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Cabin Boy (1993) ... Average: 4.3
(Chris Elliot, Ritch Brinkley, Brian Doyle Murray)

Drew Gallagher
The ingredients of a timeless classic!

Kim
Three words...funny movie.

Tony Porco (CLICK HERE to go to Tony Porco's Movie Reviews Page)
Ah, the joys and tribulations of being a fan!  I have been an unabashed fan of Chris Elliott (come to think of it, why would anyone be an abashed fan of Chris Elliott?) since the halcyon days of his David Letterman period.  Furthermore, I recently had the luck to discover his early-90's sitcom, the aptly-named Get a Life, on video.  In Cabin Boy, however, the supreme silliness and anarchic wit that have always characterized his talent get a bit old, at least for my tastes, although I'm guessing that a lot of other fans would disagree.

The plot is mostly an excuse to allow Chris to do his thing.  His character, a self-described "fancy lad" from an elite prep school (where he was--big surprise!!--the class clown), he plans to sail to Hawaii to join his father and instead finds himself on a boat full of hardened and thoroughly unpleasant sea-dogs.

At various times, this script gives you the opportunity to watch Chris sing out of key, babble incoherently (and no one babbles incoherently quite like Chris), romance a pretty-but-tough stranger (played by Melora Walters from Boogie Nights, who isn't bad), take abuse from the sea-dogs, have thrilling adventures on the high seas, and generally enjoy himself.  Like Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, all this has a kind of idiotic energy that can be enjoyable for a while; unfortunately, like Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, I thought it just got wearisome as the silliness quotient continued to increase.

If you're wondering whether this movie is for you, here's a simple test: There is a scene right after Chris loses his virginity (and no, I am not giving away a big plot point here), in which our hero, an enormous smile on his face, declares to the blue morning sky "MY PIPES ARE CLEAN!" as typical dramatic soundtrack-music swells in the background.  If that sounds funny to you, then this is your movie; if not, it may be best to steer clear. 

 

Can't Hardly Wait (PG-13, 1998) ... Average: 1.0
(Jennifer Love-Hewitt, Jenna Elfman, Lauren Ambrose)

Tony Porco
Jennifer Love Hewitt is a very pretty young woman. She is also a competent actress, and has at least one extraordinary entry on her resume (the TV show Party of Five, in case you've been on Mars). Now, of course, she is angling for her promotion to the big-time of Hollywood; one result, tragically, is this piece of stale doughnut that I made the mistake of inserting into my thoroughly unprepared VCR.

The plot consists of all the usual high-school-graduation-and-party BS that we've all seen a million times, in movies that were just as bad. All the idiotic, tired stereotypes are here--the nerds, the jocks, the princesses, the moronic foreign exchange students, even the white kids trying to be black, all take insufferable bows. (The nerd cliché is the most offensive of all; according to this movie, anyone that surfs the internet, likes The X-Files or Star Wars, or does not drink is a nerd, which means that nerdism afflicts roughly 85% of the U. S. population.)

Hewitt manages to emerge with most of her pride intact, but only because she does not really have all that much screen time. The same cannot be said for Jenna Elfman (who has an inexplicable small role that seems to be intended largely to expose substantial quantities of her body) and a fine young actress named Lauren Ambrose, who has the only interesting relationships in the film and cries out plaintively for a better role, selected with more judgment.

Films like this are the reason we have MST3K, and this dog is begging for it!

The Unknown Payperviewer
Can't hardly wait, is right!  Can't wait to get the f*** out of there.  Talk about lame.  I almost fell asleep watching it.  The only good thing about this crappy movie was Jennifer Love Hewitt's (thingies).  Oh, and I don't mind Seth Green, he was funny.  I give the one star for Jennifer's (thingies).

 

Cast Away (PG-13, 2000) ... Average: 3.0
(Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, Nick Searcy, Lari White, Michael Forest)

Tony Porco (CLICK HERE to go to Tony Porco's Movie Reviews Page)
Unlike most of the rest of the world, I am not really a big fan of Forrest Gump, the first collaboration between director Bob Zemeckis and actor Tom Hanks.  To my great surprise, I actually liked this movie (their latest work) a lot better.

Hanks plays Chuck Noland, a hotshot young efficiency expert for Fed Ex who travels to foreign country offices and gives pep talks to faltering employees about the importance of time.  He is called up unexpectedly to Malaysia just as he is planning to propose to his longtime girlfriend Jan (Helen Hunt) and ends up the only survivor of a horrific crash in the Pacific Ocean, which lands him on a small island somewhere in the Pacific... where he begins to experience time (and the rest of life) in a very different way.

The message being delivered here, like most Hollywood messages, isn't especially subtle, but it is delivered much more artfully than the norm, making this film a great pleasure.  The terrifying plane crash, and Hanks' subsequent struggle to become used to island life, are related with a sober realism and without lots of heavy-handed music to guide the viewer's every emotion. With a few exceptions, even the computer graphics look like what they're meant to look like. While many viewers might find the island-life scenes boring, I actually found them to be the exact opposite–I was riveted to the screen, because I desperately wanted Chuck to survive and get back home someday.  (This interest in the main character is exactly what was absent from Forrest Gump, at least for me.)

The later developments in the plot (which I dare not describe in detail) I actually found less interesting.  This was a minor gripe, however, as was my ambivalence about Helen Hunt's performance (she never quite nails down her Southern accent, and sometimes seems less-than-involved with her role).

As a side note, much has been said about the product-placement in the movie, particularly the omnipresence of FedEx packages, making the movie seem a bit like one long commercial.  While I would agree that this is one of the cheesier aspects of the movie, I also liked the realism of featuring an actual company, instead of a fake one that we would all know was just a stand-in for the real FedEx.  (To some extent, this is a pet peeve of mine; I have never seen a movie with a fake company name that didn't sound like exactly what it was, a movie-fake-company-name.)

See this. 


Chris Mal
It's rare that I'm so torn on my opinion of a movie.  On one hand, I can see why some people were bored by the lack of dialog of a man stuck on a deserted island for four years all by himself.  On the other hand, I can see why others were intrigued by uniqueness of the situation.  And, I really can't make up my mind.  There were times, while Hanks' character was stuck on the island, that I was riveted to my seat in anticipation.  But, in some ways, that part did play a little long and, perhaps, they could have cut that a little shorter and instead added to the last part of the movie when he had finally returned from the island.  Clearly, this movie would, indeed, have been much better if they would have offered additional insight upon his return.  What did his friends think?  What was the reaction of his family?  His co-workers?  You never really get that as the movie runs out of time.
Tom Hanks stars as Chuck Noland
As most everyone has said about the movie, the plane crash scene was fantastic.  Extremely well done and quite intense.  Excellent special effects.  I can really imagine that's exactly how it would feel to crash into the ocean in a jet plane in the middle of a terrible storm.  It's a terrifying sequence just about worth the price of the rental.

I'm going to go read some other reviews on the internet to figure something out - I must be dense or wasn't paying close-enough attention because I'm not sure I understood the significance of the package that he never opened and then delivered at the end of the movie.  Anyone?

Tom Hanks was, as always, top rate.  His performance and the way the movie was written, really made you feel his totally encompassing helplessness.  I also found it interesting, the parallels of being stuck on a dessert island and then returning to a life where everyone thought he was dead, only to feel like he had completely lost everything (and everyone) that he had before getting on the plane - not unlike how he felt while being stuck on the island for four years in the first place.

Overall, I'd recommend this movie.  It was unequivocally unique.  I'd be interested to hear other viewpoints.

(Bev thought the movie was fantastic and liked the movie more than I did.)

Sue Hohenadel (a.k.a. Catgirl)
Oh my God!  Why did I pay full price to see this depressing, long, tedious crappy movie when I could have used the $8.00 to pay some crack head to take out my eye?  It would have probably been less painful.
Tom Hanks stars as Chuck NolandTom Hanks stars as Chuck NolandPhoto Credit: Francois Duhamel
I love Tom Hanks.  He's one of those actors that makes me smile just by seeing him on screen.  And I did smile when he came on -- for about 30 seconds.

Cast Away is -- in case English is NOT your primary language -- about a castaway -- a man who ends up on an island for four years, all alone, with little or no provisions.  The movie is a long, drawn-out version of "Murphy's Law" -- whatever can go wrong, will.  45 minutes into the movie, I leaned over to my husband and said, "Get this guy HOME already!"  And I wasn't kidding.

Hanks' acting is fine -- for as much as he needs to act.  I'm sure his folks are proud that they paid for acting classes so he could learn to use up 7 minutes of the movie trying to open a coconut.  And that was one of the EXCITING parts.

The first hour or so is just Hanks and the elements -- no music, little dialogue, except him talking to his "friend" the beach ball (don't ask) and painful attempts at leaving, self-surgery and foraging for food.  The last 45 minutes is his homecoming and then the movie ends.  You would think that after all the guy has been through, the writers would have made up a great ending.  WRONG.  It just ends.  Ugh.

I honestly have nothing good to say about this movie.  However, if you choose to ignore this review and see Cast Away, do yourself a favor -- leave after the "Coming Attractions."  They're much more interesting.

 

Catch Me If You Can (PG-13, 2002) ... Average: 3.5
(Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Jennifer Garner, Martin Sheen, Christopher Walken)
Directed by Steven Spie
lberg

Chris Mal
Leonardo DiCaprio plays Frank Conners...err, Frank Abagnale, who is a substitute teacher, no wait, he's an air line co-pilot for United, or no, he's a doctor, or, wait, no, now he's a lawyer.  Actually, he was really truly none of those things.  What he was was the world's greatest con-artist of our time, a master of forgery and false impersonations, all at the ripe old age of 17 before even graduating from high school.  It's one of those stories that would have been absolutely completely absurd and laughable and preposterous as fiction, but as it is, this story is a true one.  (I even saw a story about the real Frank Abagnale on Dateline recently.  Quite an interesting character, and what a tale!)  The things he was able to pull off are simply amazing to consider.

The charades begin for Abagnale when he arrives at his new high school for his first class, discovers that a substitute teacher is expected, and without missing a beat, writes his name on the board, tells the class to be quiet and asks what chapter they are on.  He teaches for a full week before anyone catches on.  The man was a genius!

Tom Hanks is wonderful, but then Tom Hanks is just about the definition of wonderful at this point, or rather, wonderful is the definition of Tom Hanks.  Hanks plays the stuffy obsessed FBI agent hot on elusive Abagnale's trail for 95% of the movie.

Still, as good as the movie was - and it was good - it left me feeling just wee-bit empty, albeit inexplicably.  Enough so that I can't give it a 4-star rating.  It could have been the 2 hour and 15 minute length, perhaps, or that we showed up at the theater at 6:59 for a 7:00 movie and had to sit in the front row.  (My neck still aches.)  I think this movie would have been better if it had been trimmed to 90 minutes.  There were parts that I think could have been easily edited.

Drew Gallagher
If Leonardo DiCaprio continues to make movies like this (that is, with Tom Hanks), Titanic may become a blissful distant memory.

 

The Cell (R, 2000) ... Average: 3.5
(Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaughn, Vincent D'Onofrio, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Dylan Baker)

Jessika
I see "The Cell" as a very misunderstood movie! Many people thought it was too violent and sexually explicit but I LOVED IT!!! You have to look behind the shocking images to WHY Carl Stargher kills...speaking of which, Vincent D'Onofrio's performance was brilliant.  The directing was great and the imagery was breath-taking! **** Four stars!!!

Chris Malinowski
"The Cell" is a dark psychological thriller about a serial killer (D'Onofrio) who falls into a coma soon after capturing another victim.  A group of scientists meanwhile has been performing a revolutionary experimental technique where one person can enter "the world" in another person's mind.  Jennifer Lopez, who plays a child psychologist who was previously working on this "technique" for the first time with a small boy, is chosen to enter the mind of the killer, pretty much literally, in an effort to figure out where he has his latest victim locked up.  Most of the movie is spent as a wild - and unbelievably bizarre - ride through the mind of this psycho.

Vince Vaughn & Jennifer Lopez in "The Cell"The flaw of the movie is that it almost seemed to me they had a long series of amazing - and twisted - special effects...and the movie you have here was built around using them.  Some of the things were kind of sick - the guy who has his nipple chain pulled off in slow motion struck me as the most gratuitous, for example.

The things that happen "in their minds" are dreamlike sequences - or rather nightmares - that are seemingly real to the person who is "visiting."  So, once that premise is established, all logic goes out the window because, after all, it's not "real" so anything can happen no matter how bizarre - and no matter how unrealistic.  That "dream-world" of sorts is on-screen for about two-thirds of the movie.  Some of the things that happen - even outside of their "minds" - are almost too unrealistic.

The movie did keep me entertained, I will say that much.  So, in that regard, it was a worthy rental, but all-in-all there wasn't really a lot of substance beyond the visual splendor, if you step back and think about it.  So, the best I can give it is 3-stars.

(Funny line that I saw in another review of this movie: "The Cell asks the provocative question, 'What goes on inside a serial killer’s mind?,' and ends by concluding that he mostly wants to dress up in one of Cher’s Oscar outfits.")

 

Changing Lanes (PG-13, 2002) ... Average: 2.0
(Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Affleck, Toni Collette, Sydney Pollack, William Hurt)

Sue Hohenadel
If you have seen the trailers for "Changing Lanes," save your $7.50.  You have already seen the best parts of the movie.

Changing Lanes is the story of an up-and-coming young lawyer (Affleck) who, in his haste to get to a court appearance, gets into a fender bender with an insurance agent (Jackson), equally in a hurry to get to a court appearance.  The difference is that Affleck is going to court to screw a charitable foundation out of millions of dollars and Jackson is going to court to try and gain custody/visitation with his two young sons.

During the chaos of trying to exchange insurance information in the middle of the JFK, Affleck drops a very important file -- one that could possibly make or break the outcome of the court appearance, his career and his father-in-law's law firm.  Jackson, of course, ends up with the file.

Changing Lanes goes from a movie with possibilities to a disjointed mess, at best.  Affleck and Jackson spend the rest of the movie trying to screw each other just enough to get what they need.  Ultimately, they screw each other just to "one up" the other.

Samuel L. Jackson is a great actor who is very believable in his part as the put-upon guy with issues who just can't seem to catch a break.  Affleck is annoying as a lawyer who's not so sure he's cut out for being the type of lawyer he needs to be to make it in the firm, but not alter boy enough to be a good guy.

I sincerely believe that the writers felt they had to throw in non-essential plot twists for Affleck's character because the character wasn't strong enough just being a jerk to Jackson.  The plot twists never really develop, nor do they ever get resolved.  A stupid waste of time.

Changing Lanes really was not a good movie.  With a little effort and focus, it could have been.  As it stands, it definitely only merits a rental.

 

Charlie's Angels (PG-13, 2000) ... Average: 4.5
(Drew Barrymore, Kelly Lynch, Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu, Bill Murray,
Sam Rockwell, LL Cool J, Matt LeBlanc, Crispen Glover)

Sara Gaughan Austin
Three chicks who kick ass - what is more fun than that!  It has inspired me to finish those karate lessons that I started in 8th grade.  Won't win any awards -- it's just fun!

 

Chasing Amy (R, 1997) ... Average: 4.5
(Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams, Jason Lee, Dwight Ewell, Jason Mewes, Casey Affleck, Matt Damon)

Tony Porco (CLICK HERE to go to Tony Porco's Movie Reviews Page)
Kevin Smith's triumph, about a comic-book writer (Ben Affleck) who falls for a colleague who happens to be a lesbian (Joey Lauren Adams). Car-stopping scene is one of the most moving love scenes on film. Jay and Silent Bob, of course, threaten to steal the whole thing.....

 

Chicken Run (G, 2000) ... Average: 4.17
(Mel Gibson, Julia Sawahla, Miranda Richardson, Tony Haygarth, Phil Daniels)

Photo GalleryKaty Epler
Seriously funny and very cleverly written. In addition to the amazing claymation work by Nick Park (creator of the "Wallace and Gromit" shorts, also recommended), it's well-written with a lot of amusing references to all those great old WWII escape movies (like "Stalag 17," "The Great Escape," etc.). You'll even find homages to Indiana Jones and Star Trek, just to name a few! 

Couldn't be more highly recommended.

Mike Drago (a.k.a. "The Chicken")
Just read your review of Chicken Run, and I liked it even more than you did (and not because of the title).

I rented it for the kids, of course. But what I really got a kick out of, and what I think not too many people picked up on, was that it was, in part, a parody of "Stalag 17" and "The Great Escape," both WWII concentration camp movies. Not sure if you've seen them, but if you had, it makes Chicken Run even funnier.

Chris Malinowski
A smart and charming animated film about the many foiled escapes of a bunch of chickens - with British accents! - on a chicken farm not unlike a concentration camp.  The movie stars Ginger (played by Sawahla), the ever-determined brains of the operation, and co-stars Rocky the rooster (played by Mel Gibson), who promises to teach the chickens how to fly.

A team of 300 (including 40 animators) worked for over two years to produce Chicken Run.  Its use of the "claymation" type of animation is particularly impressive, given that there are 24 frames per second of film time, and that each character needed to be moved minutely by hand for each new frame. There are some scenes with dozens of characters, each with distinct facial expressions, physiques and personalities.

It's good clean fun with many successful attempts at humor to amuse both kids and adults alike, but I can't say that it matched up with classic animated films like Toy Story.  On the other hand, Bev absolutely loved this movie and even clapped in our living room as the credits rolled.

It's above average and for the family of many different ages, this is one that will appeal to everyone.

 

Chocolat (PG-13, 2000) ... Average: 3.5
(Juliette Binoche, Lena Olin, Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Alfred Molina)

Drew Gallagher
Nice, feel good movie.  You can't help but smile when it's finished.

 

The Ciderhouse Rules (PG-13, 1999) ... Average: 4.25
(Michael Caine, Toby McGuire, Charlize Therzon)

Thomas Bishop

Jill Hendricks

Tony Porco (CLICK HERE to go to Tony Porco's Movie Reviews Page)
Definitions of home, and of family, are raised by Lasse Halstrom's endearing latest movie. The story follows Homer Wells, an orphan in a hospital in rural Maine (played well by Toby McGuire), from his birth to his attempt to make it on his own in young adulthood in World War II-era America.

If McGuire and the other actors are good, Michael Caine--playing the orphanage's resident doctor, an even more fascinating and complex character--is astounding. In raising the question of the extent to which Caine's character is Homer's "father" (in every sense of the word but the biological), the film consistently enthralls, rarely settling for the easy way out in its script.

Photo GalleryThere are moments of sentimentality and some clichés, but they are never allowed to overwhelm us (which was a problem with the other Halstrom movie I've seen, My Life As a Dog).

The weakest link of the project may be Charlize Therzon, who plays a young woman who becomes Homer's friend. She's very pretty, but her acting is a bit too flat, and her function in the script a bit too predictable. Still, this movie is entirely worth the theatre ticket.

(A few parenthetical notes: Caine maintains a fairly convincing New England accent throughout most of this film, which ironically makes him less charming, since his more familiar English accent is one of the most attractive and distinctive things about him. Also of interest is the central role that a current issue--abortion--necessarily plays in this movie. I was impressed with the way that this was handled; while there is little doubt which side of the issue the filmmakers are on, both sides are presented with some fairness and understanding, with the viewpoints rooted in the characters' selves.)
Chris Mal
The story at the start of the movie is set in an orphanage in Maine in the ‘40’s. At that time, orphanages served not only as a place where the orphans lived, but also as a place where mothers would go to actually deliver their unwanted babies – and in the case of this place, abortions as well. Michael Caine plays the resident doctor who raises one of the orphans, Homer Wells (played by Tobey Maguire) to be his apprentice, grooming him to one day take his place. Homer Wells – one of innocence and naivety as he spends his entire childhood at the orphanage – grows up brilliant, delivering babies and acting as a "big brother" of sorts to all of the younger orphans. Longing to experience more than his enclosed world of the orphanage, Homer decides to leave.

He begins his new life as an Apple picker, falls in love for the first time and spends his days working with an apple picking crew that can not even read or write. And so goes the last two thirds of the movie, developing the many new relationships he grows into, and touching all those that get near to him.

Cider House Rules was an interesting story with a lot of different levels, stories and relationships. Fortunately, unlike a lot of multi-leveled stories, the ones here weren’t so "deep" that they were difficult to follow. Both Caine and Maguire do fine jobs with their rolls making for a pleasing movie experience. Both characters were "complex" but not difficult to relate to and understand. The character development was touching, as was the naïve-boy-meets-the-world concept.

The movie was a little slow to get moving, but all-in-all was above average. There are times when it was a bit predictable as well, but not in a way that annoys or detracts from the bittersweetness of Homer’s "awakening" to the "real" world.

(Oh, and the metaphor of the beautiful ocean-smoothed piece of glass was a nice touch, as was the point of the redundant "Cider House Rules" posted for the migrant apple pickers. See if you catch those two things – realizing those points is really the moral of the story!)
 

Cinderella Man (PG-13, 2005) ... Average: 4.5
(Russell Crowe, Renee Zellweger, Bruce McGill, Ariel Waller, Paddy Considine, Paul Giamatti)

Chris Mal
Has Russell Crowe ever made a bad movie?  I can't even think of a mediocre movie that he's been involved.  This is another classic, must-see movie.  And as icing on the cake, it's directed by Ron Howard, another person who is anything but synonymous with mediocrity.

Crowe plays James J. Braddock, a boxer during the Depression.  I have zero interest in boxing, but this is not a boxing movie, it's more a story about The Great Depression, and a grand triumph of perseverance over extreme adversity.

It's based on a true story, and if it wasn't it would probably come off as somewhat hokey.  But as it is, it takes a grip on you and doesn't let go for two hours.  It's a very tense movie.

It's fairly obvious that good will eventually prevail in a world where every day is an invitation to despair, yet there is no loss of interest.  It's truly a testament to Crowe and Howard and their tremendous attention to detail and authenticity.

In the end Crowe winds up fighting a man who appears more evil psychotic beast than human.  You know he's must to win or this wouldn't have been a true story worth telling, but you still feel every punch as if you were being hit.  You can't help but hang on the edge of your seat wondering what is really going to happen because it's still all so unbelievable that Crowe and Howard manage to plant enough doubt in your mind to keep your chained to your seat.

Paul Giamatti also plays a wonderful supporting role.  I'd have to think that having a key role in a serious movie like this one, and then knocking it out of the park in the process, is going to land him more key roles in the future.

This is an absolutely GREAT tremendously moving movie.

 

Clerks (R, 1994) ... Average: 4.5
(Brian O'Halloran, Kevin Smith, Jeff Anderson, Jason Mewes)

Drew Gallagher
With "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" scheduled for wide release next Friday, I thought it fitting that one recall the great film from which it all began.  How good is this movie?  I sat through "Dogma" because of my affinity for "Clerks."

Tony Porco (CLICK HERE to go to Tony Porco's Movie Reviews Page)

 

Closer (R, 1994) ... Average: 2.0
(Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Clive Owen, Michael Haley, Steve Benham)

Chris Mal
The way I felt after this movie was over was very similar to the way I felt after I saw "Affliction" and "Leaving Las Vegas":  Melancholy and mildly depressed.  If I wanted that, I could have just turned on the news.  No, Closer wasn't about chemical addictions as the two aforementioned movies were, but it was the same in that the story was about a bunch of miserable screwed-up people leading their miserable screwed-up lives...and in the end?  The all live completely UNhappily ever-after.

The moral?  The more you tell the truth in your relationship, the more unhappy you'll become.  Throughout the movie, Natalie Portman is the only screwed-up person who is lying constantly throughout the movie, and she is the only one truly in love.  When does she fall out of love?  At the end of the movie when she's forced to tell the truth about an affair that she had.  What an uplifter!

I saw a lot of odd people in the theater.  Not odd in the sense of how they looked, but rather, there was a mother and her teen-aged daughter; and a mom, dad, daughter and her boyfriend.  They all looked extremely uncomfortable while leaving the theater.  Don't go see this movie expecting a cutesy Julia Roberts-Natalie Portman chick-flick, because that it most certainly is not.  Save the fact that there is no nudity, this a very R-rated film.
 

Collateral (R, 1994) ... Average: 3.5
(Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Mark Ruffalo, Peter Berg)

Chris Mal
This was a good movie despite the fact that my Dad felt the need to pretty much tell me everything about the movie before I saw it.  (If you run into my Dad and he says that he just saw a really good movie, immediately put your hands over your ears and start screaming "I'm not listening!  I'm not listening!  I'm not listening!")

Jamie Foxx plays a cab driver who quickly realizes that the Tom Cruise, passenger he is driving around from one place to another, is a contracted hitman carrying out a series of murders.  The movie is his long and torturous night which ends with Foxx attempting to figure out how he is going to save the fifth victim and himself.

The acting is surprisingly good, and Cruise pulls off the "bad guy" roll much better that I thought he would.  In fact, there seems to be a lot of Tom Cruise detractors out there these days, but I think you'd be surprised how well he does in this movie.

My only real complaint about this movie that kept it from being a much better movie was the long series of unlikely coincidences.  There were many but just to name a few:

* How many millions of people in LA, and Foxx just happens to pick up the prosecuting attorney and the hitman in succession.
* A guy falls out of a 4th story window, and just happens to land on the taxi.
* Foxx and Cruise go to the hospital to visit Foxx's mother.  Again, how many millions of people in LA, and they happen to get on the elevator at the same time as the criminal investigator who is on his way to the morgue.
* Dead body in the trunk, cracked windshield on the taxi, cops pull them over and tell them his car is unsafe to drive with the broken windshield and they must make him call to be picked up to get a new cab...oh, and open the trunk, sir.  (Why would they make him open the trunk?)  Oh, oops...another more important call just came in...we'll let you go.
* The taxi flips over a gazillion times, and as Foxx is crawling out, Cruise's laptop just happens to still be on, and it's open, and it's laying in front of Foxx's face and on the screen is the name and picture of the 5th person soon to be killed.

And my other little complaint is - when Foxx gets to Pinkett-Smith's building and then calls on a cell-phone to tell her that Cruise is in her building about to kill her, why does he tell her to call 9-1-1?  Why wouldn't HE call 9-1-1 as soon as he got the cell phone?!?!

Still, I don't think normal people would notice those things, I'm just picky.  Bev and my Dad both absolutely loved this movie.  In fact, Bev had a nightmare that night about it.  I thought it was good - a definite worthy rental, but not great.
 

The Constant Gardener (R, 2005) ... Average: 3.0
(Ralph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz, Danny Huston, Bill Nighy, Pete Postlethwaite)


Chris Mal
I bet if I had any idea what was going on this would have been a really good movie.  OK, that's a little harsh.  The basic premise was easy enough to comprehend:  British diplomat marries a much younger attractive strong-willed woman.  You see that she is murdered as the movie begins, then flash back to when they met and how she came to meet her convictions - the hepatitis epidemic in Kenya, and the big-time U.S. drug companies using the people of Kenya as guinea pigs.  Real time meets the opening scene about midway through the movie.  Interesting.  Did she really love him, or didn't she?  Certain scenes lead you to believe she will do anything for her righteous cause.  And an actually rather interesting plot unfolds.

My problem is this: new supporting character after new supporting character are thrown at you at lightning speed as the movie quickly goes forward.  I consider myself to be of at least average intelligence.  I couldn't keep up.  If you've seen the movie, there's a scene on a golf course about 3/4 of the way through the movie.  I have no idea who any of those men were.  The fact that I all of the ancillary faces ran together for me was annoying.

And the filming of certain scenes was equally as annoying to me.  What was with the occasional Blair Witch Project hand-held affect that they went with every now and then?  Was that to make me feel like I was actually there with the other characters.  Let me tell you, when I'm trying to figure out why my wife was murdered, I'm not doing it through a hand-held video camera.
 

The Contender (R, 2000) ... Average: 3.0
(Joan Allen, Christian Slater, Jeff Bridges, Gary Oldman, William Petersen)

Chris Mal
When the Vice President of the United States suddenly passes away, the President (Jeff Bridges) nominates the Senator from Ohio - who just happens to be a woman (JoaPhoto Galleryn Allen) - as the replacement.  Strong opposition is received from both sides, but primarily from a congressman played by Gary Oldman who digs up information on her past to smear the attempts at getting a passing vote.

I'm having a hard time figuring out why, but I feel like I should have thought this was a great movie, but I just didn't.  It was a smart script, an intelligent plot and a great cast.  Despite a well thought-out plot, it seemed to take a little too long to develop.  Maybe that was it.  I don't know.  Regardless, this was a good movie, but it lacked that little extra to call it a killer movie.

One thing I found a little odd was the decision to portray the president as chain-smoking, very brash, and taking advantage of his luxuries.  The result was that I spent a good deal of the movie expecting this guy to turn out to be a low-life, when clearly that was not the intention.  The guy did, indeed, have the strength in character to select the best candidate for VP, so why try to fool the audience into thinking something else might be true?  (And, as much as I love Jeff Bridges, I'm not sure I cast him as the President of the United States.)

I also thought the movie would have been better served by immediately showing the audience Joan Allen's character's noble skills and deservedness for the job as VP.  As it was, her character was pretty 1-dimensional until mid-way through the movie.  For the first hour of the movie, I really thought perhaps she WAS just chosen because she was a woman.  Maybe I enjoy being spoon-fed, but why leave any chance that the audience will be misled that way?

Gary Oldman is fantastic in this movie.  (And, for all of my friends who know Jonathan Finglass, please see this movie and tell me if you agree that Gary Oldman's character in "The Contender" IS Jonathan Finglass!)

 

Crash (R, 2005) ... Average: 4.0
(Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, Thandie Newton, Sandra Bullock, Brendan Fraser, Ludacris)

Chris Mal
Not so much a story, as it is just a bold and compelling microcosm of American society's views on different people, races and religions - and it isn't pretty.  This movie left me feeling more sad for people in general than I was before - and that's saying something since I haven't really felt right about the world in general since 9/11.

It's a movie worth seeing.  Everyone I know who's seen it says that it really made you think about your views on other people, and gain a little sympathy towards people unlike ourselves.  Personally, it just made me sad since I have already been haunted by my own thoughts of why people think the way they do - I just never had anyone take it all and put it into a movie before.

As a father of a very young daughter, the scene with the little girl nearly brought me to my knees.  If you saw the movie, you know exactly which scene I'm talking about.

For whatever it's worth, Roger Ebert named this THE #1 BEST MOVIE OF 2005.

 

Crossroads (PG-13, 2002) ... Average: 1.5
(Britney Spears, Anson Mount, Zoe Saldana, Taryn Manning, Dan Aykroyd, Kim Cattrall)

Rob Epler
(See also my review of the Mariah Carey opus "Glitter.")

OK, first let me clarify for you--as I did for the kid at Blockbuster--that we rented these movies specifically so we could drink & mock them.  We had folks over & made snacks, & there was Jagermeister.

Anyway, the kid at Blockbuster said that "Crossroads" wasn't as bad as it could have been, and generally I would agree.  That said, it's still pretty bad.  As I know many gentlemen appreciate Britney Spears' aesthetic appeal, that might be the only reason to see it if you're anything but a 10-year-old girl.  Be warned, however, that she is never naked, though in her very first scene she's dancing around her bedroom in her undies, singing along to a Madonna song.

The plot, such as it is, involves three childhood friends very improbably reconnecting on prom night to dig up a time capsule they had buried when they were 10 and thought they'd be friends forever.  Even though the box has only a few things in it, somehow the girls get the notion to travel from Georgia to L.A., even though they seem not to have spoken for the previous eight years.  The motive for the L.A. trip is so that one of them (not Britney) can try out for some record deal or something.  Guess who ultimately sings in the competition?

Not surprisingly, they let Ms. Spears sing a few times, and I imagine if you like her music you won't mind.  She quite pointedly sings "Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman" in the big finale--it's a coming-of-age-road-trip drama, get it?  What surprised me is that they had her sing such a pokey snoozer of a song for the big dramatic climax.

Still, there is a lot to enjoy here, if your goal is as ours was--satire.  We had a blast making fun of this movie.  So even though as an actual film it's pretty bad--and VERY predictable--as entertainment it's great, as long as you're prepared to bring your own.

A caution to the 30-somethings out there:  Dan Aykroyd plays her dad.  So much for the Wild and Crazy Guy...