this superficial treatment makes so many dubious decisions - oversimplifying issues, for instance, so there'll be more time for high-flying emotion - that 1960s veterans may be moved to protest rather than praise.
OUT ON VIDEO
(In Stores aug. 29)
The Big Kahuna (R)
Director: John Swanbeck. With Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito, Peter Facinelli. (90 min.) *** Three businessmen face uncomfortable questions about their lives during a long evening in a hotel hospitality suite where they've gathered to give a sales pitch. There's nothing cinematic about this transplanted stage play, but good acting and pungent dialogue lend it more than passing interest. *1/2 Slow, subtle, insightful.
I Dreamed of Africa (PG-13)
Director: Hugh Hudson. With Kim Basinger, Vincent Perez, Eva Marie Saint. (112 min.) * Fact-based tale of a woman who moves from Italy to Kenya with her husband and young son, and faces more challenges than she ever expected. The filmmakers focus so exclusively on their attractive heroine that the picture loses any real connection with Africa.
The Next Best Thing (PG-13)
Director: John Schlesinger. With Madonna, Rupert Everett, Benjamin Bratt. (107 min.) * Madonna plays a not-quite-young woman who's afraid family life will pass her by, then discovers she's pregnant after a one-night fling with her best friend, a gay man. The movie has a well-meaning message about love and loyalty, but its good intentions sag as the story trades its air of mischievous comedy for trite sentimentality. *1/2 Lacks focus, disappointing.
Princess Mononoke (PG-13)
Director: Hayao Miyazaki. With voices of Billy Crudup, Gillian Anderson. (133 min.) *** In ancient Japan, a young warrior gets caught up in a struggle between warring communities and powerful forest spirits. More thoughtful and varied than the average Hollywood cartoon. **1/2 Ambitious, innovative animation, repetitive.
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