Biggie and Tupac - I don't know why the neocons whined and moaned over Michael Moore's "Columbine" documentary. Have they never seen a non-fiction film lately? Probably not... those assholes don't support intellectual television, and the only non-religious programming they watch is an occasional Hitler documentary on the History Channel. It's a shame, because Nick Broomfield puts Moore in perspective. Broomfield makes up entire scenes, acts surprised when he dramatically hauls out old evidence, and always ALWAYS puts himself at the center of every frame. He's like a British Geraldo Rivera. And I actually like the guy, and loved his Heidi Fleiss biography from last year. However, I think I wasn't really interested in the subject matter this time. Broomfield can't get close enough to his (now dead) subjects, and there is not "Kurt and Courtney" controversy or smoking gun. A more interesting movie could have been made out of the post-mortem deification of Tupac, and the way the bastard has released more movies dead that alive. Or hell, make a movie about the rap industry. Or (wait for it), there's probably an interesting 100 minutes to be done about Napster and the RIAA. Anything would be better than seeing Broomfield strike out again and again will dull prison-yard interviews and tedious "suspense" that someone was out to kill him. Nick, you're not that important. * (out of 5)

2 Fast 2 Furious - On the other hand, this sequel didn't work for me at all. It's sad when you have a hard time keeping track of *auto races*. A few times, I found myself wondering, "Why is he racing those guys?" I'm sure a lot was at stake, but of course, our hero-turned-antihero wins all of the contests. I didn't think I'd ever say it, but I missed Vin Diesel. I also missed the plot twist where Paul Walker is an undercover cop. By this movie, everything is out of the bag, so I didn't care that he busted his old friend Tyrese, or that Paul was going to be busted for being Outside the Law. There are two or three fun scenes (the dozens of cars coming out of the garage in a giant scramble, the car-jump-over-car-jump-over-the-drawbridge), but it's nothing that I wouldn't rather see in a gag reel from a DVD on stunt driving. * (out of 5)

Meet Joe Black - This three hour movie comes on two videotapes. Trust me, you don't want to watch both of them in a row. An incredible s-l-o-w movie, often with tiny details photographed (a hand unbuttoning a jacket, a guy walking towards the camera), which wastes a lot of time. Nice soundtrack, but a lot of silence, which combined with Brad Pitt's odd drawn-out delivery doesn't help the movie's pace. Annoying female love interest; I hope I never see or hear from her ever again. However, overall the movie was interesting and kind of refreshing, unlike most other Hollywood romances. * (out of 5)

Meeting People Is Easy - It's ironic that this DVD was released within a week of the re-release of the Talking Head's "Stop Making Sense". The latter was the best concert film of the 1980's (if not *ever*). I don't know if they intended to make a terrible film about Radiohead, but this DVD fails outstandingly. The music is muddled and fuzzy, not that a single song is played all the way through. The "concept" was to show how boring and pointless concert tours can be, but they idea is stale, and it make for a very dull unwatchable film. My god this is terrible, and I LIKE the band. * (out of 5)

Stepmom - I liked this movie, though most would call it overly sentimental. Up until the last fifteen minutes, I liked the complex relationships and good acting. For example, when Susan Sarandon asks her ex-husband, "what makes you think your next marriage will last any longer than ours did?" I could see the pain and anger, but also hope, sympathy, and confusion. Really well done on her part. However, the last fifteen minutes ruined any interest I had in the movie. *** (out of 5) for 9/10s of the movie * (out of 5) if you watch the whole thing.

Simon Birch - A heavy-handed religious fable starring Jim Carrey and a midget. At its best, this movie has the humor of "A Christmas Story" and the atmosphere of "Stand By Me". At its worst, it is a very special episode of "Touched By An Angel". Unfortunately, the laughs run out after the first twenty minutes, and then it's Corky time. * (out of 5)

Hurlyburly - Actors must love this David Rabe play... it's full of lots and lots of dialogue, emotion, and "realism". However, it's very tedious to watch all the way through. Sure, Sean Penn does a great job as a confused California cokehead, Kevin Spacey is fun as a sarcastic, drug-using know-it-all, and everyone else (Chazz Palminteri, Anna Paquin, Meg Ryan, Robin Wright Penn, and Garry Shandling) are all great as sex- and drug-addicted losers. Good for them, but bad for me. * (out of 5)

Patch Adams - I didn't hate this movie as much as everybody else did. Sure it's trite and annoying, cloying and insipid, but it had its moments. Robin Williams can be a good actor, as well as a funny one, though his movie often let him down. At least this movie didn't bore me, and I even smiled a couple of time. It was a free rental, you know what I mean? * (out of 5)

George of the Jungle - I would have liked to be in the room when the Disney team of writers of this movie first met. "Ok, we're doing a pointless live-action version of a forgettable 70's cartoon." "What'da we got?" "Well, the lead character is George, a muscular guy who was abandoned in the jungle when he was a boy... kind of a Tarzan rip-off." "And?" "And what?" "And what does he do?" "Well, he speaks pidgin English and swings around into trees." "That's it?" "Pretty much... yeah... yeah, that's really the only gag. I mean he has an Ape named 'Ape' for a teacher and a pet dog/elephant thing, but that's pretty much it." Silence. Then: "Well, if we have frenetic action and a hackneyed plot, maybe nobody will notice. Plus, we have Brendan Frasier mugging for the camera, and you know he works really hard at selling the movie." "Ok, we don't need more than thirty or forty minutes to write this baby... if we hurry, we can take off early for lunch." * (out of 5)

Kurt & Courtney - Normally, I love documentaries. However, this one's a mess, and it's not just because Courtney Love "forced" the backers to pull the soundtrack and the funding needed to finish the filk. The problem is because the interviewer wants it both ways: he wants to drop salacious bits of trivia, while complaining all the while that he doesn't buy into conspiracy theories. Likewise, he want to strike a high moral tone about the way Courtney threatened music critics, while ignoring the fact that she's never been more than a bratty punk rocker on drugs. Worse, he commits the documentarian's sin, by hijacking a microphone at an ACLU event, he manages to focus the movie on himself. How punk. Time has vindicated Courtney a little bit. While her lack of a recording career after "Live Through This" proves that she has no musical talent and that Kurt was the brains behind that CD, she has remained (blessedly) out of the media spotlight lately. Maybe she realizes she is a no-hit wonder Yoko Ono whose 15 seconds of fame are used up. And maybe her heavy-handed hatred of this documentary was because it is a poorly made film that dredged up every Seattle/Portland lowlife with an axe to bury into her. God, I'm glad grunge is dead, but for two brief moments, it made me realize what a talented, brilliant, necessary, and messed-up individual Kurt Cobain was. And contrary to the director's wishes, I kind of like Courtney a little bit more now. * (out of 5)

The Winslow Boy - Based on an actual event, this movie doesn't quite leave the realm of boring history. Worse, as an adaptation of a play, the events rarely leave the house of the Winslow family... we're left to find out about the outcome of a pivotal court case when the maid brings in the newspaper. And all they do is talk, talk, talk. However, it's not the fun kind of David Mamet talking, but a stilted pseudo-romantic notion of a conversation. Thrill to the lawyer who can't express his feelings. Be astounded at the argument between the lazy son who dropped out of school to join the army, and Nigel Hawthorne, who reprises his King George role by looking more and more old and confused as the movie goes on. There is some nice drama when you realize the heroine can't have family and a husband at the same time, but she ends up backing down. It's a strange action for a noted suffragette. Maybe Mamet was trying to get some respect, but I would have liked it if he had rewritten the dialogue in his on style: "Whatdya mean he stole somtin'?" / "I mean..." / "Yeah?" / "Nothin'" / "Well screw you, too". * (out of 5)

Forces of Nature - For some reason, this move looks muddy and washed out. Was the director bored? Was the cinematographer out of control? C'mon, it's just a sappy romantic comedy... and it fails on both the comedy and the romance parts. Sandra Bullock acts horny, neurotic, psychotic, confused, hurt, lonely, domineering, and cold, all within a few scenes of each other. Ben Affleck is great here, and I'm not just saying that because we get to see him strip (albeit poorly) in a gay nightclub. Like a bad mixture of "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" and "Runaway Bride"(groom), two nasty movies already, the combination of the two really sucks. And it looks bad, too, with all of it's monochromatic-but-still-oversaturated film stock. * (out of 5)

Superstar - Molly Shannon didn't write this movie. She just gets credit in this movie for inventing the "idea" of Mary Catherine Gallagher... the weakest central Saturday Night Live character since Ed Grimly. Come on, this little Catholic school girl can barely support a ten minute SNL skit (and oh, some of those skits didn't work and they *felt* like they took hours to get through). There's nothing for anybody to work with here, not Bruce McCulloch's directing, not Mark McKinney acting or Will Farrell. It's kind of the anti-movie... a comedy without laughs and a plot where nothing really happens (the "big talent show" notwithstanding). I blame writer Steven Wayne Koren, who designed this movie as if it was his first attempt a STARDOM. Everything feels - not like a bad SNL plot - but like a sweethearted teenage romantic comedy directed by a fourteen year old. I'm embarrassed that I watched this one on DVD. Thank god there wasn't a commentary by anybody involved. * (out of 5)

Bicentennial Man - Please remind me why I ever thought Robin Williams was funny. Right now, I can't think of a single movie he's been in that I liked. I hated "Good Morning Vietnam", and unlike the rest of America, I hated "Mrs. Doubtfire" (that director also did this one). Plus, I hate the Pepsi Girl, who is annoying and should die. Luckily, she *does* die halfway through this movie. And that's the nice idea of this movie... that a robot develops human feelings, and follows a single family over 200 years and several generations, fighting anti-android prejudice. However, none of these points are made: we never see the prejudice so it's empty when Williams finally triumphs, the multi-generational storyline peters out as characters die and are forgotten, and the love story never seems romantic. Chalk this one up as another bad Robin Williams movie, along with "Jack" and "The Survivors" and a long, long string of similar disappointments. * (out of 5)

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My Favorite Martian - I can't believe that this movie made me miss Ray Walston. Sure, he has a cameo in the movie, but I realized that he is a better martian that Christopher Lloyd. For those born after "Taxi", I have to note that Christopher Lloyd was the 70's version of Michael Rogers... The wacky next-door neighbor who has an annoying one-note shtick. Thank god Jim Carrey has gotten out of the business of acting goofy... some actors are just stuck in that role, I guess. Parts of this movie seemed promising. The first five minutes with Jeff Daniels is promising. But then comes along Christopher and his even more annoying (if you can believe it) CGI-animated suit. And it's not even good CGI... the morphs look more like fades an everything looks amazingly cheap. So the suit has two testicle jokes, a bunch of fart jokes, and generally is as hateful and unfunny as Wayne Knight (the "voice" of the suit). I can't believe Disney put out this trash. And Wallace Shawn should be ashamed. Has it really been that long since "Vanya on 42nd" and "My Dinner With Andre"? He must really need the work. * (out of 5)

Boiler Room - Ben Younger's directorial debut, and I don't think he deserves a second movie, because there's nothing here. Giovanni Ribisi gets to mug and mumble for two hours, but just as the movie reaches a climax, it ends. We never see the FBI break into the boiler room, which is what I thought was the whole point of the plot. More seasoned hands know that it's important for a movie to have a denouement, if not a third act. Sure, it's fun to hear Ben Affleck ranting, but the references to "Glengarry Glen Ross" and "Wall Street" just made me realize that this movie didn't need to get made and adds nothing to the genre. The romantic scene are drawn-out, though they get bonus points for the effortless interracial relationship. I really wanted to see this movie, but please tell me why Vin Diesel still gets acting roles. His final scene feels improvised, as if Vinnie is trying to read the cue cards. A miserable hammy job. Yuck. * (out of 5)

Supernova - Movies like this make me want to be a director. Not because they are inspiring... it just looks so *easy*. I'm a James Spader fan, and he looks buff here. But what's up with Angela Bassett and bad science fiction movies? She was in Strange Days, which was slightly more awful than this movie... and that's saying a lot. The special effects are fantastic, but there's absolutely no plot to go with it. Or it's the usual post-Alien plot... spaceship lets a bad alien creature aboard. It's dated, and it's dull. My favorite thing about the movie was the DVD with "deleted scenes". Actually it's more like "wisely deleted important plot points". Check out the odd muppet-like mutant that James Spader finds, only to have the muppet conveniently expire right after saying "I'm Troy, he's Karl...". It's a classic of bad cinema. Watch for Peter Facinelli, who stars as Karl. He looks exactly like a low rent Tom Cruise. I'm sure he'll fill the void. * (out of 5)

The Cell - Who knew violence against women could be so pretty? And make no mistake, this movie glorifies violence against women, from the unnamed victim in a box to the strong man who has to rescue her. In fact, Vince Vaughn also gets to rescue Jennifer Lopez, who then tries to save a little boy, like a good role mother. Like "Seven", this movie is stylistically beautiful, amazingly so. But it's also null and void, and ultimately empty. There's no humanity here... besides half-assed attempts to "connect" (an intimate talk beside a water sculpture, the handsome hero hinting at childhood abuse), the director doesn't even try to get us to understand anybody's character. What the hell, I didn't like "Silence of the Lambs" either (especially since I saw it in Japanese first), so I give this movie four stars for visual beauty and one star for a hint of a really bad trend in the future... beautiful cgi-modelled eviscerated models. Bloody tits, anyone? * (out of 5)

The Grinch - Slowly but surely, they're destroying everything that was right and good in my childhood. This time, Opie Howard directs as if he's never directed before, and the spinning whirling Jim Carrey looks like he is watching his career go down the drain. There's a lot of pain behind that green rubber mask (though not a lot of acting gets through it), and Carrey looks like he's doing a bitter reprise of his dark menacing "The Cable Guy" role. The Grinch eats glass! Collects hazardous waste! What a riot... you gotta love this guy. It was yet another children's movie I've attended that's made the majority of the kids cry. You know the Grinch has to enjoy that. I didn't need to see a live-action Whoville any more than I need to see a live-action version of Rudolph of Frosty the Snowman (wasn't that one already done by Michael Keaton? I don't wanna hear about it, and I definitely don't wanna see it...). Putting all the actors in bizarre "Mongoloid hair-lip" masks was a bad idea. It makes Whoville look like a dark scary place filled with failed Cirque du Soliel clowns. And speaking of clowns, why hire Bill Irwin to do a straight non-physical role? Why hire Molly Shannon at all? I don't remember that many fart and vomit jokes in the Theodore Geisel version. * (out of 5)

Very Bad Things - Very bad movie. Oh! I'm funny! Actually, I bet that tagline was used in every movie review of this film from Biloxi to Topeka. The movie felt uneven. I could "go with it" when it was trying to be a thriller, or laugh when it seemed to be darkly comedic, but I was never sure if it was inept or confused. I think I laughed at the wrong parts, and eventually I was laughing *at* the movie. Christian Slater is great, doing his usual psycho Jack Nicholson imitation. But what a letdown for Jon Favreau and Jeremy Piven. Once semi-promising actors, now they seem like are only fit to act in teen sex comedies, only they are way too old. Cameron Diaz has an extremely thankless role here - possibly the movie annoying and repulsive female character in recent memory. And I thought she couldn't be less likable than she was in "Being John Malkovich". Great... beautiful women playing mean ugly bitches. Children don't get any better treatment here, and the end of the movie is the most shocking and repulsive thing I've seen lately. Was it meant to be funny? Hell, it didn't even make sense. Written and directed by Peter Berg, it feels as if the guy has never had a relationship with another human being. And please Hollywood, let's keep it that way lest he try to breed. * (out of 5)

Hollow Man - How can you ruin this plot? It's a classic. Even Chevy Chase had a career boost as an Invisible Man. The special effects are as silly as the eyeball-popping scene in Paul Verhoeven's "Total Recall", and the muscle-and-vein thing grows old after a while. I like Kevin Bacon normally, but here he just glares petulantly. Elisabeth Shue is good here... really milking the material for any human emotion that is might have, but she just reminds me of Elizabeth Berkeley's career-destroying role in Verhoeven's earlier flop "Showgirls". Man, the guy can't direct... all of his movies (like "RoboCop", "Starship Troopers", and the disturbing rape-filled "Flesh & Blood"), seem normal at first, but later they ooze up to you in a sickly manner, like a weird uncle that offers to babysit too often. His movies are filled with the most unappetizing sex ever. Yeah, if I was invisible, the first the I would do before robbing a bank is to undo a woman's blouse. Luckily for Verhoeven, he can recreate his sick adolescent fantasies with a Hollywood budget. Maybe we should just hire him a hooker and he wouldn't make any more films. * (out of 5)

Lost Souls - Winona Ryder is one cool Goth chick. Not as cool as Christina Ricci, but cool nonetheless. Here, she is lit with dark lighting on grainy film stock. Ok, I'll admit this sets the same great mood as every other post-"Seven" thriller, but where's the plot. I love apocalyptic/revelations/antichrist/seven-seals movies, but the things that made "The Omen" and "The Exorcist" scary movies was the fact that the person possessed was a child. When it's a thirty-three year old man, like here, it's not so spooky. Instead, it's rather confusing why Ben Chaplin would hook up with Ryder anyway. She burst into his apartment, and instead of calling the police, he follows her on a slow, tedious journey to nowhere. I'm a fan of the devil as much as the next guy, but I was hoping for the eschatology of this movie. * (out of 5)

Joe Dirt - Not as bad as a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. Actually, maybe that's *exactly* what it felt like... a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. Or maybe a Spade. I can't really complain... I saw this one on its opening day, and I knew it "starred" David Spade. I couldn't really have a lot of expectations on a David Spade movie anymore than you could be optimistic for a Pauly Shore double feature. There was joke in the movie I hadn't seen in the movie trailers - mostly because I'm not sure you could show a dog's nuts frozen to a wooden porch on TV. Side note... does wood even freeze? In other news, Dennis Miller really sucks in this movie. After several failures trying to break in the movies, they've finally written Miller a part where he's a smart-ass announcer, just like real life. And still he screws it up! He's not funny, he can't act, and he looks desperate here. I really like his HBO show and his books, but I don't want to see him on the big screen any more. * (out of 5)

The House of Mirth - Most men enjoy movies with a lot of explosions and people running around while lit on fire. This is not that kind of movie. In fact, this is the kind of movie that causes the aforementioned action-lovers to want to poke their eyes out with drinking straws or the sharp edge of a box of Junior Mints... whatever is at hand. For two hours and twenty excruciating minutes, this movie grinds out a tragedy of the Dickensian sort. We follow Gillian Anderson's long slow (and I mean slow) decline from wealth to poverty. "House of Mirth" my ass, it's incredibly sad. But in a slow way. There's some great "Dangerous Liaisons" kinds of intrigue if you can follow the witty dialogue. Dan Akroyd is actually passable here, and Eric Stoltz is cute, but it's Anderson's star turn. I'm glad she was nominated for an Oscar for this role. You can really see here fall apart from poverty and laudanum. It's just too bad that it takes so long for her to get there. * (out of 5)

Cast Away - Tom Hanks is a very unlikely movie star. He has a weak chin and when threatened by an acting role, he tends to fall into his "Bosom Buddies"-patented head-jiggling and Jimmy Stewart stammering. You know how this story is going to go: Hanks is in a shipwreck, there's a long middle stretch without any dialogue until he starts talking to a volleyball, and then he is rescued. I actually liked the FedEx intro in Moscow until I realized it was an unnecessary product placement. The ending was disappointing, but it can only be disappointing - Helen Hunt is married by then. Instead of a simple fable or moral tale like Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea", this movie is really about nothing. An Oscar? This movie barely qualifies as entertainment. But what's really sad is the "special effects commentary" where some computer geek explains how they got the drips off a port-a-john door to look "just so". Is this where the CGI revolution has taken us? When directors are too lazy and too rich to be bothered with trying to *film* things in the first place? * (out of 5)

Pollock - Ed Harris read the book this film was based on, bought the rights to the film, and directed it. And of course, he's the lead actor and namesake. It would have been cheaper and easier for him to just buy an original Pollock painting. Marcia Gay Harden won an Oscar as Pollock's ignored lover Lee Krasner, and I don't know why. She is whining and emotionally stunted most of the time. Harris gets to act drunk, but that doesn't credit him an Oscar nomination either. I was interested to see how Harris invented his excited style, and how the critics reacted. Instead, I get many many shots (some long drawn-out grainy 8mm footage too!) of Harris dumping paint and the floor with a shit-eating mope on his face. I would have enjoyed watching paint dry instead of this film. * (out of 5)

Just Visiting - Oh this is wrong. Sad and wrong. It's like "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" interpreted by someone with no sense of humor. By which, of course, I mean "The French". Jean Reno, who was so cool in "The Professional", looks like a complete ass here. And not in a funny way. Instead, he has this mock-acting thing he does where his eyes and mouth make a perfect "O". It's like he read the expression for "surprise" out of a children's novel. There's nothing funny here... maybe something got lost somewhere. Like the plot or the jokes. I have no idea why Christina Applegate is in here (she's like the poor woman's Jennifer Aniston). Nor do I have any idea why somebody who went back in time in Sussex would be transported to Chicago. This is a sorry excuse for entertainment. * (out of 5)

Beowulf - This is a sci-fi version of the olde English tale. But not really. It's not faithful at all to the original poem, and the science fiction theme doesn't make sense. They have lasers, and yet fight with swords? They can presumably fly into outer space, and yet they haven't invented the wheel yet? I often say that I sleep through bad movies, and yet that was really true here... the endless scenes where the monster kills people on the *other* side of a locked door from the hero (a moon-faced old-looking Christopher Lambert) made me feel like I was listening to an epic tale that would take many hours to hear in the "oral tradition". The Grendel-monster looks like a low-rent Predator clone, although the special effects department gets bonus points for turning Patricia Velazquez into a giant monster near the end. At least, I *think* it was near the end, since my Blockbuster-rented DVD copy broke into a pixilated mess of random colors and fragmented halting squared at that point. But the funny thing is... the digital glitches were really interesting to watch, compared to the rest of this movie. * (out of 5)

Driven - This is a hard movie to watch - and it's for a reason I've never thought of before. It's shot in a super-high widescreen ration, so there's only a tight band of picture in the middle of the screen. Usually, this works great... especially for epic movies. However, with fast MTV-style editing, and cluttered backgrounds, I had a hard time following the action. This movie reminds me of "Any Given Sunday", where it's a lot of work to figure out who's winning, and to ignore the fake place names and people, since the movie producers didn't pay for any real licenses. But the most surprising thing is that this isn't really a Sylvester Stallone movie. He is a secondary character, and only pops up to give dull advice, like a retarded Yoda. Instead, it's all about pretty-face Nazi-boy #1, who steals the fat-lipped girl from pretty-face Nazi-boy #2. And if you can get excited about *that* plot, your are more easily amused than I am. Just when I thought they were going to treat auto racing seriously, up pops up a computer generated screen saying "Danger: about to wreck car" (wouldn't *that* have been convenient to have for Dale Earnhardt's wreck). Or, there's a ridiculous scene where the lead car puts on non-existent brakes, throws a 180, and races the WRONG WAY down the track to save a fellow driver from drowning... moments before his car blows up. And then, BEFORE THE AMBULANCE SHOWS UP, a *second* driver pulls over to help. Sheesh... I'm glad I'm not racing with that support staff. Stallone is also humorously called "hummer", since he hums while driving. Um, isn't that also the name of a sex act? I know I wouldn't want to be called "hummer". Maybe he thinks he's named after the utility sport vehicle. * (out of 5)

Swordfish - I love computer movies and I love caper movies, but something is really wrong here. The movie namedrops a lot of cool technical details: "black cell", carnivore, a PDP-10 locked away in a basement (connected to the Internet with instantaneous web access) and swordfish itself. There's even a hacker named "Axl Torvalds" in a nice tip of the hat to Linus (or, since the guy gets his brains blown out, maybe they don't like Linux). Then, a moment later, there's the same stupid hacking scenes where people do amazing hacking tricks when only provided with a "user name/password" prompt, complete with rotating 3D graphics as they break in. However, all of this is forgiven because there's a neat scene with techno music as Hugh Jackman programs a computer. Code Jack, code like the wind! Maybe this movie is over-written. Why else would they think it would be fun to show a beautiful Matrix-like rotating explosion... when the audience knows that it's due to a beautiful girl was just blown up by John Travolta, who strapped explosives to her body and sent her screaming out into the street? A lot was made of the fact that we don't know if we're supposed to like or dislike Travolta. The dialogue on that point is so muddy and convoluted, that I'm still not exactly sure what they were saying. For example, there's a scene with a car bomb that is so underlit that I rewound the DVD twice and I still couldn't figure out who was being killed, or why. It's that kind of a caper. There's an attempt at a trick ending, but it's one trick they don't pull off. Ick... I almost would have rather watched "Broken Arrow" again. * (out of 5)

Ready To Rumble - I guess a real WWF wrestler was unavailable, or maybe they couldn't find out to play a washed-up has-been, but Oliver Platt is just wrong here. Wrong wrong wrong. His accent is bad, he is way overweight, and he drags down the plot so it's not believable or fun. And I'm an Oliver Platt fan. Then again, Scott Cann and David Arquette are wrong here, too. Particularly David Arquette. Is he ever "right" in anything? Maybe there's a place on the video shelves for useless comedies that aren't funny: Joe Dirt (or anything by David Spade), the Adam Sandler oeuvre, or the human horror that is Rob Schneider. I guess movie studio have to release so many movies each year, and these must fit the bill to some studio executive. Still, it doesn't mean we have to watch them. * (out of 5)

The Wedding Planner - I try not to watch movie previews, so I original got this movie wrong. I thought that Matthew McConaughey was going to be the wedding planner trying to arrange "Jay Low"'s wedding. Now *that* would be a creative, interesting movie. A male wedding planner! Or maybe two wedding planners that compete against each other. Instead, it's the stale paint-by-numbers movie you'd expect. McConaughey is a hunk, and he deserves the leading man status that has been thrust upon him lately. Not that he's a good actor, but he stands in as the "absolute dream" for hormonal female fantasies, so he will do. The problem here is Jello, who can't act, can't really present herself, and looks complete generic. I didn't care about her, her job, or what the hell happened to her. The deck is stacked with Bridgette Wilson as the fiancée that you don't want McConaughey to marry. However, you don't really want JLo to marry him either, because she has a boyfriend, too. So the director (Adam Shankman, who has yet to make a good movie even though he's had the chance to ruin the "Out-of-Towners" remake, "Mission To Mars", "Dudley Do-Right", and many other movies... is he somebody powerful's son or what?) has a tough job, and he absolutely bungles it. The ending is completely unsatisfactory, but I guess it fits. The rest of the movie was unsatisfactory, too. * (out of 5)

Pay It Forward - I think people who live in L.A. must live in hell. That's the only explanation for this movie that was supposed to be a sweet fable about people doing good deeds for each other. Then, they set this movie in a dark cesspool of Las Vegas and add in a murderous black gang member, the alcoholic mother, and the heroin-abusing homeless guy. Really cheery. The feel-good movie of the year. I think the makers of this movie didn't believe that people could be nice to each other, so they created the most depressing, lowest form of plot ever. How about an alcoholic *grandmother* too, or a distant self-centered teacher who was burned as a child by his stepfather. Really cheery. And to make things worse *SPOILER* the kid dies in the end. That's right, cute little Haley Joel Osment gets knifed in an unbelievable and unbelievably depressing finale. Look, in my world, people do good deeds every day. They don't have to limit themselves to just three, and the good deeds don't have to be outrageously uncomfortably huge, like giving away a car to an unlikable reporter. This movie made me feel awful... and I don't think that was the intention. * (out of 5)

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back - Somewhere in the basement of his parents' house, there's a fanboy who thinks that they should make a movie where Data and Deanna Troi have sex. "And then," he thinks, "Data could say, 'Wow Ms. Troi... it seems like you're fully functional too!' Would that be funny? Wouldn't it, wouldn't it?". Well, Kevin Smith has made that awful movie. Here's how to make a bad film. 1) Assume that all of you in-jokes are funny 2) Throw away the plot for a cheap unfunny sight gag 3) beat any dead horses you can find. Oh the list goes on and on, as does this movie. I love Smith's "serious" stuff, but this trash makes me think that the great dialogue and ideas of "Clerks" or "Chasing Amy" were accidents. There are tons of dull cameos here... I don't know why Ben Affleck thinks he's funny. To fill up the rest of the time with Will Ferrell and Chris Rock is just cruel. Or maybe it's a sign of a director that's run out of things to say and rehashes his old jokes that weren't funny in the first place. * (out of 5)

Metropolis (2001) - I don't really understand anime. It's a subculture that I don't really get, which is odd, since I was watching the stuff in the 80's before it got popular. There's a few movies that I really like: the classic "Akira", and the "Serial Experiments Lain" series have really impressed me. However, there are entire great series I've never seen, like "Captain Harlock" or "Battletech". Writer Katsuhiro Ôtomo directed Akira, and director "Rintarô" directed Captain Harlock, and the great animator Osamu Tezuka created Kimba the White Lion, Speed Racer, and hundreds of other anime classics, so there's some talent here. However, the end result is awful. I don't know why you'd want to remake Fritz Lang's 1927 classic by throwing away most of the plot. This "homage" has robot detectives, sunglass-wearing spy kids, and death rays that cause solar flares that make the robots go berserk. These would all be fine details, but they're all borrowed from other movies. There's some stunning animation, but again it seems to be "borrowed" directly from the original, or from generic Japanese distopias in other movies. It doesn't help that Tezuka uses his patented drawing style to make all the characters look like Hummel figures. This is really jarring when the movie wants to be serious, or when arms and legs get blown off by bullets. All the locations sound like rejected levels from a video game ("Zone 1... now entering Zone 3") or the ridiculous dialogue between the hero and the robot he finds that would be too sappy for Spielberg to use in E.T. Part 2. I think a big problem is that this is the first anime I've seen to try and use computer animation, and it's done very poorly. Like all beginning CGI artists, there are too many zooms and pans, and the DVD has a loving gallery devoted to how they SHADED a particular scene. Forgetting the gorgeous ten-minute orgy of illustrate violence at the end, this movie is worse than bad; they've destroyed my love for the original just like a cheap Japanese import. * (out of 5)

Cats & Dogs - I hate it when kids' movies are bad. It just seems so unfair to the children. I remember the shock and horror I experienced as a ten year old after watching "American Graffiti Part 2" and "$" (a terrible terrible Warren Beatty/Goldie Hawn film) and realizing that movies can very extremely bad. Well, there's eight years old with Disney DVD collections that probably have similar sick feelings towards this film. How can it go so wrong? You've got cute puppies and kittens. You've got good voice-over talent (though this might kill the acting career of Sean Hayes). You've got CGI seamlessly integrated with live-action shots. There's talking animals! And still, the movie misses on all accounts. I never liked the recent commercials where animals or toasters or Baby Bob start talking without fully moving their jaws. It looks too much like "Mr. Ed 2000: The Updated Sequel". To base a whole movie off that one-note trick means you've got to have a strong, funny script. Too bad they forgot that. I'm not a cat lover by any means, but I think the kitties get off badly here. "Mr. Tinkles The Evil Chief Cat" (their title, not mine) isn't very interesting, and doesn't add enough interest to the Good Guy doggies. It's like they tried to invoke Hegel's dialectic (thesis, antithesis, and synthesis) with merely a strong protagonist and a chase scene. Um... is that too brainy? * (out of 5)

Don't Say a Word - What? Oh, again I wasn't paying attention. Did you say something? Did you make a MOVIE, or were you just grunting? Someone dreamed up this hackneyed plot - add a psychiatrist out of a TV drama wedded to a bad-guy gun crime spree like all the other movies lately. I'm getting leery of films that have a caper in the first five minutes. If that's the most inventive thing they can come up with. maybe I should leave the theater after the credits roll and the bank has been robber (cough Swordfish cough). Ah, this was a sad excuse for a rental, and I can't believe a *cared* enough to care that the girl is only half-pretending to be psychotic, the six-digit number she has in her head refers to a grave, and that there was a big finale at said grave trying to get a "10 million dollar ruby" out of the grave. The bad guy gets buried alive in the same grave. Have I ruined everything for you yet? No? Well, Oliver Platt, who I usually love, is in a pathetic subplot where he's a traitor... and there was some other stuff, too, but not enough to make me look up form the videogame I was playing at the time. * (out of 5)

Drumline - Oh no. Here's proof that deep down, the band geeks really wish they were on the football field instead of sitting in the stands. I was lucky in high school; I got to do both, and enjoyed them equally. However, this movie draws out all the old "sports movie" clichés... the natural star from nowhere, his cocky attitude, the "big game", etc etc. I'm surprised they didn't try to add a drug problem or abusive father. I liked the music, and the drumming sequences are fun, but there's very little movie to sustain anything besides a half-time show. There's a good movie to be made from the parts here, and I'd love to see someone else try. * (out of 5)

Corky Romano - It's not that it's a *bad* movie, it's just that it's not much of a movie in the first place. I like Chris Kattan more than, say, a punch in the face (was going to say "Rob Schneider and Adam Sandler", but it's pretty much the same thing). I don't think I laughed once, and started to play a videogame halfway through. The plot let me down, if you can call it that. A mobster sends his retarded son to infiltrate the FBI. So, it tries to be five movies in one: a mob comedy like Sylvester Stallone in "Oscar", a FBI/cop show like the "Police Academy" movies, a father/son pic like "Black Sheep", and even bad veterinarian slapstick like Eddie Murphy in "Dr. Doolittle". That's a lot of things to steal from, and this movie doesn't get any of them right. I could call them "influences" but I don't think anybody making this movie was influenced by ANYTHING... ever. * (out of 5)

Full Frontal - One critic said about this movie, "I just don't get it". Well, I get it all right. This is a director and his friends making a movie for themselves, and fogetting that people have to *watch* it. I would have thought Soderbergh would have been smarter than to make a movie out of such under-cooked bits. Wouldn't it be funny to make a movie about a bad theater production with (the talented and funny) Nicky Katt as a dancing Hitler? Wouldn't it be interesting to let Julia Roberts rants about all the annoying interviews she's ever been subjected to? Wouldn't it be revolutionary to talk about how black men can't be romantic leads in Hollywood? And isn't it clever of us to have a movie-within-a-movie to talk about these ideas? No, no, no, and definitely not. Unlike Altman's great "Short Cuts", there's very little interest to bring any of the actors together, or to make any of the plots coincide. It feels like a bad imporv sketch, which is what it actually is. I can see why it would be fun to make a movie like this - you get to call 2 million dolalrs low budgets, and shrug of failure with the excuse that you weren't really trying at all. * (out of 5)

The Country Bears - It's a good thing I'm a kind, gentle person. It's also a good thing that I like bears of all types. So, it's the only thing preventing me from flying to Hollywood and personally putting a boot upside the head of everyone involved with this movie. I've never seen such a lazy piece of trash before. Disney's been flogging their unproductive merchandise lately; there's mvies coming out soon about "Pirates of the Carribean" and Disney's "Haunted Mansion". What a better way to disguise advertising as entertainment? They'll get a whole new crowd of baby consumers educated about only Disney crap. However, the only thing this movie will promote is maybe *maybe* a sub-par food court somewhere in the Magic Kingdom. The big bear suits were cute, though. I want one. * (out of 5)

Sorority Boys - In the name of full disclosure, I have to admit that I once was a member of a fraternity. Kappa Eta Kappa "KHK". However, in my own defense, I have to add that it was an *electrical engineering* fraternity. It's like we were cool or anything. So, I'm at a loss to understand the kind of people that would think this movie is funny. Frat boys who thought "Animal House" wasn't crass enough? Sorority girls who like having a feminist message wrapped in a condescending unfunny wrapper? This movie has both. There might be something worthwhile for college students who "get it" (or high school students longing to lose points of their IQ), but I can't imagine anyone not on frat row to want to watch this shit. * (out of 5)

Secretary - When can't American movies do highbrow porn? Like "Exit to Eden" this is a case of trying to make an adult movie and failing terribly. The odd plot twists don't help - are we supposed to take the heroine's three day hunger strike with full media coverage seriously? James Spader does some amazing acting here, going so over the top that you wonder how he's a functioning adult much less a lawyer. I guess the immoral of this story is that people into sadomasochism are messed up twisted psychological wrecks. Sounds about right to me - but I mean that in a *nice* way. * (out of 5)

We Were Soldiers - Pointless and jingoistic. This was the first pro-war movie out of the 9/11 gate, and the idiotic spin it tries to put on war is for morons only. A world where all the men pray, the women shop and do laundry (seriously, I'm not making up the "shopping and laundry" scene), and there's no racism or class warfare. Aiming for the ballet-like violence of "Saving Private Ryan", Mel Gibson and company just seem to make mass killing seem silly. Check out the scenes of hundreds of faceless Vietnamese inches away from our heroes. There are so many bit players here, that nobody is distinguishable except for Mel. Did you know that Sam Eilliot, Greg Kinnear, and Keri Russell were in this crappy film? Not that you'd care... the "homefront" scenes are as badly shot as the "action" sequences where it's impossible to tell what anyone is doing. The moral of the story is that Mel could have won the war if the meddlesome Generals above him had stayed out of his way. It's missing all the nuance and intelligence of Apocalypse Now or even Platoon: two much better movies that didn't gloss over the drug use and senseless murder of the era. Instead, this movie seems to think that "The Vietnam war was such fun, now wasn't it?" * (out of 5)

Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over - What a fun idea! I hadn't seen a 3-D movie in years, and I was pleasantly surprised that nobody had thought to do 3-D with computer graphics. It's a perfect idea; the computer can place detailed objects anywhere it wants in the screen. I was surprised that director Robert Rodriguez went with the old red-and-blue glasses instead of the new shaded kind. The red and blue gives a better separation, but at the expense of destroying all the other colors. However, the glasses *look* cool, and I'm glad I got to see this in the theater instead of waiting for a rental at Blockbuster where somebody else had already stolen the glasses. I wish Rodriguez would have spent more time on the plot - the thing feels hurried and slapdash, as if he cut this movie on video in his basement. Heck, maybe he did... he's been going for the low budget look lately. However, Antonio Banderas is barely in four minutes of this movie, and those four minutes are embarrassingly underwritten (sample dialogue, "Look out!", "I'll take care of him!"). Yeah, it's fun, but kids deserve a little more care and creativity in their movies than this slop. I liked the modern 3-D ideas, and I hope some other director can work hard enough to make a movie out of the bits and parts. * (out of 5)

The Core - Here's an idea that doesn't work. I think we've played out all the other natural disasters with the recent slew of disaster flicks: "Twister", "The Towering Inferno". So now we're journeying to the center of the earth. Sort of. If you can swallow that premise, you can swallow anything. And that was my problem... I'm not swallowing. Instead, I thought that once logic and science flew out the window with this movie, then anything was possible. Fairies and elves in the earth's mantle? Why not! Ghosts who can move through solid stone? Sounds good to me! So I couldn't really care if our heroes save the earth - I found the whole thing altogether too silly. And not in a good way. * (out of 5)

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas - Goodbye animation. After this movie and "Spirit", Dreamworks should pack up their animation department. Disney already has. Then again, maybe they should stay open because they're the only game in town. However, if they keep churning out limp story-less product like this, they won't be in business long. I like ancient Greek mythos, but they sucked any connection to the real Sinbad away here. It's like they stole the name of a character and wrote a lame story around him. I would stick with the Ray Harryhausen animation of stop-motion skeletons than spend another dime on any future Dreamworks scribblings. * (out of 5)

Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde - Shoot. I like Reese Witherspoon, and liked her enough in the first movie to want to see more of here. Unfortunately, this movie sucks. It's really iditioc and pointless. Now, that's not surprising, given the theme, but I was more amazed at how many things *didn't* work this time around that worked the first time. Reese seems more dull-witted than cute here, and here friends seem boorish and even the dog is lousy. This movie *does* get a full star for the most realistic portrayal of how Washington works since "The Candidate". As a little slice of civics, it's better than Capra. But as a comedy, it's deadly dull. * (out of 5)