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Movie Guide

By Peter Rainer / December 22, 2005



New in Theaters
Fun With Dick and Jane (PG-13)

Director: Dean Parisot. With Jim Carrey, Téa Leoni. (90 min.)

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This update of the 1977 George Segal-Jane Fonda comedy stars Jim Carrey as an executive at an Enron-style company who, faced with bankruptcy, goes on a crime spree with his peppy wife, played by Téa Leoni. Most of it plays out as sub-medium-grade farce, but Carrey has some funny calisthenic bits where he appears to have the pliability of a rubber toy. Director Dean Parisot, who made the hilarious sci-fi spoof "Galaxy Quest," ladles on too much socially conscious sauce. In what is basically an airhead romp, he goes in for way too much nudging about Bush-era corporate malfeasance. Even Ralph Nader makes an appearance! Grade: C+

The White Countess (PG-13)

Director: James Ivory. With Ralph Fiennes, Natasha Richardson. (138 min.)

At the disquieting center of the beautifully shot but somewhat stolid Merchant Ivory film "The White Countess" is Todd Jackson (Ralph Fiennes), a blind and disillusioned American diplomat who fulfills his fantasy of owning a nightclub in 1930s Shanghai. Natasha Richardson plays Russian émigré Countess Sofia, who is hired by Jackson to be his hostess even though he knows she moonlights as a prostitute to support her family. Vanessa Redgrave, Richardson's real-life mother, plays Sofia's aunt, and her real-life aunt, Lynn Redgrave, plays her mother-in-law, making this movie something of a family affair. But Fiennes's performance, tricky and impassioned, is the showpiece. Grade: B

Still in Release
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (PG)

Director: Andrew Adamson. With Tilda Swinton, Jim Broadbent. (140 min.)

Adamson, the director of "Shrek," has done a highly creditable job of visualizing the first of Lewis's seven books about four children in the mythical land of Narnia where the animals talk. The film works well both as a boisterous fantasia and as the Christian fable that Lewis intended. Beneath all the special effects (many of which, for a change, are actually special) you can detect something cherishably human. Grade: A-

King Kong (PG-13)

Director: Peter Jackson. With Jack Black, Naomi Watts, Adrien Brody. (187 min.)

Ann Darrow, a struggling actress, is picked by Carl Denham to star in his jungle epic on Skull Island, rife with dinosaurs (and high on the yech factor). Ultimately she finds herself, literally, in the palm of the giant ape's hands, and director Jackson wants us to feel their love. After a while, though, Jackson's grand-scale ghoulishness becomes numbing. Grade: B+

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