NEW FILMS FRIDAY

DEAR JESSE - Gay New York filmmaker Tim Kirkman returns to North Carolina, his home state, in this documentary, which draws comparisons between Kirkman and North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms, known for his anti-gay political stances. Reviewed in this section on Page W3. Not rated, probable PG (profanity, racial epithets). (Exclusive, Tower.)

DR. DOLITTLE - Eddie Murphy stars as the good doctor who can talk to the animals in this comedy, based on the Hugh Lofting books (and "inspired by" the 1967 musical comedy). Voices for his bestial "patients" include Chris Rock, Garry Shandling, Norm Macdonald and Dennis Franz. Reviewed in this section on Page W11. PG-13 (vulgarity, profanity, violence, partial nudity, hospital gore). (Century, Holladay, Midvalley; Redwood, with "Hope Floats"; Reel, South Towne, Trolley North, Trolley Square.)

OUT OF SIGHT - Another novel by Elmore Leonard ("Get Shorty," "Jackie Brown") comes to the screen with this blackly comic thriller about an escaped bank robber (George Clooney) who falls in love with the federal marshal (Jennifer Lopez) who's to capture him. Co-stars include Ving Rhames, Albert Brooks and Dennis Farina. Reviewed in this section on Page W12. R (profanity, violence, gore, vulgarity, sex, racial epithets). (Century, Crossroads, Holladay, Midvalley; Redwood, with "Mercury Rising"; South Towne, Trolley North.)

NEW FILMS WEDNESDAY

ARMAGEDDON - A roughneck crew of oil drillers (including Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck and Steve Buscemi) is sent into space to destroy an asteroid on a collision course with Earth in this science-fiction thriller from director Michael Bay ("The Rock"). Jeff Vice interviews the filmmakers and cast on Page W1; to be reviewed when it opens next week. PG-13 (violence, profanity, vulgarity, gore, partial nudity). (Carmike 12, Century, Creekside, Gateway, Plaza 5400, Redwood, Reel, Sandy 9, Trolley Corners.)

KIDS MATINEES

MATILDA - * * * 1/2 - Though it's not as dark as either "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" and "James and the Giant Peach," Danny DeVito's adaptation of the beloved Roald Dahl children's book still has its blackly humorous moments. DeVito directed, produced and stars in this very funny comedy with his actress wife Rhea Perlman as the parents of a genius child (the charming Mara Wilson) who is able to make objects with her mind. PG (violence, mild vulgarity). (Valley Fair, Thursday, 10 a.m.) (Aug. 2, 1996)

RE-RELEASES

GONE WITH THE WIND - * * * * - Up until the release of "Titanic" last year, this 1939 classic was America's favorite sweeping romance, an epic love story between two mismatched rogues (Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable), set among the backdrop of the Civil War. Rarely has justice been done to a novel, as it is here (the film is based Margaret Mitchell's book of the same name), and though there's a troubling sympathy for the pro-slavery South expressed, it's more of a subtext than anything explicit. This reissue features digitally enhanced sound (including the original lobby and intermission musical score), as well as "restored" color and picture. Jeff Vice interviews Ann Rutherford, who played Carreen O'Hara, on Page W1. G (wartime violence, mild profanity). (Exclusive, Crossroads.)

CONTINUING FILMS

ALMOST HEROES - turkey - A depressingly sad swansong for late comedian Chris Farley, who stars with Matthew Perry (TV's "Friends") in this awful comedy about two bumbling explorers who try to blaze a new path through the unknown wilds of the Louisiana Purchase. Dumber than the ads make it appear to be, if that's possible. PG-13 (vulgarity, violence, profanity, nudity). (Cinemas 5.) (May 31, 1998)

THE BIG HIT - * * - Hong Kong cinema meets Tarantino-style black comedy in this dazzling looking but crude and brainless action thriller from John Woo protege Kirk Wong. Mark Wahlberg tries his best as a hit man framed for kidnapping his employer's goddaughter, but he's hampered by the goofball scripting. R (violence, profanity, vulgarity, gore, nudity, attempted rape). (Sugar House.) (April 24, 1998)

BLACK DOG - * - Try to imagine "Smokey and the Bandit" played for thrills and you might get an impression of what this silly action picture is all about. And pity poor Patrick Swayze, who's out-acted by musician Randy Travis, as the two play truckers duped into becoming illegal gunrunners. PG-13 (violence, profanity, gore, vulgarity). (Valley Fair.) (May 3, 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). (Kaysville, Valley Fair.) (Feb. 13, 1998)

CAN'T HARDLY WAIT - * * - At-times bright but more often annoying, modern-day revision of "American Graffiti." Ethan Embry (from "That Thing You Do!") is good as a shy high-school graduate trying to summon the courage to tell the class knockout (Jennifer Love Hewitt, from "I Know What You Did Last Summer") how he feels about her before he leaves town. But too often the film settles for cheap humor. PG-13 (vulgarity, profanity, violence, sex, racial epithets). (Carmike 12, Holladay, Midvalley; Redwood, with "A Perfect Murder"; Sandy 9, Trolley Corners.) (June 12, 1998)

CITY OF ANGELS - * * 1/2 - Loosely based on the 1987 art-house film "Wings of Desire," this romantic drama/fantasy stars Nicolas Cage as an angel who's torn between duty and the love of a heart surgeon (Meg Ryan). The story's fine until things take a turn toward weepy melodrama. Fine performances from Cage and Ryan, as well as co-stars Dennis Franz and Andre Braugher, though. PG-13 (profanity, violence, sex, nudity, hospital gore, vulgarity). (Carmike 12, Cinemas 5.) (April 10, 1998)

DANGEROUS BEAUTY - * * - For the first hour, this historically based drama about a 16th-century Venice courtesan (Catherine McCormack, from "Braveheart") denied the love of a rich senator (Rufus Sewell) actually shows some wit and life. But when the tale turns serious, with a courtroom scene straight out of TV's "Matlock," the results are almost laughable. R (nudity, sex, violence, profanity, vulgarity, gore). (Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (March 6, 1998)

DEEP IMPACT - * * - Possibly the dullest disaster film ever made, this all-talk-and-no-action flick wastes an all-star cast - including Robert Duvall, Tea Leoni, Morgan Freeman and Elijah Wood, who try to survive when scientists discover that a huge comet is on a collision course with the Earth. Not worth sticking around for the 10 minutes worth of destruction, frankly. PG-13 (profanity, violence). (Carmike 12, Cottonwood, Midvalley; Redwood, with "The Truman Show"; Sandy 9.) (May 8, 1998)

DIRTY WORK - turkey - Leaden, taste-deprived attempted comedy about a couple of losers (including former "Saturday Night Live" star Norm Macdonald, who co-wrote the script) whose contribution to American capitalism is a revenge-for-hire business. Far too often, the supposedly funny business happens offscreen. PG-13 (profanity, violence, vulgarity). (Broadway, Cottonwood, Midvalley, South Towne.) (June 14, 1998) - Lawrence Van Gelder, New York Times News Service

FALLEN ANGELS - * * * 1/2 - Dazzling, oddball, sort-of sequel to the art-house favorite "Chungking Express" that follows some disaffected twentysomethings in Hong Kong, including a hitman looking to get out of the business. Wild, over-the-top plotting and eye-popping cinematography highlight this winner. In Cantonese, with English subtitles. Not rated, probable R (violence, gore, vulgarity, sex, profanity, nude artwork, racial epithets). (Exclusive, Tower.) (June 22, 1998)

FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS - * 1/2 - Imagine trying to spend two hours in Las Vegas with "gonzo" journalist Hunter S. Thompson and you might get an idea of what this drug-culture comedy, based on the infamous novel, is like. Painfully unfunny, though director Terry Gilliam's warped visual style and Johnny Depp's spot-on Thompson impression are momentarily diverting. R (profanity, drug use, vulgarity, violence, nudity, gore, racial epithets). (Brewvies.) (May 22, 1998)

GODZILLA - * * - Despite the awesome computer graphics-created title character, which rampages through Manhattan rather than Tokyo this time, this sci-fi/thriller from the "Independence Day" filmmaking team is a too-transparent ripoff of the "Jurassic Park" movies. Kids will probably love it, but adults may find themselves wanting better-developed characters and situations. A few thrills and a couple of chuckles, but on whole pretty disappointing. PG-13 (violence, profanity). (Cottonwood, Gateway, Midvalley, South Towne, Trolley Corners.) (May 20, 1998)

GOOD WILL HUNTING - * * * 1/2 - Well-acted, though also profane and vulgar, comedy-drama about a troubled twentysomething mathematics genius (Matt Damon) who must undergo therapy (from Oscar winner Robin Williams, playing a down-on-his-luck college professor) as part of his parole. Damon and co-star Ben Affleck also wrote the Academy Award-winning screenplay. R (profanity, vulgarity, violence, sex, nude paintings, racial epithets). (Brewvies, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Dec. 26, 1997)

HE GOT GAME - * * * - It wouldn't be a Spike Lee film if it weren't too long and extremely self indulgent, but the writer/director's latest features strong performances from Denzel Washington, as a prisoner who is temporarily paroled, and Ray Allen (from the NBA Milwaukee Bucks), playing his estranged son, a talented high school basketball player. R (profanity, vulgarity, sex, nudity, racial epithets, violence, drug use). (Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (May 1, 1998)

HOPE FLOATS - * * - Not the change of pace Sandra Bullock might have anticipated, this disappointingly downbeat drama stars Bullock as a single mother who discovers love and acceptance when she is forced to move back to her small Texas hometown. Frankly, she tries too hard to charm her way through this uneven mess. PG-13 (violence, vulgarity, profanity) (Carmike 12, Creekside, Gateway, Midvalley; Redwood, with "Dr. Dolittle"; Sandy 9, Trolley Corners.) (May 29, 1998)

THE HORSE WHISPERER - * * * * - A case of the movie actually being better than the book, Robert Redford's long-anticipated adaptation of the Nicholas Evans best-seller stars Redford as a horse trainer who helps heal a wounded animal, as well as its young rider and her mother (Kristin Scott Thomas, from "The English Patient"). Wonderfully low-key, with superb photography that makes great use of the beautiful Montana scenery. PG-13 (profanity, violence, gore). (Broadway, Cottonwood, Gateway, Plaza 5400, South Towne.) (May 15, 1998)

I GOT THE HOOK-UP - turkey - This lame movie provides an adequate example of attempted comedy. Constructed around a couple of fast-talking hustlers ripping off others (rapper Master P, who also wrote the script, and comic A.J. Johnson), it lacks the essential ingredients, like originality and genuinely funny characters. R (profanity, violence, vulgarity, partial nudity, sex, racial epithets, drug use). (Cinemas 5.) (May 29, 1998) - Lawrence Van Gelder, New York Times News Service

LES MISERABLES - * * * - This dramatic, not musical, adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic novel suffers from choppy pacing (due to studio-mandated cuts) and a lack of necessary melodrama. Still, the performances by Liam Neeson and "Shine's" Geoffrey Rush, as longtime antagonists Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert, are superb, as is Uma Thurman, playing the doomed Fantine. PG-13 (violence, gore, partial nudity, profanity, vulgarity). (Kaysville, Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (May 1, 1998)

LOST IN SPACE - * * 1/2 - Neither as good nor as bad as you might think, this big-screen version of the cult '60s television series, a science-fiction take on "Swiss Family Robinson," is decent if unexceptional eye-candy. However, things bog down in the second half, with a time-travel storyline that makes no sense. PG-13 (violence, gore, profanity, vulgarity). (Kaysville, Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (April 3, 1998)

THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK - * * - Who says two Leonardo DiCaprios are better than one? The "Titanic" star is downright awful playing twin brothers - one the evil King of France and the other a sweet-natured prisoner - in this dimwitted adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas novel. Still, the dream casting of actors playing the Four Musketeers (Gabriel Byrne, John Malkovich, Gerard Depardieu and Jeremy Irons) almost saves things. PG-13 (violence, vulgarity, sex, nudity, profanity). (Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (March 13, 1998)

MERCURY RISING - * 1/2 - Call this by-the-numbers Bruce Willis thriller "Who's Trying to Kill Gilbert Grape?" In it, he plays an outcast FBI agent hired to protect a 9-year-old autistic savant who's accidentally cracked a top-secret governmental military code. Not nearly exciting enough, and the plot is so ludicrous it's laughable. R (violence, profanity, vulgarity). (Redwood, with "Out of Sight.") (April 3, 1998)

MR. NICE GUY - * * - Action star Jackie Chan's newest, a martial-arts comedy about a TV chef accidentally dragged into a turf war between a motorcycle gang and a drug lord, almost lives up to its advertised promise of having "more action than the last three Jackie Chan films combined." But its plot is too thin, the acting is abominable and the ending is pretty dull, frankly. PG-13 (violence, vulgarity, profanity, nude artwork). (Valley Fair.) (March 20, 1998)

MULAN - * * * - Almost too brisk for its own good, the latest Disney animated offering is an exciting musical adventure about a young Chinese woman who disguises herself as a warrior to save her ailing father's life, and earn his respect. Superb animation, and the vocal cast (which includes Ming Na-Wen, Eddie Murphy, Donny Osmond, Harvey Fierstein and George Takei). G (animated violence) gives charming performances. (Gateway, Plaza 5400; Redwood, with "Six Days, Seven Nights"; Reel, South Towne, Trolley Square, Villa.) (June 22, 1998)

THE OBJECT OF MY AFFECTION - * * 1/2 - Not the romantic comedy the ads make it appear to be, this uneven comedy/drama stars Jennifer Aniston as a pregnant crisis counselor who asks her gay roommate (Paul Rudd) to raise the child with her and winds up falling for him. A stellar supporting cast (including Alan Alda and Nigel Hawthorne) helps elevate the material. R (profanity, vulgarity, violence, drug use). (Sugar House.) (April 17, 1998)

PAULIE - * * * - Here's the year's most pleasant surprise to date: a charming kids comedy about the title character, a parrot who learns to speak and comprehend the human language and who yearns to be reunited with his original owner. A great cast of human co-stars (Tony Shalhoub, Gena Rowlands and Cheech Marin) certainly doesn't hurt. Jay Mohr, from "Jerry Maguire," lends his voice to the character. PG (profanity). (Cinemas 5, Kaysville, Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (April 17, 1998)

A PERFECT MURDER - * 1/2 - Terrible miscasting and an even worse script sinks this slickly directed but disappointing thriller, inspired by the stageplay and film "Dial M for Murder" and starring Gwyneth Paltrow as the young wife of a millionaire industrialist (Michael Douglas) who is trying to kill her. R (violence, gore, profanity, sex, partial nudity). (Carmike 12, Century, Holladay, Plaza 5400; Redwood, with "Can't Hardly Wait"; Sandy 9, Trolley Corners.) (June 5, 1998)

QUEST FOR CAMELOT - * * - Flat animation and unmemorable songs are just several of the many problems facing this dull animated musical, a feminist revision of the King Arthur legends that's based on a famous fantasy novel. In it, the daughter of a slain knight and a blind warrior, who try to recover King Arthur's mystical sword, Excalibur. Deadly dull. G (animated violence). (Cinemas 5, Olympus.) (May 15, 1998)

SCREAM 2 - * * - There are some very funny comedic moments in this sequel to 1996's surprise hit slasher/comedy, which picks up the story two years later and brings back surviving stars Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courteney Cox). But the killings this time around are more gruesome and not nearly as clever as screenwriter Kevin Williamson intended. Still, the film-within-a-film parody of the first movie almost makes things worth it. R (violence, gore, profanity, vulgarity). (Redwood, with "The X-Files.") (Dec. 12, 1997)

SIX DAYS, SEVEN NIGHTS - * * - You can't blame either of the stars (Harrison Ford and Anne Heche) for this disappointing romantic adventure, which pairs them as a gruff cargo pilot and an acerbic New York who find danger and romance when they're stranded on a deserted island. Both of them try, but they're undone by awful scripting and plotting. PG-13 (profanity, violence, vulgarity, partial nudity, brief gore). (Carmike 12, Century, Cottonwood, Crossroads, Gateway, Plaza 5400; Redwood, with "Mulan"; Reel, Sandy 9.) (June 12, 1998)

SLIDING DOORS - * * - A lack of chemistry between the leads seriously hampers this uneven comedy/fantasy, a variation on "It's a Wonderful Life," which follows what happens when a young woman (Gwyneth Paltrow, sporting a bad British accent) misses a London subway train, as well as what happens when she makes it to the train station on time. PG-13 (profanity, vulgarity, sex, brief partial nudity, violence). (Brewvies.) (April 24, 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 recreations. Winner of 11 Academy Awards. PG-13 (profanity, violence, nudity, vulgarity, sex). (Avalon, Midvalley, Olympus.) (Dec. 19, 1997)

THE TRUMAN SHOW - * * * * - One of those rare instances of the hype being justified, this thoughtful and subtle black comedy/sus-pense-thriller stars comic actor Jim Carrey (in his "breakthrough" role) as a man unaware that his "life" is being staged as part of a 24-hour-a-day documentary television show. Kudos also to Peter Weir ("Dead Poets Society"), whose skillful direction forces Carrey to act. PG (profanity, violence). (Broadway, Carmike 12, Century, Gateway, Holladay, Plaza 5400; Redwood, with "Deep Impact"; Reel, Sandy 9.) (June 5, 1998)

U.S. MARSHALS - * * - There are some exciting stunts in this spinoff of the 1993 hit "The Fugitive," but they're obvious retreads of action sequences from the first film (as well as "Con Air" and others) and the plot's not up to snuff. Also, Tommy Lee Jones does a fine job reprising his role, even though Wesley Snipes isn't nearly interesting enough as the subject of his hunt. PG-13 (violence, profanity, gore, vulgarity). (Kaysville, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (March 6, 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). (Kaysville, Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Feb. 13, 1998)

WILD THINGS - * - You can purposely make your movies trashy, but you can't make audiences watch them! This blackly comic mystery/thriller about two high school students (Neve Campbell and Denise Richards) who falsely accuse their school counselor (Matt Dillon) of rape, tries to be Grade-A cheese but is spoiled by atrocious acting and lurid plotting. Bill Murray is a hoot as a shyster lawyer, however. R (violence, profanity, vulgarity, nudity, sex, drug use, gore). (Sugar House.) (March 20, 1998)

THE X-FILES - * * * - The truth may be out there, but not all of it is revealed in this science-fiction/thriller based on the hit television series, which picks up the story from this season's cliffhanger. Still, it's a thrilling ride, and stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson get to show more personality than they're usually allowed. PG-13 (violence, gore, profanity, vulgarity, brief nudity, racial epithets). (Broadway, Carmike 12, Century, Creekside, Gateway, Midvalley; Redwood, with "Scream 2"; Reel, Sandy 9.) (June 22, 1998) *****

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