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Movie guide

February 20, 2004

Against the Ropes (PG-13)

Director: Charles S. Dutton. With Meg Ryan, Omar Epps, Tony Shalhoub, Charles S. Dutton. (111 min.)

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Sterritt * See review, page 15.

The Big Animal (Not rated)

Director: Jerzy Sturh. With Jerzy Stuhr, Anna Dymna, Blazej Wójcik, Dominika Bednarczyk. (73 min.)

Sterritt *** A nondescript Polish couple finds a lost circus camel in their yard and adopts it - at first pleasing their town, which enjoys its novelty value, but stirring trouble when their neighbors resent what they see as the self-reliant airs of a creature and its masters. The drama is a gentle, witty parable of the mixed feelings some people show toward free choice when it confronts them not in theory but in everyday life. In Polish with English subtitles.

Clifford's Really Big Movie (G)

Director: Robert Ramirez. With voices of John Ritter, Jenna Elfman, John Goodman, Wayne Brady. (74 min.)

Sterritt ** Capping a long career in children's books and TV, the much-loved Big Red Dog gets a frame large enough for his body - as well as his sweet nature and loving disposition. In his first feature film he runs away to a performing-animals show, hoping he'll win a lifetime supply of the dog food that bankrupts his owner because he eats so much. The movie is tamer than tame in every respect, which makes it great for little kids, if not for the grownups who bring them.

Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (PG)

Director: Sara Sugarman. With Lindsay Lohan, Adam

Garcia, Megan Fox, Alison Pill. (86 min.)

Staff * Lola Cep (Lohan) is a desperately spoiled "New York City doll" forced to move to a sleepy New Jersey suburb. She thinks everyone is standing between her and stardom, but she refuses to stop dreaming and ends up with the lead role in her school play and an invitation to her favorite rockstar's afterparty. The plot is as unbelievable as Lola (whose crush, Sam, pops in and out of scenes at random), and if the preteens this film is aimed at fall for it and look up to Lola, the world won't be a better place. By Elizabeth Armstrong

Kitchen Stories (Not rated)

Director: Bent Hamer. With Tomas Nörstrom, Joachim Calmeyer, Reine Brynolfsson, Bjorn Floberg. (92 min.)

Sterritt *** Marvelously wry comedy about the odd relationship between a crusty Norwegian man and a snoopy Swedish researcher who's assigned to sit in his kitchen and chart his movements there. Acted and directed with a savvy understatement that perfectly matches the eccentric story. In Norwegian and Swedish with English subtitles.

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (PG)

Director: Larry Blamire. With Andrew Parks, Susan McConnell, Brian Howe, Fay Masterson. (96 min.)

Sterritt ** An interstellar husband and wife crash-land their spaceship on Earth and get involved with a helpful couple, a sinister scientist, and a desiccated carcass. Intended as a parody of B-movie fantasies from the '50s, this satire more directly lampoons kiddie thrillers like "Captain Video," putting it perilously close to the pop-culture trash it aims to mock.

Secret Things (Not rated)

Director: Jean-Claude Brisseau. With Sabrina Seyvecou, Coralie Revel, Roger Mirmont, Fabrice Deville. (115 min.)

Sterritt *** Deciding that sex appeal is power, two young Frenchwomen test their theory in the Parisian business world. The sensationalistic beginning and needless mumbo-jumbo ending aside, this is a female buddy film with bite. In French with English subtitles.

Welcome to Mooseport (PG-13)