Movie Guide

Ratings and comments by David Sterritt and Monitor staff Staff comments 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 MEANING

**** Excellent *** Good ** Fair * Poor DUD The Worst

Evolution (PG-13)

Director: Ivan Reitman. With David Duchovny, Julianne Moore, Orlando Jones, Seann William Scott. (105 min.)

Sterritt *** Two crusading scholars from a Southwest community college discover a microscopic horde of newly arrived space aliens. Then they realize they're the only ones who can stop the menace once the cute little critters become ugly big critters thanks to their phenomenal rate of (you guessed it) evolution. At its best, this unevenly paced comedy is an amusing parody of monster movies from "Them!" to "Alien." At its worst, it's a gross-out farce aimed at inattentive popcorn-crunchers.

Sex/Nudity: 1 scene of innuendo, 1 with partial male nudity. Violence: 6 scenes, intense and scary, but not too gory. Profanity: 11 very mild expressions. Drugs: 1 scene with smoking, 1 with drinking.

A Real Young Girl (Not rated)

Director: Catherine Breillat. With Charlotte Alexandra, Hiram Keller, Rita Maiden, Bruno Balp. (92 min.)

Sterritt ** A teenager ogles attractive men, feuds with her parents, and has fantasies of sex and romance during a summer vacation at her family's rural home. Breillat explored sexual coming-of-age more coherently and insightfully in her innovative "36 Fillette," but the delayed release of this 1975 drama provides an interesting view of her early development as a world-class filmmaker. Contains sexually explicit scenes. Originally titled "Une vrai jeune fille." In French with English subtitles

Swordfish (R)

Director: Dominic Sena. With John Travolta. Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle, Vinnie Jones. (97 min.)

Staff * This outlandish film starts with John Travolta's character offering a long speech on how bad Hollywood movies are. This opening scene, which concludes with an ingenious twist, aptly describes "Swordfish," which is an action-thriller of the car-chase/gunplay/misogynistic variety. Travolta plays the head of an organization of ruthless terrorists set up by the US government to fight international terrorists. (Huh?) Only a computer hacker (Jackman) can stop them from robbing a bank to fund their "international peacekeeping." (Huh?) And it all ends with a bus dangling precariously from a helicopter. (Don't ask!) By Stephen Humphries

Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes with nudity, 1 with sex, 4 with innuendo. Violence: 14 scenes, including bullet wounds. Profanity: 59 harsh expressions. Drugs: 11 scenes with smoking, 5 with drinking.

The Wide Blue Road (Not rated)

Director: Gillo Pontecorvo. With Yves Montand, Alida Valli, Francisco Rabal. (90 min.)

Sterritt **** Montand plays a working-class Italian man who supports his wife and three children through the illegal practice of fishing with dynamite, earning the hostility of not only legal authorities but also his fellow fishermen. What makes this small-scale drama so compelling is Pontecorvo's treatment of the main character not as ruthless and calculating, but as misguided and highly sympathetic beneath his rough-hewn behaviors. The film also makes fascinating statements on nuances of class consciousness, and on the regrettably common tendency for people to justify selfish actions on the basis of "family values." The movie was first released in 1957, and has been restored to excellent condition by Milestone Film and Video. In Italian with English subtitles

Currently in Release

Angel Eyes (R)

Director: Luis Mandoki. With Jennifer Lopez, Jim Caviezel, Sonia Braga, Shirley Knight. (104 min.)

Staff ** When a stranger (Caviezel) saves South Chicago cop (Lopez) from a dangerous situation, she thinks she may have met the perfect man. But relationship problems arise when she tries to find out about his past, including a fatal car accident which killed the man's wife and child. This unconventional love story captivates early on, but even Lopez's surprisingly good acting can't rescue this slow-paced yarn. By Joshua S. Burek

Staff ** Contrived, emotional, sweet moments.

Sex/Nudity: 1 mild sex scene. 3 instances of innuendo and several sexual references. Violence: 7 scenes, including a fistfight. Profanity: 62 often- harsh expressions. Drugs: 3 scenes of smoking, 3 scenes of drinking.

The Animal (PG-13)

Director: Luke Greenfield. With Rob Schneider, Colleen Haskell, Edward Asner, Cloris Leachman. (77 min.)

Staff *1/2 A nerdish clerk (Schneider) drives off a cliff, and the town's mad scientist reconstructs him with animal organs. Now he can live out his dream of being a police officer, if only he can control the primal urges that accompany his new agility and heightened senses. Schneider's physical comedy sometimes resembles that of a silent era comedian, but his efforts are dragged down by tasteless scripting that Buster Keaton could never have imagined. Still the movie exhibits more restraint than most gross-out comedies, and some sequences are howlingly funny. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 7 scenes of innuendo. Violence:13 scenes of comic violence. Profanity: 18 expressions. Drugs: 4 scenes with drinking, 2 with smoking.

Blow (R)

Director: Ted Demme. With Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Ray Liotta, Paul Reubens, Rachel Griffiths. (119 min.)

Sterritt ** The fact-based story of George Jung, a small-time California crook who became a big-time associate of a Colombia drug cartel, is inherently stale. But Depp evokes emotional depth with a characteristically subtle performance, and Demme elicits fine acting from the supporting cast.

Staff *** Realistic, thought-provoking.

Sex/Nudity: Brief nude shots in a photo collage, topless women in a pool, and backside shots of nude women. Violence: Graphic fighting scenes with guns and 1 slap to a woman. Profanity: 134 harsh expressions. Drugs: 31 scenes with alcohol and 39 with drugs.

Bridget Jones's Diary (R)

Director: Sharon Maguire. With Renee Zellweger, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Jim Broadbent. (94 min.)

Sterritt ** A romantic Englishwoman searches for a man who won't mind her slightly bulky figure and slightly dissolute habits. This lightweight comedy evidently sees itself as a Jane Austen spinoff in the "Clueless" vein, and fans of the genre will enjoy it if they're not distracted by trite plot twists and Zellweger's accent.

Staff ***1/2 Exaggerated, v.g. (very good).

Sex/Nudity: 3 sex scenes, no nudity; several sexual references. Violence: 1 scene with a fistfight. Profanity: 35 including many harsh expressions. Drugs: 15 scenes of smoking and drinking.

A Knight's Tale (PG-13)

Director: Brian Helgeland. With Heath Ledger, Mark Addy, Alan Tudyk, Paul Bettany. (132 min.)

Staff **1/2 A kid from the wrong side of town (Ledger) makes his dream of becoming a knight a reality by posing as royalty. The only thing holding him back from winning the heart of a beautiful princess is his status in society. The blood and violence may be too intense for smaller kids, but this is fine family entertainment. By Heidi Wilson

Memento (R)

Director: Christopher Nolan, With Guy Pearce, Carrie-Ann Moss, Joe Pantoliano. (118 min.)

Sterritt *** A young man hunts the criminal who murdered his wife, hampered by a physical condition that obliterates his short-term memory on a day-by-day basis. This unconventionally structured thriller moves at an energetic pace.

Staff *** A reel-ful of Polaroid moments, fresh.

Sex/Nudity: None. V: 9 scenes of violence, including a rape. Profanity: 143 harsh expressions. Drugs: 6 scenes of drinking; 1 scene with smoking.

Moulin Rouge (PG-13)

Director: Baz Luhrmann. With Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, Jim Broadbent, John Leguizamo. (120 min.)

Sterritt *** The setting is Paris a century ago. The heroine is a can-can dancer caught between the love of a poor poet who adores her and the lust of a wealthy count who could help her career. Kidman and McGregor make a fetching couple, but the real star is Luhrmann's hyperactive filmmaking style. Some will find it exhilarating fun. Others will pine for the days when musicals cared more about singing and dancing than cinematic shenanigans for their own sake.

Staff **1/2 Visual delight, Uneven, good songs.

Sex/Nudity: None, but several scenes of innuendo. Violence:2 scenes, one with attempted rape. Profanity: None. Drugs: None.

The Mummy Returns (PG-13)

Director: Stephen Sommers. With Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah. (125 min.)

Sterritt ** A handsome adventurer and his Egyptologist wife dash through an Indiana Jones-style story about the resurrection of a three-millennium-old nemesis. Writer-director Sommers serves up rousing visual effects and action. But there's more emphasis on computer-generated gimmickry than on persuasive acting and ideas.

Staff **1/2 Good romance, witty references to other films, over the top.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence:16 scenes, intense and scary, but not too gory. Profanity: 6 very mild expressions. Drugs: None.

Pearl Harbor (PG-13)

Director: Michael Bay. With Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale, Cuba Gooding Jr., Josh Hartnett. (182 min.)

Sterritt * Two high-flying pilots and a spirited nurse are among the Americans whose lives and loves are disrupted by the Japanese air attack that brought the United States into World War II and shaped the rest of the 20th century. True to the tradition of director Bay and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, this complex historical subject is played entirely for action, romance, and spectacle, reducing cataclysmic world events to guts-and-glory cliches. Future anthropologists may find it a useful summary of Hollywood's skill at using fiction and fantasy to evade reflection on the world we actually live in.

uuu Disappointing, overlong, thrilling, engrossing, shallow harbor.

Sex/Nudity: 1 sex scene, 11 with partial nudity. Violence: 274 scenes. Profanity: 40 harsh expressions. Drugs: 5 scenes with cigarettes, 3 with alcohol.

Shrek (PG-13)

Directors: Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson. With voices of Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy. (90 min.)

Sterritt *** An amiable ogre, a talkative donkey, and a domineering princess set off on a fairy-tale quest that brings out the hidden decency of the monster and the inner beauty of his royal companion. The story has rollicking moments and the visuals are amazingly realistic. Don't expect a cartoon on the level of "Toy Story," but animation fans will find a generous amount of fun.

Staff *** Irreverent, fairytale turned inside out.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: None. Profanity: 4 mild. Drugs: None.

Spy Kids (PG)

Director: Robert Rodriguez. With Antonio Banderas, George Clooney, Alan Cumming, Teri Hatcher. (93 min.)

Staff ** Billed as a spy caper for all ages, "Spy Kids" is indeed that. Carmen and Juni Cortez are two ordinary kids who must save their parents - and the world - from the evil techno-wizard, Floop. The movie definitely skews toward the under-10 set. By Gloria Goodale

Staff ***1/2 Multicultural, fast-paced, creative.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 12 scenes of comic violence. Profanity: None. Drugs: 2 instances with drinking.

What's The Worst That Can Happen? (PG-13)

Director: Sam Weisman. With Danny DeVito, Martin Lawrence, John Leguizamo, Nora Dunn. (90 min.)

Staff ** Crooked millionaire Max Fairbanks (DeVito) catches Kevin Caffrey (Lawrence) burglarizing his beach front mansion. Max persuades the police that Kevin's "lucky" ring is his own. The rest of the movie charts Kevin's dogged attempts to retrieve his ring, and Max's obsession with keeping it, while their longsuffering women try to get them to grow up. Crisp editing, a cast of likable oddballs, and great views of Boston keep things going for a while, but the filmmakers run out of ideas long before the final freeze frame. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 1 scene of implied sex, 10 with innuendo. Violence: 4 scenes of comic violence. Profanity: 86 expressions. Drugs: 6 scenes with drinking, 5 with smoking.

'Swordfish': John Travolta (left) and Hugh Jackman star in this thriller about a bank robbery by a secret government agency.

Out on Video

in Stores june 12

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (PG-13)

Director: Joel Coen. With George Clooney, John Turturro, Holly Hunter, John Goodman. (143 min.)

Sterritt ** Three small-time crooks escape from a Southern chain gang and embark on a quest for adventure, romance, and buried treasure. The screenplay by director Coen and producer Ethan Coen borrows from sources as varied as "The Odyssey" and Preston Sturges's brilliant 1941 comedy "Sullivan's Travels," about a movie director who longs to make a picture called "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" to prove what a serious guy he is. For all its ambitions, though, the Coens' odyssey is a scattershot affair with too many tricks and twists for its own good.

Coming Soon ...

(In stores June 19)

State and Main (R)

Director: David Mamet. With William H. Macy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rebecca Pidgeon, Alec Baldwin, Julia Stiles, Sarah Jessica Parker. (102 min.)

Sterritt *** A movie crew barges into a New England village with a lot of problems to solve before their production can take wing: How do you make a picture called "The Old Mill" in a town with no old mill? Will the idealistic screenwriter change his script to meet the producer's crassly commercial expectations? Will the lecherous leading man keep a respectful distance from local schoolgirls? Mamet's screenplay is full of savvy satire and the cast couldn't be better.

Staff *** Thoroughly entertaining, scattered, it's like "Day for Night" - but with the love.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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