Movie Guide

NEW RELEASES
A Cinderella Story (PG)

Director: Mark Rosman. With Hilary Duff, Jennifer Coolidge, Chad Michael Murray, Regina King. (97 min.)

Sterritt * The timeless fairy tale is updated into a cookie-cutter specimen of the teen-girl comedy about a mistreated high-schooler who goes to a dance despite her stepmother's wishes and lands the handsome boy. Even the delightful Duff disappoints.

The Door in the Floor (R)

Director: Tod Williams. With Jeff Bridges, Kim Basinger, Elle Fanning, Mimi Rogers. (111 min.)

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

Sterritt *** The marriage of a writer (Bridges) and his beautiful wife (Basinger) falls apart under pressure from his philandering and her mourning for their sons, killed in a car accident. The screenplay is based on the first section of John Irving's, "A Widow for One Year," resulting in an oddly arbitrary film, since this part of the book sets the stage for later events. Bridges is fun to watch, Fanning emerges as Hollywood's best 6-year-old actress, and Rogers's talents are wasted. A likable drama within its limitations.

I, Robot (PG-13)

Director: Alex Proyas. With Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, James Cromwell, Chi McBride. (115 min.)

Sterritt *** See review.

Let's Get Frank (Not rated)

Director: Bart Everly. With Barney Frank, Henry Hyde, Michael Moore, Kenneth Starr. (75 min.)

Sterritt **** Documentary about Barney Frank, the openly gay Massachusetts congressman whose own sex scandal didn't prevent him from being a major figure in the fight over whether President Bill Clinton should be impeached. Feisty, funny, and smart.

Maria Full of Grace (R)

Director: Joshua Marston. With Catalina Sandino Moreno, Jhon Alex Toro, Yenny Paola Vega, Patricia Rae. (101 min.)

Sterritt **** A young Colombian woman agrees to smuggle a large load of narcotics secreted in her stomach in order to reach the US and escape hardships back home. Timely, pointed messages about oppression and opportunity come poignantly through in strongly dramatic terms. In English and Spanish with subtitles

Planet Earth: Dreams (Not rated)

Director: D.J. Mendel. With Cynthia J. Hopkins, Fred Neumann, Justine Priestley, Lisa Hickman. (85 min.)

Sterritt **** Richard Foreman scripted this deliciously off-kilter comedy about a young woman whose experiences with a mad scientist blur the boundaries between reality and the realms of the imagination. One of a kind, turning Foreman trademarks such as self-satirical acting and out-of-nowhere music into powerful elements of an outlandish story.

Touch of Pink (R)

Director: Ian Iqbal Rashid. With Jimi Mistry, Kyle MacLachlan, Suleka Mathew, Kristen Holden-Ried. (91 min.)

Sterritt * A gay Pakistani-Canadian man discusses his dilemmas with Cary Grant's ghost when his traditional Muslim mother comes to visit. You're on the right track if the title reminds you of "That Touch of Mink," the 1962 comedy with Grant and Doris Day, but the resemblance ends there. Even MacLachlan's surprisingly witty performance can't compensate for the trite screenplay and Mistry's lack of charisma.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (PG-13)

Director: Adam McKay. With Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Christina Applegate. (94 min.)

Sterritt * In the days before cable, a TV news host juggles infatuation and intolerance when a female reporter joins his journalistic team. Imagine a movie where every character is more self-centered than Ted Baxter in "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" of old, add a caboodle of idiotic jokes, and you have some idea of this ugly, unfunny farce. Its only interesting aspect is its willingness to dispense with even one competent, appealing character. Dumb, dumber, dumberest!

Staff **1/2 Silly, disjointed, crass.

Sex/Nudity: 20 instances. Violence: 5 scene. Profanity: 33 mostly mild expressions. Drugs: 28 scenes of drinking, smoking.

The Clearing (R)

Director: Pieter Jan Brugge. With Robert Redford, Helen Mirren, Willem Dafoe, Melissa Sagemiller. (94 min.)

Sterritt *** Redford gives one of his best performances ever in this taut, emotionally engrossing thriller about a wealthy businessman kidnapped by a small-time criminal (Dafoe) and held for ransom from his wife (Mirren) and family. Only a sentimental, strung-out ending mars the drama's momentum.

Staff **1/2 Modest, chilly, underplayed.

Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of innuendo. Violence: 6 scenes. Profanity: 10 strong expressions. Drugs: 2 scenes of drinking, 2 of smoking.

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (PG-13)

Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber. With Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Christine Taylor, Rip Torn. (92 min.)

Sterritt *The owners of rival health clubs enter teams in a dodgeball tournament to win a cash prize. Stiller strives to be a wild and wacky villain, Vaughn endeavors to be a likable and average hero in this unspeakably stupid comedy.

Fahrenheit 9/11 (R)

Director: Michael Moore. With George W. Bush, Lila Lipscomb, Michael Moore. (117 min.)

Sterritt **** Moore's deeply felt documentary takes on the Bush administration with regard to everything from terrorism to the president's character. The results pack a political wallop whether or not you agree with Moore, and they'd be even stronger if his narration didn't have a cloying quality that touches the heart more than the mind.

Staff **** Trenchant, caustic, revealing.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 14 scenes Profanity: 8 instances. Drugs: 1 instance of smoking.

The Inheritance (Not rated)

Director: Per Fly. With Ulrich Thomsen, Lisa Werlinder, Lars Brygmann, Ghita Norby. (110 min.)

Sterritt *** A man's life grows more complicated and less pleasant after he inherits his father's factory in Denmark and finds that firings and cutbacks are the only way to keep it profitable. The acting is fine, the filmmaking is honest, and the class-conscious story couldn't be more timely. In Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, and French with subtitles.

King Arthur (PG-13)

Director: Antoine Fuqua. With Clive Owen, Keira Knightley, Ioan Gruffud, Stellan Skârsgard. (129 min.)

Sterritt * The unflinching monarch leads his followers against the Saxons, the Roman Empire, and the Roman Catholic church. Focusing on what the filmmakers claim was the real Arthur, the movie gives us a Round Table and Excalibur but no magic, no mystery, no mythic resonance. Mostly there's a lot of slashing swordplay that should appeal to young males.

Staff *1/2 Melodramatic, cliche, gritty.

Sex/Nudity: 5 instances. Violence: 17 scenes. Profanity: 11 mild expressions. Drugs: 3 instances of drinking.

Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (Not rated)

Directors: Bruce Sinofsky, Joe Berlinger. With James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, Robert Trujillo. (130 min.)

Sterritt ** A veteran team of nonfiction filmmakers chronicles Metallica's effort to resurrect itself after various setbacks. The quartet appears to be lacking in the brains and judgment department, but at least it tries to do something about its failings, employing a traveling psychotherapist whose interventions and ruminations are the film's most amusing moments.

The Notebook (PG-13)

Director: Nick Cassavetes. With Gena Rowlands, James Garner, Rachel McAdams, Ryan Gosling. (115 min.)

Sterritt ** An aging man reads a lengthy love story to a debilitated old woman, and gradually we realize its profound relevance to their own former lives. Rowlands is superb, as usual, and Garner partners her with the grace of a dancer. Cassavetes's directing style is slow and stilted, indicating yet again that his notion of moviemaking is the opposite of everything his father, the great John Cassavetes, stood for.

Staff ** Nostalgic, contrived, sentimental.

Sex/Nudity: 3 instances. Violence: 2 scenes. Profanity: 13 mild expressions. Drugs: 6 scenes of drinking, 3 of smoking.

Sleepover (PG)

Director: Joe Nussbaum. With Mika Boorem, Alexa Vega, Jane Lynch, Scout Taylor-Compton. (97 min.)

Sterritt *Mischief reigns as a pajama party turns into a scavenger hunt, with rewards that seem less than trivial to girls on the verge of high school. Viewers of that age may overlook the contrived situations and the awful acting, which consists mainly of frozen grins. Nobody else will.

Staff ** Juvenile, chaste, segregated.

Sex/Nudity: 1 instance. Violence: 5 scenes. Profanity: 1 mild expression. Drugs: 1 instance of drinking.

Spider-Man 2 (PG-13)

Director: Sam Raimi. With Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Alfred Molina, Rosemary Harris. (127 min.)

Sterritt *** Our hero (Maguire) takes on Doctor Octopus, a once-benign scientist (Molina) who's lost control of the artificial tentacles he's invented; while in his secret identity he continues his fitful courtship of would-be girlfriend (Dunst) who doesn't think she can wait for him much longer. The sequel is more exciting than the 2002 original, thanks largely to Molina's excellent acting. Only the strenuously comic scenes fall as flat as one of Spidey's leftover webs.

Staff *** Satisfying, pumped-up, melodramatic.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 18 scenes. Profanity: 4 mild expressions. Drugs: 3 instances of drinking, 3 of smoking.

The Terminal (PG-13)

Director: Steven Spielberg. With Tom Hanks, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Stanley Tucci, Kumar Pallana. (128 min.)

Sterritt * Hanks plays an eastern European man whose US visit turns sour when a coup topples his nation's government, leaving him a man without a country and forcing him to make his home in the New York airport he's forbidden by law to leave. Hanks's character is sentimentalized, Tucci's lacks all plausibility, and Zeta-Jones's has little to do. A totally false picture of human nature, and of what it's really like to be in a security-conscious airport. A Spielbergian bomb.

Staff *** Fresh, sleek, humanistic.

Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of innuendo. Violence: 2 scenes. Profanity: 10 mild expressions, 8 strong. Drugs: 3 instances of drinking, 2 of smoking.

OUT ON DVD
The Bourne Identity: Explosive Extended Edition (PG-13)

Director: Doug Liman. With Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Chris Cooper, Brian Cox, Julia Stiles. (119 min.)

Staff *** This 2002 spy movie, rereleased with two new scenes that bookend the film, hinges on an identity crisis. Damon emerges from a coma on a boat in the Mediterranean with no idea who he is or how he got there. He's also perplexed when he discovers that several people are trying to kill him. It sets up a terrific hunt-and-chase thriller propelled by nimble, inventive action sequences. The new scenes aren't essential but they do provide a bridge to the imminent sequel, and the stock bonus features are gracious enough to look at the late Robert Ludlum, author of "Bourne" books. By Stephen Humphries

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