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 David Sterritt Monitor Panel MEANING

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

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

New Releases

A.I. (PG-13)

Director: Steven Spielberg. With Haley Joel Osment, Frances O'Connor, Jude Law, William Hurt. (140 min.)

Sterritt *** The time is the distant future, and 11-year-old David is a new kind of android whose "artificial" intelligence is programmed with "authentic" emotions. But what if David's human love proves incompatible with his robotic nature? Spielberg took over this fantasy from the late Stanley Kubrick, but his own approach favors the pure fantasy styles of "E.T." and "Pinocchio," bringing the results closer to a high-tech joyride than a thought-provoking parable. Be warned that the violence-prone Spielberg of "Saving Private Ryan" and "Schindler's List" is also on display.

Baby Boy (R)

Director: John Singleton. With Tyrese Gibson, Ving Rhames, Taraji P. Henson, Omar Gooding, Snoop Dogg. (132 min.)

Sterritt *** This melodrama centers on a young African-American named Jody who lives with his 36-year-old mother and her new boyfriend. The movie begins on an intellectual note, stating a psychologist's theory that years of racism have made many black men see themselves as overgrown children. This gives us a clue to Jody's way of life, and kicks off the Oedipus theme that gallops through the story. Singleton still has a keen eye for harrowing details of urban life.

crazy/beautiful (PG-13)

Director: John Stockwell. With Kirsten Dunst, Jay Hernandez, Bruce Davison. (95 min.)

Staff ** Here's an antidote to the Freddie Prinze Jr. teen films. This tale is about a love affair between a rebellious rich girl and a Hispanic boy who travels four hours a day to attend her school. The film avoids overplaying their cultural differences and there's a pleasing naturalistic feel throughout. Dunst also impresses with the energy and the nuances she brings to a suprisingly sexually explicit role. It's a pity there isn't enough of a compelling plot to capitalize on a promising premise. By Stephen Humphries

Kiss of the Spider Woman (R)

Director: Hector Babenco. With William Hurt, Raul Julia, Sonia Braga. (118 min.)

Sterritt *** A gay window dresser and a revolutionary journalist share a jail cell in a Latin American country, gradually overcoming their differences and realizing the values they share. Although it vanished from American screens soon after its 1985 release, this politically charged drama broke Academy Award records by becoming the first independent production to receive four nominations, including a win for Hurt as best actor. It packs an emotional punch despite shortcomings of story and style.

Lumumba (Not rated)

Director: Raoul Peck. With Eriq Ebouaney, Theophile Moussa Sowie, Alex Descas, Maka Kotto. (115 min.)

Staff ** The true story of Patrice Lumumba, who helped the Congo escape from Belgian colonialism but fell victim to assassins after two months into the Congolese presidency. Ebouaney's performance combines a great sense of dignity with a failure to bring out the psychologically complex man or his political ideas. The film fails to explain why he became a flashpoint of controversy for many Western observers. In French with English subtitles

Quadrophenia (Not rated)

Director: Franc Roddam. With Phil Daniels, Leslie Ash, Sting, Timothy Spall. (115 min.)

Sterritt *** Remember when fashion-conscious mods and tough-guy rockers clashed in swinging London during the psychedelic '60s? That's the backdrop of this energetic English film about a young man pursuing the girl of his dreams through his city's throbbing pop-culture scene. Roddam's minor but imaginative 1979 movie captures its era less vibrantly than The Who concept album it's based on, but where else can you catch Sting playing a mod named Ace Face?

Currently in Release

A Love Divided (PG)

Director: Sydney McCartney. With Nicole Bohan, Melissa Bolger, Sarah Bolger, Orla Brady. (98 min.)

Staff *** A Protestant woman marries into a Catholic family in a small Irish village, and consequently agrees to raise her daughter Catholic. But when the village priest insists that their eldest daughter attend a Catholic school, the woman flees with both her little girls. The family's strife soon seeps into the town and the undercurrent of tension between the two groups comes to the surface. While the plot is nothing new, the genuine acting in this true story brings a freshness to an old problem. By Lane Hartill

Staff *** Nuanced, inspiring, overwrought. Sex/Nudity: 1 implied sex scene. Violence: 6 mild scenes. Profanity: 16 mild and harsh expressions. Drugs: 3 scenes with cigarettes, 7 with alcohol.

The Animal (PG-13)

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

Sterritt * After a car crash, a mad doctor patches up a bumbling young man with spare parts from animals, and the patient starts reacting to human situations with beastly behavior. This comic fantasy has amusing bits of social satire, but they're crowded out of the stable by lots of bathroom and barnyard humor.

Staff * Lazy humor, featherweight, bananas, base.

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

The Anniversary Party (R)

Directors: Alan Cumming and Jennifer Jason-Leigh. With Alan Cumming, Jennifer Jason-Leigh, Jennifer Beals, Kevin Kline, Phoebe Cates. (115 min.)

Staff ** A successful young novelist (Cummings) and his actress wife (Jason-Leigh) celebrate their sixth wedding anniversary by inviting a few select guests, welcome and unwelcome, to their home. Prodded by alcohol and drug-taking, they all reveal their hidden hopes and fears. Cumming and Jason-Leigh codirect themselves and a passel of stars in effective cameo roles. Contains brutally frank and sexually explicit talk, but also some worthwhile insights into the contemporary male-female dynamic. By Gregory M. Lamb

Staff ** Drags a bit, baroque, actor's picnic.

Sex/Nudity: 3 scenes of innuendo, 4 scenes with female nudity, 2 nongraphic sex scenes. Violence: 2 scenes. Profanity: 85 mostly harsh expressions. Drugs: 1 scene with marijuana, 8 with drinking.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire (PG)

Directors: Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise. With the voices of Michael J. Fox, James Garner. (96 min.)

Staff **1/2 "Atlantis" is an attempt at an action-adventure tale set in the early 1900s - part "Indiana Jones" and part Jules Verne. Milo Thatch is a nerdish academic invited to join a submarine mission to find the lost city of Atlantis, but unforeseen dangers lurk. Fairly entertaining, but hardly a classic Disney cartoon. By Stephen Humphries

Staff **1/2 Exciting, heartening, energetic.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 7 scenes. Profanity: None. Drugs: 6 scenes with smoking.

Divided We Fall (PG)

Director: Jan Hrebejk. With Bolek Polivka, Csongor Kassai, Jaroslav Duslek, Anna Siskova. (123 min.)

Staff *** "You wouldn't believe what abnormal times can do to normal people," says one character in this film. Well maybe you can. There's no time for heroes in this small Czech town torn apart by Nazi occupation. This is a typical tale of an unexceptional couple, risking their lives for the Jew hiding out in the basement, while they desperately try to hold onto a sense of normalcy in unusually troubled times. With a tasteless combination of horror and humor, "Divided We Fall" is a semi-successful, but unoriginal, portrayal of the strength of human character. By Deborah Henderson

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 8 scenes, extremely violent. Profanity: 11 expressions. Drugs: None.

Dr. Dolittle 2 (PG)

Director: Steve Carr. With Eddie Murphy, Kristen Wilson, and voices of Steve Zahn, Lisa Kudrow. (90 min.)

Staff *1/2 The writers must have thought, "Hey, if we can feature a mafia-type raccoon, a drinking monkey, and a Latino chameleon that can talk, this movie will write itself!" They were so wrong. Murphy reprises his 1998 role as Dr. Dolittle who must help save a forest from money-hungry loggers. It delivers a few laughs with contemporary phrases such as "whaazzzuuuup," "Hasta la vista, baby," and "Hello, Clarice," but that's about it. The writers rely on crude humor for cheap laughs. By Lisa Leigh Parney

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: None. Profanity: 10 mild expressions. Drugs: 2 with alcohol.

Evolution (PG-13)

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

Sterritt *** Two scholars from a community college discover a microscopic horde of newly arrived aliens. They have to stop the menace once the cute little critters become ugly big critters. At its best, this unevenly paced comedy is an amusing parody of monster movies.

Staff ** "Ghostbusters" redux, dumb, good video rental.

Sex/Nudity: 3 scenes of innuendo, 1 with partial male nudity. Violence: 7 scary scenes, but not too gory. Profanity: 40 mostly mild expressions. Drugs: 2 scenes with smoking, 2 with drinking.

Fast and the Furious (PG-13)

Director: Rob Cohen. With Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordanna Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez. (140 min.)

Staff **1/2 Faster than "Gone in 60 Seconds," flashier than "Driven," and more supercharged race cars and actual driving than both put together. What has to go? Well, plot and characterization, but you'll be too busy tapping your feet and gripping your seat to notice. Here's the deal: Brian, a not-so-hot rookie detective goes undercover to get to the bottom of a rash of truck hijackings. But will Brian learn how to double-pump the clutch before he blows out another set of piston rings? And did I mention there are lots of neat car chases? By Alex Kaloostian

Sexy Beast (R)

Directors: Jonathan Glazer. With Ben Kingsley, Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, Amanda Redman. (88 min.)

Staff *** In this smart, funny British caper, Gal (Ray Winstone) is an ex-mobster enjoying a quiet retirement in Spain. He has an easy life relaxing with his wife and another couple - until, that is, his ex-boss Don Logan (Ben Kingsley) arrives on the scene. Against his will, Gal gets sucked back into another heist. It's hardly a new premise, but Glazer's snappy direction and fine acting by all the cast (particularly Kingsley, in the most un-Ghandi-like role imaginable) put this film at the top of its genre. By Amanda Paulson

Staff *** Brutal, wickedly funny, Kingsley shines.

Sex/Nudity: 1 sex scene with nudity. Violence: 8 scenes, extremely violent. Profanity: 138 harsh expressions. Drugs: 17 scenes with smoking, 12 scenes with drinking.

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. The story has rollicking moments and 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.

Swordfish (R)

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

Staff * "Swordfish" is an action-thriller of the car-chase/gunplay/misogynistic variety. Travolta plays the head of an organization of ruthless terrorists trying to rob a bank. Hackman plays a computer hacker who can stop them. It all ends with a bus dangling precariously from a helicopter. (Don't ask!) By Stephen Humphries

Staff * Mindless, ridiculous plot, weak dialogue.

Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes with nudity, 1 with sex, 4 with innuendo. Violence: 14 scenes, including bullet wounds. Profanity: 61 harsh expressions. Drugs: 11 scenes with smoking, 5 scenes with drinking.

Tomb Raider (PG-13)

Director: Simon West. With Angelina Jolie, Jon Voight, Daniel Craig, Iain Glenn. (80 min.)

Staff DUD The plotline has young archaeologist Lara Croft (Jolie) traversing the planet's ancient temples in search of keys that control time and space. "Tomb Raider" isn't a story as much as it is a show reel of circus stunts inside elaborate sets. By Stephen Humphries

Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes of partial nudity - male and female. Violence: 11 scenes. Profanity: 10 mostly mild expressions. Drugs: 1 scene with smoking.

Out on Video In Stores July 2

The Wedding Planner (PG-13)

Director: Adam Schankman. With Jennifer Lopez, Matthew McConaughey, Kevin Pollack. (102 min.)

Staff DUD A professional wedding planner (Lopez) despairs that she will never find the right man, until, that is, she finds herself drawn to the groom (McConaughey) of a nuptial celebration that she is organizing. Truly dreadful dialogue, absurd plot contrivances, and a high school pep band-like score stifle this courtship. By Stephen Humphries

Staff ** Romance-lite, predictable, diverting.

Snatch (R)

Director: Guy Ritchie. With Brad Pitt, Benicio Del Toro, Dennis Farina, Vinnie Jones. (104 min.)

Staff **1/2 He's better known as "the husband of Madonna," but can Guy Ritchie direct? Yes! Ritchie's flashy command of the film medium is used to quite audacious effect in this violent gangster comedy with multiple story lines, complex plotting, and double-crossing antics. The film is least told with dialogue that shines with the inventive slang of Ritchie's screenplay. Violent, still the Tarantino fan will enjoy it. By Stephen Humphries

Staff *** Fast-paced, great cinematography.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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