Movie Guide

NEW RELEASES
Godzilla (Not rated)

Director: Ishiro Honda. With Takashi Shimura, Sachio Sakai, Momoko Kochi, Haruo Nakajima. (98 min.)

Sterritt **** See review.

New York Minute (PG)

Director: Dennie Gordon. With Ashley Olsen, Mary-Kate Olsen, Eugene Levy, Riley Smith. (85 min.)

Recommended: Default

Sterritt ** The insanely popular Olsen twins play suburban teens having a wild Manhattan day. As one heads for a scholarship speech, the other sneaks off to a rock-video taping session, and both wonder if the boy of their dreams might be just around the next crowded corner. The cast is cute and the action is colorful, but the comedy isn't as captivating as it sets out to be.

Super Size Me (Not rated)

Director: Morgan Spurlock. With Morgan Spurlock, Dr. Lisa Ganjhu, Dr. Daryl Isaacs. (96 min.)

Sterritt ** See review.

Van Helsing (PG-13)

Director: Stephen Sommers. With Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale, David Wenham, Richard Roxburgh (131 min.)

Sterritt * See review.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE
The Agronomist (PG-13)

Director: Jonathan Demme. With Jean Dominique, Michele Montas, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. (90 min.)

Sterritt *** A nonfiction look at the late Dominique, an outspoken, often self-aggrandizing man who founded the dissident Radio Haiti Inter, a rare independent station that boldly opposed injustice under sundry Haitian regimes, to the point where Dominique spent much of the 1990s in American exile. Best known for fiction films, Demme has a terrific story to tell here, tackling it with energy and economy. Events in Haiti since the picture was filmed make it must-see viewing for concerned moviegoers.

Bobby Jones--Stroke of Genius (PG)

Director: Rowdy Herrington. With Jim Caviezel, Jeremy Northam, Claire Forlani, Malcolm McDowell. (120 min.)

Sterritt ** A fictionalized biography of the great golfer, from his privileged childhood to his longtime rivalry with champion Walter Hagen - neatly portrayed by Northam as the breeziest pro on the circuit - and his achievement as the only person ever to win golf's grand slam despite physical problems. True-blue golf buffs should find it a treat. For others it's no deeper than a tin cup on a putting green.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 1 scene. Profanity: 30 expressions, mostly mild. Drugs: 8 instances of drinking, 8 of smoking, and 4 of both.

Envy (PG-13)

Director: Barry Levinson. With Jack Black, Ben Stiller, Rachel Weisz, Christopher Walken. (99 min.)

Sterritt *** A small-time businessman (Stiller) seethes with the title sin after his friend (Black) strikes it rich with a product he's dreamed up. The movie works fairly well as a dark comedy, and very well as a dead-on satire of upward mobility and its discontents.

Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of innuendo. Violence: 2 scenes. Profanity: 60 instances. Drugs: 7 scenes with drinking.

Godsend (PG-13)

Director: Nick Hamm. With Greg Kinnear, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Robert De Niro. (102 min.)

Sterritt * Strange things happen when a couple's little boy dies and a scientist offers to replace him through an illegal cloning procedure. The most outlandish cloning in the picture is Hamm's attempt to reincarnate Stanley Kubrick, dressing up the evil-child plot with enough wide-angle shots and symmetrical framings to hammer home the message that "The Shining" needs no replication. How could such a high-octane cast produce such low-octane horror?

Sex/Nudity: 1 scene with innuendo. Violence: 14 graphic scenes. Profanity: 17 expressions, mostly mild. Drugs: 3 instances of drinking.

Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (R)

Director: Quentin Tarantino. With Uma Thurman, David Carradine. (96 min.)

Sterritt ***The vengeful heroine wiped out most of the people who massacred her wedding party in the first portion of the "Kill Bill" saga; in the second, she goes after Bill, the instigator. Although it has plenty of raging kung fu violence, Vol. 2 is driven far more by character and dialogue, and eventually unveils gentle and even endearing scenes. Marvelous acting and large doses of ingenious style make this one of his most engrossing essays in pulp-fiction filmmaking.

Staff *** Inventive, exhilarating, better than Vol. 1. Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 13 scenes with extreme violence. Profanity: 32 instances, mostly harsh. Drugs: 9 instances of smoking, 5 with drinking, 1 with drugs.

Laws of Attraction (PG-13)

Director: Peter Howitt. With Julianne Moore, Pierce Brosnan, Parker Posey, Michael Sheen. (87 min.)

Sterritt * Two top-notch divorce attorneys (Moore and Brosnan) fall for each other while battling in the courtroom. This sort of legal-eagle premise worked beautifully in the bygone Tracy and Hepburn days, declined when the Coen brothers made "Intolerable Cruelty," and hits rock bottom here. Poor writing and directing are the culprits.

Sex/Nudity: 4 instances of innuendo, 2 of implied sex. Violence: Only threats. Profanity: 21 instances, nearly all mild. Drugs: At least 10 instances of drinking.

Man on Fire (R)

Director: Tony Scott. With Denzel Washington, Christopher Walken, Dakota Fanning, Giancarlo Giannini. (146 min.)

Sterritt **An alcoholic, Bible-reading assassin (Washington) becomes the bodyguard of a little Mexican girl whose wealthy parents fear she might become a victim of kidnappers who are terrorizing their city. The first hour is sharply directed, character-driven drama that ranks with Scott's best work. Then he lapses into his usual mode - more a bombardier than an entertainer, filling the screen with sadistic violence and arbitrary plot twists. A wasted opportunity.

Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of innuendo, 2 of implied sex. Violence: 24 instances of violence. Profanity: 20 instances, mostly harsh. Drugs: 13 scenes with smoking, 8 with drinking, 3 with both.

Mean Girls (PG-13)

Director: Mark Waters. With Lindsay Lohan, Tina Fey, Rachel McAdams, Tim Meadows. (97 min.)

Sterritt *** "Clueless" meets "Election" in this sharp-eyed comedy about a girl (Lohan) who enters a regular high school after years of homeschooling, wangles her way into a snooty clique, and thereby betrays the nerds who have befriended her. Fey's screenplay is marvelously smart, aside from a weakness for teen-pic clichés, and Lohan is captivating.

Staff *** Fun, fast-paced, with sly observations.

Sex/Nudity: 9 instances of innuendo. Violence: 3 scenes. Profanity: 49 instances, mostly mild. Drugs: 2 scenes with drinks.

The Punisher (R)

Director: Jonathan Hensleigh. With John Travolta, Thomas Jane, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Will Patton. (123 min.)

Sterritt ** A violent, well-acted vigilante tale about a muscleman (Jane) with a high IQ tracking down the suave psychopath (Travolta) who killed his family, calling it

not "revenge" but "punishment," as if that makes his exploits morally admirable. The most entertaining scenes focus on the lovable louts and losers who share the boardinghouse where the protagonist prepares his grisly exploits. The rest is mayhem.

Sex/Nudity: 3 instances of innuendo, 1 of nudity. Violence: 18 instances of intense violence. Profanity: 27 instances, mostly harsh. Drugs: 11 scenes with smoking, 8 with drinking, 3 with both.

The Saddest Music in the World (Not rated)

Director: Guy Maddin. With Isabella Rossellini, Maria de Madeiros, Mark McKinney, Ross McMillan. (99 min.)

Sterritt **** The time is 1933 and the heroine is a wealthy Canadian woman (Rossellini) who sponsors a contest to see which country can come up with the most melancholy tune. What brings brilliance to this zany premise is Maddin's mad style, which follows his frequent practice of making the movie look like a long-ago production that's been heedlessly stored under somebody's bed for the past few decades. Utterly artificial, utterly outrageous, and utterly enjoyable if you're as adventurous a moviegoer as Maddin is a filmmaker.

13 Going on 30 (PG-13)

Director: Gary Winick. With Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo, Kathy Baker, Andy Serkis. (98 min.)

Sterritt **Snubbed by the cool chicks she envies, 13-year-old Jenna wishes she were 30 and flirty, and suddenly "wishing dust" makes her exactly that - editing a fashion magazine, sparring with a cool-chick rival, and hoping to capture the heart of a boy she spurned when she was too young to know better. The early scenes are full of too-familiar situations and stereotypes, but the story picks up steam when Jenna tackles a crisis at her magazine, and Ruffalo's laid-back manner helps maintain a reasonable degree of plausibility and charm.

Staff *** Family friendly, sweet but not saccharine, fresh reworking of old ideas.

Sex/Nudity: 3 instances of innuendo. Violence: None. Profanity: 23 instances, almost all mild. Drugs: 5 instances of drinking, 2 of smoking.

OUT ON DVD
The Last Samurai (R)

Director: Edward Zwick. With Tom Cruise, Ken Watanabe, Timothy Spall, Billy Connolly, Koyuki. (154 min.)

Staff ** "Shogun" meets "Dances With Wolves" in this 19th-century epic set in Japan. An American Civil War hero (Cruise) is hired to help the Japanese army extinguish samurai warriors. But when he's captured and taken to the enemy's village, he's slowly won over by the warriors' Zen virtues and decides to aid them in battle - all without mussing his Farrah Fawcett hairdo. Intriguingly, an expert in a History Channel documentary - included in the otherwise standard featurettes - says the real samurai weren't "the good guys" portrayed here. By Stephen Humphries

Peter Pan (PG)

Director: P.J. Hogan. With Jeremy Sumpter, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Jason Isaacs. (113 min.)

Staff **1/2 This adaptation of Barrie's classic didn't deserve the round snubbing it got in theaters. The good - excellent effects, beautiful sets, and a fantastic Wendy (Hurd-Wood) - far outnumbers the bad - an American-accented Peter (Sumpter), the reworked introduction, a flying Captain Hook. But be warned: P.J. Hogan really knows what makes the croc tick - and the result is too scary for kids under 8. Extras are plentiful, if not always substantive, with 11 featurettes divided among five areas (the Pirate Ship, the Darling House, etc.). Check out the alternate ending, which hews closer to Barrie's. By Yvonne Zipp

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