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2002 Mega Movie Guide

(Page 40 of 49)

Director: Tom Dey. With Robert De Niro, Eddie Murphy, Rene Russo, Drena De Niro. (95 min.)

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Sterritt * A jaded Los Angeles cop and a fame-hungry colleague become the unlikely stars of a reality-TV series. The movie tries to offer something for everyone, from comedy to car chases. But the filmmakers are so busy cramming all this into 95 minutes that they forget to make the scenes funny, touching, suspenseful, or anything else that might make the film worth watching.

Sex/Nudity: 1 instance of innuendo. Violence: 8 scenes, including shooting. Profanity: About 50 strong expressions. Drugs: At least 3 scenes of smoking and drinking, including 1 with illegal drugs.

Signs (PG-13)

Director: M. Night Shyamalan. With Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Rory Culkin. (106 min.)

Sterritt * A clergyman who's lost his faith regains it while undergoing an attack by aliens in the farmhouse he shares with his brother and kids. The film raises important issues of religion and the meaning of life, but every time it promises to get thoughtful, Shyamalan douses it with family-values clichés, tepid space-monster suspense, pretentious camera work, and humor that's never, ever funny. Think "Roswell" meets "Father Knows Best."

Staff *** Scary, clichéd, pseudo-philosophical.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 4 violent scenes. Profanity: 11 mild expressions. Drugs: None.

Simone (PG-13)

Director: Andrew Niccol. With Al Pacino, Catherine Keener, Winona Ryder, Evan Rachel Wood. (117 min.)

Sterritt * A has-been director tries to restart his career by creating a computer-generated cyberstar and passing her off as an elusive actress. This might have been a savvy satire on today's celebrity-struck media culture, but Niccol unfolds the story at a lumbering pace, peppered with not-funny gags and dramatic scenes that build little emotional power.

Staff *** Inventive but falls short of potential

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 4 instances, nothing severe. Profanity: 2 mild expressions. Drugs: 13 scenes of drinking and smoking.

Skins (R)

Director: Chris Eyre. With Graham Greene, Eric Schweig, Gary Farmer. (86 min.)

Sterritt ** Outraged by social problems that plague the South Dakota reservation where he lives, a native American sheriff turns to vigilante violence, with results that boomerang on his own conscience and well-being. The story gets off to a slow start after its riveting documentary-style introduction, but heartfelt acting and unexpected plot twists eventually give it solid dramatic impact.

Staff ***1/2 Eye-opening, daring, good character development, insightful.

Sex/Nudity: 1 scene of implied adultery. Violence: 12 scenes, including close-up of beaten murder victim. Profanity: 58 harsh expressions. Drugs: 15 instances of smoking, drinking.

Snow Dogs (PG)

Director: Brian Levant. With Cuba Gooding Jr., James Coburn, Joanna Bacalso. (99 min.)

Staff **1/2 A Miami dentist learns he is adopted when he inherits his birth mother's Alaskan sled dogs. Amid predictable slapstick episodes, the film champions courage and tenacity, and raises surprisingly serious issues: racial harmony, appreciation of adoptive parents, and the worth of every child. By M.K. Terrell.

Solaris (PG-13)

Director: Steven Soderbergh. With George Clooney, Natascha McElhone, Viola Davis. (99 min.)

Sterritt *** Astronauts on a space station investigate a mysterious planet that's really a living entity capable of haunting the Earthlings with replicas of people with whom they had troubled relationships. The story comes from Stanislaw Lem's brilliant novel, and Soderbergh's style is strongly influenced by Soviet filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky's classic 1972 version.

Staff *** Contemplative, smart, dark, slow.