Director: Gary Fleder. With Michael Douglas, Brittany Murphy, Sean Bean, Jennifer Esposito, Oliver Platt, Famke Janssen. (110 min.)
Sterritt ** Douglas plays a New York psychiatrist treating a troubled teenager who's been faking most of her afflictions for years; then his daughter gets kidnapped by a twisted criminal who's after a crucial number buried in the teen's memory. The movie has promise as a psychological thriller, but the filmmakers show far more interest in chases and shoot-outs than characters and ideas.
Director: William Friedkin. With Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider, Fernando Rey, Tony Lo Bianco, Ann Rebbot, Eddie Egan. (104 min.)
Sterritt *** Two hard-boiled cops pursue a Continental criminal who's bringing a large narcotics shipment to New York, and at times the cops seem more unsavory than the crook they're trying to bust. The movie is strong on shock value and action - its bravura car chase caused a sensation in 1971, when it was first released - but its filmmaking is more energetic than imaginative. Hackman is almost too good as bigoted Popeye Doyle, the nasty lawman at the center of the story.
Director: Scott Hicks. With Anthony Hopkins, Hope Davis, Anton Yelchin, Mika Boorem, David Morse. (98 min.)
Sterritt *** A mysterious stranger (Hopkins) rents a room above the home of an 11-year-old boy and his self-absorbed mother, then asks the child to provide a peculiar service - keeping an eye out for menacing enemies who want to track him down and capture him. The movie takes on a lot of material, from the boy's problems with bullies and romance to the stranger's eerie predicament and the clairvoyant powers that tell him when danger is approaching. Hicks doesn't always keep the story clear and compelling, but Hopkins is in top form, and the filmmakers have enough imagination to leave some of its mysteries unsolved, inviting us to ponder the clues and draw our own conclusions.
VS/N: 3 instances of innuendo, including implied rape. VV: 6 scenes including beatings. VP: 13 expressions. VD: 6 scenes with smoking, 2 scenes with drinking.
Director: Ben Stiller. With Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Christine Taylor, Will Ferrell, Jerry Stiller. (95 min.)
Staff ** Imagine a collision between "Austin Powers" and "Dumb and Dumber" inside the world of fashion catwalks and you'll have a fair idea of the manic and kaleidoscopic tone of "Zoolander." The loose plot - it's more of a concept, actually - has Ben Stiller starring as the world's most famous supermodel (that's worth a giggle right there) who becomes unwittingly embroiled in a plot to kill the Prime Minister of Malaysia. The hit-and-miss jokes play like a "Saturday Night Live" sketch, but there are laughs aplenty. By Stephen Humphries
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 harsh expressions. VD: 20 scenes with alcohol, 1 with smoking.
Director: Hassan Yektapanah. With Rashid Akbari, Valiollah Beta, Mahbobeh Khalili. (94 min.)
Sterritt **** The title character, an Afghani immigrant who works at a small Iranian dairy farm, falls in love with an Iranian woman and needs help winning her affection - no easy matter, given the strictness of Iranian courtship customs. The performances of this quiet Iranian drama are utterly genuine, and the story is a blend of slice-of-life realism and soft-spoken social commentary. In Farsi with English subtitles
Director: Daniel Sackheim. With Leelee Sobieski, Diane Lane, Stellan Skarsgard, Trevor Morgan. (111 min.)
Staff * When Ruby and Rhett Baker's parents die in a mysterious car accident, they are taken under the legal guardianship of Erin and Terry Glass. It isn't long until Ruby - played by the ever-sullen Leelee Sobieski - realizes there's something creepy about their adoptive parents. This is one of those thrillers where lightning flashes in a dark house; where the girl drops the car keys just as the baddie is approaching the vehicle; where there's a false ending because the killer has to be killed twice. 'The Glass House' is too transparent to be effective. By Stephen Humphries
Director: Vondie Curtis-Hall. With Mariah Carey, Eric Benét, Max Beesley, Kyle Thrash.
Staff * To say that the 1990s were kind to Mariah Carey would be an understatement. She sold more than 150 million albums, produced 15 No. 1 hits, and earned multiple Grammys. But converting that high-level success into box-office gold is another story. In this flimsy star vehicle, Carey plays a back-up singer who is discovered by a top New York DJ. She signs a big record deal, falls in love, writes some hit ballads, and then complications arise. Mariah can't act - but she sure can sing. By Lisa Leigh Parney
VS/N: 1 scene of innuendo. VV: 4 scenes. VP: 11 expressions, sometimes harsh. VD: 6 with smoking, 1 with alcohol.
Director: Brian Robbins. With Keanu Reeves, Diane Lane, John Hawk, D.B. Sweeney. (90 min.)
Staff **1/2 His life threatened by bookies, Connor O'Neill (Reeves) agrees in desperation to coach Little League. Initially, O'Neill's only reason for coaching is to collect his weekly check. But the harsh realities of life in the projects won't let him, or the viewer, remain callous for long. Meanwhile, the young cast of "Hardball" pitches laughs and tears, making sure both you and O'Neill think twice about how to live. By Nathan Smith
Director: Kevin Smith. With Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, Shannon Elizabeth, Ben Affleck, Chris Rock. (99 min.)
Staff * The title characters have appeared regularly in Smith comedies like "Dogma" and "Chasing Amy," and they take over the story here, traveling to Hollywood to register their protest that Miramax is making a movie about them. There are enough four-letter words and sex gags to stock a dozen ordinary movies, and even fans may find the jokes too repetitive to be much fun.
Director: Victor Salva. With Gina Philips, Justin Long, Jonathan Breck, Eileen Breenan.
Staff * Trish (Philips) and her brother, Darry, (Long) are heading home from college by car. They soon encounter a hideous and evil creature that's part bird, who likes to sniff laundry, spread his huge wings, and eat people. Many scenes caused this reviewer to laugh out loud. By Lisa Leigh Parney
VS/N: 1 scene of naked dead bodies. VV: 10, including bloody scenes of bodies torn apart, and head decapitations. VP: 40 expressions, sometimes harsh. VD: None.
Director: Peter Hyams. With Justin Chambers, 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). 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 fencing choreography, however, does manage to out-Zorro "Zorro." By Stephen Humphries
Director: Alejandro Amenábar. With Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston, Eric Sykes. (104 min.)
Sterritt ** 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 sometimes subtle exercise in ghostly doings. Kidman is a bit stiff as the increasingly anxious matriarch, though, and Amenábar's filmmaking is sadly short on surprises.
Staff *1/2 Unoriginal twist, great ghost story, slow.
VS/N: 1 scene of implied sex. VV: 10 scary scenes. VP: 2 mild expressions. VD: 2 scenes of pilltaking.
Director: Garry Marshall. With Julie Andrews, Anne Hathaway, Heather Matarazzo. (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 Disney comedies.
Staff *** Benign, whimsical, bland.
VS/N: None. VV: None. VP: None. VD: 2 scenes with drinking.
Director: Jerry Zucker. With John Cleese, Whoopi Goldberg, Cuba Goldberg, Seth Green. (112 min.)
Staff *1/2 When a millionaire (Cleese) sets up a cross-country race between a group of contestants, they have little idea of the mishaps that will ensue as they strive to beat the others to a $2 million prize. "Naked Gun" director Zucker adds plenty of energy to the madcap episodes the all-star cast find themselves in, but the laughs are scattershot.
By Stephen Humphries
Staff *1/2 Flashy, nonsensical, simplistic, cocky. S/N: 5 instances of innuendo. VV: 12 comic scenes, one fairly unpleasant. VP: 33 occasionally harsh expressions. VD: 5 scenes with alcohol, 1 with cigarettes.
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 those 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 of male posterior nudity. VV: 11 scenes. VP: 40 expressions, many harsh. VD: 3 scenes with alcohol, 3 scenes with smoking.
Director: Olivier Assayas. With Emmanuelle Béart, Charles Berling, Isabelle Huppert, Olivier Perrier. (180 min.)
uu After his marriage in the early 1900s, a French clergyman gives up his religious calling and devotes himself to running his family's porcelain business. This historical drama is literate and ambitious. But its novelistic sweep doesn't suit Assayas's idiosyncratic talent, and much of it is duller and talkier than one expects from the director of "Irma Vep," still his best movie. In French with English subtitles
In stores sept. 25
Director: David Mirkin. With Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Gene Hackman. (124 min.)
Staff ** A mother (Weaver) and daughter (Hewitt) use their looks and low-cut dresses to scam their way through life by marrying, and then divorcing, millionaires. The cast is better than the material, especially Gene Hackman. At over two hours long, you may be left feeling a little bit conned by the end. By Stephen Humphries
Staff ** Predictable, unoriginal, vapid
Director: Stephen Sommers. With Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, The Rock. (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 sword-swinging action, but there's not a moment of real feeling in this expensive but empty-hearted epic.
Staff **1/2 Good romance, witty references to other films, over the top.
(In stores Oct. 9)
Director: Harald Zwart. With Liv Tyler, Matt Dillon, Michael Douglas, John Goodman. (93 min).
Serritt ** Tyler plays a loose-living woman whose beauty bedazzles every romance-starved man who takes a look at her. There's plenty of sex and violence in this "Pulp Fiction"-style comedy, but it's all so fast and frenetic that you may notice its MTV-style energy more than its gross-out moments.
Staff ** Poor story, aimless, Tyler vamps well.