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2002 Mega Movie Guide

(Page 6 of 49)

Sterritt *** Howard plays a cranky Mississippi writer who spends hours drinking with his buddy, feuding with his ex-wife, worrying about his kids, and collecting rejection slips. He also deals with such traumatic events as a death in the family. The filmmakers clearly see him as a creative maverick, but he's really a likable cliché. The movie's best asset is Howard's filmmaking.

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Staff *** Visually stunning, gritty yet poetic, compelling, original.

Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes implied sex. Violence: 8 scenes, including a severe car crash and fistfighting.

Big Fat Liar (PG)

Director: Shawn Levy. With Frankie Muniz, Paul Giamatti, Amanda Bynes. (83 min.)

Staff *** A Hollywood producer steals the English essay of an eighth-grader and inveterate liar (Muniz), and turns it into a film. Naturally, his parents and teacher don't believe the teen. To regain their trust, he and his girlfriend head to Tinseltown to extort a confession. The resulting romp through Universal Studios will amuse older children and their parents. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 4 instances. Profanity: A few mild expressions. Drugs: 4 scenes.

Big Trouble (PG-13)

Director: Barry Sonnenfeld. With Tim Allen, Rene Russo, Omar Epps, Jason Lee. (85 min.)

Sterritt * A sleazy businessman acquires a mysterious suitcase in a Miami saloon, confusing all kinds of people including his unhappy wife, two hitmen hired to whack him, and two idiotic FBI agents. The filmmakers wanted to make a comedy about couples, but there's so little chemistry between these pairs that the theme never picks up energy.

Birthday Girl (R)

Director: Jez Butterworth. With Nicole Kidman, Ben Chaplin. (93 min.)

Staff ** It must have taken Nicole Kidman months to learn this script. For her role as Nadia, an Internet-order bride from Russia, the actress spends half the movie speaking Russian. Arriving in England, Nadia is met by her intended, John, a lonely, bore of a banker. Nadia isn't all she seems; John soon finds his British reserve punctured as his life spirals out of control. The movie isn't as lively as Kidman's performance. By Stephen Humphries

Staff **1/2 Odd, forgettable, edgy.

Sex/Nudity: 10 scenes, including 4 with innuendo. Violence: 17 scenes. Profanity: 19 expressions. Drugs: 16 scenes of smoking, drinking.

Blackboards (Not rated)

Director: Samira Makhmalbaf. With Said Mohamadi, Gahman Ghobadi. (85 min.)

Sterritt **** Two teachers, seeking students in the mountains along the border between Iran and Iraq, find new uses for the blackboards they've been toting when a military attack separates them from their colleagues and puts them into close contact with the hard realities of existence in the region. Makhmalbaf continues her rise as Iran's most promising young female filmmaker, and Iranian cinema extends its reign as one of the world's most exciting cultural phenomena. In Kurdish with English subtitles.

Blade II (R)

Director: Guillermo del Toro. With Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson. (108 min.)

Staff *** This sequel is every bit as good as the original, though it didn't have much to measure up to. Blade has dedicated his life to hunting down vampires. But now he must team up with an elite squadron of them to hunt even deadlier vampire mutants. The frenetic fight scenes are too fast for nonvampire eyes, but those familiar with the original should find plenty to like. By Alex Kaloostian

Sex/Nudity: None. Drugs: 8 scenes with smoking, 1 with drugs.

Blood Work (R)

Director: Clint Eastwood. With Eastwood, Anjelica Huston, Jeff Daniels. (115 min.)

Sterritt *** An aging cop tracks down the serial killer who murdered the donor of his newly transplanted heart. Eastwood plays the sleuth - a sort of geriatric Dirty Harry - with the same physically taut, emotionally walled-up personality that typifies his characters. He still gets the girl, too. In the director's chair, Eastwood takes a conservative approach, telling the tale efficiently but with few of the imaginative touches that have made some of his films so memorable.