Movie Guide


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 depicted here in sanitized ways. True-blue golf buffs should find it a treat. For others it's no deeper than a tin cup on a putting green.

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 pitch-dark comedy, and very well as a dead-on satire of upward mobility and its discontents.

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?

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 - and whatever possessed the gifted Moore to make her role a nonstop Diane Keaton imitation? There oughta be a law!

Mean Girls (PG-13)

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

Sterritt *** See review.

The Saddest Music in the World (Not rated)

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

Sterritt **** See review.

Since Otar Left... (Not rated)

Director: Julie Bertucelli. With Esther Gorintin, Dinara Drukarova, Nino Khomasuridze, Temur Kalandadze. (102 min)

Sterritt **** Three generations of Georgian women cope with life in their run-down Tbilisi apartment and worry in different ways about Otar, the man of the family, who illegally emigrated to Paris and has suddenly died there - a tragedy the younger women decide to keep a secret from his mother even if this means sending her bogus letters to keep up the illusion that he's alive and well. Everything about this subtly directed drama enhances its pathos and humor, especially an astonishing performance by Gorintin, a 90-something woman only a few years into her acting career. In Georgian and French with English subtitles

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.

Close Your Eyes (R)

Director: Nick Willing. With Goran Visnjic, Miranda Otto, Paddy Considine, Shirley Henderson. (108 min)

Sterritt ***A small-time psychotherapist takes time off from his stop-smoking practice to help a policewoman track down a serial killer, using what may be psychic powers to sense the thoughts of a young victim who's escaped but lost her ability to speak. Strong acting and smartly tuned-in directing turn a run-of-the-mill detective story into a striking, sometimes harrowing blend of horror and suspense.

Ella Enchanted (PG)

Director: Tommy O'Haver. With Anne Hathaway, Hugh Dancy, Cary Elwes, Minnie Driver. (95 min.)

Staff ** Fans of Gail Carson Levine will find little of her charming book in this big-screen version of the Cinderella tale. What does remain is Levine's clever twist: a curse of obedience that requires Ella to do everything that's asked of her. "Ella" has energy enough, and will probably appeal to tweens, but adds too many gimmicks to a story that had plenty going for it already. By Kim Campbell

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 13 mild instances. Profanity: 1 mild instance. Drugs: 1 scene.

Hellboy (PG-13)

Director: Guillermo Del Toro. With Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, John Hurt. (122 min.)

Sterritt *** A troubled superhero fights the forces of darkness, and he's just right for the job, since humans snatched him from an evil dimension when he was a baby. The first half is high-tech action; the second hour has marvelous moments. The screenplay has flashes of real wit, and Perlman is perfect in the title role.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 26 instances of intense violence. Profanity: 26 instances, mostly mild. Drugs: 12 instances.

Home on the Range (PG)

Directors: Will Finn, John Sanford. With voices of Judi Dench, Roseanne Barr, Cuba Gooding Jr. (76 min.)

Sterritt *** A money-hungry villain wants to take over an old-fashioned dairy farm, and a nervy cow organizes fellow animals to save the day. Old-style animation slows down after a snappy start, but it's light and lively enough to keep little kids happy and older ones from fidgeting too much.

Staff *** Delightful, fresh, great songs.

Sex/Nudity: 2 mild instances. Violence: 10 scenes. Profanity: No instances. Drugs: 1 scene with 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. Definitely not for the squeamish, though.

Staff *** Inventive, exhilarating, much 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.

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. In all, 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.

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.

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, as our heroine figures out how to cope with 30-ness in the 21st century. The story picks up steam when Jenna tackles a crisis at her magazine, though, 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.

Gilmore Girls: Season One

Creator: Amy Sherman-Palladino. With Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel. (21 episodes)

Staff *** The fastest-talking mother-daughter duo on television make their DVD debut on Tuesday. Lorelai Gilmore (Graham) left her privileged Connecticut upbringing behind after having a little girl when she was in high school. Rory (Bledel) is now a lovely, bright teen with dreams of Harvard. To get the private education Rory needs to make that happen, Lorelai makes a deal with her wealthy parents: dinner once a week in exchange for a loan. The series combines lightning-fast repartee with real warmth for its characters and its small-town setting. But for such a sharp-witted series, the DVD extras are a snooze. There's a limp featurette in which the cast and creators talk about how great the show is, one episode with "Pop-Up Video" trivia, and three deleted scenes. The best part of owning the series is that you can now rewind to try to catch all the cultural references as they blow by at 60 m.p.h. By Yvonne Zipp

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