Company man

Sure must be nice to have friends like Woody Allen, who will appear in your movie even if the script sucks. Despite an impressive roster of stars, this lame comedy starring, co-written and co-directed by Douglas McGrath. McGrath stars as a mild-mannered high school teacher who, in a desperate attempt to look more like a man to his wife and in-laws, pretends to be a secret agent. If it sounds like a Woody Allen plot, that’s because McGrath co-wrote Allen’s delightful “Bullets Over Broadway.” Which explains why Allen returns the favor (thanks for nothing) by making an extended cameo in this over-extended case of mistaken identity. When Allen Quimp’s lie becomes larger than life, he’s tracked down by the real CIA to help them overthrown Castro. Pretty silly stuff, but not nearly as funny as it could have been. Supporting cast includes Denis Leary and John Turturro as his co-conspirators in Cuba, Sigourney Weaver as his society conscious wife, Ryan Phillippe as a Russian ballet dancer looking to defect, Anthony LaPaglia as Castro, and Alan Cumming as General Batista. Most wade their way through one missed opportunity after another. Even the film’s nostalgia angle feels like an afterthought. (Columbia-TriStar)

DISH, THE (PG-13)dish

In the small town of Parkes, New South Wales, right in the middle of a sheep paddock, is a satellite dish. It’s an odd sight. Rising high above the tree line, the dish looks out of place. It isn’t. For the dish is only one of two capable of picking up the signal of man’s first walk on the moon. Its location makes the dish the perfect back-up for NASA, who wants to use it when Neil Armstrong takes those first historic steps. An honor for any town, an absolute pleasure for the people of Parkes, who suddenly become the center of world attention. Welcome to “The Dish,” a big grin of a comedy from the filmmakers who brought us “The Castle.” Loosely based on real events, “The Dish” is a funny, sentimental and ultimately charming movie. Director and co-writer Rob Sitch shows a lot of affection for the characters, all of whom seem real and full of life. They may be a little eccentric, but that’s what makes them so interesting. Like the family in “The Castle,” the characters in “The Dish” are truly unique and live in a world all their own. They march to the beat of a different drummer, and the rhythm of their life vibrates through each and every scene. What makes spending time with these characters such a pleasure is that we see a little of ourselves in them. We understand where they are coming from. Please click title for complete review. (Warner)


Gore meister Brian Yuzna is back with a vicious little tale based on the story of “Faust.” Yuzna teams up with “Re-Animator” star Jeffrey Combs and “Wishmaster” star Andrew Divoff to create a nervy little thriller about what happens when a man sells his soul to the devil in order to revenge the death of his girlfriend. Devastated by the brutal murder, John Jaspers is so desperate to get even that he makes an unholy alliance with a mysterious stranger that gives him some unexpected powers. Getting even is a kick at first, but with each bloodbath comes a reminder that all good things have to end. The director pushes the limits, delivering the goods when it comes to horrific violence, while the cast seem to understand the silly nature of the plot and just go along for the ride. That makes the film a campy delight, perfect for horror fans who just can’t enough of this slice and dice stuff. (Trimark)


Despite a gross-out pedigree that got it unfairly lumped together with such dreck as “Freddy Got Fingered” and “Tomcats,” this white trash comedy starring David Spade shows a lot of heart and a healthy dose of honest laughs. Spade is really endearing as Dirt, a young man who has spent most of his life looking for the parents that abandoned him while on vacation at the Grand Canyon. Dirt’s tale is told in flashbacks, as related to a present day radio shock jock played by Dennis Miller. As we go back to that fateful day with Dirt, we learn a lot about him and his ability to survive. Going from one wild adventure to the next, Dirt searches valiantly for his parents. His pit stops include some hilarious spoofs of other films, including an over-the-top “Silence of the Lambs” joke that had me in stitches. Even though the film does dwell in the gutter for comic effect, most of what’s on the screen is extremely entertaining. Spade is so likeable that we’re willing to follow him anywhere. The supporting cast is really in tune with the mood of the film, including Christopher Walken as a janitor with a secret and a sexy Brittany Daniel as a woman who loves Dirt for who is is. Highly recommended, even if just for the dog on the porch scene. (Columbia-TriStar)


Moderately entertaining period piece about two rogue swordsmen who plan to kidnap the princess and make off with her gold. Shot on a low-budget, this occasionally rousing adventure stars Eric Roberts and Ron Perlman as the daring opportunists whose plan to overtake the guard’s Captain (Trevor St. John) and his men to kidnap the recently betrothed Princess Gwendolyn (Ashley Jones) and make off with her dowry is filled with close calls and lots of swordplay. Director Jonathon Tydor does his best to make this more than it is, but thinly written characters and weak plotting do little to help. (Avalanche)


Walt Disney Pictures revived the classic Rogers and Hammerstein musical as a made-for-television musical, and the results are only so-so. Glenn Close makes a formidable Nellie Forbush, a love-lorn Ensign assigned to a tropical Pacific island during World War II to train nurses. Pop singer Harry Connick Jr. stars as U.S. Marine Lieutenant Joseph Cable, also assigned to the island to help carry out a covert operation. Both find love and adventure through song and the backdrop of war. Filled with memorable songs that made the stage version an enduring classic and Hawaiian locations, the production looks sharp, much better than Joshua Logan’s disastrous theatrical version that employed color filters to evoke mood. The cast is good, especially Close, who embodies the spirit of an eternal optimist, and Rade Sherbedgia as Emile de Becque, a French plantation owner who sweeps Nellie off her feet. Even though all of the elements are in place, the film feels abbreviated. Director Richard Pearce relies on cinematic shorthand to bring the film in at an acceptable television length, a big mistake for a well-known and beloved musical. Available at sell-through for $19.99. (Disney)


Frequently funny melodramatic potboiler stars hotter-than-hot Julia Stiles as a wicked vixen whose heart really does belong to daddy. Stiles is engaging as Ellie, a bad seed whose mother has just been murdered. All fingers point to her father (William R. Moses) and her mother’s lover, (Patrick Muldoon). No one suspects poor little Ellie, including the police detective assigned to the case (Michael parks), even though she has the best motive. It seems little Ellie has a thing for dead old dad, and is willing to do whatever it takes to keep them together. Even though it deals with questionable material, “Wicked” is played so tongue-in-check that it’s impossible to take any of this seriously. Director Michael Steinberg didn’t set out to make a funny film, it just turned out that way. (Columbia-TriStar)




D.R.E.A.M. TEAM (R/Monarch)

REMNANT, THE (R/Spartan)



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