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Sex/Nudity: 1 scene of implied sex. Violence: None. Profanity: 12 mild expressions. Drugs: 12 scenes with drinking, 1 with smoking.Skip to next paragraph
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Director: Gary Ross. With Jeff Bridges, Chris Cooper, Tobey Maguire. (129 min.)
Sterritt * This is a story of an unlikely trio - a millionaire, an eccentric loner, and an oversized jockey - who made a runty horse with an ungainly gallop into the most famous racer of the Depression and World War II eras. The subject is fascinating, but writer-director Ross never goes a millimeter beneath the surface of his characters, substituting a superficial kind of "uplift" for a thoughtful look at what made Seabiscuit and his handlers special.
Staff *** Heartwarming, triumphant, iconic.
Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes of nudity, sex. Violence: 6 scenes, including bloody fights, animal cruelty. Drugs: 29 scenes of smoking; 22 of drinking. Profanity: 20 profanities.
Director: Alan Rudolph. With Campbell Scott, Hope Davis, Denis Leary, Robin Tunney. (105 min.)
Sterritt **** This is a story about the marriage of two dentists. The wife may be having an affair so secret that her spouse can't be certain it's happening at all. The husband is still in love with her but can't help recognizing that three lively kids, professional success, and money to spare add up to much less than a picture-perfect existence. This bittersweet comedy-drama ranks with the best work Rudolph has ever done, offering a smart, sensitive look at domestic life. Also invaluable are Scott's acting and Craig Lucas's screenplay, based on Jane Smiley's novella "The Age of Grief."
Staff *** Original, touching, ingenuous.
Sex/Nudity: 5 scenes, nothing graphic. Violence: 1 scene of brutal beating. Profanity: 20 expressions, some strong. Drugs: 8 scenes of drinking, smoking.
Director: Dana Brown. With various surfers. (88 min.)
Sterritt ** Hanging ten from southern California, universally known for surfing, to places like Ireland and Vietnam, totally unknown for surfing, this sun-struck documentary tries to recapture the 1966 magic of "The Endless Summer," which makes sense, since director-writer- editor Brown is son of Bruce Brown, who made that surfboard classic. There are some novelties, but there's also far too much self-congratulation by surfers. Don't step into this not-so-new wave unless you're a die-hard surfing buff.
Staff *** Insane, tubular, fluid.
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 4 scenes with injuries. Profanity: 18 profanities. Drugs: 1 drinking scene.
Director: Clark Johnson. With Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriguez, LL Cool J.
Staff ** Farrell, still looking for his breakthrough role, plays a resourceful LAPD cop reduced to weapons clerk for refusing to rat on a buddy in this resurrection of the '70s TV series. Jackson plays a sergeant who wants Farrell for his super-elite S.W.A.T. unit. The fresh cast breathes some life into the proceedings, but the formulaic plot gets less believable as it goes along. By M.K. Terrell
Staff * Insipid, unsatisfying, noisy.
Drugs: 4 smoking scenes; 8 with drinking. Profanity: 78 profanities.
Director: Catherine Hardwicke. With Evan Rachel Wood, Holly Hunter, Nikki Reed. (100 min.)
Staff **1/2This raw film chronicles how a 13-year-old honors student (Wood) succumbs to a range of peer pressures when she gains acceptance from the ringleader (Reed) of the cool clan at her junior high. Her grades, her self-esteem, and her relationships plummet as her mom (Hunter) struggles to understand and stop the self-destructiveness. Co-written by Reed when she was 13, the film's style is as volatile as a rebellious teen - at times veering over the top. Acting is impressive, though. By Stephanie Cook Broadhurst
Director: Boaz Yakin. With Brittany Murphy, Dakota Fanning, Heather Locklear. (90 min.)
Sterritt *** A spoiled but sweet young woman becomes the nanny of a spoiled but not-so-sweet little girl, and they are both driven crazy before they learn valuable life lessons. Murphy is a sensational comic actress and Fanning's talent far exceeds her years. Add imaginative directing - finally Yakin fulfills the promise he showed in "Fresh" almost a decade ago - and you have a colorful, creative, deliciously frolicsome romp.
Staff ** Insipid, means well, falls flat.
Sex/Nudity: 3 instances of innuendo. Violence: 1 slap. Profanity: 5 minor expressions. Drugs: 4 scenes of drinking.