Films Review June


It’s hard to believe that this wonderful, uplifting and thoughtful drama failed to find an audience last Christmas. Perhaps they were too busy watching “Lord of the Rings” and “Harry Potter.” Too bad, because audiences missed out on a grand slice of American entertainment, featuring a sweet, sympathetic performance by Jim Carrey and sweeping direction by Frank Darabont. The director of “The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Green Mile” takes a break from Stephen King to present a nostalgic nod to director Frank Capra. Carrey shines as Hollywood screenwriter Peter Appleton, whose career is sidetracked when he is targeted as a suspected Communist. With his life in the crapper (he loses his job and girlfriend), Peter decides to get away and take a drive up the California coast. Peter survives a serious car accident, but loses his memory. When he stumbles into a small town, he’s immediately mistaken for one of town’s missing WWII heroes, and claimed by the man’s father (Martin Landau) as his son. Now Luke Trimble, Peter reconnects with Luke’s former girlfriend (a winning Laurie Holden) and returns to his old life, including helping his father Harry rebuild the town’s old cinema, “The Majestic.” Peter’s memory eventually returns, but not until he as had an opportunity to live in someone else’s shoes. Director Darabont is a master of evoking warm, genuine performances from his actors, and there isn’t one bad performance in the film. Buy a copy today. You’ll be glad you did. (Warner Bros.)


After conquering basketball (“Air Bud”), football (“Air Bud: Golden Receiver”) and soccer (“Air Bud: World Pup”), Buddy the Golden Retriever sets his sights and paws on the sport of baseball in “Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch.” It’s an all-new adventure, but it’s pretty much the same thing, with Kevin Zegers returns as Josh, Buddy’s owner, who is off to college and leaves Buddy with his sister Andrea (Caitlin Wachs). Desperately trying to fit in at school, Andrea joins the baseball team is amazed that Buddy knows how to play. Duh! Evil lurks in the wings when Buddy’s puppies, now fully grown, start disappearing, forcing Buddy to serve double duty as private detective and an Anaheim Angel. Really. No, I’m not kidding. Strictly for kids who have managed to make it this far through the series without being bored. Available at sell-through. (Walt Disney)


Not necessarily a sequel as an addition, “American Psycho 2” stars Mila Kunis (Jackie on Fox’s “That 70’s Show”) as Rachel Newman, the only victim to survive the deadly rampage of original “American Psycho” Patrick Bateman. While “American Psycho” was originally intended as a dark comedy about commercialism, the direct-to-video sequel plays out like your run-of-the-mill college slasher film. Missing is the slick, charismatic wit of Christian Bale, who played Bateman. Instead, we get Kunis, who is an okay actress but nothing to write home about, playing a character whose obsession with serial killers begins to take its toll. It’s another one of those “get in my way of success and die” storylines, delivered with absolutely no conviction whatsoever from director Morgan J. Freeman and his cast (once again, William Shatner and his hairpiece survive the maelstrom). Rent the original. (Lion’s Gate)


Glug! Glug! What a great premise. An earthquake on the bottom of Loch Ness unleashes a prehistoric creature that makes Nessie look like a lap dog. What a crappy movie. Delivered with all the enthusiasm of a stubbed toe, “Beneath Loch Ness” steals from numerous films, most notably “Jaws.” The filmmakers have no shame, even tossing us a local constable who refuses to shut down the Loch because it’s the tourist season. Patrick Bergin is laughable as the Quint character, a local fisherman who has a long tale to tell and revenge in his heart. Maybe Bergin should get revenge against his agent, who dumped him in this toilet bowl of a thriller. (Dimension)


Actor Burt Reynolds steps behind the camera and stars in this offbeat comedy about a movie producer desperate to make one last mark in Hollywood. He has the script, he has the talent, now if he can just get past the crooked studio executive who has designs on the script, relatives and mistresses who can’t be trusted, con men and loan sharks who want a piece of the action, and enough headaches to last a lifetime. It’s not really all that funny, but it is fun to watch Burt and all of his pals (Charles Durning, Ann-Margret, Rod Steiger, Angie Dickenson, Benjamin Bratt, Lauren Holly and Sean Astin play make-believe. (Artisan)


It’s hard to believe that this tired camp comedy came from the same writer-director of “Heathers.” There’s nothing in this film to suggest that the same person was involved, yet look close and you’ll see Daniel Waters name on the credits. “Happy Campers” are anything but, your typical summer camp comedy where the adults are sidelined, forcing their young assistants to take over. Of course that leads to all sorts of complications, some sexual, some not, but none worthy of sitting through another wasted summer of brainless teenagers and cute kids. The faces are familiar (Brad Renfro “Bully,” Dominique Swain “Lolita,” and Emily Bergl “Carrie 2: The Rage”) but the film gives them very little to do. Too dumb for adults, too mature for teens, there still must be an audience of brain dead 40 year-old men out there who still worship “Meatballs.” Why else would they make this movie? (New Line)


Just when you start wondering where Val Kilmer is, he pops up in this belated crime thriller which made it’s debut on USA Cable before landing on home video. Kilmer plays a crooked, vicious FBI agent who recruits a team of thieves led by Christian Slater to pull off the heist of a lifetime. Since the thieves (including Daryl Hannah, Bokeem Woodbine, Verne Troyer and Balthazar Getty) stole the dirty agent’s laundered loot, they feel obligated (not to mention the fact that he promises to kill them if they don’t) to help him. Not a bad film, one that actually plays much better on video because of the mature themes, violence and sex. There’s real tension between the determined Kilmer and the wily Slater, and Hannah actually turns in a performance rather than an appearance. (Artisan)


Meet Max Keeble (Alex D. Linz), paperboy, trying to make the most of summer vacation before he leaves elementary school of middle school. Max hopes that the seventh grade will allow him to start fresh, but on the first day of school he learns that is not to be the case. Bullies, an insensitive principal (Larry Miller, deliciously evil), the only thing Max has going for him is his crush on the prettiest girl in school, Jenna (Brooke Anne Smith). It doesn’t take long for Max to get fed up with seventh grade, and delights when his parents (Nora Dunn, Robert Carradine) inform him that they have to move to Chicago in a week for his father’s job. Seeing an opportunity to create some mischief of his without having to worry about the repercussions, Max sets out to get even with his school mates, only to go into shock when he learns his family isn’t movie after all. Linz is a delight as Max, whether he’s outrunning a vindictive ice cream vendor (Jamie Kennedy), or warming up to Jenna. Lots of fun for the whole family, “Max Keeble’s Big Move” is available at sell-through. (Walt Disney)


“Orange County” isn’t a great comedy, but it does feature some great comic moments, and a cast of talented freshman and senior comedy actors. It’s apparent that talent runs in the Hanks family as Tom’s son Colin delivers a smart and engaging performance as Shaun Brumder, the class president at Vista Del Mar High in Orange County. An excellent student, Shaun believes he’s headed to Stanford until he learns that his counselor mixed up his records with another student. Left in a lurch, Shaun turns to his older brother Lance (Jack Black), who vows to get his records in the right hands or else. The film by Jake Kasdan, son of director Lawrence (“The Big Chill”), is filled with memorable characters, all fleshed out by the likes of Lily Tomlin, John Lithgow, Harold Ramis, Catherine O’Hara, Kevin Kline and Garry Marshall. Hanks and Black are the real stars, with Hanks delivering a sweet, funny performance and Black going all out as the stoned brother who knows no bounds. (Paramount)


Here’s a brilliant idea that could only come from a corporation rather than a filmmaker with vision. Let’s remake a 70’s neo-classic about corporate greed and ultra violence, only this time put in some of those young stars the kids today seem to like so much, and cut out of all of the violence so we can get an audience-friendly PG-13. Only someone in a coma would green light such an idea, yet through thought control or some other device we get “Rollerball,” an extreme sports version of the original, all cut and pasted together to create the world’s longest music video. Directed with absolutely no conviction by John McTiernan, the man who reinvented action with “Die Hard,” “Rollerball” misses on too many cylinders to be effective as anything more than throwaway entertainment. “Rollerball” was originally a futuristic sport, but the film is set only a couple of years our future, making the event more of an extreme sport than gladiator games. The video and DVD version of “Rollerball” is a special edition, meaning that those in charge realized their mistake and added back in the violence and nudity. It really doesn’t help matters much. Chris Klein is a pale imitation of James Caan, and never convinces us that he’s the tough guy that he is. (MGM)


A stellar roster of Oscar winners and nominees flesh out this Pulitzer Prize-winning drama (based on the novel) about one man’s search to find himself and a better life for his young daughter. Kevin Spacey stars as Quoyle, a quiet and unassuming typesetter for a small upstate New York newspaper. Charged with caring for his six-year-old daughter Bunny after his free spirit of a wife (Cate Blanchett) takes off for horizons unknown. Quoyle’s life falls apart after his parents commit suicide and his wife dies in a car accident. Lost with only Bunny as his security blanket, Quoyle accepts an offer from his estranged aunt Agnis (Judi Dench) to accompany her back to their ancestral home in Newfoundland. Once there, Quoyle gets a job with a local paper covering “The Shipping News” (among other small town news), and finds romance with a single mother (Julianne Moore) who runs the daycare Bunny attends. Directed with visual flair by Lasse Hallstrom, “The Shipping News” is a good movie but isn’t nearly as important as it’s pedigree suggests. The cast is excellent, but it’s as if they’re swimming against the tide. The film’s message gets through loud and clear, but it lacks emotional ballast. We care about these people, but they’re not real to us. With so much talent in front of and behind the camera, you expect more than the film delivers. (Miramax)



ONE HIT (R/Paramount)



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