Director: Michael Cuesta. With Brian Cox, Paul Franklin Dano, Bruce Altman, Billy Kay. (100 min.)Skip to next paragraph
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Sterritt ** Living with his self-absorbed father after his mother's death on the Long Island Expressway, a 15-year-old boy gets involved with troublemaking friends and then becomes the prey of an aging pedophile who lives undetected in their town. The subject matter is deeply troubling, and the treatment is harrowingly candid, but the movie paints a sincere and serious portrait of the seductiveness of evil and the self-destructive nature of depravity. Cox is chillingly brilliant as the repugnant villain.
Director: Peter Hyams. With Justin Chambers, Stephen Rea, Tim Roth, Mena Suvari, Catherine Deneuve. (106 min.)
Staff ** Great swordplay; terrible wordplay. That's the lowdown on the latest movie adaptation of the Alexander Dumas tale in which D'Artagnan, a valiant swordsman, rallies France's musketeers to protect the throne from the political machinations of Cardinal Richelieu (Rea). Unfortunately, newcomer Justin Chambers shows not one iota of charisma in the lead role, and Mena Suvari isn't very interesting as the obligatory love interest. The supporting cast, meanwhile, have more accents than you could cram into a tower of Babel. It's up to Tim Roth's hissable villain and Deneuve's twinkle-eyed queen to liven up things in between fencing choreography that manages to out-Zorro "Zorro." By Stephen Humphries
Director: Stephen Herek. With Mark Wahlberg, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Flemyng, Timothy Spall. (104 min.)
Sterritt *** The hero is a wannabe pop singer (Wahlberg) who fronts a "tribute band" that slavishly imitates a far more famous group. It looks like he's going nowhere until the famous group summons him to replace their ousted leader - which makes him an overnight sensation and lures him into the rock scene's dark side of drugs and promiscuity, endangering his relationship with the girlfriend and manager (Aniston) who's been with him since the beginning. Herek pushes the sex-and-drug material too far, threatening to exploit the dangers that the overall story deplores. The acting is excellent, though, and the movie has a good-natured spirit to match its ultimate faith in the hero's deep-down goodness.
VS/N: 8 scenes including sex, nudity, and innuendo. VV: 5 scenes, including fighting. VP: 56 harsh expressions. VD: 18 scenes with alcohol, 7 with smoking, 2 with drugs.
Director: J.B. Rogers. With Jason Biggs, Shannon Elizabeth, Chris Klein, Alyson Hannigan. (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.
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.
Directors: Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise. With the voices of Michael J. Fox, James Garner. (96 min.)
Sterritt**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 this is hardly a classic Disney cartoon. By Stephen Humphries
uu1/2 Exciting, heartening, energetic.
VS/N: None. VV: 7 scenes. VP: None. VD: 6 scenes with smoking.
Director: Blair Hayes. With Jake Gyllenhaal, Swoosie Kurtz, Marley Shelton, John Lynch. (84 min.)
Sterritt * "Bubble Boy" is a tale of an immunity deficient boy quarantined for life inside his home. But when he builds a hermetically sealed bubble so he can leave to find the girl of his dreams, everyone he encounters on his road trip is a freak. The story would have been more interesting if the main character had emerged into something approximating the real world. By Stephen Humphries