Movie Guide

NEW RELEASES
Hidalgo (PG-13)

Director: Joe Johnston. With Viggo Mortensen, Omar Sharif, Zuleikha Robinson, Louise Lombard. (136 min.)

Sterritt ** A rough-riding cowboy (Mortensen) leaves a Wild West show to enter himself and his mustang in a high-stakes race across the Middle Eastern sands, hindered and helped by a sheikh (Sharif) who has an interest in the outcome. The action is often gorgeous, but the screenplay is a collection of clichés, and Mortensen's performance hits one note at the beginning and stays with it for the whole movie. You might expect "Seabiscuit" meets "Lawrence of Arabia," but overall, it's a big, beautiful bore.

James' Journey to Jerusalem (Not rated)

Director: Ra'anan Alexandrowicz. With Siyabonga Melongisi Shibe, Arie Elias, Sandra Schonwald. (87 min.)

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

Sterritt *** See review at right.

The Reckoning (R)

Director: Paul McGuigan. With Willem Dafoe, Paul Bettany, Brian Cox, Vincent Cassell. (110 min.)

Sterritt ** Running for his life after committing a transgression at his monastery, a medieval priest falls in with a group of traveling players who try to solve a mystery they've stumbled on. The story never gathers much dramatic momentum despite an impressive cast and a lot of dank Middle Ages atmosphere.

Starsky & Hutch (PG-13)

Director: Todd Phillips. With Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Snoop Dogg, Juliette Lewis. (99 min.)

Sterritt ** See review, page 15.

Currently in RELEASE
Barbershop 2 (PG-13)

Director: Kevin Rodney Sullivan. With Ice Cube, Eve, Michael Ealy. (98 min.)

Staff **1/2 The crew from the original "Barbershop" comes back to cut hair, only this time a national chain tries to shut them down. Sullivan brings forth a narrative buzzing with energy and sharpness and the actors perform their lines with an earthy vigor, but the film's bare-boned script and mawkish ending keep it from achieving 'shear' brilliance. By Brad Rosenberg

Sex/Nudity: 9 scenes with innuendo. Violence: 5 scenes. Profanity: 77 instances. Drugs: 5 instances.

The Butterfly Effect (R)

Directors: J. Mackye Gruber, Eric Bress. With Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Eric Stoltz. (113 min.)

Sterritt * A troubled young man gradually learns he's been traveling back in time, inhabiting his body in earlier stages of his life and altering events in ways that befuddle him when he returns to a present changed in unexpected ways. A promising premise; too bad the screenplay is as confused as the hero.

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 in this unbelievable comedy. She thinks everyone stands between herself and stardom, but she refuses to stop dreaming and lands the lead role in her school play, as well as an invitation to her favorite rock star's afterparty. By Elizabeth Armstrong

Staff *1/2 No substance, Britney-esque.

Sex/Nudity: 1 instance of innuendo. Violence: 1 instance. Profanity: 1 mild expression. Drugs: 2 scenes with drinking.

Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (PG-13)

Director: Guy Ferland. With Romola Garai, Diego Luna, Sela Ward, Patrick Swayze. (86 min.)

Sterritt * A rich American girl learns love and dancing from a Latino boy during a family sojourn in Cuba just before the Castro regime takes over. At least the original "Dirty Dancing" had Jennifer Grey for Swayze to swing around. This belated "reimagining" is as beguiling as a dried-out palm tree.

Staff ** Terrific music, editing destroys choreography

Sex/Nudity: 3 instances. Violence: 3 scenes. Profanity: 5 instances. Drugs: 6 scenes with drinking, 5 with smoking.

Eurotrip (R)

Director: Jeff Schaffer. With Scott Mechlowicz, Jacob Pitts, Michelle Trachtenberg. (92 min.)

Staff *1/2 Four friends graduate from high school and run away to Europe for the summer. They travel to Berlin to find a beautiful pen pal one of had them lost contact with and to take advantage of the liberal drug, alcohol, and sex laws. They refuse to give up the quest even after landing in Bratislava with only $1.83 in their pockets. The appealing young cast helps make up for often raunchy humor. By M.K. Terrell.

Sex/Nudity: 23 instances. Violence: 11 minor instances. Profanity: 26 instances, most of them strong. Drugs: 12 scenes with smoking, drinking, and marijuana brownies.

50 First Dates (PG-13)

Director: Peter Segal. With Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Sean Astin, Dan Aykroyd. (99 min.)

Sterritt * A womanizer (Sandler) falls for a woman (Barrymore) whose short-term memory has been destroyed by an injury, which means each time he woos her is the first time for her. Set in picturesque Hawaii, this could have been a tasty romantic comedy, but the filmmakers swamp the story with tasteless jokes, phony animal stunts, and bathroom humor.

Staff *** Lighthearted, fun, sweet but corny.

Sex/Nudity: 19 instances. Violence: 10 scenes. Profanity: 18 instances, mostly mild. Drugs: 10 instances.

The Passion of the Christ (R)

Director: Mel Gibson. With Jim Caviezel, Monica Bellucci, Sergio Rubini, Maia Morgenstern. (127 min.)

Sterritt ** An excruciatingly violent reenactment of Jesus' crucifixion. Gibson pays morbid attention to every gory detail, as if the suffering of the earthly Jesus were of central importance, rather than a precondition of his triumph over death. He also leaves the door open to anti-Semitic interpretations of the Jewish role in the death sentence. Technically, the picture is strong, thanks to Caleb Deschanel's expert camera work and Caviezel's relentlessly focused acting. In Aramaic, Hebrew, and Latin with English subtitles.

Staff **1/2 Brutal, excrutiatingly detailed violence.

Sex/Nudity: 1 instance of nudity. Violence: 24 scenes of intense violence that may be inappropriate for children. Profanity: No instances. Drugs: 4 scenes with drinking wine.

Twisted (R)

Director: Philip Kaufman. With Ashley Judd, Samuel L. Jackson, Andy Garcia, David Strathairn. (97 min.)

Sterritt * A policewoman (Judd) hunts for a serial killer whose victims are men she's slept with recently, and starts to fear she may be the villain, eliminating former lovers in an alcoholic daze. The screenplay is hackneyed, the acting half-hearted, and the surprise ending is no surprise if you've been paying any attention.

Welcome to Mooseport (PG-13)

Director: Donald Petrie. With Gene Hackman, Maura Tierney, Ray Romano, Marcia Gay Harden. (110 min.)

Sterritt * Hackman plays a former president of the United States who retires to a small town, falls for a local woman, and vies for her with a handyman (Romano) who runs against him in a mayoral election. The best parts are the scenes of mass-media feeding frenzies, but these are closer to stark realism than sarcastic satire.

Staff ** Amiable, folksy, enjoyable cast.

Sex/Nudity: 8 instances Violence: 1 scene involving a punch. Profanity: 8 instances. Drugs: 7 instances of drinking.

OUT ON DVD
School of Rock (PG-13)

Director: Richard Linklater. With Jack Black, Mike White, Joan Cusack, Sarah Silverman. (109 min.)

Staff *** Jack Black's comedy riffing just, well, rocks. The same can't be said for his guitar riffing: The actor plays a hapless rock star wannabe so desperate for money that he passes himself off as a substitute teacher at a tony private school and teaches 10-year-olds. What else to do but start a rock band without the school's knowledge? In lesser hands, this premise could have included more sappy clichés than a Foreigner power ballad, but, as Black observes in a priceless commentary track, director Linklater ensures the film never becomes too cute. By Stephen Humphries

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