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Sterritt * Carrey gets serious in this sentimental drama about a screenwriter who high-tails it out of Hollywood when he's unjustly placed on a cold-war blacklist, loses his memory in an accident, and gets adopted by a sleepy California town that mistakes him for a long-lost war hero. The film tries to revive the sort of good-hearted optimism associated with Frank Capra classics of the 1940s era, but pictures like "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" were never so simplistic, syrupy, or tedious to sit through.Skip to next paragraph
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Director: Steven Soderbergh. With George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia.
Sterritt *** Flimsy but amusing remake of the 1960 comedy-thriller about a gang of rascally thieves who decide to burgle a trio of Las Vegas casinos. Clooney and company aren't as self-consciously stylish as Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack pals of yore, but they have good-natured fun with Soderbergh's blend of heist-movie suspense and smart-alecky dialogue. Add the beguiling Roberts, and you have a caper that rarely goes wrong.
Staff *** Crowd-pleaser, slick, big-budget caper.
VS/N: None. VV: 3 scenes, plus several explosions. VP: 21 expressions, some harsh. VD: 17 scenes with drinking and smoking.
Director: Wes Anderson. With Gene Hackman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Owen Wilson, Anjelica Huston, Danny Glover, Bill Murray, Ben Stiller, Alec Baldwin. (130 min.)
Sterritt *** Hackman plays the patriarch of a conspicuously eccentric family, indulging his self-centered whimsies while sparring with a romance-starved wife and three adult children who've fallen way short of the promise they showed as precocious kids. Anderson's cinematic style gets more adventurous from one movie to the next, and he begins this story with bursts of originality that leave his respected "Rushmore" far behind. The plot loses momentum, though, and not everyone in the cast is up to Hackman's lofty level.
Director: Cameron Crowe. With Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Jason Lee, Cameron Diaz. (136 min.)
Sterritt ** Cruise plays a self-centered media magnate who ditches his current lover and shoves his best friend out of the picture when a gorgeous new girlfriend comes his way. You might shed a tear at this in an ordinary movie, but here you're too busy figuring out additional mysteries, introduced in fragmentary scenes that make little sense until a minor character explains them near the end. In all, it's a fast-and-flashy variation on "The Sixth Sense," with touches of "Jerry Maguire" and "The Matrix" as a bonus.
Director: Ivan Reitman. With David Duchovny, Julianne Moore, Orlando Jones, Seann William Scott. (105 min.)
Sterritt *** Two scholars from a Southwest community college discover a microscopic horde of space aliens and realize they're the only ones who can stop the menace once the cute little critters become ugly big critters. At its best, the film is an amusing parody of monster movies. At its worst, it's a gross-out farce.
Staff ** "Ghostbusters" redux, pretty dumb.
VS/N: 3 scenes of innuendo, 1 with partial male nudity. VV: 7 scenes. VP: 40 expressions. VD: 2 scenes of smoking, 2 of drinking.
Director: Rob Cohen. With Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordanna Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez. (140 min.)
Staff **1/2 Brian (Walker), a rookie detective, goes undercover to get to the bottom of a rash of truck hijackings. But will Brian learn to double-pump the clutch before he blows another set of piston rings? Did I mention there are lots of neat car chases? By Alex Kaloostian
VS/N: 3 instances of innuendo. VV: 11 scenes. VP: 58 harsh expressions. VD: 3 scenes with smoking, 3 with drinking.
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 car accident, they're adopted by the Glasses. It isn't long before Ruby realizes there's something creepy about them. This is a thriller in which lightning flashes in a dark house, the girl drops the car keys as the baddie closes in, and the killer has to be killed twice. By Stephen Humphries