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Movie Renter's Guide

Current Movies - Part 70 - January, 2001

Staff

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Ratings:
Extraordinary
Good
Acceptable
Mediocre
Poor

 

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"Scary Movie", Disney/Buena Vista, 2000, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 2.35:1 (DVD), Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 38 min, Rated R;  Anna Faris, Regina Hall, Shannon Elizabeth, Lochlyn Munro, Jon Abrahams, Marlon Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Cheri Oteri, Carmen Electra;  The Wayan's brother have teamed up once again to find a way to make us laugh.  Tagged as a spoof on the most recent, popular slasher/suspense and action movies, "Scary Movie" delivers in a big way.  The plot loosely follows the script of the original "Scream" movie with a twist of "I Know What You Did Last Summer".  A group of teenagers is not so mysteriously getting killed one at a time after an attempted cover up of a murder they committed (or tried to) the summer before.  The group struggles with how to deal with their past deeds and their present circumstances. Before anyone even realizes it, they are finding themselves in short supply of nerves.  This movie does have some questionable scenes that are not for the squeamish or even those with different tastes.  Cheri Oteri was very funny as TV reporter Gail Hailstorm, as was Dave Sheridan playing Doofy, the interpretation of Dewey, who was the goofy officer from "Scream".  Admittedly, I was the last person who thought I would have enjoyed this film, but I did, a lot.  There are also a handful of deleted scenes included on the DVD version. - JB -

Entertainment: *****
Video Quality: *****
Audio: *****
Photography: ****
Violence: imitated
Sex: nudity
Language: the "F" and "S" words

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"Screwed"Universal Studios, 2000, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 1.85:1 (DVD), Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 32 min, Rated PG-13;  Norm Macdonald, David Chappelle, Elaine Stritch, Danny DeVito, Daniel Benzali;  Willard Fillmore (Macdonald) is an underpaid, under-appreciated chauffeur who is fed up working for his frugal millionaire boss, Miss Crock (Stritch).  If fact, Miss Crock is so cheap that she even refuses to replace the worn uniform Willard has been wearing since he was hired many years ago.  After a feeble and unsuccessful attempt at getting his garments replaced, Willard feels he has no choice but to take action, especially when he sees how generous she is with seemingly everyone else but him.  With the help of his best friend Rusty P. Hayes (Chappelle), Willard hatches a plan that involves kidnapping Miss Crock's most prized possession (her dog) to get the money and respect he deserves.  However, when their simplest of plans is botched, they end up with more of a ransom tool to work with than they could have ever expected, namely Willard himself.  For a comedy, this film didn't bring with it many laughs or good acting for that matter.  Danny DeVito lowers himself into the role of Grover Cleaver, a mortician who helps these two numbskulls with their new plan.  It also seemed as though Norm Macdonald's comedic ability (if I can call it that) was a bit stifled with the bland script. - JB -

Entertainment: **
Video Quality: ****
Audio: ****
Photography: ****
Violence: yes
Sex: yes
Language: the "F" and "S" words

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"Hollow Man", Columbia/Tri-star, 2000, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 1.85:1 (DVD), Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 43 min, Rated R;  Elisabeth Shue, Kevin Bacon, Josh Brolin, Kim Dickens, Greg Grunberg, Joey Slotnick, Mary Randle, William Devane;  Dr. Sebastian Caine (Bacon) is about to experience first hand the answer to a question many before him have pondered:  What would you do if you were invisible?  While working on a series of experiments to make animals invisible, Dr. Caine and his team finally achieved success on non-human primates.  Rather than being satisfied with this result, Dr. Caine decides instead to push the envelope further by making himself the first human to be invisible.  At first the experiment is a success, but when the attempt to bring him back to visibility fails, panic overtakes Dr. Caine with his state of mind.  Before long Dr. Caine is taking full advantage of his enhancement including self-fulfilling voyeuristic urges.  When colleagues Dr. Linda McKay (Shue) and Dr. Kensington (Brolin) try to pull the plug and come clean about the project to the Department of Defense, Dr. Caine's fear quickly turns into murderous rage.  The special effects of this movie are pretty amazing (although a little graphic), especially when Dr. Caine is becoming invisible.  I would imagine this could turn into a 3-D anatomy course for medical students. As for the film itself, it was just a typical answer to what guys want to see an invisible man do in a movie.  Nothing new. - JB -

Entertainment: **
Video Quality: *****
Audio: *****
Photography: *****
Violence: yes
Sex: nudity
Language: the "F" and "S" words

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"Way of the Gun", Artisan, 2000, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 1.85:1 (DVD), Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 59 min, Rated R;  Ryan Phillippe, Benicio Del Toro, James Caan, Juliette Lewis, Taye Diggs, Nicky Katt, Scott Wilson, Dylan Kussman;  Parker (Phillippe) and Longbaugh (Del Toro) are two friends who have decided to plow their own road to financial success.  For them, this has meant petty crime, theft, and the occasional umm . . . donation of their DNA at a clinic.  While waiting for their pay after providing the latter, Parker and Longbaugh overhear a conversation concerning a surrogate mother and her very wealthy recipient.  This prompts them to cook up an idea that will make their new way of life pay off big time.  The plan, kidnap the mother-to-be for a hefty ransom.  This sounds simple enough, but when you consider that the recipient-to-be is very well connected with all the wrong people, pulling this off may prove to be much more than they bargained for.  I do like a subtle, challenging plot, but no so much to where I'm constantly trying to figure out what just happened and more importantly why it just happened.  Pay attention in the beginning because the conversation overheard (mentioned above) is barely audible.  There are some fantastic gun battles in this movie that take full advantage of a surround sound setup, making the film worth seeing. - JB -

Entertainment: **
Video Quality: *****
Audio: ****
Photography: ****
Violence: yes
Sex: nudity
Language: the "F" and "S" words

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"Under Suspicion", Revelations Entertainment, 1999, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 1.82:1 (DVD), Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 50 min, Rated R; Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, Thomas Jane, Monica Bellucci; In San Juan, Puerto Rico, the president of a big local law firm, Henry Hearst (Hackman) is called into the police station by Detective Victor Benezet (Freeman) to clear up some details about Hearst having found the body of a young girl while he had been jogging a few days before. Both Hearst and Benezet are due to attend a fund raising event across the street, and both assume the interview will only take a few minutes. Unfortunately, Hearst's description of how he found the body does not add up, and he had also been in the area where a second body had been found some time before. The evidence mounts against Hearst, and Benezet is certain he is the killer. The film is surprisingly good, although I could have done without the surreal photography. The ending is shocking, and will enrage the viewer. - JEJ -

Entertainment: ****
Video Quality: ****
Audio: ***
Photography: ***
Violence: yes
Sex: nudity
Language: the "F" and "S" words

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"Animal Factory", Franchise Pictures, 2000, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 1.78:1 (DVD), Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 32 min, Rated R; Willem Dafoe, Edward Furlong, Danny Trejo, John Heard, Mickey Rourke, Tom Arnold, Steve Buscemi; When young Ron Decker (Furlong) is incarcerated in a Federal Prison, he is introduced to the world of prison violence, which includes drugs and rape. I am not sure what the point of this movie was, and as a result, it was nothing more than what you might expect to see in a modern documentary on "A Day in the Life of . . .". It has some good actors, but they were spinning their wheels in this one. A few thousand feet of good color film wasted. - JEJ 

Entertainment: *
Video Quality: ****
Audio: *
Photography: ***
Violence: yes
Sex: attempted rape
Language: the "F" and "S" words

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"Battlefield Earth", Franchise Pictures, 2000, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 2.32:1 (DVD), Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 59 min, Rated PG-13; John Travolta, Barry Pepper, Sabine Karsenti, Forest Whitaker; In the year 3000, earth has been decimated by the invasion of an alien force from the planet Psychlo (sounds like a 10-year old wrote the screen play), and the aliens' goal is to strip mine earth for the minerals they need back home. One of the aliens, Terl (Travolta), heads a force that captures remaining humans and puts them to work in the mines. Jonnie (Pepper) and Chrissy (Karsenti) lead a force of humans in the fight against the aliens (maybe it was a 5-year old who wrote the screenplay). Well, I suppose if there are going to be wonderful sci-fi films like "Star Wars" and "The Matrix", then there has to be garbage like "Battlefield Earth" to take up the other end of the scale. Movie-making is an odd kind of business. Here is a scenario: You are a recognized star. You put a production together and get investors. You pay yourself 20 million dollars up front and put the film together. If it makes money, fine. If not, what the heck because you have the 20 million in the bank. Well, the coming bear market is going to change all that. Here is the new scenario: You are a recognized star. You want to produce and star in a new movie. You get investors. You want 20 million dollars as pay. The investors say, fine, but you have to put up 20 million of your own money to go with their money, and you won't be taking the 20 million pay up front. If the movie makes big money, you get your 20 million back, plus the additional 20 million in pay. But, if the movie flops, you lose not only your pay, but your 20 million investment. One month ago, I actually received a phone call from a company in Los Angeles wanting me to invest in some new movies. After my initial conversation, they have not called back. - JEJ -

Entertainment: *
Video Quality: ****
Audio: ***
Photography: ***
Violence: yes
Sex: no
Language: no

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"The Kid", Walt Disney Pictures, 2000, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 1.80:1 (DVD), Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 44 min, Rated PG; Bruce Willis, Spencer Breslin, Emily Mortimer, Lily Tomlin; Russ Duritz (Willis) is an Image Consultant in Los Angeles. His job is to help people create a false impression of who they really are, especially politicians. The problem is, he does not even know who he is, himself. One evening, a strange boy shows up at his home. The young fellow is named Rusty, and they soon discover that Rusty and Russ are the same person, but the kid has been transported from 1958 to modern day for some unknown reason. In their search for why Rusty is there, they both discover why Russ has turned out the way he is . . . with no dog and no family, but with a tic in his left eye. This is typical Disney fare: excellent family entertainment, no cussin', no naked bodies, no exit wounds, and a happy ending. - JEJ -

Entertainment: ****
Video Quality: *****
Audio: ***
Photography: ***
Violence: no
Sex: no
Language: no

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Copyright 2001 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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