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Holy Man Review


Terrible
Pop quiz. You're Eddie Murphy, a popular comedian who makes about a decade of bad movies. You then do a remake of a Jerry Lewis classic and you're back in the swing of things. People start to like you again. Why would you do Holy Man?

In this awful, Saturday Night Live sketch gone bad, Jeff Goldblum stars in a thankless role as an infomercial executive who needs to find good product or he'll be fired. He stumbles upon G (Murphy), a mysterious man in a white sheet who speaks eloquently about.... uh....stuff. Goldblum has the inevitable romance with co-worker Kelly Preston, who are about as compatible as Catherine Zeta-Jones and Walter Mathau.

Continue reading: Holy Man Review

Rush Hour Review


Very Good
I'll be the first to admit that I didn't used to like Jackie Chan or Chris Tucker. I have never seen either of them in a movie I liked -- until now. Rush Hour, the 1998 action comedy directed by Brett Ratner, successfully blends two immensely different personalities. The film also works because it contains the perfect amount of action and comedy. By themselves, Chan and Tucker do not provide anything inspiring or refreshing, but when they are combined, they form a surprisingly entertaining comedic duo.

Chan and Tucker are truly opposites. Jackie is known for his modest demeanor and amazing physical abilities, but not for his amazing grasp of the English language. Chris is boastful and outspoken, a shameless motormouth that just will not shut up. The pairing of these two actors works well. Chan provides us with the action and Tucker provides us with the witty comic relief.

Continue reading: Rush Hour Review

The Perfect Score Review


Good
Ocean's Eleven meets The Breakfast Club as six ambitious high school seniors hatch a plot to steal the answers to the SAT and advance with ease to the colleges of their choice.

For the record, I scored an 1110 on my SAT, which was fine with me. Then again, I wasn't nearly as motivated as these kids during my senior year. Though they run in different social circles, the scheming students of The Perfect Score are united by one common denominator - the SAT stands in the way of their career aspirations.

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A Low Down Dirty Shame Review


Weak
Question of the day: why is there such an appeal to brainlessness?

One hypothesis, that we spend our working hours thinking and want to relax and thus not think in latter hours appears to hold water at a glance. However, when you peer deeper you realize that not everyone enjoys turning their brain off. Furthermore, many people cannot turn their brain off. Yet I am both A and B and still find brainlessness enjoyable.

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Dragonfly Review


Weak
Dragonfly asks us: When someone you love dies... are they gone forever? It also answers by saying: Apparently not -- they haunt you until you go crazy, pummeling you with insects and kooky drawings. My kind of love, baby.

The love in Dragonfly is the wife of poor Joe Darrow (Kevin Costner), an emergency medicine doctor in Chicago. She's also a doctor -- a pediatric oncologist named Emily -- and for some reason, she decides to head for Venezuela to do a little Peace Corps-style work, presumably to exorcise her upper class guilt.

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Shanghai Knights Review


Bad
I was in the minority of critics that actually gave Jackie Chan's last buddy picture The Tuxedo a passing grade. Sure, the plot is a throwaway and as Chan's super-spy partner, Jennifer Love Hewitt is a complete miscast. But thanks to Chan's great charisma, the movie transcends its doldrums. So with Shanghai Knights, the follow up to the entertaining Shanghai Noon, I feared this buddy story would suffer from similar inadequacies.

In Knights, Chan returns as Chon Wang, who along with sidekick Roy O'Bannon (Owen Wilson), take their latest adventure from the Wild Wild West to London, where Chon seeks to avenge the brutal slaying of his father and obtain the stolen Chinese Imperial Seal. While there, the pair teams up with Chon's much younger, hotter, and ass-kickinger sister, Lin (Fann Wong) to hunt down their father's killer, Rathbone (Aiden Gillen) and foil Rathbone's plot to assassinate the Royal family. The three certainly have their work cut out for them.

Continue reading: Shanghai Knights Review

Mr. 3000 Review


Weak
Anyone who doesn't believe that the script is the foundation of a movie should check out Mr. 3000. Bernie Mac, in his first starring role, all golf ball eyes and raspy charisma, is stuck with a story that is so riddled with clichés, lousy dialogue, and bad ideas that you begin to think that anyone can write a screenplay.

Mac plays Stan Ross, a former baseball all-star who has spent his retirement years capitalizing on his claim to fame: getting 3,000 hits in his playing career, an accomplishment that makes him a baseball legend. He's put that feat to good use, opening up a 3,000 Hits shopping center, while shamelessly campaigning to get into the Hall of Fame.

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The Pacifier Review


Good
Just the fact that The Pacifier elicits chuckles means it's a huge success. The formula of a tough guy in a kiddie environment has been done before, notably with Hulk Hogan and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Let's just say neither actor typically puts those films on his resume. For The Pacifier's star, Vin Diesel, whose career has dimmed since 2002's XXX, he might want to ignore that precedent.

Diesel stars as top Marine Shane Wolfe, who's assigned to guard the family of a slain professor who was working on a secret government work project. Wolfe's job is to protect the man's five kids, while his widow (Faith Ford) travels overseas to settle affairs. What starts as a two-day trip soon becomes two weeks. And it has to seem longer to Wolfe when the family's nanny (Carol Kane) bolts, leaving him to also play surrogate dad to the unruly group of kids.

Continue reading: The Pacifier Review

Inspector Gadget Review


Bad
I'll admit to watching the early 1980s' Inspector Gadget cartoon, and probably far too late in life.

Looks like now I'm waaaaay too old for this kind of thing, but judging by the mute stares of the many children in our advance screening audience, maybe they are too.

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The Count Of Monte Cristo Review


Very Good
The classic Monte Cristo sandwich is a rich confection -- almost inedibly so -- composed of layered ham, turkey, swiss cheese, mayonnaise, mustard, and crusty bread, all battered in egg and fried in hot grease. The diner is meant to dip this in jam before shoving it down his gullet.

The 2002 incarnation of The Count of Monte Cristo is a remarkably similar experience, full of pleasing flavors yet probably too rich for everyday consumption -- but, as with all things, I figure you'll eat it if you're hungry enough. Sure enough, in this snail-slow winter movie season, Monte Cristo is just about the best thing going. Like the sandwich, this isn't gourmet fare -- it's a crowd pleaser meant to entertain for a few brief moments, nothing more.

Continue reading: The Count Of Monte Cristo Review

G.I. Jane Review


Good
So it's a blatant, gimmicky ripoff of Top Gun, but G.I. Jane gave Demi Moore a chance to prove that she had more in her than was on display in Striptease. I don't know if they really beat the crap out of her during the production of this film, but it sure looks like they did. And that's worth two hours of my time.

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy Review


Very Good
Tolkein geeks have The Lord of the Rings. I have The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. One of my most beloved book series as a youth (I still carry a towel in my trunk thanks to its advice), I even sat through (and enjoyed) the cheesy BBC miniseries made from the novels. So just so you know what you're getting into with this review: I'm a self-confessed overgrown fanboy on this one.

Decades in the making, Guide has been embroiled in controversy since the very beginning. The most recent round of complaints have covered pretty much the entire film, from casting (Mos Def taking a role commonly envisioned as a sort of British dandy) to directing (Garth Jennings is a music video veteran), to choice of writer Karey Kirkpatrick (a kiddie flick screenwriter best known for Chicken Run but also the writer of disastrous flicks The Little Vampire and Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves). Out of this, we've all been promised, genius would spring.

Continue reading: The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy Review

The Ranch Review


Good
Anyone who's ever seen any documentary footage of real Nevada brothels (or has been to one personally -- hey, we don't judge), knows that the ladies that typically work there are hardly mistakable for Hollywood starlets.

Never mind that. If you're willing to suspend disbelief -- completely and utterly -- you might find The Ranch a curious diversion.

Continue reading: The Ranch Review

Shanghai Noon Review


Excellent
The American movie studios are bastards when it comes to taking highly talented Asian directors and actors and pushing them into the American consciousness, invariably stereotyping and watering down the raw talent and energy of the individuals to increase their acceptance in American culture. Jet Li, Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam, Chow-Yun Fat, Michelle Yeong, and John Woo have all fallen victim to this epidemic, either starring in bad Joel Silver action movies, playing sinister villains in bad Joel Silver movies, seducing James Bond, or directing Jean Claude Van Damme in films stamped with one of his patented roundhouse kicks.

Jackie Chan represents the grand amalgamation of all of these actors combined. With the embarrassment of the re-release of a slew of his old Asian films, re-cut and dubbed in English, Jackie Chan was headed to the land of Jim Kelly (aka Black Belt Jones). But with the success of last year's Rush Hour, Chan was saved from the abyss of Don "The Dragon" Wilson by the mighty mouth of Chris Tucker and a $100 million dollar domestic gross. So, what's Chan's next move - let's take the same story as Rush Hour, make it a Western, throw in the well-established TV actress Lucy Liu, and added the wise-cracking Owen Wilson as his partner. And watch the money pour in.

Continue reading: Shanghai Noon Review

Metro Review


Bad
Awful and derivative, this Eddie Murphy vehicle relies so much on is-there-a-killer-aroiund-the-corner-no-it's-a-dog fright gags that it's pathetic. Maybe the worst offender of all is near the end, when Murphy's cop (of course) finds a little package in front of his door and spends 30 seconds slowly opening it... to... reveal... a... cassette tape! Good lord. I'd explain the plot but that would force me to further insult us both.

Reign Of Fire Review


OK
Pity the dragon. When not building lame adventures around the mythical beasts (Dungeons & Dragons), filmmakers have saddled the poor creatures with the smooth baritone stylings of Sean Connery (Dragonheart). Reign of Fire, director Rob Bowman's grim vision of a ravaged future, doesn't completely reverse the negative trend, but it does borrow enough recognizable elements of contradictory genres to fashion a passable monster mash.

In the not-too-distant future, London drillers uncover a dragon's lair far below the surface, awakening a horde of slumbering beasts and triggering a mass invasion. The creatures pillage our planet, destroying every major city from Paris to New York. We're not shown the attacks, but rather a montage of headlines from newspapers.

Continue reading: Reign Of Fire Review

Celtic Pride Review


Weak
Not really all that funny, Celtic Pride has Daniel Stern, Dan Aykroyd, Damon Wayans, and a kidnapping. If those prospects sound funny, well, it really isn't. The jokes fall flat, and the performers all look bored. Thanks to a remarkably flat script (featuring overzealous Celtics fans who kidnap a rival player), this is one film that won't appeal to either sports or comedy fans.

Connie And Carla Review


Weak
In Connie and Carla, two women find that disguising themselves as male cross-dressers is the only way their show can draw an audience. The premise is strikingly similar to Victor/Victoria, with My Big Fat Greek Wedding's Nia Vardalos as the singing and dancing lead character. Unlike its much better predecessor, C and C is a sluggish and unfunny mess where its gaiety gets lost in an unneeded, heavy-handed melodrama.

Ever since they were kids, best friends Connie (Vardalos) and Carla (Toni Collette) dreamed their two-woman show would take them places. When we first meet the duo, they're not performing in Chicago's dinner theaters; instead their venue is the dismal O'Hare Airport lounge, where they perform for sleeping travelers. After they witness the murder of their boss, by small time gangster Mr. Rudy (Robert John Burke), Connie and Carla pack their bags and escape to a "cultureless" place where Rudy can never find them: Los Angeles.

Continue reading: Connie And Carla Review

The Recruit Review


Good
Rarely do I have any trouble coming up with a way to lead into a movie review. But The Recruit has really thrown me a puzzle. Do I say something about its slick Hollywood production values and typically over-the-top performance by Al Pacino? Do I comment on its wealth of technical implausibilities? Or should I say something about how you should never trust a redhead, newbie spy James's (Colin Farrell) first obvious mistake in the film?

None of these leads really grabbed me, but then again, neither did The Recruit. It's a glossy and well-massaged thriller, designed to give you two hours of eye candy and gently massage your brain -- but not too much! After all, a fickle mass audience might be weighing their investment against the simplicity of Kangaroo Jack.

Continue reading: The Recruit Review

Six Days, Seven Nights Review


Good
Slightly underrated, and I mean slightly... this precocious romantic comedy is all over the map, er, so to speak, when gruff 50+er Ford hooks up with 20something Heche after he crashes his plane on a deserted, tropical island. This couple is as opposite as it gets, but watch out, because in crazy times you never know who's going to fall for their complete opposite! The plot is lifted wholesale from The African Queen, sans the Bogart/Hepburn chemistry, but the addition of the subplot of the intermingling of the significant others left behind actually makes the film quite giddy. Sure, Schwimmer and Obradors make for an even less likely couple, and don't get me started on "the pirates." But hey, it's not the worst flick than any of the principals have made, not by a long shot.

While You Were Sleeping Review


Weak
In case you aren't already prepared, brace yourself for a literal onslaught of summer movie romances. While You Were Sleeping is one of 1995's early entries. It certainly isn't going to be the best.

As heavily promoted as it's been, you should know the plot by know. Sandra Bullock is Lucy, a goofy, salt-of-the-earth Chicago Transit Authority toll booth attendant who falls in love (at first sight) with Peter (Peter Gallagher), a yuppie lawyer. Almost immediately after Lucy swoons, Peter gets pushed onto the train tracks, whereupon Lucy comes to the rescue. Then the obligatory "misunderstanding" occurs: Peter's concerned parents think Lucy is Peter's fiancee, pulling Lucy into the family as a new member. But when Peter's brother Jack (Bill Pullman) arrives on the scene, Lucy and Jack begin to fall in love and, well...you get the picture.

Continue reading: While You Were Sleeping Review

Grosse Pointe Blank Review


Good
John Cusack returns to film after a string of disappointments (City Hall, Money For Nothing) with... yet another disappointment! Grosse Pointe Blank is full of possibilities (a great hook, a sharp cast, and a wry cynicism that is shamefully lacking from film these days) but comes up short on all sides. As Martin Blank, Cusack had the chance to portray a hitman coming to terms with his own mortality on the eve of his high school reunion. And while he performs with characteristic charm and sly sarcasm, as do his compatriots (including Joan Cusack, Jeremy Piven, and the object of his affection Minnie Driver), it's the blown opportunities for hit-it-home funniness that really make the whole experience somewhat lackluster. Apart from that, Grosse Pointe Blank is really a poorly made movie on a technical level. Editing, cinematography, and continuity are all just plain bad, and together they give the impression of an amateurish rush job, despite the fact that the film is already dated (taking place in 1996). Let's hope Romy and Michele have more to offer next week....

Continue reading: Grosse Pointe Blank Review

Washington Square Review


Very Good
Hardly a lush Merchant-Ivory epic, Jennifer Jason Leigh gets dumbed-down and uglified for her treatment in this adaptation of the Henry James novel, about a poor adventurer (Chaplin) who may or may not be after the wallflower's money. Father (Finney) disapproves, to the point where he hauls her off to Europe for a year. By film's end, dad is as stubborn as ever, which actually helps the two would-be lovers see things a bit more clearly. A great twist on the period piece, despite its maudlin sensibilities.
Roger Birnbaum

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Top seven Megadeth albums

Top seven Megadeth albums

We pick our favourite records from this legendary thrash metal band.

Helena Deans is wearing her heart on her sleeve for her upcoming live album

Helena Deans is wearing her heart on her sleeve for her upcoming live album

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Roger Birnbaum Movies

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

The Vow Movie Review

The Vow Movie Review

Inspired by a true story, this film is watchable mainly because of the extraordinary events,...

Footloose Movie Review

Footloose Movie Review

A surprisingly faithful remake of the iconic 1984 hit, this crowd-pleasing romp finds some intriguing...

The Tourist Movie Review

The Tourist Movie Review

This is a thoroughly offbeat concoction from the gifted filmmaker behind the acclaimed The Lives...

Leap Year Movie Review

Leap Year Movie Review

Neither funny nor original enough to really register, this breezy little film will only really...

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Balls Of Fury Movie Review

Balls Of Fury Movie Review

The humor of a game like ping-pong is the outright laziness and inaction that goes...

Rush Hour 3 Movie Review

Rush Hour 3 Movie Review

For all the talk of his beguiling cameo as a police chief, Roman Polanski shows...

Evan Almighty Movie Review

Evan Almighty Movie Review

In hindsight, Bruce Almighty was the death knell for the Jim Carrey we know and...

The Invisible Movie Review

The Invisible Movie Review

The trailers for The Invisible ask, "How do you solve a murder when the victim...

The Lookout Movie Review

The Lookout Movie Review

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has a soft baby face and a lanky frame, so it's easy to...

Stay Alive Movie Review

Stay Alive Movie Review

It's a horror plot so surefire that you wonder why it hasn't been done before:...

The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) Movie Review

The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) Movie Review

The classic Monte Cristo sandwich is a rich confection -- almost inedibly so -- composed...

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