Movie Pre-Judgments (2004)
by Rusty W. Spell

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31 Dec 2004

The Assassination of Richard Nixon -- Bites off more than it can chew, but we need more movies in the vein of, say, Falling Down, and that's what this is, only more effective and smarter. There's something about Sean Penn with that crazy moustache that works here.

Beyond the Sea -- Kevin Spacey proves once again that just because he has an Oscar doesn't mean that his movies are great.

In Good Company -- Oh how I love Topher Grace and Scarlett Johansson. This is the first movie where Topher really gets a good shot at showing his stuff for an extended period of time. Scarlett is less important in the movie, but she's already showed her stuff a few times. This isn't the greatest movie or anything, but it's a lot of fun to watch this guy do his Topher Grace thing.

A Love Song for Bobby Long -- If you want to see a Scarlett Johansson movie this week, see In Good Company instead of this one. This one is unremarkable.

The Merchant of Venice -- A really good version of this Shakespeare play. Will become the definitive version for a while.

24 Dec 2004

Darkness -- The best example of the type of movie to rent if you're looking for a perfectly average movie that has one or two jumps that you wanna watch really loud in your living room one night with your sweetie when you don't feel much like paying attention.

Fat Albert -- These TV-to-movie adaptations usually make all the wrong choices (see Scooby Doo), but sometimes they do it right (see The Brady Bunch). The idea to have the cartoon characters literally come out of the TV and become real life people seems like a dumb idea, but the way it's played out works pretty well. So not only do the Fat Albert gang of the 70s not fit well with the folks in the 00s, but also they don't fit because they are still cartoons (for example, Dumb Donald doesn't actually have a face under that hat). Bill Cosby's association with the movie helps too (he helped write it and makes an appearance). So go see it or rent it for some not-fantastic-but-decent fun.

Hotel Rwanda -- Kind of the Rwandan Schindler's List, but not nearly as good.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou -- Wow, this looks almost exactly like a Wes Anderson movie. Like The Royal Tenenbaums, it's a little over-reaching but fun to watch with lots of great moments. Look for the most purposefully cheesy computer animation ever. Um, so go see it, but don't expect a small masterpiece like Rushmore.

Meet the Fokkers -- About as funny as the title. You decide how funny that is to you.

The Phantom of the Opera -- Yes, the Andrew Lloyd Webber version. Fifteen years ago I would have creamed over this. Michael Crawford isn't in the starring role, which is just as well since he added a layer of "pussy" to the Phantom role that wasn't exactly necessary. Gerard Butler is averagely fine instead. Joel Schumacher's gaudy sensibilities that served him so poorly in those Batman movies works for him here, combined with some of the quick-editing of Phonebooth, making this a peppy and big and fun version. If you like the music, you'll like the musical. Better than the movie version of Webber's Evita (though of course that was a better musical).

The Woodsman -- Interesting at first, then slightly creepy, then it just goes about 45 minutes too long. Kevin "People Got To Know!" Bacon does a pretty good job.

17 Dec 2004

The Aviator -- Leo DiCaprio plays his young cocky character again (though he turns old by the end of the movie). The movie itself is interesting, well-made, all that... but forgettable. Good to see Alan Alda in anything. He's always playing politicians these days.

Flight of the Phoenix -- A remake of the Robert Aldrich movie, with Dennis Quaid in the Jimmy Stewart role. It seems like it's going to be a typical survival movie, but then it turns into a movie about building a plane in the middle of the desert instead of simply waiting to be rescued. By the end, the movie's just become somewhat of a joke... one that only a very good Giovanni Ribisi seems in on.

Lemony Snicket's a Series of Unfortunate Events -- The books, first of all, are not good children's books. They are books for college freshman hipsters who buy Gremlins lunchboxes and have the face of Elmo stitched to their backpacks. I still think of Daniel "Lemony Snicket" Handler as the amateur accordion player (read: guy who happens to own an accordion). But where the books fail in the intended areas but at least find a market somewhere, the movie fails in several ways and will find no one much (okay, it will initially--but it won't be well-remembered years from now, except in the same way that 20-year-olds now "fondly" "remember" the Thundar the Barbarian cartoon). First, Jim Carrey. He didn't learn his lessons from Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas (or the Mike Meyers' sequel). He's doing the same routine. Not as annoyingly, but close enough. Didn't anyone learn anything from Gene Wilder? The whole movie has that kind of crappy vibe. Second, it's just a really watered down Harry Potter. That's all it is, and it's not the fault of Harry Potter for being so popular and therefore comparable; it's the fault of this movie for being so derivative and lacking in originality. The only way the movie could have been less original would have been to get Tim Burton to play Count Olaf instead of Jim Carrey... and then it would have been better, so go figure. Anyway, this will be one of the movies that lets audience rethink the fantasy renaissance we've had here lately. We'll be back to gritty stuff like Chinatown in no time. Okay, maybe not, but you know.

Million Dollar Baby -- Remember when Hilary Swank was The Next Karate Kid? This is pretty much that movie, with a gristled Clint Eastwood being Mr. Miyagi. Poop.

The Sea Inside -- Let's just say I wouldn't recommend it, how's that?

Spanglish -- Well, Jim Brooks is a sweetie, and this is a sweet movie. Adam Sandler is also a sweetie, and it's good to see him in his Big Daddy role minus the goofiness. A nice little movie. (Best movie title in a long time.)

A Very Long Engagement -- Jean-Pierre Jeunet does it again (and so does Audrey "Amélie" Tatou). This one has a little more substance than his last movie, almost as much charm and style. You should like it.

10 Dec 2004

Blade: Trinity -- Enough already! Oh, this is the last one? Well, good then. This one sucked, but not as bad as the second one. The first one is still okay. This one tried to be more funny, pulling a Superman III move.

Ocean's Twelve -- It's one better than the original, which was about a 6. Okay, one worse.

3 Dec 2004

Closer -- It's got a certain sense of sleaze that I like, but in the end Natalie Portman and especially Julia Roberts just can't pull off sleaze. Neither much can Mike Nichols. But it's not a horrible movie.

House of Flying Daggers -- Yeah, so here's the thing. Yimou Zhang is boring. This one is a little more interesting than Hero, but pretty much the same crap. The title says it all. Flying daggers: oooh!

I Am David -- Walden Media punches the Classy-Britometer button for this so-so pretty movie.

26 Nov 2004

Alexander -- Oliver Stone sinks even lower than we previously thought possible.

Christmas with the Kranks -- Should be called Shitmas with the Stanks. It'll make a bundle.

Notre Musique -- Well, you know, it's Godard... it's pretty and a little annoying, but mostly pretty.

19 Nov 2004

Bad Education -- Pretty good stuff for all you Almodovar fans.

Fabled -- It tries too hard, but in a way that shows more potential than pretentiousness. Along the lines of, say, Pi.

National Treasure -- Okay, a surprisingly fun movie, even for all you Nicholas Cage haters out there. Remember, he's good when he wants to be (he just hasn't wanted to be since, what, Wild at Heart? maybe Snake Eyes?). Lots better and smarter than the Tomb Raider movies, though with significantly less cartoonily perky boobs.

The SpongeBob Square Pants Movie -- I don't get it.

12 Nov 2004

After the Sunset -- A Brett Ratner film. (Sorry, that was too brutal, wasn't it?)

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason -- Oh my god, she's so fat. So incredibly, incredibly fat. Look how hideous! What are they doing, making a romantic comedy about Jabba the Hut? I mean, jeez, someone get Ahab over here. Man! I marvel at the girth. This thing must have been shot in Panavision... if that was even wide enough for that huge ass. Holy freakin' cow is she fucking huge! Jesus H. Stretch-Marks Christ! Ug. Okay, I need a bucket. Someone get me a bucket. A bucket, a bucket, dammit! Yeah, that'll do. Hang on... hang on... okay, stand back. I said stand b--BHHHHHGGGGHHH!! Sorry. I'm okay. I just puked in the bucket and on the floor. Could you get me a towel, a wet washcloth please. Okay. What was I talking about? Bridget J--BBBHHHHHHGGGGHHHLLLLL!! There it goes again. Ug. Look at all that cottage cheese. Someone kill me now. A gun will do. Or I could just vomit my brains out. How does anyone get that big? Did they have to cut down the side of Renee's trailer to take her to the set? Whew. Okay, I'm ready to review the movie now. Just let me--BBHHHHGGGGHHHLLOOOOGGGHHHH!! Oh god oh god oh god. I'm sweating here. I think you should call an ambulance. I'm going to pass out or something. Yeah, just call 9-11. Okay... okay... I'm just going to lie down. A tranquilizer? Good. Yeah, good, that's the stuff, right in my arm. Okay... all right... yeah... I'm dreamy now... what? The review? Yeah, it has a certain goofy charm. Feel free to rent......... zzzz.

Finding Neverland -- A movie that shows the somewhat screwed-up "romantic" nature of J.M. Barrie (he fell in love and practically moved in with an entire family, after all), while never going beyond dull family film staples. Kind of a waste of a biography, and a waste of Johnny Depp.

Kinsey -- The film initially attempts to be edgy, then just wallows in the usual comfortable boring mud, ending up about as edgy as, say, Pleasantville. I'd just read an actual Alfred Kinsey book instead.

The Polar Express -- Gushy.

Seed of Chucky -- The movie is smart to go for more laughs than scares, and it does so more with this installment than previous ones. But many of the jokes just aren't good (like the metajokes about Jennifer Tilly), and the horror is so tame by this point (not that it was ever scary to begin with), that the audience is probably just dwindling to junior high kids and people like me who lust after Jennifer Tilly and will therefore watch some of it when it plays on HBO twenty times a day.

5 Nov 2004

Alfie -- Turns out, Jude Law is cuter than Michael Caine. Other than that, just watch the original.

Fade To Black -- In his mid-thirties, Jay-Z watches the tribute concert for George Harrison after his death and says to himself, "Man, I wish they'd do something like that for me... now." So he pretends to quit rap music, stages a tribute concert to himself, invites all his friends, has everyone suck his dick, etc. And makes a movie about it too, for extra emphasis. (Biographical note: Jay-Z seems to have ninety-nine problems, but... a bitch? Mmmm, not so much.)

The Incredibles -- I read some adult who wrote, "This movie promises to be even better than Finding Nemo, if you can believe that!" Wow, better than baby vomit? Clearly these Pixar movies are only deemed "really good" in comparison to regular Disney movies, which makes me think that the viewers should, you know, watch something else for a change and realize, "Oh."

It's All About Love -- I've become sick of Joaquin Phoenix before I've even learned to pronounce his name. I spent the first half of the movie trying to figure it out, then spent the last half realizing, "Oh, wait, why do we have to put up with him and Claire Danes in a movie again?" Then the credits rolled. Sorry... it had something to do with airports and hit-men. We didn't miss anything.

29 Oct 2004

Birth -- Interesting premise (little boy is the reincarnation of a woman's dead husband, and they fall in love again... creepily) and good performances. As usual, the beginning doesn't have a good payoff, but that first hour or so is pretty great to watch. I'd rent it.

Ray -- Jamie "Slow Jam" Foxx does a good job of playing Ray Charles, but unfortunately, Taylor "Against All Odds" Hackford has directed a cheesy, sappy movie.

Saw -- Teenagers will love this for its "sickness." The more desensitized among us might say, "Eh, whatever." As a movie, it's fine--not great.

22 Oct 2004

Falling Angels -- It reaches the level of quirk where it's quirky enough to be interesting, and then it goes past that level and just becomes dumb. Mark McKinney is good in it.

The Grudge -- Another rip-off of The Ring, a movie that doesn't need to be ripped off (because it sucked, you see). At least this one stars Buffy.

Lightning in a Bottle -- Remember when Bill Cosby (who is in this concert film/documentary) would lecture you on The Cosby Show about how great the blues were? Yeah, this movie's like that, but even more annoying. An hour and forty minutes of people playing their guitars and making faces like they're fucking something that smells bad.

The Machinist -- The lead character's name is Trevor Reznik, which should tell you all you need to know to steer clear of this movie, but it's actually not as bad as all that--if not all that great either.

Sideways -- A pretty great movie with the pretty great Paul Giamatti. Quiet and sly (yes, sly) and funny.

Surviving Christmas -- Ben Affleck digs his way out of Gigli hell from the bottom with this movie in which his over-the-top character is the best part. It might be the best of the "cynical toward Christmas" movies this year, which is to say that it's a little below average on the larger scale.

Undertow -- Dumb movie about hillbillies.

Vera Drake -- This is a typical period piece with funny accents and ballroom dances movie disguised as a pro-choice political movie to attract the hipsters. Don't be fooled.

15 Oct 2004

Being Julia -- If you like listening to English people talk, this one is for you. It's not bad.

The Dust Factory -- It's pretty good in a Bridge to Terabithia kind of way.

Eulogy -- It's got the usual stuff involved with a zany family who hates each other and are irreverently "honoring" their dead father (eccentric Rip Torn, of course)... but then some of it is actually funny in spite of itself.

The Final Cut -- Dumb movie that tries to be one of those Philip K. Dick style sci-fi thrillers (which are usually pretty dumb anyway). The presence of Robin Williams will make you think it's worth seeing, but don't be fooled. It's worse than One Hour Photo--let's just say that.

Hair Show -- I have a confession. I'm not a black woman. So if I didn't like this movie, maybe that's why.

P.S. -- Under-utilized Topher Grace is perfect-as-always in this movie, and the story is okay, but once you get past the premise of uncanny resemblance to dead boyfriend returning, it's just a normal romance story. One of the better ones, but complete with all the crap.

Riding the Bullet -- A right down the middle average thriller movie. The usual Stephen King stuff.

Shall We Dance? -- The only thing going for this movie is that Richard Gere's character doesn't leave his wife Susan Sarandon for J-Lo, which would have been the obvious thing to have the movie do. There. I've said the one good thing about it.

Stage Beauty -- Apparently people are still interested in the difference between women and men. This movie has some of that funny Elizabethan humor, but not enough to make it much good.

Team America: World Police -- You know how Trey Parker and Matt Stone are able to hilariously condense everything you were thinking about the world's "problems" in a twenty minute episode of South Park? This time, they've taken everything you've been thinking about the absurdity that followed 9/11 in America and hilariously packaged it in the form of an action-packed (no, really) Thunderbird-like marionette puppet movie. This is the funniest movie since, I dunno, 2001's Wet Hot American Summer. Go see it in the theater, buy it on DVD.

Therese: The Story of Saint Therese of Lisieux -- I was surprised by how good this was. Kind of engaging, in spite of the usual trappings of costume, scenery, etc. that tends to be boring.

8 Oct 2004

Around the Bend -- It'll make you laugh, it'll make you cry... Actually, no, it just tries to do those things. Don't be fooled into thinking this is a dramatization of that CCR song (you know, like they did with Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler").

Friday Night Lights -- Football movie. There. Do what you need to do.

Primer -- A pretty smart movie, sometimes in a bad way. Cool new actors and decent-enough-to-rent throughout.

Raise Your Voice -- Hilary Duff plays... oh, nevermind. I just can't be bothered.

Tarnation -- Kind of hard to watch, a documentary about a schizo mother and her son (the one who made the movie) and her parents. A cross between a good documentary and a documentary that simply turns suffering into "art" (including the moviemaker's suffering, which transforms it from actual suffering into a pose), the second part drowning out the first eventually. Maybe just best to avoid.

Taxi -- Queen Latifah officially wears out her welcome. Jimmy Fallon makes himself look a little more welcome (he'd worn his a long time ago) somehow. This movie was sent to 20th Century Fox by a nine-year-old.

1 Oct 2004

DiG! -- A documentary about The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols (of all people). The name recognition should appeal to that .5% of the American audience. The movie itself is fine--interesting enough in a messy sloppy rock kind of way.

I Heart Huckabees -- This movie is kind of like if Eternal Sunshine of the Fartless Whatever were actually good. It's the tone that movie was going for and didn't get right. This movie is still annoying in many ways -- because how can it help but not be -- but overall it's worth seeing.

Ladder 49 -- One of those bullshit "firefighters are the coolest, most heroic people in the world" movies. It's also pretty much the Top Gun of firefighter movies, so there's plenty of towel-slapping homofun with guys who do it all for their smokescreen wives and kids. Anyway, it's crap.

Shark Tale -- The usual current cartoon pop culture crap, this time with Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese parodying themselves (again). I guess Rocky and Bullwinkle wasn't enough. Five-year-olds will love it... cause it's a cartoon.

24 Sep 2004

A Dirty Shame -- John Waters has toned it down a bit since Pink Flamingos in 1972, and this movie seems to want to return to that golden age of white trashery. But something about it seems like it's trying too hard. Gone are the days of the effortless skank of Divine. This movie instead has, you know, Selma Blair. But it's fun enough: Tracy Ullman plays herself, and this is certainly Johnny Knoxville's best role (until he plays Luke Duke in the upcoming Dukes of Hazzard movie). It's rated NC-17, but there's no real reason for it.

First Daughter -- Michael Keaton as the president is the best thing about this movie, but he ain't in it much. Otherwise, it's a normal girl-and-boy movie with this "president's daughter" premise tacked on. Be prepared for Marc "Reilly from Buffy" Blucas to bore your socks off as -- once again -- the charming and nice but bland boyfriend. Only pre-teen girls need apply.

The Forgotten -- So if Julianne Moore came up to me on the street and insisted she was my wife, I'd just be like, "Okay, cool." This is one of those movies where the premise is pretty cool, and you're thinking the idea is really going to pay off, but it never does. Kind of like Frailty or The Mothman Prophecies or any of those premise movies that ultimately fail. Good enough for Friday night DVD party with lights out and popcorn? Sure.

Internal Affairs -- Look. It's called Internal Affairs. Trite movie titles should be enough warning enough to stay away from them. This one is about as average as you'd expect... which is why they're doing an American remake soon.

The Last Shot -- Another front-for-the-mob movie, and another movie that attempts to capture the magic of The Player. This will only be good to movie "insiders" who like to laugh at their inside jokes. I imagine the only people who fall into that category are repulsive.

The Motorcycle Diaries -- This would have been boring if it had been a movie about Che Guevara during the events that made him famous... but it's even worse since this is just random stuff he did with his buddy on a motorcycle before all that happened.

Shaun of the Dead -- One of the funnier movies in a while. Look for Dylan Moran from Black Books as a standout, even as rarely as he appears. This movie is a good example of a good idea nicely executed.

The Yes Men -- Imagine if Michael Moore (who makes an appearance in this movie) weren't old and fat and had a buddy and a little more "prank" in him than usual. The good thing about this movie is that the guys seem more interested in the jokes themselves than in changing the world, so it's a little more tolerable than it might be.

17 Sep 2004

Cowboys and Angels -- Basically a dramatized version of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, though more watchable than that sounds.

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence -- I fell asleep during the first Ghost in the Shell back in 1995 and I did during this one too. Sue me.

Head in the Clouds -- It doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad movie when it's named after a cliché, but it certainly should make you suspicious. This one is poop.

Mr. 3000 -- Bernie Mac officially wears out his welcome.

National Lampoon's Gold Diggers -- Well, you know, these movies are what they are. This one isn't horrible. The guys are funny enough.

Silver City -- Chris Cooper is funny enough as a George W. Bush type, although that kind of joke is old to me at this point, so -- aside from a few choice moments -- the funny wears off. Then there's a "serious" story going on to, which isn't all that captivating. Politician discovers dead body in river, Thora Birch as cute computer info chick, Richard Dreyfus screaming at everyone... all the stuff you've seen before. Not worth checking out.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow -- This is one of those movies that wants you to like it a whole lot, but doesn't really let on that it does... so that you both dislike it and care for it at the same time. Good fun but also boring. Tired retro chic but also refreshing retro goodness. Lots of contradictions. It's sort of worth seeing. This will appeal to a particular cult. They will rise from the sea.

Wimbledon -- Cutie Dunst stars in this movie that's not as bad as a romantic quasi-comedy about tennis players might sound.

Zelary -- Zelary? Oh, I thought you said "Celery." Jeez. Um, yeah, okay, well, I'd rather have celery.

10 Sep 2004

Cellular -- Phone Booth with a cellular. Okay, not really, but close enough. Phone Booth was better.

Criminal -- A sort of second-rate Steven Soderbergh fused with a third-rate P.T. Anderson (specifically his Hard Eight) kind of movie. All the cast members are great (especially John C. Reilly, except that they're using him as a second-rate version of himself), but the movie is junk.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse -- The first one wasn't that great, and this one follows the usual "first one was better" rule, so that's about all you need to know. However, Milla Jovovich is still hot, which is always something.

3 Sep 2004

The Cookout -- A few surprising laughs here and there. Something to have on HBO in the background while playing Risk.

Paparazzi -- Mel Gibson produced this movie, which is why it's basically an anti-camera version of Mel screaming "Give me back my son!" Dumb.

Vanity Fair -- Reece Witherspoon does well for herself, but I'm bored of social class movies at this point in my life.

Warriors of Heaven and Earth -- Don't be fooled into thinking it's any good just because it's foreign. I know how you people are. This is the most average-looking war movie I've seen in a while.

Wicker Park -- Bo-ring.

27 Aug 2004

Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid -- Dumber than the first one? Yes. My anaconda don't want none.

The Brown Bunny -- Chloe Sevigny stars in one of those movies about people who don't like to wear shirts and who make poor life choices so that they end up crying and staring at each other and being hauled off in ambulances in the middle of the night and regretting things. And here I thought the 1990s were over.

Hero -- This movie is the coolest thing since Kill Bill. Go see it. Go, go, go.

SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2 -- Remember when Bob Clark did classy movies like Porky's? Nothing's less funny than Clutch Cargo babies. Even children should avoid this.

Suspect Zero -- Ben Kingsley and Aaron Eckhart: I know, how can you refuse? But maybe you should. It's just an average detective movie.

20 Aug 2004

Benji: Off the Leash! -- Look, goofy dog movies will always be popular with the kids. So if you're a kid, watch this a million times and see the guy take it in the nuts. I'm just waiting for the new Boomer movie.

Exorcist: The Beginning -- It's not The Exorcist. It's not anything. Thank you.

Mean Creek -- Sort of a less-loopy River's Edge; it's not perfect, but it's got some hefty-heft to make it interesting enough to rent. You'll like it fine.

Nicotina -- A pretty cool Mexican movie that's a nice blend of suspense and comedy (but not light comedy).

Without a Paddle -- Somewhere between Harold and Kumar and Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

The Women of Rosenstrasse -- One of those really boring, really beautifully boring, WWII-period movies about forbidden love, etc. etc. Weepy weepy lush cry.

13 Aug 2004

Alien vs. Predator -- A more lame version of both the Alien and Predator movies.

Danny Deckchair -- The image of a guy floating away on a deckchair lifted by yellow helium balloons and the beautiful Miranda Otto should be enough... but it's pretty much not.

The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement -- Little girls, flock. Everyone else, don't.

We Don't Live Here Anymore -- Another movie about cheating that somehow keeps your interest. Maybe it's Laura Dern, Naomi Watts, and the rest of the cast. Not an excellent movie, but exceptional for what it is.

Yu-Gi-Oh! -- This movie gave me seizures, like all these things do.

6 Aug 2004

Code 46 -- Another rehashing of 1984. It's 20 years past that date already... cut it out.

Collateral -- Tom Cruise at his Tom Cruisiest. Michael Mann at his Michael Mannest. I'm avoiding: you do what you want.

Little Black Book -- Brittany Murphy wears out her welcome with this goofified movie.

Open Water -- Sort of the Blair Witch Project of "stranded in the ocean" movies. Lots of promise, not a whole lot of payoff, but decent enough it its own way.

Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism -- What, Fox News is a fake-news propaganda machine for the Republican party? Like Fahrenheit 9/11, this movie sort of shows us what we already know (unless we're on the other side, in which case, we simply won't believe it), but also like F911, it's pretty interesting. This one might even be more successful on many levels.

Stander -- A sort of Beastie Boys "Sabatoge" video with a plot.

30 Jul 2004

Garden State -- Are you tired of pretty images, good acting, and stories about people? I know I am. No, seriously... this is boring.

Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle -- The lead actors make the movie somewhat enjoyable, but the film never lets you forget that it's just a dumb movie. Will become a minor cult hit in ten years with people who are now thirteen.

Intimate Strangers -- There's nothing whang-pow about it, but as a quiet movie to enjoy on a rainy night, it's pretty nice.

The Manchurian Candidate -- Jonathan Demme decided to remake this, I guess because the first one was so good and he felt he couldn't go wrong. This works well enough by itself, but -- when compared to the original -- seems kind of pointless.

She Hate Me -- There's some genre-juggling going on here that Spike Lee isn't quite talented enough to handle, but fortunately his actors step in and make the movie at least somewhat worth seeing. Great title.

Thunderbirds -- The oddest of the recent TV adaptation craze, this one is a live-action version of the Thunderbird marionette puppets. Goofy goofy, but not entirely horrible.

The Village -- More proof that The Sixth Sense was a fluke. This is certainly better than Unbreakable or Signs, but it's not anything close to excellent. It's just fine. Perhaps worth a rental, but don't go out of your way.

23 Jul 2004

The Bourne Supremacy -- The first one was sort of a nice surprise: a typical-looking movie that actually was fun and entertaining. This one is also a surprise: a typical-looking sequel that -- although not as fun and entertaining -- is still fun and entertaining. Matt Damon takes the gum out of his mouth. Rent this one.

Catwoman -- This movie is a better representation of Catwoman than the sloppyness of Tim Burton's Batman Returns, but that movie was a bowl of cold oatmeal. Someone once told me that Halle Barry is attractive, so if you're into seeing her in a cat-suit, that's the only real reason I can think of for watching this.

16 Jul 2004

A Cinderella Story -- Another update of Cinderella (this one with the most original title), and another one of those teen movies where the love-drunk girl runs into a locker while looking at the cute boy. You know the type. If you're up for the usual, it's fine.

The Door in the Floor -- John Irving is a dolt, and even the magic of movies can't make his books good.

I, Robot -- Even though it's not as Asivmovian as some might like, it's still a fun enough movie... that basically rips the production design from Spielberg's A.I. and Minority Report. When you're up for the rip-bang brainless rental in half a year, go for this one.

Maria Full of Grace -- Or Maria, Llena Eres de Gracia. Girl tries to get out of country, etc. A slight twist from the usual, but not enough to care.

A Touch of Pink -- Kyle MacLachlan is pretty great in this movie as Cary Grant, but the rest of it is just a typical gay comedy... "not that there's anything wrong with that."

9 Jul 2004

Anchorman -- Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd? Sounds good to me. Uses the backdrop of the 1970s for all the right reasons, not just for dumb jokes. Just edgy enough to perhaps be a very minor cult sensation, but certainly funny enough to be better than the dumby-dumb goofy-goof movies.

King Arthur -- Oh, good fun all around, I suppose. It takes a more historical, less fanciful look at the Arthurian legend than previous movies, which makes it both refreshing and dull. I don't know how many movies about guys giving pep talks in front of men on horses movies we can bear, but if you can put up with one more, this should be a decent enough movie to rent one epic night.

Riding Giants -- If you're going to watch only one of the zillion surf movies to sprout up over the past little while, this might be the one. That's not saying it's good--that's just saying that unless you're a surfer (and can actually translate this abstract image on the screen into something you've experienced), there's nothing too exciting about these movies, so at least this one focuses more people talking and less on "Whoah, look at that dude on a wave."

Sleepover -- Alexa Vega from Spy Kids stars in this movie that should be fine for the female half of the Disney Channel audience.

Some Kind of Monster -- It's like if Behind the Music wasn't so vomit-inducing. It's a real documentary... and only a little bit of a Metallica commercial, not too much. Enough of a legitimate movie that it doesn't matter much if you actually like Metallica or not (and I certainly don't). Lars and James (well, mostly Lars) are still grating enough, however, to keep you away... your choice.

2 Jul 2004

America's Heart and Soul -- When you see propaganda for America, it's always of people who actually don't seem to make up a large population of Americans: the usual farmers and firemen, New York City mountainbikers, blind mountainclimbers... that's what this movie is. A feature-length version of those piles of garbage that make you turn the channel for even thirty seconds. Since this is a Disney movie, I'm sure they'll house a shortened version at EPCOT soon.

Before Sunset -- Whoah, too weird to be possible. Richard Linklater's tiny little great movie Before Sunrise... gets a sequel? Ethan Hawke and the future Mrs. Spell, Julie Delpy, team up again for a movie that's almost as charming as the original. Rent it alone, that's the best way.

The Clearing -- Willem Dafoe probably wishes he were still the Spider-Man villain instead of being in this crap.

De-lovely -- Even for Cole Porter fans (the only people I can see this actually appealing to), I'm not sure this movie will be the best thing for them. It's kind of a typical movie with Porter as the hook (such as it is).

Spider-Man 2 -- Sam Raimi makes these movies about as good as a superhero movie can be, hitting all the right notes that make people like comic books to begin with. Raimi and his cast pull off another good one. Go see it in the theaters.

25 Jun 2004

Facing Windows -- Or La Finestra di Fronte. With boring movies like these, you realize why we need big dumb rock explosion movies to wake us up.

Fahrenheit 9/11 -- Michael Moore is a funny and well-meaning but often naive guy, and he'd probably not be a serious enough documentary-maker to handle something like the events following 9-11... if it weren't for the fact that anyone with enough gumption to point a camera in the general direction of the White House (or even edit some news footage together) could make a film that makes people say to themselves, "I can't believe this is really happening." There's nothing revelatory here. We know George W. Bush is more or less stupid and incompetent, that D.C. is often corrupt and apathetic, and that much of the American public totally shit-freaked and gave up their freedoms to these idiots mentioned above. What's good about this movie is that it is a well put-together document of this kind of would-be shocking stuff ("would be" if we weren't so used to it after several decades of post-Watergate "Yeah, that's how it works"), much in the same way that Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine didn't tell us what we didn't already know about guns, but put it together nicely for us. And the movie us funny, since Moore is above anything a humorist. He's got a few of those zany ideas in here for making his point, and if you're a fan at all, you'll like this. See it or rent it. Let your jaw drop or yawn, whichever you prefer.

The Intended -- Kind of like The Blair Witch Project except in film, with a good cast, minus the supernatural, with British accents, and... okay, it's not like The Blair Witch Project at all.

Kaena: The Prophecy -- The movie has really pretty/cool computer animation. The story and everything is so-so.

The Notebook -- You know when your cat eats string and then poops the string out and you have poop on a string? That's what this movie is.

Two Brothers -- There will always be a place in the world for non-CG animal movies.

White Chicks -- Q: Do we need this movie to exist? A: Clearly not.

18 Jun 2004

Around the World in 80 Days -- Don't worry: this isn't just some movie where they scrapped the original idea in order to let Jackie Chan do jump kicks. In fact, he's not really the star. Phileas Fogg (a very funny Steve Coogan) is, you know. This has the charm of the best old-school Disney live-action movies and the jokes are actually -- how shall I put this? -- funny. It's a revolutionary idea. Walden Media (who are putting out the 2005 The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) promise to be the next big thing in family entertainment.

Dodgeball -- Vince Vaughn is great again. Ben Stiller is funny enough but too hammy even for this movie. Christine Taylor is dull. Rip Torn is... Rip Torn. I can't lie to you and say this is great, but it's got some moments here and there that allow this to work pretty well if you watch it in the background while rolling dumplings or something.

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead -- One of those "avenging his brother" movies.

The Terminal -- Steven Spielberg used to never work with his buddy Tom Hanks, and now they've done three movies together. The first two were nice, but he was sort of mis-cast in this one since Hanks is supposed to be an Eastern European who can't speak English so good, but since we know it's just Tom Hanks (and, no, it's not our faults), it's hard to take him "seriously" (in quotes, since most of what he says is jokes). The movie itself is sort of a return to Catch Me If You Can form (aside from the presence of Hanks) since it's based on a real story (of a guy who has been stuck in an airport for ten years) and isn't the usual Spielberg fantasy or "big" movie. It's certainly worth renting.

11 Jun 2004

The Chronicles of Riddick -- The best Vin Diesel movie so far, which means you will only vomit once. The video game that accompanies the movie is better.

Garfield: The Movie -- When they needed a guy to do the voice of Bill Murray's Ghostbusters character for the cartoon, they got Lorenzo Music, voice of Garfield. Now that Lorenzo Music is dead, when they need a guy to do the voice of Garfield, they get Bill Murray. Sometimes things make sense. The movie itself is kind of dumb. It sort of follows the humor of the comic, but then goes nuts. In the movie's defense, how many nap and lasagna jokes can you make?

The Stepford Wives -- Perhaps the most retarded remake in the history of movies. Frank Oz directs a liquid pile of dung.

4 Jun 2004

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban -- The Harry Potter movies are the best kids movies to be made in years, in spite of their (many) faults. The main faults is that the books they're based on are rather stupid and feel like stuff that's been hacked from every fantasy ever written (but not in a good way), and that the endings always blow up in our faces... oh, and there's Quiddich too, but we can't get into that here. What's good about this one is that it's not quite so Chris Columbus-y (the director, not the explorer) since Alfonso Cuaron has taken over. The new head wizard is better too (no offense to the late dead guy). And the kids being more grown up is more of an asset than a hindrance. The perfect Harry Potter movie hasn't been made yet, but neither has the completely horrible one. I will allow you to watch this in the theaters, with or without children.

28 May 2004

Baadasssss! -- A watchable (but not great) telling of Melvin Van Peeble's making of Sweetback. Directed by his son Mario.

The Day After Tomorrow -- This is going to be one of those movies that people on the internet talk about for a long time for how scientifically and motivationally stupid it is. If Mr. Independence Day could just make a big movie with no attempt at plot or character and show disaster after disaster, he wouldn't be too bad. But unfortunately, he tries to tie these effects together with something he's not capable of. Basically the parts worth seeing are in the trailer if you just want to watch that instead.

Frankie and Johnny Are Married -- Life imitates blah blah blah. One of those plays and life things, whatever.

The Mother -- A pretty decent movie, though you're settled into the premise of an old woman sleeping with a young guy long before the movie itself seems to be used to it.

Raising Helen -- Garry Marshall directs another farting turd. Comprised entirely of jokes you've heard 100 times before and never liked the first time. Even the title: Helen is raising the kids, but it's more like they're raising her! Ha ha ha ha! Watch it only if you want your colon to bleed.

Saved! -- Jerry Falwell and Co. are already all over this one. They're talking smack about a goofy teen comedy and then wonder why people feel the need to make fun in a movie like this? The movie itself would have been much better if it had taken a movie straight-faced approach to Christian teens -- instead of using the over-acted comedy style that is always winking at us -- because Christian teens are funny enough as they are. As it is, the movie isn't even much about Jesus jokes, just another teen movie with a slightly different slant.

Soul Plane -- The black Airplane! Not quite as funny or classic, but they do a pretty good job of piling the jokes on top of each other. Worth renting or watching on HBO.

21 May

Love Me If You Dare -- French movie that takes the superspeed stylings of Amelie a little too far. In the end, just a romantic comedy.

Shrek 2 -- A present-day better-than-average kids' movie. You all know what that means.

Stateside -- There aren't too many movies (I know of) that talk about how you just can't help but fall in love with certain people, even if they're mental patients. This movie succeeds at being a pretty good one of those.

Strayed -- Or Les Egares. It's French, it's fine. You won't see it anyway.

14 May 2004

Breakin' All the Rules -- Lagging at many points, but for the most part a surprisingly good movie for what it is. Starring Jamie Foxx and a bunch of hotties.

Carandiru -- I can't think of anyone who'd really enjoy this movie, though there's nothing technically wrong with it. It's sort of like when you're annoyed by "art."

Coffee and Cigarettes -- Check it out: Roberto Benigni, Cate Blanchett, Steve Buscemi, Bill Murray, Iggy Pop, RZA, Jack White, Meg White, Steven Wright... in a Jim Jarmusch movie, ten short films strung together. Is it as interesting as it sounds? Yes. Go see it at a hipster theater near you.

A Slipping-Down Life -- Oh, it tries really hard to be different, but ends up just being a little dull.

Troy -- I think people are bored (or growing bored) of "big" movies at this point. I think they look at these now and say, "Wasn't this already done, and better, with The Lord of the Rings?" If this had come out in 2000, it would be the biggest thing ever. As it is, it'll be plenty big, but not as big as the movie makes itself out to be. I mean, how many computer-generated soldiers on a battlefield can you look at and it still be interesting? Aside from all this, the movie itself is a decent-enough adaptation of the story. Everyone's decent in it. Nothing really disappointing.

7 May 2004

New York Minute -- Okay, so they're making baby steps from saying "Later, dude" in Full House to countless videotapes to this thing... the next step, I guess, is to see if they can make movies apart from each other. The movie isn't intolerable. Eugene Levy gets to show off, there's plenty of cameos... though in the end MK&AO (and Jack Black) just kind of ditz their way through it.

Seeing Other People -- Not as good as you might have it to be considering the people involved (including Andy Richter, who seems to be finally finding his new place in the world), but pretty decent anyway.

Valentin -- Um, charming? Well, that's what it wants you to think. It's fine. Whatever.

Van Helsing -- Oh, fun enough stuff. About time someone really realized Van Helsing was more kick-ass than Dracula or any of the monsters. But did they go too "kick ass"? Yes, as always. What they consider an appropriate amount of "brood" for flavor. One night you can have a brainless double feature with this and Hellboy.

30 Apr 2004

Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius -- I really want to get behind any movie about golf, but this is just one of those stupid "heartwarming" films... from the acclaimed director of Roadhouse.

Close Your Eyes -- Soon Cameron Crowe will make a remake of this and call it Chocolate Sky. But seriously, folks... This is one of those movies where the promises of the first part don't come true, but at least half the time, the promises themselves are enough to keep it interesting.

Envy -- Jack Black and Ben Stiller are both funny. But this movie isn't.

Godsend -- Not to be confused with the 1980 movie The Godsend, except that both are about evil little kids being raised by normal parents. This one is worth renting if you're up for a right-around-average thriller.

Laws of Attraction -- Pierce Brosnan is handsome. Julianne Moore is beautiful. Um... you might laugh once?

Mean Girls -- At first glance, another one of those "here's how high school operates" movies (where you sit in the cafeteria is how you judge who you are, etc.), but then it becomes a little sharper. Sharp enough to make a "decent pre-teen movie," that is--rather than "another pre-teen movie."

The Saddest Music in the World -- Certainly the best thing opening this week, but also the most original-looking movie in a while. Imagine a cross between Isabella Rossollini and Mark McKinney (the two stars) and you've got this movie. Too good to be true, but there it is (oh, but also sometimes just way too nutty, but not so much that you shouldn't see it).

23 Apr 2004

Man on Fire -- Tony Scott directs one of his better ones. Understand me: "One of Tony Scott's better ones." By way of example, Top Gun was one of his "better" ones. Okay?

13 Going On 30 -- The most "believable" premise for a kid-becomes-adult movie so far, if that counts for anything. Premise aside, it's run of the mill. Cute enough, funny enough for kids or whatever.

16 Apr 2004

Connie and Carla -- Women pretend they're drag queens, David Duchovny falls in love. Goof Fest '04.

Kill Bill Vol. 2 -- As great as the first one. You will see it. Buy all the DVDs that come out of these for the rest of your life.

The Punisher -- A superhero movie for homophobic frat boys (not that there's anything wrong with that). It's kinda bad, though.

Young Adam -- A pretty great little thriller-type movie. And you get to see Ewan McGregor's penis (again). Worth renting one night.

9 Apr 2004

The Alamo -- Remember The Alamo? Yes, I remember it was boring and stupid.

Ella Enchanted -- You know how I'm always looking out for your kids, right? Trying to make them avoid crap (as opposed to violence, sex, and all the other stuff people say kids should avoid)? They don't have to avoid this one. Sure, it's got some typical crap going on like casting Cary Elwes (get that guy from The Princess Bride), Anne Hathaway (get that girl from The Princess Diaries--though she's actually the best person for the role), and using Queen songs (why did they become the spokesingers for medievalness?)... but on the whole this is one of the kids' movies that will last. Even better than that Harry Potter stuff (though aimed more specifically toward girls).

The Girl Next Door -- Elisha Cuthbert is hot in this movie. The movie is essentially about teenage boys lusting after her (with some heartfelt crap and a villain thrown in), so if you want to lust along with them, you can watch--you'll be fully aware that it's not great of a movie, of course.

I'm Not Scared -- Interesting-enough Italian movie. Worth renting.

Johnson Family Vacation -- Cedric the Entertainer does Chevy Chase. It could be worse.

Twentynine Palms -- A little too obsessed with itself. It's kind of horrible.

The Whole Ten Yards -- The Whole Nine Yards was sort of surprisingly decent. This one is a bit under that.

2 Apr 2004

Dogville -- Nicole Kidman struts her acting all over the screen. It's got a soothing dull charm.

Hellboy -- Guillermo del Toro, known for directing the sloppily crappy Blade II, does this movie which is essentially a combination of the TV show Angel and the movies Firestarter and especially X-Men. Not that great, but not painfully horrible either. There's a talking man-fish who tries to impress people (and the audience) by telling them how they got scars on their faces, if that gives you a clue as to the level we're talking here. Ron Perlman (playing Hellboy) is great like he always is, and John Hurt is interesting to see in a big ol' movie like this, but mostly a big ol' dullish "roller coaster thrill ride of a movie" (as they say).

Home on the Range -- Don't forget the rule: Ignore Disney cartoons until I say so.

The Prince and Me -- The play on the title The King and I is about the level of cleverness to expect here.

Shaolin Soccer -- This movie was supposed to come out around here back in September of last year. Let's hope it actually comes out this time. To refresh your memory, this is a great movie that you should see in the theaters or at least rent. It's a feast for the eyes, as they say, and it's funny.

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring -- It's pretty. Pretty boring! HAR HAR HAR!!

The United States of Leland -- Another movie about a young jerk boy who the audience is supposed to like. Donnie Darko II: The Return of Igby.

Walking Tall -- The Rock flexes his butthole for those who care.

26 Mar 2004

A Foreign Affair -- Also known as Two Brothers and a Bride.  A pretty good little movie. Tim Blake Nelson and David Arquette are great. This will achieve semi-cult status within fifteen years. A little cheesy around the edges, but well worth seeing.

Jersey Girl -- Kevin Smith is a dufus and occasional funnyguy whose movies include the following: a promising start (Clerks), a wasting of his talents (Mallrats), a pretty decent movie for college kids (Chasing Amy), a dumb goofball movie pretending to be a serious discussion of God (Dogma), and a movie that proved he probably had no talents or promise after all (Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back). Now he's making a sort of typical feel-good movie about raising a kid, where George Carlin gets to make faces at smelly diapers and little girls get to say precocious little things that will all but alienate his fans of college kids who haven't realized what good movies are yet. Oh well, maybe it will mark his death and we can all forget he existed. If you actually do see this movie (and you shouldn't), you can at least be happy that you won't have to see Jay and Silent Bob one more time.

The Ladykillers -- If it weren't for the Coens having made the intolerable Intolerable Cruelty previous to this, The Ladykillers would be downright... intolerable. But, by comparison, it's a step back in the right direction. This is a remake of the movie starring Obi Wan Kenobi and Dr. Strangelove, but this time it's with a white guy (Tom Hanks) and black guy (Marlon Wayans) and sassy old southern black lady. You see the problem here. We'll give the brothers one more chance, and then they'll go on our "sorry, fellas, but we don't like you anymore" list.

Mayor of the Sunset Strip -- A pretty interesting documentary on DJ Rodney Bingenheimer, featuring all kinds of celebrities saying nice things. Worth renting.

Ned Kelly -- I've been reviewing these things for a while now. I've been pretty good about watching them objectively and giving you the scoop. But I'm afraid I simply fell asleep during this one. Like twenty minutes into it. I went alone in a crowded theater and there was this hot girl next to me, and she let me put my head on her shoulder and drool away. Occasionally she'd wake me up and say "You might like this part," but I never did.

Never Die Alone -- You will find yourself half watching this on HBO in a few years and wondering why... and yet you won't turn the channel. This is not me saying that the movie is good, but I am saying something. Just avoid it as long as you can. Under it all, it's dull as dishwater.

Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed -- Well, if there had to be a first one, I suppose a second doesn't hurt. It's not any worse than the first one--the same level of badness that no one much seems to care about. This one is an exact millimeter better.

Two Men Went To War -- This is the best movie opening this week (beating out those has-been Coen Brothers). You should rent it when you get a chance.

19 Mar 2004

Dawn of the Dead -- Okay, if you like the genre of zombie movies, this might even be one of the better ones. Kind of usual, but I did say "genre."

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind -- Here's a high-concept idea for Charlie Kaufman: he can go back in time and kill himself sometime between 1996 (when he was writing for The Dana Carvey Show) and 1999 (when he wrote Being John Malkovich). I appreciate that his movies offer something different on the Hollywood landscape, but the difference appeals to such a specific mind -- the retard-who-wants-to-be-smart -- that I would take any given Hilary Duff movie in its place. This one's got Jim Carey realizing that if he really wants to be taken seriously, he'll quit making light comedies movies that advocate prayer. And he might have done fine for himself with this one (a la Nick Cage in Adaptation) if they would have named this movie something else. What a horrible, horrible title.

Intermission -- Kind of boring. Um, that's all.

Taking Lives -- One of those usual serial killer movies. With Angelina Jolie to look at.

12 Mar 2004

Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London -- If there was ever any hope for this at all, it's been sort of ruined by Anthony "Kangaroo Jack" Anderson Jar-Jarring up the act with his wacky antics. The best character is Hannah Spearritt's, but she's not in it as much as she should be.

Knafayim Svurot -- Or Broken Wings. Even if you are sitting in the middle of the room with your eyes fixed right on the screen and listening as hard as you can with no distractions, this movie will fade to background noise after a few seconds. You'll start thinking about dishwashing detergent or something else more interesting.

NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience -- It's not exactly a well-put-together documentary about car racing. In fact, it's more for people who watch races to see people crash against walls. However, this should appeal to anyone who's a fan at all of NASCAR (not me--the movie only managed to confused me more about why people do it and like to watch it). Lots of loud sounds and big tires.

Secret Window -- Misery meets Barton Fink. Even though Johnny Depp and John Turturro are almost always fun to watch, this movie is pretty stupid. (Oh, and Steven King only has like three ideas; that's why he can write so many books so fast.)

Spartan -- This David Mamet movie is worth a rental one night. You get to see Ed O'Neill play non-comedy if nothing else.

Wilbur Wants To Kill Himself -- It's different, but dull.

5 Mar 2004

Hidalgo -- Don't be fooled by first glances that make this look like a typical dusty epic. This is actually pretty cool. Viggo "Aragorn" Mortensen is really charming and funny throughout. Besides, I live in Hidalgo county.

Starsky and Hutch -- You read it right, Starsky and Hutch, the 70s TV show about two cops sliding over cars. This adaptation isn't as fast or cool as the first Charlie's Angels movie, but it's arguably funnier (Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson play the guys with Snoopy Dog Dog playing the pot-smoking Huggy Bear and Vince Vaughn the bad guy). Todd Phillips seems to know how to let funny guys just be funny, and he's worked with lots of these folks before (Will Ferrell even makes an appearance). Too slow, and maybe too much of a good idea wasted on not thinking it out properly (remember Dragnet?), but still worth renting one goofy night.

27 Feb 2004

Club Dread -- This will be your reaction to the movie while watching it: "Man, this is dumb. Look at that crap. Man, this is so--hahahahahahaha!" [later] "Well, that first 20 or 30 minutes was just them cramming the funny stuff up front. I mean look, it's just the typical old--hahahahahahahahaha!" Etc. It's kind of like a surprising jab in the stomach when this movie makes you laugh. Even the fact that 20% of the movie is a parody of Scream is funny. Go watch it or rent it as a double feature with Super Troopers.

Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights -- A remake of Dirty Dancing that isn't much like Dirty Dancing--or not as much as you might expect from a remake. The cornball "charm" (couldn't think of a better word for that bit of something that appealed to so many teenage girls) of the first one is replaced with a Cuban sexiness (remember: brown skin is much sexier than white; and even sexier than black, because it's teasing you, see?). It's more like a remake of Save the Last Dance actually. At any rate, teenage girls won't like this one nearly as much as older women who are tired of their husbands.

Good Bye, Lenin! -- "Rip Van Vinkle" for Berlin. Also a sort of Life Is Beautiful in reverse. Don't be fooled by the subtitles. This is a funny movie.

The Passion of the Christ -- So lots of Jesus movies are big ol' controversial things, and usually I can't see what the fuss is about (of course, I can say that about most controversies). Is it anti-Semetic? Nah, not really. Is it too bloody? Um, it's a little blood-obsessed, but so was Braveheart. Mel Gibson is a bit of a psycho these days, but at least he's focused on something. Is it good? Kinda. It's really pretty. Essentially it looks like every pretty (or so horrible it's pretty) Jesus painting you've ever seen, so it's nice to look at, even if you don't feel like reading the subtitles (since we more or less know the story by now, and it doesn't vary much from what we've already seen a hundred times--costumes, platitudes, confused disciples, crying women, dirt, sandals, defiance, angry mobs, slow motion, suffering, icons, a story that's barely interesting other than what we bring to it ourselves). It's not as thought-provoking as -- say -- The Last Temptation of Christ, but it doesn't have John Wayne in a cameo either (take that any way you like). In the end, you should see it if you're interested in Jesus movies or want to decide for yourself if it's worth all the fuss or if you just want to settle down in front of some paintings with sound for a few hours.

20 Feb 2004

Against the Ropes -- It's better than, say, In the Cut. But not better than, say, a good movie. There's one scene where a frightened Meg Ryan brings her African American friend with her for "blackup": hahahahahahahahahahahaha. That's priceless.

Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen -- Lindsay Lohan, who's basically Hilary Duff if you don't look too close, stars in this absolutely average pre-teen movie. This is the very essence of the grade "C."

Eurotrip -- Buffy's sister stars in this goofball romp through Europe. It's like a worse version of Road Trip.

Welcome to Mooseport -- Not a terrible movie. I mean, it's got all the usual jokes and stuff, but Ray Romano and Gene Hackman manage to make the dumb jokes look almost smart. Watch it with your grandparents.

13 Feb 2004

50 First Dates -- Sandler and Barrymore are back to their The Wedding Singer-style romantic comedy antics, but this one is even worse. Its charms are lost on me.

6 Feb 2004

Barber Shop 2 -- Okay, it's enjoyable enough. It's got some old movie charm almost.

Catch That Kid -- Spy Kids meets Mission: Impossible, but not as interesting as either. I'm trying to figure out the actual target audience here. I think perhaps age 13.5, but not 13 or 14. The most un-energized glitz movie in a while.

The Dreamers -- Those decadent French get all corrupt-y on an innocent American. It's not a bad movie, but the usual stuff happens, and the incest and all that NC17 stuff doesn't make it any more new.

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra -- Doesn't quite juggle the tongue-in-cheek, homage, true genre picture, respect, postmodernist, etc. etc. deal perfectly well, but it does fine for itself. Worth seeing whether you're a B-movie fan or not. So you can say you saw this before it became a cult sensation.

Miracle -- Remember when the United States were all grit and determination and Soviet Russia did nothing but breed human robots set out to destroy us, even in something as insignificant as Olympic hockey? This movie reminds us of that time. For fans of gush and typicality.

30 Jan 2004

The Perfect Score -- One of Scarlett Johansson's leftover movies she made before everyone realized how great she is. One of those usual MTV-style gettin' into college movies.

You Got Served -- Breakin' 3: Electric Booga... lee?

23 Jan 2004

The Butterfly Effect -- Ashton Kutcher proves that he's more than a dumb pretty punkin' face in this movie. The premise of the movie is time travel with emphasis on the Butterfly Effect that most time travel movies leave out (the opposite of the Self-Preservation idea of Back to the Future), so it's interesting enough for that reason. Not a bad one to rent.

Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! -- Certainly not the most horrible thing you've ever seen, but not much worth watching beyond seeing Topher Grace.

16 Jan 2004

Along Came Polly -- Ben Stiller is a pretty smart dude, but he makes these crappy movies every now and then. You should be able to tell them apart. This is the one that has a ferret in it.

Teacher's Pet -- Are we tired of Nathan Lane and David Ogden Stiers doing voices for cartoons? Yes we are. Kids will like this fine.

Torque -- Rhymes with dork.

9 Jan 2004

Chasing Liberty -- Mandy Moore shows that she can be blissfully run-of-the-mill instead of annoyingly crappy like her colleagues.

My Baby's Daddy -- The guy from Kangaroo Jack and other dorks do "Three Men and Three Little Babies." Avoid like Problem Child.

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You may email Rusty W. Spell.