Films Review March


Shades of “Rollerball!” Former cinematographer-turned-director Ernest Dickerson helms this made-for-television futuristic thriller that plays like a budget version of the cult film. vidcass1.gif (2845 bytes)Dean Cain takes off the “Superman” cape and puts on a pair of roller blades as Tre Ramsey, the most feared player in “Furturesport.” When terrorists threaten to exterminate Tre and his girlfriend, they turn to Future Sport creator Orbike Fixx (Wesley Snipes, who co-produced the film), to help them outwit the killers. Fixx suggests that everyone take out their grievances inside the Futuresport arena in a battle to the death. Oh my. While not as dreary as “Rollerball,” Futuresport” is still dark. The action has been upped a notch in this European version that features more violence. (Columbia-TriStar)


vidcass1.gif (2845 bytes)Drew Barrymore and Luke Wilson are adorable as the small town fast food waitress and the man who is sent to spy on her and eventually falls under her charms. Barrymore, who in my opinion is one of our national acting treasures, shines as Sally, a very pregnant drive-through attendant who accidentally picks up a radio signal on her wireless headset. Unaware that she has just heard a murder, Sally goes on about her business. Even worse, the victim on the receiving end is the father of her child, a married man whose vindictive wife (Catherine O’Hara) had her two sons kill him (well, actually scare him, but things go too far). Now they need to know what Sally knows, so youngest son Dorian (Luke Wilson) gets hired at the fast food restaurant. Before he can get the information he needs, Dorian falls for Sally, who is as down home as they come. Now he has to protect her from his family, who want nothing more than to see her dead. It sounds rather gruesome, yet director Dean Parisot whittles away the rough edges until what is left is a romantic comedy that sparkles. The cast seems to have a good time, and you will too as Sally warms her way into your heart. (Warner)


vidcass1.gif (2845 bytes)Quaint little romantic comedy stars Jeremy Piven (boy, this guy gets around) as Harold McMurphy, a Hollywood tour-bus driver who is mistaken for a screenwriter by a young actress named Amanda (Sherilyn Fenn). Attracted to her, Harold continues the charade, offering her advice on her new role. When he falls in love with her, he wants to spill the beans, but is afraid that the truth will kill his chance to be with her. Director Andrew Gallerani manages to punch all the right buttons for a light romantic comedy, and has a lot of fun poking fun at Hollywood. The cast is good, finding just the right balance of humor and pathos. Film fans will appreciate the in-jokes and references. (BMG)


vidcass1.gif (2845 bytes)Fans of sex thriller star Rochelle Swanson will be the only ones who enjoy this overly familiar romp about a young women who agrees to pose as a rising executives wife at his high school reunion, and then decides to play out the role for all it’s worth. Eric Woods plays the hapless sap who hires escort Swanson to accompany him to his reunion. Not only does he have a good time (in and out of bed), he also gets the job opportunity of a lifetime from a fellow classmate (Richard Grieco, slumming). Unfortunately for Woods, the charade doesn’t end the next morning, when Swanson decides to get herself a piece of a good thing. This is one divorce that won’t be amicable. (Orion)


vidcass1.gif (2845 bytes)If ever a film begged for an alien anal probe, it’s “Progeny.” Make it deep and long, because there’s nothing else here that is even remotely as interesting. Which is sad, considering that this film comes from director Brian Yuzna, who has directed his fair share of shock treats, including “Bride of Re-Animator” and “Return of the Living Dead 3.” Even his work on “The Dentist” series (Part 2 is also reviewed on this site) showed, excuse me, real bite. So it puzzles and perplexes me that this tired mess came from Yuzna. “Progeny” is a straight-forward alien impregnation thriller that stars a wooden (think Ah-nuld in his early years) Arnold Vosloo and Jillian McWhirter (a Yuzna favorite, probably because she doesn’t mind taking off her clothes) as a couple desperately trying to have a child. Their prayers are answered when wife Sherry gets knocked up, much to the amazement and delight of husband Craig. What they don’t know is that their lovemaking session was interrupted by aliens, who have implanted one of their own into Sherry. As the pregnancy advances, Craig begins to suspect that the baby isn’t his. The couple turn to a psychiatrist, who has Sherry hypnotized, where she relates her close encounter of the horny kind. As the baby grows, Craig turns to alien abduction expert (Brad Dourif, doing his best to look and sound interesting) for help, but realizes the only solution is in the termination of the fetus. Be careful Doc, because pro life advocates might storm your office, proclaiming that even evil alien life forms deserve to be born. Yeah, right. It all ends badly, but not before everyone in the cast and behind the camera get the opportunity to embarrass themselves. Vosloo, who took over for Liam Neeson in the “Darkman” video series, fails to muster any emotion or sympathy for his character. He’s so wooden he could double as a Cigar Store Indian. McWhirter fares a little better, but is relegated to looking frightened or standing around naked as the camera crew (nee aliens) examines her body. It’s nice work if you can get it. The biggest embarrassment is Wilford Brimley, who looks so stuffed with Quaker Oats that he can barely remember his name. It’s obvious that Brimley is reading from cue cards. It’s just horrible. Then again, there isn’t much in the film to recommend it. The special and visual effects are definitely of the bargain basement variety. Not once do you believe any of this hokum. Even the durable Lindsay Crouse has a difficult time keeping a straight face as the psychiatrist. You just know she’s paying the rent. This territory has been covered many times before, with much better results. Even the Barbara Eden made-for-television thriller “The Stranger Within” did a better job of telling this story. (Sterling)


vidcass1.gif (2845 bytes)I’ll admit it I’ve seen “The Jerry Springer Show” more times than I care to admit. Why? Because it makes me feel good about myself. My life is a cakewalk compared to the poor white (or insert any race here) trash that parades across the stage each and every day. This modern day freak show is a great catharsis for whatever ails you. Your daughter pregnant? At least she’s not sleeping with a transsexual tap-dancing biker nun who raises sheep as love partners. Get the idea? As out right entertainment, “The Jerry Springer” rates right up there with high speed chases on the Los Angeles Freeway and a bad traffic accident. You can’t help but watch as the human train wreck crashes on stage. What makes the Spring television show watch able is the fact that the guests (well, most of them anyway) are the real deal. Sure, I imagine that some of the more outrageous guests were actually putting us on, but there’s real emotion going on during the show. Television is one thing. A movie about “The Jerry Springer Show” is another. Well, actually it’s not really “The Jerry Springer Show.” The owners of the show wouldn’t allow the creative forces behind the movie to exploit their freak show. So now it’s just “The Jerry Show.” Same guy, same premise, different name. Yeah, right. The premise is the same. Guests come on and shout at and attack each other like clockwork. You can set you watch by it. So that Springer fans felt that they were getting more than just a big screen version of his show, writer Jon Bernstein has concocted a silly story about two separate groups of people who eventually wind up on “The Jerry Show.” One is a mother-daughter team who are both sleeping with mom’s new husband. The other is a woman who wants to teach her best friend a lesson for sleeping with her man. The set-up is that both have been booked for the show, and the film follows them as they go through the process of appearing on a live television broadcast. There’s the usual backstage patter, including all the guests trying to get on Jerry’s good side. Once settled in the hotel, the guests start behaving just like Springer guests. There’s lots of fooling around and back-stabbing. With friends like this, who needs enemies? The sad part is that since all of the guests are played by actors, what made the original show fun on television fails to entertain on the big screen. It’s no fun watching recognizable faces play the trailer trash (literally) who inhabit this seedy world. It’s all a big show, and that’s a shame. There’s none of the excitement or spontaneity of the television show. Everything is so calculated it hurts. Springer basically plays himself, so he doesn’t get much of a chance to stretch his acting muscle. Unfortunately, the filmmaker’s have gone to great lengths to make sure Springer gets the opportunity to sing. Yep, I’d pay $7 to se that, not! The rest of the cast is pretty indistinguishable, possibly a blessing in disguise for all involved. I have the Unrated Jerry Springer videos of his television show, and I’ll tell you, that’s entertainment! “Ringmaster” is nothing but a pale imitation. (Artisan)


vidcass1.gif (2845 bytes)Better-than-average thriller stars Kyle MacLachlan and Wade Williams as two small town cops who conspire to keep the million dollars they found at the scene of a drug deal gone sour. The two figure it is payback for their low paid jobs, but their dreams of a better life turn into a nightmare when they learn that one of the men killed was actually an undercover agent wearing a wire. Things heat up when a DEA agent (Roma Maffia, once again playing tough) arrives on the scene, and the two men begin to panic. Decent production values and performances help elevate this familiar tale onto higher ground, where it actually becomes a decent film noir attempt. (Sterling)


vidcass1.gif (2845 bytes)Kids of all ages will enjoy this immensely popular big-screen adventure based on the Nickelodeon cartoon series. There’s something special happening in the Pickles household. It’s the arrival of Tommy’s little brother Dil (get it, Dil Pickles). Dil’s arrival totally changes the make-up of the Pickles home, who Tommy’s friends devise a plan to return young Dil from where he came. Their journey is filled with all sorts of comical and adventurous mishaps, all which bring the children together as a unit to fight the good fight. Featuring fanciful animation and numerous voice guest stars (Whoopi Goldberg, David Spade, Tim Curry), “The Rugrats Movie” is a delight from the first frame to the last. It’s no wonder that the film grossed more than $100 million in theaters. It’s the stuff that kid’s dreams are made of. Available for sell-through for $22.98. Also available in widescreen on DVD for $29.98. (Paramount)


BLOODSPORT 4 (R/Avalanche)


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