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Movie Guide

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Sterritt ** This remake of the classic 1955 comedy focuses on a criminal who rents a room in a sleepy Mississippi town and assembles a team to steal a stash of cash from a local casino - unless his feisty landlady catches on. Hanks and Hall are excellent, but all characters are crude stereotypes - insulting to the audience when the savvy Coen brothers expect us to laugh at coarse and unoriginal caricatures.

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Staff **1/2 Well casted, amusing, long.

Sex/Nudity: 2 instance of innuendo. Violence: 12 instances. Profanity: 110 instances of strong language. Drugs: 16 scenes with drinking or smoking.

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. He also allows for anti-Semitic interpretations of the Jewish role in the death sentence, though Gibson disavows such interpretations. Technically, the picture is strong, thanks to Caleb Deschanel's camera work and Caviezel's relentlessly focused acting. In Aramaic, Hebrew, and Latin with English subtitles.

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

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

Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (PG)

Director: Raja Gosnell. With Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr., Matthew Lillard. (88 min.)

Staff *1/2 A demented mastermind resuscitates monsters from the first film and the gang from Mystery Inc. must put them all down again. Lively performances and special effects add to the nostalgia, but it's much ado about very little. By M. K. Terrell

Staff ** Loud, fast, inappropriate for small children.

Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of innuendo. Violence: 14 instances, mostly mild. Profanity: 1 instances. Drugs: 2 scenes with smoking and drinking, 1 scene with inhaling gas.

Taking Lives (R)

Director: D.J. Caruso. With Angelina Jolie, Ethan Hawke, Gena Rowlands, Kiefer Sutherland. (101 min.)

Sterritt ** A female FBI agent (Jolie) hunts a serial killer (you have to guess) who takes over the identities of the victims, inhabiting them one after another like a human hermit crab. While not much is new is this umpteenth variation on a nasty theme, the Montreal locations are atmospherically filmed and Philip Glass's music score packs an occasional punch.

Ripley's Game (R)

Director: Liliana Cavani. With John Malkovich, Dougray Scott, Ray Winstone, Lena Headey. (110 min.)

Staff ***1/2 The talented Tom Ripley (Malkovich) returns, this time older, wiser, and in possession of a breathtaking Italian villa. Ever hungry for control, Mr. Ripley turns a neighbor's snub at a party into a deadly game, forcing him to reconsider the value of money, mercy, and devotion. Even if Matt Damon's earlier handling of the protagonist in "The Talented Mr. Ripley" left you uninspired, and even though special features are limited to a trailer, this eerily seductive tale of love and redemption is a must-see perfected by Malkovich's sly disdain for mediocrity. Why it never hit theaters remains a mystery. By Elizabeth Armstrong