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Staff *1/2 Seizing on a rap CD as symbolic of all that's wrong with America, a conservative senator (Baranski) calls a boycott of the conglomerate that owns the record label, putting the stressed-out CEO (Benjamin) into the hospital. His socialite daughter (Kudrow) tries to get the rapper (Wayans) to apologize nationally, but she falls in love instead. The film sheds weak satirical light on the issues of freedom of speech, media responsibility, and oppression of minorities. It's anybody's guess who the target audience could be. There are lively musical numbers, though. By M.K. TerrellSkip to next paragraph
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Sex/Nudity: 1 scene of implied sex; 6 innuendoes. Violence: 1 punching scene. Profanity: 15 profanities. Drugs: 5 drinking, smoking scenes.
Director: Gordon Chan. With Jackie Chan, Claire Forlani, Christy Chung, Lee Evans.
Staff * Three Interpol agents end up in Ireland to fight evil forces and save a gifted boy who is the keeper of a magical medallion of immortality. Eddy Yang (Chan) saves the day over and over while charming a fellow agent (Fiorlani). The story line, acting, and dialogue are disjointed and only nominally logical, but Jackie Chan fans will be pleased with good action sequences and new Hollywood acrobatics. The story is best summed up by the bizarre sight of Jackie Chan "kung fu-ing" the bad guys while wearing an Irish tweed suit. By Shannon Shaper
Sex/Nudity: 2 innuendoes. Violence: 14 scenes, including shootouts, martial arts. Profanity: 3 profanities. Drugs: At least 1 smoking scene.
Director: David Zucker. With Ashton Kutcher, Tara Reid, Molly Shannon, Andy Richter.
Staff * Anxious to move up in the publishing company office, as well as impress the tyrannical owner's daughter, nice guy Tom Stansfield (Kutcher) agrees to baby sit the old man's adored pet owl. After receiving strict orders to have no visitors, he's unable to prevent a steady stream of people from wrecking the boss's mansion - and letting the owl escape. But the real disaster is the slapstick-ridden script, which a great supporting cast is powerless to salvage. By M.K. Terrell
Sex/Nudity: 5 innuendoes; 1 nude scene. Violence: 8 scenes, including shooting. Profanity: 6 profanities. Drugs: 8 scenes of smoking, drinking, drugs.
Director: Kevin Costner. With Kevin Costner, Robert Duvall, Annette Bening, Michael Jeter. (139 min.)
Sterritt ** Most of this western takes place not on the open range but in a small frontier town where a grizzled old wrangler (Duvall) and his crusty partner (Costner) get into a deadly feud with a corrupt Irish land baron and a bought-off sheriff who couldn't care less about the law. Costner is comfortable directing westerns, as he showed with "Dances With Wolves" in 1990, and here he takes a strictly traditional approach - tricky to pull off, since what seems nostalgically classical to one viewer may seem hopelessly hackneyed to another. Few will quarrel with the lavishly filmed landscapes, though.
Staff **1/2 Old-fashioned, formulaic, earthy.
Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of innuendo. Violence: 11 scenes, including many shootouts. Profanity: 35 mostly mild expressions. Drugs: 4 scenes with smoking, 1 with drinking.
Director: Scott Hamilton Kennedy. With students at a Compton, Calif., high school. (76 min.)
Sterritt *** A creative teacher persuades a group of high-school students to mount a production of Thornton Wilder's classic small-town play "Our Town" in their own community, populated mostly by minority groups and dogged by poverty-related problems. Kennedy documents their efforts with skill and compassion, almost entirely avoiding the pitfalls of sentimentality and victimology. He and his likable "cast" deserve a standing ovation.
Staff ***1/2 Touching, hopeful, spirited.
Sex/Nudity: 4 innuendoes. Violence: 1 scene with gunshots. Profanity: 17 expressions. Drugs: None.
Director: Dan Ireland. With Jason Isaacs, Sofia Milos, Emmy Rossum, Theresa Russell, Seymour Cassel.
Staff ** This is a tale of romance set in New Bedford, a picturesque New England seaport, between a working-class single mom with traditional Portuguese moral values and a carefree, charming English cardplayer. Despite its talented cast and dazzling scenery, this love story is bland and predictable. What starts out with all the ingredients for a rich and spicy Portuguese paella ends up tasting more like fish and chips with ketchup. By Bernard Cabrera
Staff ** Sweet, sincere, cute.