Movie Guide

New Releases

All Over the Guy (R)

Director: Julie Davis. With Dan Bucatinsky, Sasha Alexander, Richard Ruccolo, Adam Goldberg, Christina Ricci, Lisa Kudrow. (92 min.)

Sterritt * The romantic adventures of four young people, two gay and two straight, one of whom is hampered by a difficult family background he's never been able to overcome. The movie means well, but neither its emotions nor its performances ring very true.

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?
American Outlaws (PG-13)

Director: Les Mayfield. With Colin Farrell, Scott Caan, Ali Larter, Timothy Dalton, Kathy Bates. (90 min.)

Staff DUD This depiction of the rise of notorious outlaw Jesse James wasn't meant to be overly serious, but Colin Farrell and his dastardly gang have all the screen presence of a bunch of frat boys playing cowboys and learning how to ride horses. Comparing the film to "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," as Warner Brothers has done, is like comparing "Rambo" to "Apocalypse Now." Except that "Rambo" actually made a splash. This dud will be forgotten by fall. By Matthew MacLean

Band of Outsiders (Not rated)

Director: Jean-Luc Godard. With Anna Karina, Sami Frey, Claude Brasseur. (97 min.)

Sterritt **** "All you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun," quipped French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, but in this mercurial crime-tragicomedy-romance he shows that exhilarating doses of style, imagination, and sheer energy also come in handy. Made in 1964, this isn't a legendary Godard masterpiece like "Breathless" and "Contempt," which have also been successfully reissued. It offers 10 times more pleasures than the average picture, though. Originally titled "Bande à parte." In French with English subtitles

Captain Corelli's Mandolin (R)

Director: John Madden. With Nicolas Cage, Penélope Cruz, Christian Bale, Irene Papas, John Hurt. (125 min.)

Sterritt ** Cage plays a music-loving Italian officer who's garrisoned on a lovely Greek island during World War II, where he falls for a young woman (Cruz) who resists him at first, but eventually succumbs to his mischievous yet manly charm, dismaying the simple fisherman she's engaged to marry. While this romantic fantasy has a fair amount of shooting and killing, its heart is in the ill-starred love affair that dominates most of the plot. This would be fine, if the romance were well enough written, directed, and acted to capture our hearts as well. But the only aspect that emerges a winner is the gorgeous Mediterranean scenery.

Innocence (Not rated)

Director: Paul Cox. With Julia Blake, Charles Tingwell. (95 min.)

Sterritt *** A woman rekindles a love affair with a man she knew in her youth, sparking complicated feelings - and no small degree of surprise - in herself and the husband she's been contentedly living with for almost 50 years. This unusual romantic drama is sensitively acted by a well-chosen cast and subtly directed by Cox, an inventive Australian filmmaker who's often willing to leave the beaten path in search of compelling subjects.

Currently in Release
America's Sweethearts (PG-13)

Director: Joe Roth. With Julia Roberts, John Cusack, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Billy Crystal. (109 min.)

Sterritt * To build enthusiasm for an expensive production, a Hollywood publicist (Crystal) asks a feuding movie-star couple (Cusack and Zeta-Jones) to fake a reconciliation, helped by an assistant (Roberts) who has her own personal stakes in the situation. This story is complicated enough to look interesting on paper, but it falls flat on screen, weighed down by far-fetched plot twists and needlessly crude comedy.

Staff ** Formulaic, funny (at times), half-baked.

VS/N: 6 scenes of innuendo, 1 scene of implied sex. VV: 3 scenes, including 1 fight. VP: 31 harsh expressions. VD: 1 scene with smoking, 9 scenes with drinking, 2 scenes with pill-taking.

American Pie 2 (R)

Director: J.B. Rogers. With Jason Biggs, Shannon Elizabeth, Chris Klein, Alyson Hannigan, Mena Suvari, Natasha Lyonne, Tara Reid, Seann William Scott. (104 min.)

Sterritt ** It's summer vacation, the "American Pie" alumni are now college kids, and all they can think of is still - you guessed it - sex, sex, sex. This energetic sequel moves from one gross-out set piece to another, with occasional moments of teen-pic sentimentality to cleanse the palate. It delivers all the ribaldry its designated audience could hope for, but some may find it more deliberately disgusting than effervescently outrageous.

VS/N: 19 scenes of graphic innuendo or implied sex, 1 sex scene with nudity. VV: 2 scenes of comic violence. VP: 124 very harsh expressions. VD: 20 scenes with alcohol, 1 with smoking.

Director: Francis Ford Coppola. With Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper. (196 min.)

Sterritt **** Coppola has restored 53 minutes of material trimmed from the original 1979 release of "Apocalypse Now," his legendary drama about the Vietnam War. The story, based on Joseph Conrad's haunting 1898 novella "Heart of Darkness," hasn't changed: A soldier (Sheen) travels up a jungle river to assassinate a military officer (Brando) who's gone insane and established a private kingdom ruled by terror. The film is episodic and uneven, but it has moments of great emotional power.

The Deep End (R)

Directors: Scott McGehee, David Siegel. With Tilda Swinton, Goran Visnjic, Jonathan Tucker, Peter Donat. (99 min.)

Sterritt ** Trying to protect her teenage son from the sinister influence of an ill-chosen older friend, a woman finds herself covering up a death and negotiating with a tenacious blackmailer. Swinton has some affecting moments as the mom, but the rest of the acting is second-rate, and the directors (previously known for "Suture," which also promised more than it delivered) give it little originality or oomph. The same story was told vastly better in the 1949 melodrama "The Reckless Moment," directed starring James Mason in one of his most indelible roles.

Ghost World (R)

Director: Terry Zwigoff. With Thora Birch, Steve Buscemi, Scarlett Johansson, Brad Renfro. (111 min.)

Sterritt *** Reluctant to enter the ordinary adult world, which they find shallow and tedious, two girls just out of high school strike up a smirky relationship with an older man who has antisocial tendencies. While this isn't a showy or flashy movie, it has social, psychological, and ultimately mystical overtones that raise it leagues above most other teen-centered comedies.

Staff **1/2 Realistic coming-of-age tale, engagingly cast, intelligent humor.

VS/N: 1 scene of implied sex, 4 scenes of innuendo. VV: 2 scenes. VP: 89 harsh expressions. VD: 6 scenes with drinking.

Jurassic Park III (PG-13)

Director: Joe Johnston. With Sam Neill, William H. Macy, Téa Leoni, Alessandro Nivola. (90 min.)

Sterritt ** After their 14-year-old son disappears into an island jungle inhabited by Jurassic Park's prehistoric critters, a couple shanghais mild-mannered paleontologist Alan Grant into helping their rescue effort. The cast is solid and the special effects are impressive, but the screenplay is so stale that fans of the previous "Jurassic" installments might think this is one clone too many.

Staff *1/2 Poorly paced, summer fun, empty theme park ride, blessedly short.

VS/N: None. VV: 11 scenes of dinosaur attacks. VP: 5 mild instances. VD: 1 scene with drinking.

Legally Blonde (PG-13)

Director: Robert Luketic. With Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Selma Blair. (94 min.)

Sterritt ** When her boyfriend proposes breaking up instead of getting married, a ditsy sorority girl follows him to Harvard Law School and continues her courtship on his own turf. Witherspoon fills the screen with bright-eyed bounce but the rest of the cast is as forgettable as the flimsy story.

Staff **1/2 Perky, light-hearted, delightful.

VS/N: None. VV: None. VP: 15 mild expressions. VD: 4 scenes with alcohol.

Osmosis Jones (PG)

Directors: Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly. With Bill Murray, Molly Shannon, Chris Elliott, voices of Chris Rock, Laurence Fishburne David Hyde Pierce. (90 min.)

Sterritt ** Our hero has poor health habits - heavy on the snacks, light on the exercise - and we see the physiological fallout of his irresponsibility in animated sequences set in different parts of his distressed innards, where a talkative white blood cell and an officious patent-medicine pill work to cure him. This mixture of cartooning and live action has antecedents as different as "The Fantastic Journey," and "Who Framed Roger Rabbit." But the Farrelly brothers inevitably steer toward gross-out farce, and little they cook up here amounts to more than smart-alecky parody.

The Others (PG-13)

Director: Alejandro Amenábar. With Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston, Eric Sykes. (104 min.)

Staff ** A war widow, her little boy, and their new servants dwell amid the mysteries of what may be a very haunted house. This is a subdued and sometimes subtle exercise in ghostly doings, going against the horror-movie grain by relying on understatement. Kidman is a bit stiff as the increasingly anxious matriarch, though, and Amenábar's filmmaking is sadly short on surprises.

Planet of the Apes (PG-13)

Director: Tim Burton. With Mark Wahlberg, Helena Bonham Carter, Tim Roth, Michael Clarke Duncan. (119 min.)

Sterritt ** Wahlberg crash-lands his spaceship on a world where supersmart simians have all the power and human beings are their slaves. Burton is an imaginative director, but his originality is nowhere to be seen in this by-the-numbers retread of a science-fiction premise that seemed much fresher in 1968, when the original "Planet" was released. And what's the point of having gifted actors like Carter and Roth, when it's hard to savor their talents under all that monkey makeup?

Staff *1/2 One-dimensional, Burton succeeds again, never dull, terrific sets and makeup.

VS/N: 1 scene of innuendo. VV: 22 scenes, including gore. VP: 10 mild expressions. VD: 2 scenes with smoking, 2 scenes with drinking.

The Princess Diaries (G)

Director: Garry Marshall. With Julie Andrews, Anne Hathaway, Heather Matarazzo, Hector Elizondo. (114 min.)

Sterritt ** Andrews is excellent as the queen of an itsy-bitsy European principality who decides the nation's next ruler should be her granddaughter, a San Francisco teenager. With its leisurely pace and unfancy filmmaking, this is a likable throwback to an old tradition of family-friendly comedies from Disney, spinning its unpretentious yarn with a quiet but inventive sense of humor. The problem is that it goes on much too long.

Staff *** Benign, whimsical, endearing, bland.

VS/N: None. VV: None. VP: None. VD: 2 scenes with drinking.

Rush Hour 2 (PG-13)

Director: Bret Rattner. With Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, Zhang Ziyi, Chris Penn, Don Cheadle. (88 min.)

Staff **1/2 Just put Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker together for 90 minutes, and you've got a hit movie. Here, the detectives chase Triad counterfeiters from Hong Kong to Las Vegas. Never mind that the sequel's stunts and fight-scene choreography aren't as impressive as that of the first movie - the amped-up comedy more than compensates to carry the day. By Matthew MacLean

Staff *** Flashy, nonsensical, simplistic, cocky.

VS/N: 4 scenes of innuendo. 3 scenes male posterior nudity. VV: 11 scenes, including martial arts. VP: 40 expressions, many harsh. VD: 3 scenes with alcohol, 3 scenes with smoking.

Out on Video
In Stores Aug. 21
Hannibal (R)

Director: Ridley Scott. With Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, Ray Liotta, Giancarlo Giannini. (131 min.)

Sterritt*** Hopkins returns as Hannibal Lector, the brilliant psychiatrist with a sadistic personality, a weakness for cannibalism, and an odd affection for FBI agent Clarice Starling. Scott has directed the picture with his usual heavy touch, and much of the action is as ponderous as it is predictable. Lector fans will get their fill, but be warned that the menu contains scenes with over-the-top excesses that Hannibal himself might not want to swallow.

Staff **1/2 Extremely gory, good sequel, intelligent dialogue, opulent sets.

Say It Isn't So (R)

Director: J.B. Rodgers. With Heather Graham, Chris Klein, Richard Jenkins, Sally Field. (93 min.)

Staff DUD Gilly, an orphan in a small town (Klein), falls in love with Jo, the new girl in town (Graham), and they're due to be wed until their relationship hits a small snag. New information comes to light suggesting that the lovers are, in fact, siblings separated at birth. Of course, Gilly discovers that the information is inaccurate, but can he convince anyone else? The gags, many of which are surprisingly violent and in the poorest of taste, fail to work. By Stephen Humphries

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