Movie Guide


Bad News Bears (PG-13)

Director: Richard Linklater. With Billy Bob Thornton, Marcia Gay Harden, Greg Kinnear, Sammi Kane Kraft. (111 min.)

Sterritt *** See review, at right.

The Devil's Rejects (R)

Director: Rob Zombie. With Sid Haig, Sheri Moon, Bill Moseley, William Forsythe. (101 min.)

Sterritt *** The aptly named filmmaker spins a nasty yarn about psychotic serial killers on the loose. If you're not in the mood for "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" meets "Last House on the Left," stay very far away. Horror fans will find what they're looking for, though.

The Island (PG-13)

Director: Michael Bay. With Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, Djimon Hounsou, Steve Buscemi. (127 min.)

Sterritt ** The year is 2019, the heroes are escapees from a clone-making operation, and the villains are sinister agents tracking them down. The first half is high-quality science fiction, the rest is a high-tech chase adventure with a gleeful yen for destructive thrills.

Last Days (R)

Director: Gus Van Sant. With Michael Pitt, Asia Argento, Lukas Haas, Ricky Jay. (97 min.)

Sterritt **** Van Sant continues his risk-taking string of melancholy tone poems with this loosely plotted look at the last days of a drug-dazed rock musician, suggested by Kurt Cobain's untimely death. A true American tragedy, directed with skill and conviction.

Making Grace (Not rated)

Director: Catherine Gund. With Ann Krsul-Sullivan, Leslie Krsul-Sullivan, Grace Ann Emerson, Dr. Sami David. (86 min.)

Sterritt ** Documentary about a lesbian couple's effort to have a baby of their own. Informative, but very slow going.

The Seven Year Itch (Not rated)

Director: Billy Wilder. With Marilyn Monroe, Tommy Ewell, Sonny Tufts, Oskar Homolka. (105 min.)

Sterritt **** Hugely popular 1955 adaptation of George Axelrod's hugely popular play about a lonely husband (Ewell) and a gorgeous neighbor (Monroe) who befriends him when his family is away. This rerelease is not one of Wilder's greatest, but is a classic nonetheless.

Batman Begins (PG-13)

Director: Christopher Nolan. With Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman. (141 min.)

Sterritt ** How a young man became the Caped Crusader instead of just Bruce Wayne, millionaire playboy. Neeson plays a ninja, which shows how the story stretches for angles. But you finally get answers to the Joker's question: "Where does he get those wonderful toys?!"

Staff *** Well plotted, dizzying, uneven, comical.

Sex/Nudity: 1 instance of innuendo. Violence: 29 intense scenes. Profanity: 11 mild profanities. Drugs: 4 with drinking, 1 with drug dealing.

The Beautiful Country (R)

Director: Hans Petter Moland. With Damien Nguyen, Tim Roth, Bai Ling, Nick Nolte. (125 min.)

Sterritt ** Decades after the Vietnam War, a young Vietnamese man and his little brother risk their lives on a voyage to Texas, where their American father may live. The subject is compelling but the story is very, very slow.

Bewitched (PG-13)

Director: Nora Ephron. With Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell, Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine. (95 min.)

Sterritt ** Launching a new version of the TV sitcom "Bewitched," an actor (Ferrell) with more ego than talent inadvertently fills the role of a witch with a real witch (Kidman) who's trying to give up hexes and become a normal person. Always whimsical, occasionally quite funny.

Staff ** Occasionally charming, predictable, nostalgic.

Sex/Nudity: 4 instances of innuendo. Violence: 1 mild scene. Profanity: 23 profanities. Drugs: 3 scenes with drinking, 1 scene with a cigarette.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (PG)

Director: Tim Burton. With Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore, Helena Bonham Carter. (116 min.)

Sterritt **** A youngster wins a rare ticket for a guided tour of Willy Wonka's mysterious candy-making outfit, where zillions of surprises are in store. Depp wittily plays Willy as a sort of zoned-out hippie capitalist, and Burton lets his imagination soar to some of the most outlandish heights it's ever reached. Parents should check it out before taking very young viewers, though, since it's sometimes a patented Burton frightmare.

Dark Water (PG-13)

Director: Walter Salles. With Jennifer Connelly, Tim Roth, John C. Reilly (104 min.)

Sterritt ** A single mom, dogged by psychological problems and impending divorce, rents the world's worst apartment for herself and her little girl, and on top of this it turns out to be haunted. The themes are somber but the filmmaking is so soggy and clunky that sometimes you can't help laughing.

Staff ** Reasonably creepy, should help keep rents low on Roosevelt Island.

Sex/Nudity: 3 instances of innuendo. Violence: 6 scenes. Profanity: 10 strong and mild words. Drugs: 3 instances of smoking

Fantastic Four (PG-13)

Director: Tim Story. With Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Michael Chiklis. (106 min.)

Sterritt ** The Human Torch, the Invisible Woman, The Thing, and Mr. Fantastic himself join forces for the Marvel Comics tale of astronauts who gain exotic powers from a radiation storm in outer space. It's fun to watch superheroes who aren't quite at ease with their abilities, but "The Incredibles" - last year's similarly themed animated film - is livelier and funnier.

Staff *1/2 Superfluous, miscalculated, some good effects

Sex/Nudity: some mild innuendo. Violence: 20 scenes. Profanity: 17 profanities. Drugs: 3 scenes with drinking

Happy Endings (R)

Director: Don Roos. With Lisa Kudrow, Jesse Bradford, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Steve Coogan. (128 min.)

Sterritt *** A sleazy filmmaker, a woman who gave her child up for adoption years ago, a wealthy father, and his rock-singer mistress are among the many characters of this comedy-drama about intertwined lives, some heterosexual, others not. There are marvelous moments and dull ones. The best asset is first-rate acting; the worst liability is Roos's overuse of cinematic gimmicks.

Staff *** Outrageous, too precious, serious at heart

Sex/Nudity: 17 scenes. Violence: 4 occurences. Profanity: 83 profanities. Drugs: 18 drinking, smoking, and drug use

Herbie: Fully Loaded (G)

Director: Angela Robinson. With Lindsay Lohan, Matt Dillon, Cheryl Hines, Michael Keaton. (95 min.)

Sterritt ** A teen who yearns for car-racing glory (Lohan) outwits her worried dad (Keaton) and leaves a smirky rival (Dillon) in the dust with the help of Herbie, the Volkswagen with a mind of his own who became a movie star in 1968 in "The Love Bug." Utterly predictable, but pleasant enough for its young target audience.

Sex/Nudity: 1 instance of innuendo. Violence: 7 comic scenes. Profanity: 4 profanities. Drugs: None.

March of the Penguins (G)

Director: Luc Jacquet. With plenty of penguins, voice of Morgan Freeman. (80 min.)

Sterritt ** Documentary about the mating and chick-raising routines of Emperor Penguins, whose Antarctic habitat makes almost every activity hazardous to their health and even their lives. As a zoological spectacle, the movie is riveting. But the narration tries to make us think of these adorable animals as if they saw the world in human terms, which they obviously don't, and the images have been enhanced by digital effects, as if they wouldn't be impressive enough on their own.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: None. Profanity: None. Drugs: None.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (PG-13)

Director: Doug Liman. With Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Vince Vaughn, Kerry Washington. (120 min.)

Sterritt * Pitt and Jolie play secret agents who don't know each other's line of work when they get married, then become rivals and eventually partners in the licensed-to-kill game. The movie is a mish-mash of action-adventure clichés.

Staff ** Charmingly cast, surprisingly slow, poorly edited.

Sex/Nudity: 5 scenes with innuendos, 2 sex scenes. Violence: 16 scenes. Profanity: 29 strong profanities. Drugs: 12 scenes with drinking, 3 scenes with smoking.

Return to the Land of Wonders (Not rated)

Director: Maysoon Pachachi. With Adnan Pachachi, Iraqi politicians, voice of Maysoon Pachachi. (88 min.)

Sterritt **** The filmmaker visits her native Iraq with her father, a politician involved in designing the nation's post-Saddam Hussein constitution. She keeps things lively by roaming far and wide with her camera, returning to the statesmanship side of the documentary often enough to let us follow relevant events as they unfold. In English and Arabic with subtitles.

War of the Worlds (PG-13)

Director: Steven Spielberg. With Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Tim Robbins, Justin Chatwin. (117 min.)

Sterritt *** Earthlings battle alien invaders who wreak deadly havoc until they're stymied by ... you know what, if you've read H.G. Wells's influential 1898 novel. Spielberg gives the story his full high-tech treatment, building great scariness with help from first-class music and camera work. The picture gets repetitive, though, since its terrors are pretty much the same from start to finish.

Staff **1/2 Believably acted, made for TV, wait for the video.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 27 scenes. Profanity: 27 mild expressions. Drugs: 1 instance of drinking.

Wedding Crashers (R)

Director: David Donkin. With Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Rachel McAdams, Christopher Walken. (113 min.)

Sterritt ** Wilson and Vaughn play immature Washington lawyers who get their kicks by crashing weddings in search of fun and sex, only to find their nuptial horseplay going sour when they agree to spend a weekend with a politician and his attractive daughters. There are a few good laughs, but not nearly enough clever ideas to keep things hopping for almost two hours.

Staff **1/2 A guilty pleasure, juvenile, nutty.

Sex/Nudity: 24 instances. Violence: 7 scenes. Profanity: 78, ranging in severity. Drugs: 39 scenes.

Out on DVD
The Upside of Anger (R)

Director: Mike Binder. With Joan Allen, Kevin Costner, Erika Christensen, Keri Russell. (118 min.)

Staff **1/2 A housewife (Allen) enters an alcohol-induced depression after her husband vanishes, presumably with his Swedish secretary. As a result, the four daughters struggle for a place among the pieces of their mother's life, fragments that an ex-baseball player-turned-radio DJ (Costner) tries to repair. The humor, while unique at times, is far too subtle to lift the slow-paced storyline, and character transformations lack believability and a sense of reality. DVD features, though illuminating, are not worth the casual viewer's time. By Chelsea Waugaman.

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