Films Review January


In Cameron Crowe’s “Almost Famous,” Kate Hudson, daughter of actress Goldie Hawn, plays a 1970’s rock and roll groupie, excuse me, a Band Aid, named Penny Lane. Because “Almost Famous” took place in the moment, we only got to see a small sliver of Lane’s life. Rumor has it that the real Lane “aided” quite a few “bands,” but was never willing to name names. “The Banger Sisters” has no such problem. Written and directed by Bob Dolman, “The Banger Sisters” stars Goldie Hawn and Susan Sarandon as two former 60’s groupies whose lives have taken distinctly different turns. In two twists of irony, Hawn portrays what could be an adult Penny Lane, and squares off against daughter Kate at the box office, who is currently starring in the remake of “The Four Feathers.” Please click title for complete review. (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)


Made-for-cable thriller stars a frightening James Caan as a small town sheriff who exacts revenge on a married couple over the death of his son. Johnathon Schaech (“That Thing You Do”) stars as Daniel Pruitt, a Seattle cop suffering from job burnout. Hoping a change of scenery will recharge his batteries, Daniel and his wife Jessica (Elizabeth Lackey) leave the city for a camping trip. After Jessica is attacked, Daniel races her to the hospital. En route, their car collides with a truck, whose driver Jessica identifies as her attacker. Enraged, Daniel beats the driver to a pulp, only to learn it was a case of mistaken identity. Too bad the innocent driver was the son of local sheriff Morgan McKenna (Caan), who slowly weaves a web of revenge to trap Daniel and Jessica. Delivers enough genuine thrills to keep your attention. (Columbia-TriStar Home Video)


Don’t let the bogus title draw you away from this moderately entertaining “Roshomon”-like drama about a wilderness bride who arrives at a small Canadian outpost with a tale about how she killed her abusive husband. Newcomer Caroline Dhavernas makes an impressive debut as Annie, once an aspiring student in an orphanage chosen by a pioneer to be his wife. Thrilled with the prospect of marriage and leaving the orphanage, Annie doesn’t see the true nature of her new husband, a violent monster who doesn’t really want a wife as much as a sexual outlet and free labor. Director/co-writer Anne Wheeler does an admirable job of relating Annie’s tale of abuse and neglect, mostly told through flashbacks, and the reaction of the local constable, who must sort through her story to arrive at the truth. (Lion’s Gate Home Entertainment)


That thud you heard is former action star Steven Seagal’s career hitting another rung of the ladder to obscurity. You know your career is in trouble when your most recent hit is one put out by the mob. In this made-for-television espionage thriller, Seagal plays a secret agent hired to escort a mysterious package from France to the United States. Seagal finds himself dogged by a various assortment of dubious types, none of them Hollywood executives. Save yourself some money and rent one of Seagal’s earlier films, you know, before he became a joke. (Columbia-TriStar Home Video)


Comedian Dana Carvey plays an assortment of characters in this congenial comedy about a mild-mannered waiter who discovers that he comes from a long line of master disguise artists. Carvey, a master impersonator, has a ball as the various characters he becomes in order to help save his parents, who have been kidnapped by a master criminal and forced to steal priceless artifacts. When his parents end up missing, Pistachio Disguisey (Carvey) learns about his lineage from his grandfather, and before you can say quick change artist, is passing himself off as a Swami, a Cuban drug lord, and best of all, a member of the infamous turtle club. Jennifer Esposito is good as his sexy assistant who helps him keep his head straight. Not a great film, but great, silly fun. (Columbia-TriStar Home Video)


The perfect remedy to Hollywood’s fascination with disposable Generation-X romantic dramas, this very adult and well acted film stars Jeffrey Tambor and Jill Clayburgh as two middle-aged loners who find each other in a sea of indifference. Tambor is excellent as Christopher, exterminator by day, jazz musician by night, who has sworn off marriage and is just about to swear off women when he meets Grace (Clayburgh, equally appealing), a social worker, in a gay bar one night. Even though sex is the last thing on their minds, it happens, setting the stage for Christopher and Grace to begin the tango of love. There are many missteps in this frequently funny, very frank exchange of romantic notions. Not for everyone, “Never Again” is the sort of film that adults hungry for mature, intelligent films scream for but never support. Do your part and rent the film. (Universal Studios Home Video)


“Serving Sara” is a fish fart of a movie, an indistinguishable little bubble of toxic waste that ascends from an ocean of indifference until it reaches the surface and dissipates into nothingness. Starring Matthew Perry as a process server who becomes entangled in the messy divorce of a beautiful woman (Elizabeth Hurley) and her unscrupulous husband (Bruce Campbell), “Serving Sara” finds itself being dumped right in the middle of the dog days of summer, where it can proudly howl like the mangy mutt that it is. Please click title for complete review. (Paramount Home Video)

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