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Staff *** Rich, rewarding, intricately woven.Skip to next paragraph
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Sex/Nudity: 3. Violence: 15 scenes. Profanity: none. Drugs: 1 scene.
Director: Jared Hess. With Jon Heder, Tina Majorino, Efren Ramirez, Sandy Martin. (86 min.)
Sterritt *** Who would have guessed that a wildly refreshing take on the teenage-nerd genre would come from small-town Idaho, where the title character tangles with his weirded-out family and pushes for an equally uncharismatic friend to become president of their high-school student body? This minimalist comedy may not make you laugh out loud, but you'll be grinning at the quiet ingenuity of everyone concerned.
Director: Garry Marshall. With Anne Hathaway, Julie Andrews, John Rhys-Davies, Hector Elizondo. (120 min.)
Staff ** Princess Mia, the princess of Genovia, discovers that she must marry before she can inherit the throne. This lazily plotted "Bachelorette" ends with the least dramatic wedding ceremony ever. By Stephen Humphries.
Staff ** Fun, naive, unchallenging.
Sex/Nudity: 1 innuendo. Violence: 3 mild scenes. Profanity: none. Drugs: 2 scenes.
Director: Mira Nair. With Reese Witherspoon, Jim Broadbent, Eileen Atkins, Gabriel Byrne. (141 min.)
Sterritt ** Lavish adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray's great novel, with a not-quite-convincing Witherspoon as social climber Becky Sharp plus a solid supporting cast. Nair calls attention to the social failings of 19th-century England but rarely explores them, choosing to stress nostalgic elements that fans of the "heritage" genre will enjoy.
Directors: William Arntz, Betsy Chasse, Mark Vicente. With Marlee Matlin, John Hagelin, Amit Goswami. (108 min.)
Sterritt ** The makers of this "hybrid documentary" interweave the story of a dissatisfied woman with monologues by scientists conveying their ideas about the nature of the cosmos and the meaning of life. There are many tantalizing bits, but the overall result is a simplistic story wrapped in barely explained quantum physics and new-age sound bites.
Director: James Toback. With Neve Campbell, Fred Weller, Karen Allen, Dominic Chianese. (83 min.)
Sterritt *** The first portion, with Toback as an eccentric professor talking to people in the street, is out of control even by this filmmaker's kooky standards. Then the movie morphs into a deconstructed remake of "Indecent Exposure" and it's downright riveting, with Campbell doing her best acting to date.
Director: George Lucas. With Robert Duvall, Donald Pleasance, Maggie McOmie. (95 min.)
Staff *** A long time ago, in a studio near San Francisco Bay, a young George Lucas adapted a short film he'd made at film school into a sci-fi feature. Just don't expect "Star Wars." In this dystopian tale, a collectivist state drugs its citizens to dull their sense of individuality. For the DVD, Lucas has gussied up the effects, provided a dour commentary, and included his original student film. Best of all is a documentary on how Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, and others altered American filmmaking. By Stephen Humphries