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Sterritt *** Should our high-school heroine stick with physics, which everyone says is her calling, or become a figure skater, which entices her when she tries to work out its aerodynamics in scientific terms? Trite but nice, this enjoyable comedy drama has good-spirited warmth toward almost all its characters, from the domineering moms to the daughters beginning to find themselves. And it's great to see so many smart girls in a Hollywood movie!Skip to next paragraph
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Director: Woody Allen. With Radha Mitchell, Will Ferrell, Chloë Sevigny, Wallace Shawn. (100 min.)
Sterritt *** During a friendly debate about optimism vs. pessimism, two writers work out the adventures of the title character(s) by imagining how differently the same person might behave with different circumstances and companions. Allen's view of life is limited to the urban middle class, as usual, but it's good to see his thoughtfulness back in action as he ponders the divide - or is it? - between comic and tragic perspectives.
Director: Adam Shankman. With Vin Diesel, Lauren Graham, Brad Garrett. (91 min.)
Staff ** Hardened Navy commando Shane Wolf (Diesel) gets the most challenging assignment of his career: protecting the children of an assassinated scientist from agents seeking the top-secret program he was working on. Fortunately, the combination of the bodyguard's military discipline and hidden soft side give the family children the tough love they need. The Disney-like plotting is too predictable for most adults and teens, and violence puts it off-limits for young children, but 8- to 11-year-olds should find the slapstick amusing. By M.K. Terrell
Director: Hideo Nakata. With Naomi Watts, Simon Baker, Sissy Spacek, David Dorfman. (111 min.)
Sterritt *** More about the insidious video that kills its viewers if they don't copy it and pass it to another victim. Subtler than "The Ring" and scarier than "Ringu," the Japanese thriller that started it all, this is sequel-spinning with a vengeance. Watts is wonderful, and the story's forsaken-child theme still has plenty of horrific power.
Director: Chris Wedge. With voices of Ewan McGregor, Halle Berry, Mel Brooks, Jennifer Coolidge. (89 min.)
Sterritt ** The animated adventures of a young robot with big ambitions, and an old robot who's been kicked out of his own business by a profit-hungry upstart. The visuals are spectacular at times, but the screenplay is trite, intermittently vulgar, and just not funny.
Director: Marc Forster. With Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Julie Christie, Dustin Hoffman. (106 min.)
Staff *** The story of how Scottish author J.M. Barrie conceived the iconic children's fable, "Peter Pan," may not be rigorously accurate. In the film, Barrie meets Sylvia, a widowed mother of several children, with whom he forms a strong bond. His relationship with the children inspires him to pen his famous tale. The truth is that Sylvia's husband was alive when Barrie met the Davies family. Yet, Johnny Depp brings such humanity and charm to the lead role that, like Pan himself, the story takes fabulous flight. The extras, especially the outtakes which show Depp and Dustin Hoffman entertaining the children during an important giggling scene, make this DVD a real gem for family viewing. By Gloria Goodale.