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Director: Les Mayfield. With Cedric the Entertainer, Lucy Liu. (91 min.)
After waking up in a strange hotel room with total amnesia, Jake Rodgers (Cedric the Entertainer) wonders who he is and why a murdered FBI agent is lying next to him. Is he an agent himself, or just a building custodian with a big secret? Whoever he is, everyone is after him. This takeoff on 'The Bourne Identity' and most Hitchcock movies, gives Cedric some funny lines and the opportunity to play against type. But if you try to follow the plot, you'll be as confused as Jake is. Grade: C
– M.K. Terrell
Sex/Nudity: 8. Violence: 14. Profanity: 54, mostly milder expressions. Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: none.
Director: Paul J. Bolger. With Sarah Michelle Gellar, Sigourney Weaver. (75 min.)
Happy endings are history when Cinderella's stepmother, Frieda, takes over the castle. Not content to ruin Cinderella's life, Frieda causes Rapunzel to fall from her tower and Sleeping Beauty's prince to doze off instead of waking her. On the other hand, Cinderella impresses Snow White's dwarfs with a military talent lacking in their former tenant. The rich detail we've come to expect in computer animation is largely absent, suggesting that the filmmakers intended a direct-to-video release for this cleverly written parody. Grade: C+
Sex/Nudity: 3 instances of mild innuendo. Violence: 12. Profanity: 2 mild expressions. Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: 2 scenes of incidental drinking.
Director: Karen Moncrieff. With Toni Collette, Brittany Murphy, Kerry Washington. (93 min.)
Karen Moncrieff's second feature – her first was "Blue Car" – is about the discovery of the mutilated body of a young woman and the revelations it provokes in a tight-knit community. "The Dead Girl" is told kaleidoscopically but, by the end, all the pieces fit. The puzzle structure, however, is overbearing, and so is the nonstop gloom. The cast is something of an indie movie hall of fame that includes Giovanni Ribisi, Mary Steenburgen, Brittany Murphy, and Toni Collette. Marcia Gay Harden is particularly fine as the murdered girl's mother. Grade: B+
– Peter Rainer
Sex/Nudity: 11. Violence: 7. Profanity: 81, mostly strong expressions. Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: 6.
Director: Guillermo del Toro. With Ivana Baquero, Sergi López. (112 min.)
Guillermo del Toro's nightmare fable is a remarkable achievement, but not one intended for small children. Its imagery is far too upsetting. For everyone else, this picture is required viewing. Set in Franco's Spain just after the civil war, the story is told through the eyes of 13-year-old Ofelia, whose beautiful but sickly mother has married a vicious Fascist captain. To escape her life, Ofelia imagines an underground cavern filled with satyrs, ogres, and trolls. In tone, "Pan's Labyrinth" resembles a cross between "Alice in Wonderland" and H.P. Lovecraft, with some Buñuel thrown in for good measure. It is a tribute to – as well as a prime example of – the disturbing power of imagination. Grade: A