Winged Migration - I think it's funny that Miramax was trying to push this documentary over their own "Bowling For Columbine". I'm glad Michael Moore won, because once this movie gets past the "wow, what amazing cinematography" feeling, there's not much more here. There's hours and hours of film-watching, but not much changes. The voice-overs are silly, and without subtitles, I wouldn't have known what any of the birds were. Before Oscar members can vote, they have to watch all the films. I bet they watched this one with the sound down while doing other things in the room. I know I did. *½ (out of 5)

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind - Few things are more tedious that B-list Hollywood "stars" writing about themselves. Luckily, Chuck Barris decided to completely lie in his auto-biography, painting himself as a luckless CIA operative slash game show producer. I think it says more about George Clooney that he wanted to direct this one as his debut. There's something really warped in Clooney's mind, and I mean that in a nice way. Unfortunately, the show wasn't that good when it was on TV, and it's even worse as a rehashed as re-enactments. Drew Barrymore is quite good, as is Sam Rockwell, but it was more fun watching an older Jaye P. Morgan and Gene Patton than it was to watch Barris' sordid and uninteresting life. I'll wait for Arte Johnson's biopic on A&E. *½ (out of 5)

The Life of David Gale - I haven't seen a good political movie since Bob Roberts. This one isn't up to that quality. It tries to have the gravity of "Dead Man Walking" with the plot of a Grisham movie. Overly plotted? I was in the next room for most of the movie, and I knew what exactly was going on. There's a "twist" near the end that I saw a mile off. And since I knew the end of the movie, why watch all the histrionics until it gets there. There's some fun work by Kevin Spacey, and I always enjoy seeing the drama of a man "trapped by the system", but this is a really idiotic movie. And if you're trying to sway someone to your point of view, don't rely on stacking the deck with unlikable villains and politically-correct heroes. I like a little more uncertainty with my capital punishment, thank you. *½ (out of 5)

Enemy of the State - Fun to see Gene Hackman recreate the same role that he played in "The Conversation". And Will Smith proves again that he is an amazing actor, like an African-American Cary Grant. However, the plot of this movie seems a little thin, and the "sky is falling" alarmist message of the movie falls flat. The action scenes aren't too interesting, and the movie degenerates into one long chase. Strangely enough, the pauses when nothing is blowing up are a lot more exciting than the explosions. Someday, Will Smith is going to star/direct a great family drama, and it will be better than this movie. *½ (out of 5)

Analyze This - Do you want to spend two hours watching Billy Crystal? How about if he was acting like a neurotic whiner? Boy, it just gets better and better, don't it? Of course, De Niro is wonderful as a mobster-in-therapy. However, when the "Goodfellas" scenes go away, Billy turns the rest into a syrupy sitcom. Even though there are some funny scenes, most of the time, this is sub-Cosby Show. *½ (out of 5)

Payback - The slogan of this movie was "get ready to root for the bad guy". Actually, it's more like rooting for a bad movie. I slightly enjoyed the recent slew of Elmore Leonard movies (Get Shorty), but the genre is getting old. At worst, this movie felt like an episode of the Rockford Files. I particularly liked when the soundtrack started playing Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady" and towards the camera walks... Mel Gibson. Foxy lady indeed. However, the ending surprised me, so I can be a little charitable. *½ (out of 5)

The Thin Red Line - It seems like war movies that are internal (like "Apocalypse Now" or "Casualties of War") have more worth than jingoistic adventures like "Hamburger Hill". So, in a way, I think this movie was a lot better than "Saving Private Ryan". It was certainly more thoughtful. A times, it was lyric and beautiful. However, it was also often slow, tedious, and pretentious. *½ (out of 5)

The Mummy - Brendan Fraser may be good-looking, but he's no Indiana Jones. And neither is this movie. In fact, something is really wrong with this film. Scenes often end abruptly, as if the editor didn't know what they were doing. The script can't decide if it wants to be funny or scary, and by trying, it really fails. On the other hand, as a B-movie remake of a B-movie, it's kind of fun, and it doesn't take a lot of skill to write a plot where everyone runs around a tomb. *½ (out of 5)

Inspector Gadget - What an amazing pile of crap this movie is. The airline food was bad, but paying $5.00 for a cheap plastic headset... only to watch this dreck was a worst insult. This movie assumes the audience is a tone-deaf mob of spastic morons. Unfortunately, even encephalitic children would hate this film. Nothing is funny, and it actually makes the tv show look bad in comparison. I think this had effectively ended Rupert Evert's career. The only saving grace is that Matthew Broderick was kind of fun to watch as the evil Gadget in his boxer shorts. But that's it. ½ (out of 5)

A Dog of Flanders - I don't know why people think it's easy to write children's stories. I guess they think the simple plots must be a piece of cake. In reality, it takes a keen sense of pacing and plot to carry it off. And this movie as none of that. Based on a semi-popular children's book, I can't comment on how faithful this adaptation is. But the dog isn't really in the movie, and nobody can really care about the boy who owns him. There's a "painting contest" that is as completely absurd as it sounds, and a transparent limp ending (spoiler: the boy *doesn't* win, and he freezes to death in the cold... but hah! it's all a dream). I wouldn't be surprised if this movie made more than a few children cry... that is if they didn't fall asleep long before they were scared. *½ (out of 5)

Angela's Ashes - This was the funniest movie of the year! However, it was trying to be serious. Instead, it felt like a Monty Python skit: "We had to live in a cardboard box up to our knees in human filth. And then Margaret Mary dies of the consumption, and Eugene died of the consumption, and finally Oscar dies of the consumption, and I got conjunctivitis. Dad was a drunk and couldn't find a job, 'til he disappeared off to England. Momma was a whore and my first girlfriend died of tuberculosis, so I went off to America." This movie is relentlessly grim, which makes it very, very funny in a sick way. *½ (out of 5)

Entrapment - Like "The Thomas Crown Affair", I am amazed how they can make a slow, dull caper flick. Sean Connery has made some bad films in his time, but this one is just... nothing. No plot, no acting, and no fun. And I hated Catherine Zeta-Jones. Even though she was great in "The Mask of Zorro", she was whiny and annoying here, with no sex appeal. The entire middle half of the movie is a set-up for the big ending, but the finale wasn't worth the wait. It was disturbing to see the old man have sex with someone a third of his age, and he just looked and acted tired. Luckily, there can't be a sequel, or it would feel like it was done posthumously. *½ (out of 5)

The Replacement Killers - Um, Chow Yun Fat was a lot different here compared to "Anna and the King"... grin. ` Sure, the Hong Kong ultra-violence is a lot of fun, and very beautiful visually, if you can ignore the fact that it's *real people* that are getting blasted to bits. I mean, you can laugh at Jackie Chan poking a guy in the eye a la Three Stooges, or the way all the bad guys would take Bruce Lee on one-by-one in a big line. However, the John Woo shooting is much more real. As such, I don't think it's as much fun. At least in "The Matrix" you could go along for the ride. Here, I wasn't sure if I should try to care about Chow Yun Fat's family who are never shown on camera. The female lead, while pretty, isn't good enough that I'd remember her name. So, I didn't care about the whole plot. There's a killer, then there's a replacement, then a hell of a lot of people die, but Chow Yun Fat remains unscathed. If I want some mindless killing, I'll watch the Hong Kong originals. *½ (out of 5)

A Civil Action - I saw this one soon after "Primal Fear" with Richard Gere. I think this movie suffers because it's based on real life, where "Primal Fear" was a completely unrealistic invention of Hollywood. As a real story, this movie suffers from the fact that it has no climax. Robert Duvall drops out half-way through the movie, and we never get to hear the testimony of the dead childrens' parents. The first half was great, and John Travolta does a great job during the interesting exposition. However, after everything falls apart, Travolta is left staring into space... not really depressed or emoting, just dull (especially in an embarrassing scene with Kathy Bates). William Gacy is great throughout, though his character doesn't really get to do anything. There's no conflict in this movie between *people*, and barely any real exchange of ideas. It comes from nowhere, and goes nowhere. I wish I would have just watched TV. *½ (out of 5)

Sigmata - I have a soft spot for religious soft-horror movies. This movie was like a bad combination of "The Sixth Sense", "The Omen", "Rosemary's Baby", and "The Exorcist". That is, it wasn't remotely scary, and nothing was a surprise, but it was still fun to see how they get from point A (the clueless soon-to-be victim of witchcraft) to point B (face to face with the devil). I can see why the Catholic Church didn't like this movie, since they are the bad guys, and the plot device to the stigmata is completely unrealistic (well, as unrealistic as a recreation of a bogus miracle can be). Is she possessed by the devil? Is she seeing things like "Jacob's Ladder"? Is it a cursed antique rosary that's to blame? Demons? Or a miracle? The movie vacillates between a chase scene, a romance, and a horror flick. None of these really work, and it's sad that the "alternate director's ending" where the girl dies isn't a big deal. If Gabriel Byrne and Patricia Arquette hook up... well, I didn't care, and you won't either. Maybe the Goths will like it, but I doubt it. *½ (out of 5)

Three To Tango - This movie never needed to be made, nobody should have seen it (which was almost the case), and I never needed to rent it. It doesn't add anything to the world. Surely not as a romance, since it's not romantic, and not as a comedy, since it isn't funny. Straight people will hate it because it's about a rather stilted homosexual viewpoint, and all gay people have presumably moved way past it. It could be a premise... Matthew Perry, the straight guy, is presumed to be gay... but then there was "The Gay Deceivers" or "Three's Company" or an infinite number of faux French farces. Oliver Platt is the actual gay guy, and it would have been funnier if they would have explored the sub-plot where people think he's straight. Instead, Matthew (who, incidentally, has really bad hair throughout this movie for some reason), falls in love with a girl, gets fired from his boss, makes not one but *two* pro-gay speeches, and acts like he's scatter-brained and mindless. But this is no "In and Out", which kind of pandered to the gay community... there was enough things that were borderline-offensive to make me think there wasn't a single gay person on the entire screenwriting "team". Oliver Platt proves he's gay by throwing dinner parties and (in one odd sequence), waving a cigarette around. Matthew never seems to be an architect (or even interesting in any way), and Neve Campbell is extremely unlikable, hitting Perry in the nuts, and being alternately confused, flaky, and remorseful. Wow, a great idea for a movie: "Nothing for everyone". *½ (out of 5)

Flawless - A lesbian comedian (I think it was Susanne Westenhoefer), talked about how gay people are so starved for good gay characters in movies that they'll see anything that might have a positive image. She says a friend told her, "you've gotta go see 'The Hunger'. There's a great lesbian romance in there. Ok, they're VAMPIRES, but still". I guess that explains why I watched "Happy, Texas", "Three to Tango", and this movie in the same week. I can't imagine anybody else watching these films. Straight people won't like the gay subtext (I think they'll think it's boring more than offensive... and they would be right), and truly hip gay people will avoid these like the bad movies that they are. Sure, De Niro does a great acting job as the homophobic cop that has to take singing lessons from a drag queen. However, Philip Seymour Hoffman is absolutely terrible as the queen. What's up with him? Didn't he meet any gay people before "researching" his role? And between Philip's soft faux-breathy voice (and do you know any queens that can't yell when they want to?) and De Niro's mumbling, I think this movie needs constant English subtitles. Not that the dialogue is interesting enough to have to *read*, much less listen to. They try to have an actual plot, but you can see where's it's going miles ahead of the destination, and the ending is pretty transparent. Instead of having the actors *connect* in this movie (like an "opposites attract" classic like "Driving Miss Daisy... not that I like that movie), this film limps ahead in action-film mode. Not a good day for the gay community. *½ (out of 5)

Dogma - This is a bad movie by Kevin Smith. The one before this, "Chasing Amy", was really good, but before that was the terrible "Mallrats". Since his first movie was the excellent "Clerks", maybe Smith is only good every-other movie, like Star Wars and Star Trek movies. He's wanted to make this movie for a long time, but he really can be a "cartoonish" director. I bat a lot of these scenes looked better on storyboard than they turn out here, like Matt Damon killing a guy on a bus, leaving the passengers shrieking out the doors. The plot has a lot of holes (can't Damon drive a bus? How does Linda Fiorentino know that god is trapped in the body of a terminally ill man?). Religious people were really upset about this movie, but like "Last Temptation of Christ", I think it started out as a really devout movie. However, taking religious myth seriously leads to some extremely odd visuals, like Alainis Morisette as a god who blows Ben Affleck's head off when she speaks. Morisette can't really act, and she makes a really preschool, manic, frightening deity. The "comforting" smiles she flashes still scares me to think of it. Silent Jay and Bob are beloved by their fans, but it's starting to look stupid. Everybody wants to make another "Matrix", but Smith in his cartoon mode couldn't direct the "X Men". *½ (out of 5)

Joan of Arc - Compared to "The Messenger", this definitely feels like a made-for-tv movie. From the B-list actors (Patrick Neil Harris... hmmm... King Dougie, anyone?) to the cheap costumes, this had to be the cheapest miniseries ever. Olympia Dukakis and Shirley MacLaine drift in and out of the film, and they're ok. But the worst sin has to be the "chase scenes" as Joan struggles to reach King D, races back home, gets chased from Paris, etc. It looked like a French version of The Dukes of Hazzard. And Leelee Sobieski looks like a poor woman's Jodie Foster. I just feel sorry for Luc Besson, who had to change the title of his movie to "The Messenger" at the last minute because of this dead fish (but strangely Besson didn't change the credits at the beginning of the film... go figure). *½ (out of 5)

Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo - Why do I even try? I was hoping I could live the rest of my life without ever seeing a Rob Schneider film. I'm hoping the same thing about Adam Sandler. Sure, this movie wasn't the dentist's drill that "one star" or "half star" movies can be, but it wasn't pleasant either. Remarkably, this movie isn't even titillating (i.e. there aren't a lot of tits). For a movie about sex, it rarely mentions the subject, and instead relies on jokes about the blind, amputees, and Tourette's Syndrome. Yeah, Deuce looks wimpy and the women that hire him are cripples. Are we funny yet? For an answer, go review all the "work" Schneider did on Saturday Night Live. *½ (out of 5)

Me, Myself and Irene - Ok, ok, ok, I'll admit it. Jim Carrey can be a good actor. In this role (and the recent "Man In the Moon"), he's completely transparent... no traces of the butt-crack-talking Ace Ventura here. However, this movie is just not funny. There was only one joke, and it was.... "okay". I mean, the Farrelly Brothers already made "Outside Providence", which was also an interminable, unfunny movie. I was hoping for... something, anything. Renée Zellweger is a squinty, uninteresting love interest here, and the plot is a standard, on-the-lam road movie. Incredibly bad. It would get less than one star, but the single joke was (as I said) okay. *½ (out of 5)

Any Given Sunday - Oh Ollie Stone. I hope you go away soon. I don't think I understood this movie... the way I don't quite get Joe Eszterhas. He's definitely trying to copy the same frenetic editing that he did so well in "Natural Born Killers", but it's out of place here. Plus, he can't seem to keep up the intensity, and the second half just has plain old football footage. As my boyfriend pointed out, it seems like some of it was shot at a high school football field somewhere (check out the tiny scoreboards!) He didn't pay the NFL, so it's the "Minnesota Americans" vs. the "Miami Sharks" in pursuit of the "Pantheon Cup". Worse, we never get to see the team actually play in that fictitious game, since the movie ends with a playoff game. Cameron Diaz, Jamie Foxx, LL Cool J and Al Pacino do a very competent job of acting here, but with all the football footage, there's only about ten minutes allocated for serious dialogue. And too often, the fancy editing would show a hand-held shot that would shake and pan... OFF of the actor speaking. It was really annoying and muted and dramatic impact the movie could have had. Stone directs as if he doesn't know what he's doing... this was the worst use of a soundtrack I can remember. *½ (out of 5)

Permanent Midnight - I've always tried to live by the credo "Just because it happened to you doesn't make it interesting". Especially when *you* happen to be an egotistical California heroin junkie. And not even a very good one, at that. What bliss to write your life story, and cast Ben Stiller as the lead. Now, I don't have anything against Ben Stiller, and I think his with brand of humor that he could act out the darker side of comedy very well. But wouldn't you want to choose a better looking doppelganger? And imagining that your wife is Elizabeth Hurley is a bit too much. The plot goes nowhere, and doesn't have any interesting scenes. There's no "there there", and I hope to hear from the third-stringer writer of the TV show "Alf" ever again. *½ (out of 5)

Miss Congeniality - Here's another movie that doesn't quite work like it should. I thought this would be a perfect multi-gender movie: there's action and guns and breasts for the guys, and a romantic comedy with interesting fashion for women. However, it's the opposite: guys will hate the long dull non-romance segments, while I think rom-com (romantic comedy) lovers will hate the pointless serial killer plot. Spoiler: the serial killer disappears half-way though the movie, and then we're left with Candice Bergen. I've always like Bergen in "Murphy Brown", but in a normal movie, she is an incredibly wooden actor. Sandra Bullock is great as usual... she really carries thins movie a long distance, and William Shatner is passable, though flirting with an odd semi-gay impersonation. Is that his idea of adding gay mannerisms? Whatever. This movie tries to have it both ways: it makes fun of beauty pageants in the lamest terms (baton twirling, preparation H, and playing the water glasses), but then tries to turn it around with a message on women's empowerment and the sisterhood of wearing bathing suits on stage. Utterly false and morally empty. Thank you Sandra! *½ (out of 5)

Bless the Child - If the Catholic church hated "Stigmata" as a corruption of their beliefs and values, then they probably liked this one. It feels like a movie-of-the-week, and that's due to the over-the-hill acting style of Kim. Basinger. I'm sure we'll see her on the Lifetime network a lot in the next few years. This movie has evil satanic teenagers, kindly nuns, and former priests that are experts on the occult. It's all very silly, since Satanic cults don't really exist in America (see the excellent book "Satanic Panic" for a good debunking). Still, the idea thrives in Hollywood, where writers and directors without an original plot thread in their heads trot out the same usual characters. They've come out with "The Seventh Sign" (with Demi Moore) two years ago, and then "The Ninth Gate" (with Johnny Depp) last year. Wake me up when they get to zero... oops, I think they already have. *½ (out of 5)

The Skulls - This one had the cute guy from "Dawson's Creek". No, not James Van Der Beek, but the other one... um "Pacey", I think. Joshua Jackson. Anyway, he runs around in his rowing singlet and acts. A lot. He acts a lot in this movie, though it's really hard to tell sometimes. There's a stupid plot about a scary college cult/fraternity (if they're so clandestine, why do they live in a giant castle with a skull on the top of it?). Note that Joshua is extremely poor, and has to work at school to pay for his tuition, and yet lives in a beautiful house with vaulted ceilings and wooden floors. Oh, there's a lot of plot holes in this one, as Joshua runs around trying to get a security tape, only to forget about it halfway through the movie, when it's decided he no longer needs it. Good thing he didn't waste time making a duplicate then. Still, there's a lot of good scenes with Wonderboy, especially a bizarrely bad edit where Joshua gets thrown in a steel cage in a dungeon (which ever campus has, right?) only to PUT HIS CLOTHES ON in the next scene. What happened between the edits, Joshua? Spanking and hazing? I guess I'll have to rent the DVD to see the deleted scenes. *½ (out of 5)

Save the Last Dance - Ok, credit where credit is due (or do they still say "props"?) and I have to admit that Julia Stiles can *really* dance. And that's a good thing, because she's not very good at acting. For the entire first part of the movie, she has a blank look on her face that could kinda sorta be contorted into a furrow, or pout, or sulk. We're not sure, and neither is she: her mother just died which causes her to fall down while dancing at an audition. Let me say that again... her mother dies in a car accident and Stiles has to move to the "big city" and live with her trumpet-playing Dad. It's the usual "fish out of water" slash "honky in the scary black school" and it's no surprise that this is an MTV product. And like most MTV specials-of-the-week, they bring up some very interesting topics (interracial dating, economic imbalance, single mothers) only to drop them when the plot rolls along. Sean Patrick Thomas is wasted here as the Good Black Man, while Kerry Washington looks like a younger Debbie Allen, but doesn't do much here. This is the kind of movie to make fun of an ignorant white person who thinks that there's a drive-by shooting ever day in the "hood".... only to show us two gratuitous drive-by shootings (shown in loving slow motion with a soundtrack). *½ (out of 5)

Idle Hands - This movie is bad. But not really bad, as in "terrible", but more bad as in "you are a naught little monkey and must be spanked". Well, again not really. Maybe it just sucks a little. The best moves in this movies are ripped off directly from "The Evil Dead". Remember the hand possessed by Satan? Well, take that entertaining 15 minutes segment, and try to expand it into a full length movie. Not to mention that the entire movie has already been done to death, including a version with Michael Caine... and when you're eating Michael Caine's dirty laundry, you don't have much hope for a promising film. Add in constant annoying pandering to the stoner crowd, and I start to wonder if I was supposed to be high when I saw this. I mean, if I was high when I *rented* it, then I would have gotten "Half-Baked" or "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" something. *½ (out of 5)

The Animal - Oooh, I can't say the I like Rob Schneider. In fact, I can't say that I've ever liked a Rob Schneider movie, especially not "Deuce Bigalow" or "Men Behaving Badly". I think I'd rather watch Roy *Scheider*... and I don't think I've ever watched "Jaws" all the way through. There's something cute about the concept of this movie, and although it's kind of fun to see a grown man act like an idiot (Tom Green, this means you), this movie wasn't funny at all. There wasn't a genuine laugh or clever moment int he whole film. I think any sixth grader could write a facsimile of the plot just given the title. Yeah, Roy-boy acts like an animal, yeah there's a subplot where everybody thinks he's a dangerous creature. I think this movie will go down in history as the one and only movie by a "Survivor" cast member: the waifish and squinty Colleen Haskell. God, I hope I never see or hear from her ever again, and that goes for the entire slew of "reality TV show" contestants past and present. They should have cast Richard Hatch as "The Animal" and let him walk around nude and filmed it. Now *that* I would have paid good money to see in the theater at full price. *½ (out of 5)

The Princess Diaries - Mindless fluff, but we get to see Julie Andrews in a good role. I haven't read the teen "novels" that inspired this movie, but would you really expect me too? I have a feeling that they tried to be true to a cheap slap-dash romance series, which might explain why the plot jumps around from boyfriend to boyfriend. Sure, it's fun to see the ugly duckling turn into a swan, except teenager Anne Hathaway isn't bad-looking to start with. None of the supporting "friends" make any sense, from the snotty best friend to the boyfriend you know she's going to end up with (you know, the cute one without a personality). Garry Marshall directed this, and I've never liked any of his stuff. He's way over anybody's skanky idea of "prime", and this retread of a storyline stinks as bad as his narration on the DVD deleted scenes. It's really embarrassing. If all teenage girls were really this self-centered and mindless, I would fear for the world. Instead, it's just an idiotic movie that couldn't cut it as an afterschool special. *½ (out of 5)

Jeepers Creepers - I am truly in love with "". It's a DVD rental place by mail. But the cool thing is: you can rent as many movies as their incredibly slow mail delivery system will allow in one month (in other words, about two or three for $20). However, the magic of the deal is that I didn't feel guilty blowing through this movie in under an hour. Hell, they put movie clips during the DVD *menu* that gave away most of the plot, including what the monster looks like and the "climactic" ending. It's a spoiler, but the plot involves two of the most annoying quibbling brother-and-sister duos you will ever see. "Darry" and "Trish". The meet a truck that almost runs them off the road (ala Spielberg's vastly superior "Duel"), track the monster to an underground lair filled with stitched-up dead people (note: why would a cannibalistic monster bother to keep twenty year old mummified bodies around? To wallpaper his lair?) they go to a woman's house who has too many cats, and then there's a shootout in a police station that has all it's lights out. That's it. We're supposed to be scared that our protagonists are surrounded by twenty or thirty cops in a police station. Somehow, "Darry" ends up dying anyway, leaving the road wide open for a sequel. And you know there's going to be one, since the monster is sooo trendy: a face like a sub-par Buffy vampire and vanity license plates on his truck. I can see the tie-in doll sales now. ½ (out of 5)

American Pie 2 - There are sad, lonely parties all over college campuses and high schools across this country where idiots gather and tell each other their "favorite parts" of so-called funny movies. "Remember the part where Tom Green jacked off that COW?". "Dude! That was GREAT!". So, I'm sure this movie will be remembered as the one were this guy totally glues his hand to his dick. And dude, the scene goes on for ten more whole minutes after that, milking the joke as dry as Tom Green's bull. I couldn't remember all the characters from the first movie, and that's a shame, because they pair off in couples pretty quickly, talking about baggage and events from the original that I couldn't care more about. Or maybe I couldn't care less. No really, I guess couldn't care more. I tried, but I don't really care if a fictitious guy gets the fictitious girl in the end. Plus, this is really mean-spirited humor with no real thought to the set-up or consequences of the jokes. They make fun of a retarded trombone player without really setting up the scene or making it believable in any way. Or when a girl sticks a trumpet up a guy's butt ("Dude! Remember the part where she totally stuck that trumpet up that guy's ASS?") but come on! I've never tried it, but there's a *mouthpiece* on that thing. Jason Biggs would have been a lot more irate if it really happened. There's fake lesbians, walkie-talkies that broadcast all over town, and a really homophobic scene that could have been funny, but instead seems to be a tutorial to teach teenage guys that if you accidentally touch another guy's ass, you're supposed to instantly puke to get the horrible thought of it out of your mind. I don't think there's much of a career for anybody involved with this movie, as Hollywood will find a whole crop of young hotties for next summer's teen romps. Hell, most of the actors here look older than me, and I'm in my thirties. There's one good joke where Biggs admits he's a band geek, but I don't think that kind of clever scene will get the mental midgets reminiscing in dorm rooms. "Remember that part where the movie was kind of funny, but then it went on way too long like a bad sequel to a forgettable teen sex comedy?" "Dude, that ROCKED!" *½ (out of 5)

Hollywood Ending - I think this will be the last "new" Woody Allen movie I'll go see. "Celebrity" was pretty bad, and there's been a long, slow downhill slide since "Manhattan". Hell, even "Hannah and Her Sisters" sucked, and that was the first Allen movie I saw in the theater as a teenager. I liked Martin Landau in "Crimes and Misdemeanors" or even parts of this movie, but it's hard work waiting for good bits in his movies. As a friend of mine once said, "How sad to be a Paul McCartney fan nowadays". I have a feeling I'm trying to find sparks of Allen's genius is this dreck. There's no comedy in this movie... it's the dullest, dreariest movie I've seen in a long time. Even the physical comedy feels stilted. I really don't care about Allen's peccadilloes with his Asian daughter... he could sleep with farm animals for all I care. After all, Michael Jackson does (Bubbles anyone?), and the guy can still sing. It's a little tired to conflate someone's personal life into artifice and think the result is worth watching. I blame Entertainment Tonight - the way they care about which stars are dating which directors has made what's behind the scenes more important that what's in front of the camera. And I think that Woody Allen has been infected with this curse, never to return to watchability. *½ (out of 5)

The Legend of Bagger Vance - Oh boy, massa. I think this is the death knell for any historical movie being made before 1965 that involves black and white characters. Watching Will Smith's Step-and-caddy Fetchit was incredibly annoying. The joke goes that the only thing worse that watching golf on TV would be to listen to a game on the radio. Well, watching this movie would be worse. Robert Redford has attempted this genre before; I call in "sentamentalism" - movies that cast a sympathetic glow on the past and make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. He had mild success with "Quiz Show", "A River Runs Through It", or even parts of "The Natural", but it doesn't work here. Trying for "Field of Dreams", Redford strikes out with this sports metaphor. In this two-hour-plus film, the Big Game starts after only thirty minutes have elapsed. Even though the Big Game takes place over several days, I thought we were watching it in real time. I know little about golf, and after learning nothing while watching this film, I wish I knew even less. There's some pretty scenery here to chew on, but the subdued plot of black caddy as God is incredibly dumb. *½ (out of 5)

Big Eden - It's a gay film, and I've started before that I always see gay films. The director/writer/way-too-much-into-himself Thomas Bezucha said that he was inspired by romantic comedies of the fifties. Well, I don't know about capturing the romance, but he certainly has captured the claustrophobic paranoia of gay movies of the time. All the characters here dance around the subject of homosexuality to the point that any admission of love feels like a tortured anti-climax. It's sad to see supposedly-buff backwoodsmen cry at the intimation that they are gay. What it strange is that this fable (and it *is* definitely a made-up fable, thank god) takes place in a "Northern Exposure" fantasy world of Montana where everybody is accepting of homosexuality. Except, that is the principal GAY characters, who are closeted and unhappy. There must be a good movie to be made about small-town gay life, and I'm sure there's a lot of closeted gay men out there who live this kind of scared life, but this movie is not a productive interesting look at family community and homosexuality. I think Matthew Shepard knew a million times more about living as a gay man in a small town than know-it-all pretenders like Bezucha ever will. *½ (out of 5)

Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones - Better than episode one. Wait a minute... "better than episode one"? That's the best we can do? That's really damning it with faint praise, like saying "funnier than The Waterboy". Something's really wrong here when an amazing trilogy that changed science fiction forever has degenerated into a mediocre franchise pushing out giant steaming logs of fan fiction. There's altogether too much CRAP flying around on the screen - little spaceships zooming around, or annoying corner-of-your-eye CGI characters upstaging all the actors. Most fans were relieved that there's little of Jar Jar her, but it was still waaay too much for me. Worse, the movie doesn't ever bother to introduce characters anymore. They just assume you're a fan and have watched the first movie religiously. Which leave the rest of us with a rather tepid movie experience, sad to say. These movies will still impress *someone* out there, but it's not me. Like MTV and Nickelodeon cartoons, it's something that meant something to me at one time, and no longer does. I wish the rest of the fans good luck in the future. *½ (out of 5)

K-PAX - My favorite joke was from "Will & Grace" where Debra Messing said, "Hey Kevin Spacey, I want my seven bucks back for K-PAX! Pay it forward baby!" The movie is that bad... it's like a Scientologist rant where I felt like *I* should be the one getting paid to watch the movie. The writing suffers from the "insane people are funny" problem that "Benny & Joon" had, while Spacey's ego gets in the way and forces the plot to let him do monologues in a funny voice during a hypnotic regression. There's no real reason for this movie to be made. It's not entertainment, it's not funny, and it's not interesting. At least Jeff Bridges got work out of it. Otherwise, I'll spoil the "surprise ending" for you: the audience is supposed to think Spacey is an alien, and then that he's just an abused child, then he really might be an alien. Hours before that revelation however, nobody really cares. *½ (out of 5)

House of 1000 Corpses - This is the *exact* same movie as "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre". Except that that movie was inventive and visually creative for its time. This movie tries to be hip, with drunken clowns, fantastic sets, and psychelic cutscenes. All of that might work, except there's no consistency. Just when there's a spark of originality, the movie goes back to the same bloody clichés. Judging from the DVD outtakes, Rob Zombie finds himself hilarious. *½ (out of 5)

40 Days and 40 Nights - Here's six characters in search of an author. It's got a premise - I'm sure you've heard the Wacky Premise by now. A guy doesn't have sex for a while. You'd think the born-again-chastity crowd would go for the whole idea, but they were offended by the mixture of lenten abstinance and the theory that all men can't go without masturbating for even a single week. Go figure - they're touchy people, those self-righteous christians. But this movie feels like fifty writers all contributed a single sketch, and then they ordered them by slimmest comedic idea to broadest. There's Viagra. Multiple scenes where hot women tempt the "hero". Even a hot nun making out with a priest. Seriously. There's no continuous thread to any of the ideas, and as "the contest" went on, I started to realize how *dull* other people's sex lives are. *½ (out of 5)

Possession - There is such a thing as "intellectual porn" - art that is tasteless and vacant, but still *appears* to be thoughtful. Some examples are those art-house porn flicks from the seventies like "I Am Curious (Yellow)", or dull movies that are "good for you" like The English Patient. So, there's this movie, pretty much a romantic semi-historical romance vehicle for Gwyneth Paltrow. The "Gwyn" has her English accent *thang* goin' on... I wonder if real Britons find it as annoying as I do, like when Meryl Streep shows off a studied Midwestern twang as if she's Professor Higgins. However, everything's as fluffy as a Harlequin romance - the story travels through time without enough parallels or discoveries to make it interesting. Pure porn, and I hope there's not a decent history buff anywhere that enjoys this kind of prurient kissing flick. *½ (out of 5)

Scooby-Doo - This is just like watching a live-action version of the cartoon. I don't know why, but that doesn't sound like a compliment. I mean, it's not like they're *hiding* anything... the movie says "Scooby Doo", and that's what you get. Yeah, with guys in rubber masks and "meddlin' kids" and all that. They hit the low notes like they're trying to fulfill a quota. Scooby snacks, check. Vapid Fred and Daphne, check. The only thing missing is lesbian overtones for Thelma. The CGI for Scooby looks really bad and primitive, which is odd since the monsters look ok. The only real nice thing I can say is that Matthew Lillard is absolutely amazing as Shaggy, nailing that Casey Kasem voice perfectly, showing that he's the only one here who's trying to act in any way. Note: there *will* be a sequel. Rawfully rame raggy! *½ (out of 5)

Death To Smoochy - Oh boy, was I wrong. I said above (in my review of "One Hour Photo") that I wanted to see Robin Williams in a comedy rather than a drama. Well, here he is in a full-blown ranting mode: with funny accents, over-the-top ranting and lots and lots of testicle jokes. And it still doesn't work very well. Most of the blame goes to the awful script, and the terrible directing by Danny DeVito. I hate it when directors think that they can show Hollywood as being "wacky" by coming up with wildly improbably characters and scenarios and trying to pass them off as satire. I've found the answer to, "what's worse than watching an ice skating show"? It's watching an ice skating show on *film*. So, maybe I was right... I *still* want to see Robin Williams in a good comedy. Because this movie sure wasn't funny. *½ (out of 5)

Treasure Planet - Boy, Disney is sure taking the hits lately, aren't they? This movie has almost *exactly* the same plot as "Atlantis", which tanked last year (thought evidently it didn't tank bad enough for them to rethink an "Atlantis 2" straight-to-Blockbuster release that went out this week). It's like they're sleepwalking here. The animation isn't very good, the plots drag, and even the funny talking aminals aren't funny anymore. It's not like the field of animation isn't rich and unexplored - the Japanese are doing some amazing things in anime for the last thirty years. It's like Disney has a formula, and they're sticking to it even though it sucks. Kind of like Coke or McDonalds. I have high hopes for "Finding Nemo", but with Disney's budget and backing, I can't help but feel that these are all wasted opportunities. *½ (out of 5)

Queen of the Damned - My boyfriend Michael likes vampires. I've always had a soft spot for the goth kids, and I wish there were more movies made for that audience. But to *really* make a goth movie, you've got to go over-the-top: Gothic, Lair of the White Worm. Even though Anne Rice wrote the book this movie is based on, it plays a little too close to the suburbs. Reading about Lestat becoming a rock star is a lot more fun than watching him on stage, trying to sing. I wish they would have gotten a teenage consultant to recommend better fashion and music for this film. Here's an idea... since they've made bad movies from all the other Saturday Night Live alumni, how about give "Corky Romano" (aka Chris Kattan) a second shot at movie stardom, and let him make a full-length movie an über-goth "Azriel Abyss"? It's worth a shot *½ (out of 5)

Resident Evil - I know that a movie is in trouble if I'm watching it and they show a clip of another film (like a movie-within-a-movie, the way "Sleepless in Seattle" showed bits of "An Affair to Remember") and I find myself wishing I was watching that movie instead. This movie was like that, except I wished I was playing the videogame. I was wondering if I could keep the DVD playing and go borrow a Playstation from my brother, I could go rent the original "Resident Evil" at Blockbuster and be back home in time to see the ending credits. Because that sounded like a lot more fun thing to do than watch this movie. *½ (out of 5)

P.S. Your Cat Is Dead - Steve Guttenberg goes gay! Or at least that's what the cover of "Out" magazine tried to sell the gay community. Instead, Guttenberg bought the rights to an indie play, and decided to spend the last of his "Three Men and a Baby" movie on making it a has-been star vehicle. Well Steve, don't rewrite the ending, dumb down the dialogue, and remove the only thing that made the play enjoyable - the sexual tension and feeling of menace. it looks like a fun movie to act, full of rage, yelling, and a lot of emotional turnarounds. Guttenberg's just not up to it. As a gay man, I have to applaud whenever anybody wants to make an intelligent movie with gay content, but this isn't it. Instead, this play is ruined, never to be performed "off awful" Broadway or anywhere else ever again. *½ (out of 5)

Black Hawk Down - So, it looks like we're not able to make intelligent movies about 9/11 or the current wars in Afghanistan or Iraq. So, we get war movies based on tiny conflicts in Grenada, Panama, or (like this one) Somalia. This is shot by Ridley Scott, who I usually love, but besides the interesting stop-motion camera shots and beautiful grainy yellowed film stock, there's not much to see here. Was this movie ever a script? Or did Ridley just start shooting? The problem is that there's nothing to hold onto - since this is a true story, there's the usual muddling and confusion that happens in real life. No heroic dramatics or bizarre plot points like "Behind Enemy Lines". However, everything is so muddy in the script and on the screen, that I didn't realize that Ewan McGregor was in this movie until long after his character was dead. Or *did* that guy die? Or was it the other one? I'm not sure, and this movie gets one-and-a-half stars because frankly I didn't care. *½ (out of 5)

Bruce Almighty - And here's another movie that I was looking forward to, because I was in the mood for a comedy. Little did I know that there is no humor here. Jim Carrey acts like god - but only for a few minutes, and even then it's a ltitle trite. To all the Christians out there, I have to wonder at what they think about their faith being used in that manner. I know that Egypt pulled this movie as sacrligious, but there wasn't any outcry in the US at the overall messages: God rarely answers prayers, he doesn't do much about them when he does, and the best course of action of Carrey is to ignore all the prayers entirely. It's a little bizarre, but when you personify your personal diety, a lot of contradictions will arise. Does god go on vacations? Can *anybody* be god? Why does he live in a creepy high-rise building pulling stupid tricks on unsuspecting worshipers? The moral of the story is: thousands of children die, life isn't fair, there's war and crime and famine. But so what? Let's see *you* do any better. *½ (out of 5)