An everlasting piece

Uneven comedy-drama from director Barry Levinson, who leaves his usual stomping ground of Baltimore for Belfast, Ireland. Maybe that was the problem. “An Everlasting Piece,” despite its attempt to feel like one of those quaint British imports like “The Full Monty,” suffers from jet lag.

Director Levinson and writer -star Barry McEvoy never get this tale of two disgruntled barbers who try to corner the Irish hairpiece market off the ground. The characters and situations are flat, despite a terrific cast that desperately try to rise above the material. McEvoy and Brian F. O’Bryan play two prison mental ward barbers who want a better life. They see their chance in new patient Scalper (Billy Connolly), who had the monopoly on the hairpiece market until he went nuts and started scalping clients. After securing Scalper’s client list, the barbers start their own business, but meet with opposition from another company and the IRA, which wants them to supply their members with hairpieces. Levinson has a hard time getting us to buy into any of this. The film’s lack of conviction hurts what little charm it does possess. (DreamWorks)

3,000 MILES TO GRACELAND (R)3000 miles to graceland

“3,000 Miles To Graceland” is one of the most stupefying experiences to come out of a major studio this year. Shot by another music video wunderkind and starring the usually reliable Kurt Russell and Kevin Costner, “3,000 Miles To Graceland” is an unforgiving mess. Nothing makes sense in this homage to gritty crime noir thrillers. How could no one see this auto wreck of a film coming? It shakes and rattles like an old jalopy ready to fall apart. It’s noisy, obnoxious, and just plain ugly. This movie wasn’t green-lit. It barreled through the signal without any regard to plot or character development. You constantly shake your head in disbelief, wondering how something so numbing and mindless could pass for entertainment. Please click title for complete review. (Warner)


chocolatDelicious Oscar-nominated romantic-drama stars Juliette Binoche as Vianne Rocher, a young woman who moves into a small French village in the 1950’s and opens a chocolate shop. Rocher’s appearance is met with skepticism by the town’s mayor and nobleman Comte de Reynaud (Alfred Molina), who suspects that Rocher and her chocolate confections will corrupt the citizens. Directed by Lasse Hallstrom, “Chocolat” is a wonderfully entertaining film that has a lot to say about small minds and big hearts. In Robert Nelson Jacobs’ screenplay it’s easy to understand Reynaud’s situation. After all, Rocher is a single mother, who not only owns the chocolate shop, but lives above it in a space provided by one of the town’s rascals, 70-year-old Armande Voizin (Judi Dench). Rocher and Voizin have a lot in common, including their infectious spirit. As if Reynaud didn’t have enough problems, the arrival of a traveling band of Irish gypsies led by dark and handsome Roux (Johnny Depp) opens up a whole new can of worms. Filled with wonderful sub-plots that pay off as much as the main story, “Chocolat” is lush and romantic. Hallstrom captures every frame in a flattering glow that makes the film look like a dream. Binoche is perfect as a free spirited woman who connects with people on an entirely different level than the demanding Reynaud, well played by Molina. Dench is delightful as a woman who speaks her mind but misses her family. (Miramax)


Fans of comedian and actor Chris Rock will appreciate this second compilation from his Emmy-award winning HBO series. Filled with outrageous anecdotes, skits and spoofs, this unrated collection is a laugh riot from beginning to end. Available at sell-through for $14.95. (HBO)


“The Mexican” I saw in a theater this week was not the same movie being advertised on television. The one being advertised on television looks like a typically droll Julia Roberts/Brad Pitt romantic comedy. The one in theaters is a dark comedy in which Roberts and Pitt share only a few scenes together. The reason I bring this up is because I liked the film I saw in the theater much better than the one that’s being advertised on television. Good news for anyone looking for something a little bit different from two of Hollywood’s most bankable stars. Bad news for everyone else thinking they’re going to see “Runaway Bride II.” I like films that take chances, and even though “The Mexican” is long in the tooth, it’s never comfortable. It’s edgy and unpredictable. It’s no surprise that “The Mexican” comes from Gore Verbinski, the former commercial director whose debut film, “Mouse Hunt,” was a virtuoso blend of wit and whimsy. Verbinski’s ability to create credible characters in incredible situations is a perfect match for J. H. Wyman’s quirky screenplay. Wyman’s dialogue, characters and situations are refreshingly offbeat. Please click on title for complete review. (DreamWorks)


You don’t have to be a fan of the television series to appreciate the big screen animated antics of T.J. Detweiler (voice of Andy Lawrence) and his friends as they join with the the teachers to stop an old enemy from doing away with summer vacation forever. To be honest, I never saw the television series, so all of this was new to me. After sitting through and thoroughly enjoying both “Rugrats” films, I learned to keep an open mind. Good thing, because I would have missed a winning comedy with a lot of great life lessons, all cleverly wrapped up in a ball of inspired animation and writing. Like Nickelodeon’s “Snow Day,” kids and adults have to join forces in order to fight a common enemy. The enemy here is evil ex-principal Benedict (voice of James Woods), who is scheming to end summer vacation. T.J. needs help, and is joined by his friends and some surprising allies in order to defeat Benedict. Lots of laughs and family friendly animation make this one a winner. Available at sell-through at $24.99. (Walt Disney)


This nostalgic hoot first popped up on Showtime’s “Rebel Highway,” a series of remakes of cheesy 1950’s drive-in exploitation films. A young Renee Zellweger stars as Susan Doyle, a young and hip teenager who rebels against her prim and proper mother (Nora Dunn) by starting a rock and roll band. Set in the square 1950’s, the film has a lot of fun with the cliches of the time. Filled with bad girls, bad boys, and lots of evil rock and roll music, “Shake, Rattle & Rock” is a real kick for those looking for something mindless and fun, and featuring an early appearance by Zellweger, who went on to much bigger things. (Miramax)


Hang on to your hats as Hong Kong action director Tsui Hark takes us on a wild and wicked journey involving two men with a lot in common who learn through experience that trust is hard thing to come by. Nicholas Tse stars as Tyler, a former bartender now working as a bodyguard. When Tyler isn’t working, he’s looking for a policewoman he got pregnant. Into the mix comes Jack (Wu Bai), a mercenary who teams up with Tyler for a job, and then agrees to help Tyler rob his old boss. Caught between two drug cartels and a hard place, Tyler quickly learns the only one he can trust is himself. The plot is a little convenient, but the action is non-stop. Hark shows why he’s the best at what he does, creating kinetic and electrifying action set pieces that amaze and entertain. The actors, especially Tse as Tyler, display great conviction, making us believe in their plight even when it borders on the silly. (Columbia-TriStar)


Based on a true story, director Roland Joffe’s period drama is filled with gorgeous, almost opulent production design. Unfortunately, the screenplay isn’t nearly as colorful or risky. Set in France in 1671, “Vatel” stars Gerard Depardieu as Francois Vatel, the personal assistant to Prince de Conde (Julian Glover), whose providence Chantilly is on the brink of financial ruin. Desperate to gain King Louis XIV’s favor, Conde invites him and his court to their country chateau, where they plan to lavish him with amazing food and entertainment. The only man capable of pulling off such an event is Vatel, whose food and presentation are to die for. That may be Vatel’s fate when he accepts the task, and then falls in love with the lovely Anne de Montausier (Uma Thurman), the new lady in waiting for the King’s court. Filled with wonderful dramatic flourishes and bright, engaging performances, “Vatel” is a feast for the eyes. The script, dealing with class distinction, lacks bite. Great supporting cast includes Tim Roth, Julian Sands and Timothy Spall. (Miramax)


THESE OLD BROADS (NR/Columbia-TriStar)

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