NEW FILMS FRIDAY
THE BIG LEBOWSKI - A dark comedy involving mistaken identities and kidnappings, as only the Coen brothers ("Fargo," "The Hudsucker Proxy") can do it. Stars include Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Ben Gazzara and John Turturro. Reviewed in this section on W8. R (profanity, drug use, nudity, sex, violence). (Broadway, Carmike 12, Holladay, Plaza 5400, Sandy 9.)
DANGEROUS BEAUTY - This historically based drama from director Marshall Herskovitz ("Jack the Bear," TV's "thirtysomething") is about a 16th-century Venice courtesan (Catherine McCormack, "Braveheart") whose wit and, ahem, skills help her get almost anything she wants - except the man she loves (Rufus Sewell, "Dark City"). Reviewed in this section on W3. R (nudity, sex, violence, profanity, vulgarity, gore). (Exclusive, Broadway.)
THE DRESS - Dutch filmmaker Alex van Warmerdam wrote and stars in his newest, a bizarre comedy that follows several people who come into possession of a blue summer dress and the misfortunes that befall them. In Dutch, with English subtitles. Reviewed in this section on W7. Not rated, probable R (nudity, violence, vulgarity, profanity, attempted rape, racial epithets). (Exclusive, Tower.)
HUSH - Originally titled "Kilronan," this thriller stars Gwyneth Paltrow as a young woman who discovers that her new mother-in-law (Jessica Lange) has a very, very dark side. Co-stars include Johnathon Schaech ("That Thing You Do!") and Hal Holbrook. Reviewed in this section on W3. PG-13 (profanity, violence, vulgarity, gore, nudity, sex). (Carmike 12, Century, Gateway, Holladay, Midvalley, Sandy 9, Trolley Square.)
MA VIE EN ROSE (MY LIFE IN PINK) - Odd Belgian fantasy-drama from newcomer Alain Berliner, about a 7-year-old who believes he is a girl born into a boy's body. Winner of several awards, including the Directors' Fortnight trophy from the Cannes Film Festival. In French, with English subtitles. Reviewed in this section on W8. R (vulgarity, violence, profanity). (Exclusive, Broadway.)
TWILIGHT - A dream cast of veteran actors (Paul Newman, Susan Sarandon, Gene Hackman and James Garner) stars in writer/director Robert Benton's latest, a mystery-drama set in Los Angeles about a broken-down private investigator (Newman) trying to solve a murder/blackmail plot involving longtime friends. Reviewed in this section on W10. R (violence, profanity, vulgarity, nudity, gore, sex). (Carmike 12, Century, Creekside, Flick, Gateway, Plaza 5400, Sandy 9.)
U.S. MARSHALS - Tommy Lee Jones reprises his role from the 1993 hit "The Fugitive" in this spinoff, which pairs him with a cocky young government agent (Robert Downey Jr.) who's trying to capture a former government operative on the run (Wesley Snipes). Reviewed in this section on W10. PG-13 (violence, profanity, gore, vulgarity). (Century, Cottonwood, Midvalley, Reel, South Towne, Trolley Corners, Trolley North.)
KIDS IN THE HALL: BRAIN CANDY - turkey - Obnoxious, in-your-face, off-the-wall comedy from the Kids in the Hall, a Canadian comedy quintet that fancies itself a '90s Monty Python. The movie, about a wonder anti-depressant, is a series of skits that occasionally show some wit but are mostly just vulgar, tasteless and humorless. The "Kids" are talented, but if you're not already a fan, you may just wish it would go away. R (profanity, vulgarity, sex, nudity, drugs). (Brewvies.) (April 12, 1996) - Chris Hicks
SOUTH PARK MARATHON - A monthlong series of free screenings of episodes from the outrageous and controversial Comedy Central cartoon series about potty-mouthed third-graders and other animated weirdness. This week's program is comprised of the first three episodes, including "Volcano" and "Weight Gain 4000." This program is not rated but contains some material in R-rated territory. (Tower.)
WORKS FROM ALONG THE WASATCH FRONT - The monthly open screening program of the Utah Film & Video Center, featuring the first 85 minutes of works submitted by local filmmakers. This program is not rated but may contain some PG-13 or R-rated material. (Salt Lake Art Center, Friday only, 8 p.m.)
AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN PARIS - * - Awful and awfully derivative remake/sequel to 1981's "An American Werewolf in London," which rips off some of the best bits from the original - but with much less wit and more gore. A huge disappointment coming from director Anthony Waller ("Mute Witness") and star Tom Everett Scott ("That Thing You Do!"). R (violence, gore, sex, nudity, vulgarity, profanity). (Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Dec. 26, 1997)
ANASTASIA - * * * - Fox Animation Studios' first movie is this funny but at-times inconsistent (in terms of animation) musical-comedy about the sole survivor of Russia's imperial family, based on the 1956 film. Great performances by the "voice" actors - Meg Ryan, John Cusack, Kelsey Grammer, Angela Lansbury and Christopher Lloyd - definitely help. G (animated violence and gore). (Cinemas 5, Kaysville, Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Nov. 21, 1997)
THE APOSTLE - * * * 1/2 - Robert Duvall's long-overdue third film as a director is this Oscar nominated drama about a disgraced preacher (Duvall, nominated in the Best Actor category) who rediscovers his faith when he's forced to flee Texas after viciously beating another man. Religion and faith usually aren't portrayed nearly as sympathetically and intelligently as they are here, and all the performances are very strong. PG-13 (profanity, violence, racial epithets). (Broadway, Sandy 9.) (Feb. 13, 1998)
AS GOOD AS IT GETS - * * * 1/2 - Alternately dramatic and brutally funny, this comedy from writer/director James Brooks ("I'll Do Anything") wouldn't fly if not for the stellar performance by Jack Nicholson as a tactless romance novelist. Greg Kinnear is surprisingly subtle as a gay artist, but Helen Hunt is miscast as Nicholson's romantic foil. Nominated for seven Academy Awards. PG-13 (profanity, vulgarity, nudity, violence, racial epithets). (Crossroads, Gateway, Holladay, Midvalley, Reel, South Towne.) (Dec. 26, 1997)
BLUES BROTHERS 2000 - * * - The musical numbers are actually better than those in the original (B.B. King, Koko Taylor and Erykah Badu are among the featured performers), but this otherwise lame sequel to 1980's surprise comedy hit suffers whenever it tries to tell a story. Star/co-writer/co-producer Dan Aykroyd doesn't embarrass him-self, but co-stars John Goodman and Joe Morton should stick to acting. PG-13 (violence, profanity, partial nudity, vulgarity). (Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Feb. 6, 1998)
THE BORROWERS - * * 1/2 - Marred by some tasteless and vulgar jokes, this big-screen version of Mary Norton's beloved children books - about a clan of very, very tiny people trying to thwart an evil developer (John Goodman) - has some dazzling visuals and a brisk pace. But in the process, some of the charm is lost. PG (violence, vulgarity, mild profanity). (Carmike 12, Gateway, Holladay, Plaza 5400, Sandy 9, Trolley Square.) (Feb. 13, 1998)
DARK CITY - * * - Technically dazzling but seriously lacking in content, this futuristic thriller from writer/director Alex Proyas ("The Crow") shows what happens when a man discovers his "reality" is part of a bizarre experiment being carried out by hostile aliens. Too cold and sterile to be effective, and co-star Keifer Sutherland's wheezy performance is a major distraction. R (violence, gore, nudity, sex). (Century, Creekside, Midvalley, South Towne, Trolley Corners, Trolley North.) (Feb. 27, 1998)
FIRESTORM - * - Badly conceived and even worse written action-thriller starring former NFL player and current Fox sports analyst Howie Long as a smokejumper out to fight a rampaging blaze and an escaped murderer who's posing as a firefighter. Long's as wooden as the forest surroundings, and William Forsythe is unintentionally hilarious as the hammy villain. R (violence, gore, profanity, vulgarity). (Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Jan. 9, 1998)
FLUBBER - * * - Writer/producer John Hughes again gives a Disney classic the "Home Alone" treatment. This time it's the 1961 comedy "The Absent Minded Professor," as Robin Williams takes over the Fred MacMurray role as a scientist who invents a rubbery substance that seems to defy gravity. Kids may get a kick out of the computer-animated goo, but most of the jokes just aren't funny. PG (violence, vulgarity, profanity). (Kaysville, Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Nov. 26, 1997)
FOR RICHER OR POORER - * - Dull, unfunny and offensive comedy pairing TV stars Tim Allen and Kirstie Alley as unhappily married Manhattan socialites who wind up rediscovering their love while they're hiding from the IRS among the Amish. Also, the saccharine sweet ending can't cover up the otherwise mean-spirited jabs directed at the Amish. PG-13 (profanity, vulgarity, violence, sex). (Kaysville, Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Dec. 12, 1997)
THE FULL MONTY - * * * - Somewhat raunchy, surprisingly touching and always hilarious British comedy about six financially strapped English steelworkers (including "Trainspotting's" Robert Carlyle) who are inspired by a touring Chippendales show to take it all off for a one-night show, in hopes of making a killing at the box office. But they find that their inhibitions get in the way. Strong characterizations and laugh-out-loud visual gags highlight this winner. Nominated for four Academy Awards. R (nudity, profanity, vulgarity). (Broadway.) (Sept. 12, 1997) - C.H.
GATTACA - * * * - Sterile (both in theme and treatment) and not as engaging as it could be, this futuristic cautionary tale about genetic engineering is nonetheless fascinating on its own terms as natural-born human Ethan Hawke tries to infiltrate the world of genetically bred "superiors." Reminiscent of dozens of other sci-fi tales, but thoughtful and earnest in a way that has eluded the genre for too many years now. Co-stars include Uma Thurman, Alan Arkin and Ernest Borgnine. PG-13 (violence, sex, nudity, profanity, vulgarity). (Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Oct. 24, 1997) - C.H.
GOOD WILL HUNTING - * * * 1/2 - Well-acted, though also profane and vulgar, comedy-drama about a troubled 20-something mathematics genius (Matt Damon) who must undergo therapy (from Robin Williams, playing a down-on-his-luck college professor) as part of his parole. Damon and co-star Ben Affleck also wrote the touching, funny screenplay. Nominated for nine Academy Awards. R (profanity, vulgarity, violence, sex, nude paintings, racial epithets). (Broadway, Century, Holladay, Midvalley, South Towne.) (Dec. 26, 1997)
GREAT EXPECTATIONS - * * - A glossy buy shallow update of the Charles Dickens novel, starring Ethan Hawke as a naive young artist desperately trying to impress the snooty and manipulative socialite (Gwyneth Paltrow) he's loved for years. The dumbed-down script also seems to indicate that the writers didn't think Dickens knew how to end the story! R (profanity, nudity, sex, violence, brief gore, drug use, vulgarity). (Cinemas 5, Olympus.) (Jan. 30, 1998)
HALF-BAKED - turkey - Extremely unfunny drug-culture comedy about some pals (including comedians Dave Chappelle and Jim Breuer, from TV's "Saturday Night Live") trying to sell pot to bail out a friend (Harland Williams, from "RocketMan") who accidentally poisoned a diabetic horse - the equine partner of a New York City cop! The movie also features embarrassing cameos from Jon Stewart, Janeane Garofalo and Snoop Doggy Dogg. R (drug use, profanity, sex, nudity, vulgarity). (Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Jan. 17, 1998)
HOME ALONE 3 - * 1/2 - Milking his favorite formula for all it's worth, writer/co-producer John Hughes recasts "Home Alone" with Alex D. Linz ("One Fine Day") as yet another Chicago youngster who sets booby traps for inept bad guys. If your idea of fun is someone being hit on the head with barbells, enjoy. PG (violence, vulgarity, profanity, partially nude poster). (Kaysville, Valley Fair.) (Dec. 12, 1997) - C.H.
I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER - * 1/2 - Empty-headed thriller from "Scream" scriptwriter Kevin Williamson about four teens (including TV stars Jennifer Love Hewitt and Sarah Michelle Gellar) stalked and killed, one by one, by a murderer. Even less wit than "Scream," and things play out like a standard "slasher" flick. R (violence, profanity, gore, sex, nude silhouettes). (Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Oct. 17, 1997)
JACKIE BROWN - * * - Quentin Tarantino's long-awaited followup to "Pulp Fiction," an adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel "Rum Punch," is way too long and lacks energy. However, Oscar nominee Robert Forster steals things as a sympathetic bail bondsman who helps the title character, a flight attendant who doubles as a drug runner (former "blaxploitation" actress Pam Grier), swindle her boss and the cops. R (profanity, racial epithets, violence, drug use, sex, vulgarity, brief partial nudity). (Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Dec. 26, 1998)
JOHN GRISHAM'S THE RAINMAKER - * * * - Since he wrote the screen-play and directed, maybe it should be "Francis Ford Coppola's The Rainmaker." Slick, all-star adaptation is still pulp fiction, but the "Rocky"-like courtroom drama about a young, idealistic lawyer (Matt Damon) taking on an insurance company is compelling. Subplot about an abused woman (Claire Danes) he takes under his wing is less so. Co-stars include Danny DeVito, Jon Voight and unbilled Danny Glover. PG-13 (violence, profanity) (Kaysville, Sugar House.) (Nov. 21, 1997) - C.H.
KISSING A FOOL - * * 1/2 - David Schwimmer goes against his "Friends" typecasting in this at-times charming romantic comedy, playing an insensitive TV sportscaster who uses his novelist friend (Jason Lee, from "Chasing Amy") to test whether his fiance is being faithful. Schwimmer's foul-mouthed and unconvincing, but Lee and co-star Mili Avital have a lot of chemistry together. (profanity, vulgarity, violence, sex, partial nudity). (Century, Midvalley, South Towne, Trolley North, Trolley Square.) (Feb. 27, 1998)
KRIPPENDORF'S TRIBE - * 1/2 - A humiliating experience in low-brow humor, as stars Richard Dreyfuss and Jenna Elfman (TV's "Dharma & Greg") try to enliven a dumbbell storyline about an anthropology professor forced to "create" a New Guinea tribe (himself and his children in disguise) to qualify for grant moneys. Awful, with inappropriate sexual humor and other crass gags. PG-13 (vulgarity, violence, profanity). (Flick, Gateway, Plaza 5400, Reel, South Towne, Villa.) (Feb. 27, 1998)
L.A. CONFIDENTIAL - * * * - Good-looking and glitzy, but sometimes confusing and very violent crime thriller, based on James Ellroy's novel, about detectives in 1950s Los Angeles investigating murders and a conspiracy that involves crooked cops and prostitutes who look like famous starlets. The cast, which includes Kim Basinger, Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito, certainly helps. Nominated for nine Academy Awards. R (violence, gore, profanity, nudity, sex, drug use, racial epithets). (Creekside, Gateway, Midvalley, South Towne, Trolley Square.) (Sept. 19, 1997)
MOUSE HUNT - * * - Good-looking but not nearly funny enough, this live-action cartoon pits Nathan Lane and British character actor Lee Evans against a pesky rodent (a real-life mouse, aided by computer-generated effects) for possession of a multi-million-dollar mansion. Too mean-spirited and far too vulgar for a "children's" film. PG (violence, vulgarity, brief partial nudity). (Cinemas 5, Olympus.) (Dec. 19, 1997)
MR. MAGOO - turkey - A dumb and extremely unfunny live-action comedy, based on the now-controversial '60s cartoon, that manages to offend more than just the visually impaired. Leslie Nielsen, who plays the bungling, nearsighted eccentric, has never been so irritating. PG (violence, vulgarity, bikini babes). (Cinemas 5.) (Dec. 26, 1997)
MRS. BROWN - * * * - Restrained version of one of history's most unusual relationships, between a Scottish horse-riding coach (Billy Connolly) and Queen Victoria (Oscar nominee Dame Judi Dench), who became reacquainted in the years following the death of Prince Albert. At times the action is too subdued and inconsistent, but dazzling performances from the leads help. PG (profanity, violence, brief nudity, vulgarity). (Avalon.) (Aug. 1, 1997)
PALMETTO - * * 1/2 - A talented cast (including Woody Harrelson, Elisabeth Shue and Gina Gershon) has some fun with this blackly comic thriller, about a former journalist and ex-con who gets involved in the kidnapping of a teenage heiress. Things go seriously awry in the second half, with some bad plotting, however. R (violence, profanity, sex, vulgarity, gore, brief partial nudity). (Brewvies, Midvalley, Olympus.) (Feb. 20, 1998)
THE RAINMAKER - See "John Grisham's The Rainmaker."
THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS - * * * - It's definitely not brain fodder, but Hong Kong action star Chow Yun-Fat's U.S. feature film debut is a brisk-moving, exciting action-thriller about an assassin who discovers he has a conscience and winds up running from his former employers when he fails to execute a detective's son. And co-star Mira Sor-vino has fun as his unwilling sidekick. R (violence, gore, profanity, vulgarity). (Brewvies.) (Feb. 6, 1998)
SENSELESS - * - Star Marlon Wayans, playing a struggling university student who gains super-senses when he volunteers to be a guinea pig for a scientist's experiments, has a lot more charm than you'd think. Unfortunately, the rest of this tasteless, alleged comedy involves flatulence and sex jokes galore. R (vulgarity, profanity, nudity, drug use, violence, sex). (Midvalley, South Towne.) (Feb. 20, 1998)
SPHERE - * 1/2 - Some novels should never be made into movies, including this science-fiction thriller that's based on Michael Crichton's best seller, about a team of scientists (Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone and Samuel L. Jackson) investigating a long-submerged space craft resting on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Not nearly as cerebral as you'd expect from the cast and director Barry Levinson ("Wag the Dog"). PG-13 (violence, profanity). (Broadway, Carmike 12, Gateway, Holladay, Plaza 5400, Sandy 9.) (Feb. 13, 1998)
SPICE WORLD - turkey - An awful star vehicle for international pop stars the Spice Girls (an extremely unfunny blending of "A Hard Day's Night," "This is Spinal Tap" and "Speed!"), this stupid and tasteless musical comedy is unsuitable for all moviegoers - especially its obvious target audience of 8-year-old girls. PG (vulgarity, violence, brief nudity, profanity). (Cinemas 5, Olympus.) (Jan. 23, 1998)
TITANIC - * * * - Too long by at least 45 minutes, director James Cameron's romance/adventure epic - set aboard the ill-fated passenger ship - is also more passionate and thrilling than most of what we've seen lately. Things are helped enormously by stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, playing doomed lovers, and the fact that almost all of the reported $200 million budget seems to have gone to the dazzling historical re-creations. Nominated for 14 Academy Awards. PG-13 (profanity, violence, nudity, vulgarity, sex). (Carmike 12, Century, Cottonwood, Crossroads, Gateway, Plaza 5400, Reel, Sandy 9.) (Dec. 19, 1997)
TOMORROW NEVER DIES - * * 1/2 - The plot is thin and the one-liners have never been so lame, but Pierce Brosnan's second outing as James Bond is still exciting in a mindless sort of way - especially because of the presence of Hong Kong action star Michelle Yeoh, who steals the picture as a Chinese spy who becomes Bond's sidekick. Co-stars Jonathan Pryce and Teri Hatcher are pretty much wasted, though. PG-13 (violence, vulgarity, sex, nudity, profanity). (Carmike 12, Kaysville, Murray.) (Dec. 19, 1997)
WAG THE DOG - * * * 1/2 - As sharp a political satire as we've seen since "Bob Roberts," this wicked comedy features a dream pairing of Oscar nominee Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro as, respectively, a Hollywood producer and a White House "spin doctor" who create a "war" to deflect attention away from a presidential sex scandal just weeks before the election. Great performances all around and the script sparkles. R (profanity, vulgarity, violence). (Carmike 12, Holladay.) (Jan. 9, 1998)
THE WEDDING SINGER - * * 1/2 - Surprising chemistry from stars Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore helps save this silly but sweet romantic comedy, set in the mid-'80s, about a struggling musician and wedding entertainer who falls in love with a waitress who's engaged to be married. PG-13 (profanity, vulgarity, violence, partial nudity). (Century, Cottonwood, Midvalley, Reel, South Towne, Trolley North, Trolley Square.) (Feb. 13, 1998)
THE WINGS OF THE DOVE - * * * 1/2 - Actresses Helena Bonham Carter and Alison Elliott are equally fabulous in this intelligent but downbeat adaptation of Henry James' novel, about a society woman (Carter) forced to chose between her status and a journalist who is a commoner (Linus Roache), until she strikes on a scheme to have him court and marry a dying rich American (Elliott). Nominated for four Academy Awards. R (nudity, sex). (Carmike 12.) (Nov. 21, 1997)
Past movie reviews and capsules by Chris Hicks and Jeff Vice are available online. Search for MOVIES.