OnVideo FEBRUARY Video Reviews
Shot on three continents and in four languages, "Babel" is a suspense-filled drama that explores with shattering realism the nature of the barriers that seem to separate humankind. The film evokes the ancient concept of Babel and questions its modern day implications: the mistaken identities, misunderstandings and missed chances for communication that, though often unseen, drive our contemporary lives. A tragic incident involving an American couple in Morocco sparks a chain of events for four families in different countries throughout the world. Tied by circumstance but separated by continent, culture and language, each character discovers that it is family that ultimately provides solace. In the remote sands of the Moroccan desert, Armed with a Winchester rifle, two boys set out to look after their family's herd of goats. In the silent echoes of the desert, they decide to test the rifle ... but the bullet goes farther than they thought it would, detonating a chain of events that will link them, an American tourist couple's frantic struggle to survive, a nanny illegally crossing into Mexico with two American children and a deaf Japanese teen rebel whose father is sought by the police in Tokyo. Separated by clashing cultures and sprawling distances, each of these four disparate groups of people are nevertheless hurtling towards a shared destiny of isolation and grief. In the course of just a few days, they will each face the dizzying sensation of becoming profoundly lost -- lost in the desert, lost to the world, lost to themselves -- as they are pushed to the farthest edges of confusion and fear as well as to the very depths of connection and love. A favorite among moviegoers and critics, with many awards under its belt -- but way too heavyhanded -- Inarritu always tries to overachieve and make a statement movie.
Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. Stars: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael Garcia Bernal, Koji Yakusho, Elle Fanning. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: R, 142 min., Drama, Box office gross: $20.004 million, Paramount, Available: 2/20.
BOYNTON BEACH CLUB, THE
A comic celebration of love in the sunset years, based on the experiences of director Susan Seidelman's mother, Florence (who co-wrote the script), at an "active adult community." Recently widowed Marilyn (Brenda Vaccaro), still reeling over the sudden death of her husband, finds an unexpected new circle of friends when she accepts an invitation to join The Boynton Beach Bereavement Club. While not ready to embark on a relationship herself, she is amused to realize that many of her contemporaries are actively looking for love. Lois (Dyan Cannon) is being courted by a younger man (Michael Nouri), while Harry (Joseph Bologna) tries Internet dating and encourages his friend Jack (Len Cariou) to pursue a romance with the mysterious Sandy (Sally Kellerman). The Boynton Beach Club proves that 60 IS the new 40 and you're never too old to fall in love!
Director: Susan Seidelman. Stars: Joseph Bologna, Dyan Cannon , Len Cariou, Sally Kellerman, Michael Nouri, Brenda Vaccaro, Renee Taylor. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: R, 105 min., Romantic Comedy, Box office gross: $3.053 million, Sony, Available: 2/6.
Story of two young basketball hopefuls, Tech (Anthony Mackie) -- who wants to get his GED -- and Cruise (Wesley Jonathan) -- determined to become a doctor using his basketball scholarship to UCLA pre-med -- who must bring every move they have to the floor to unseat the reigning underground streetball champions headed by Jewelz. They don't play for a school and they don't cheer for a pro team. They play for the street and for themselves. Their lives change drastically when they both fall in love with two local girls, Vanessa Lilly and Eboni Jackson.Story of two young basketball hopefuls, Tech (Anthony Mackie) -- who wants to get his GED -- and Cruise (Wesley Jonathan) -- determined to become a doctor using his basketball scholarship to UCLA pre-med -- who must bring every move they have to the floor to unseat the reigning underground streetball champions headed by Jewelz. They don't play for a school and they don't cheer for a pro team. They play for the street and for themselves. Their lives change drastically when they both fall in love with two local girls, Vanessa Lilly and Eboni Jackson.
Director: Preston A. Whitmore II. Stars: Anthony Mackie, Wesley Jonathon, Wayne Brady, Eva Pigford, Lil' JJ, Phillip "Hot Sauce" Champion. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 98 min., Action, Box office gross: $7.009 million, Sony, Available: 2/20.
Based on the 2002 Chinese-language Hong Kong gangster film "Infernal Affairs" ("Wu jian dao"), "The Departed" is set in South Boston where the Massachusetts State Police Department is waging an all-out war to take down the city's top organized crime ring. The key is to end the reign of powerful mob boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) from the inside. A young rookie, Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio), who grew up in South Boston, is assigned to infiltrate the mob run by Costello. While Billy is working to gain Costello's trust, another young cop who came up from the streets of "Southie," Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), is quickly rising through the ranks of the state police. Earning a spot in the Special Investigations Unit, Colin is among a handful of elite officers whose mission is to bring Costello down. But what his superiors don't know is that Colin is working for Costello, keeping the crime boss one step ahead of the police. Each man becomes deeply consumed by his double life, gathering information about the plans and counter-plans of the operation he has penetrated. But when it becomes clear to both the gangsters and the police that they have a mole in their midst, Billy and Colin find themselves in constant danger of being caught and exposed to the enemy -- and each must race to uncover the identity of the other man in time to save himself.
Director: Martin Scorsese. Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga, Anthony Anderson, Alec Baldwin, Kevin Corrigan. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: R, 151 min., Crime Thriller, Box office gross: $121.732 million, WarnerDirector: Martin Scorsese. Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga, Anthony Anderson, Alec Baldwin, Kevin Corrigan. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: R, 151 min., Crime Thriller, Box office gross: $121.732 million, Warner, Available: 2/13.
FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS
It is the most memorable photograph of World War II, among the greatest pictures ever taken. The winner of the Pulitzer Prize for photography and one of the most-reproduced images in the history of photography, the picture has inspired postage stamps, posters, the covers of countless magazines and newspapers, and even the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia. "Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima," a picture taken by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal on February 23, 1945 depicts five Marines and one Navy Corpsman raising the U.S. flag on Mount Suribachi. The image served as a counterpoint for one of the most vicious battles of the war: the fight to take Iwo Jima, a desolate island of black sand barely eight square miles that would prove a tipping point in the Pacific campaign. Lasting more than a month, the fight was a bloody, drawn-out conflict that might have turned the American public against the war entirely, had it not been for the photo, which was taken and published five days into the battle. The photograph made heroes of the men in the picture as the three surviving flag-raisers were returned to the U.S. and made into props in the government's Seventh War Bond Tour. Uncomfortable with their new celebrity, the flag-raisers considered the real heroes to be the men who died on Iwo Jima; still, the American public held them up as the best America had to offer, the supermen who conquered the Japanese ... and then, just as quickly as it had arrived, the glory faded. For two of the surviving flag-raisers, life became a series of compromises and disappointments; for the third, happiness came only by shutting off his war experiences and rarely speaking of them ever again. "Flags of Our Fathers" is a human drama of friendship and love, sacrifice and manipulation, set against the violent conflict of the battle of Iwo Jima. Two- time Academy Award-winning director Clint Eastwood focuses equally on the war and home, crosscutting between the viciousness of the battle and the manufactured propaganda campaign and careful manipulation of the image that followed -- issues that remain prevalent today. As "Flags of Our Fathers" shows how the photograph became the very beginning of celebrity worship, the film questions our need to create and celebrate heroes, sometimes at a cost.
Director: Clint Eastwood. Stars: Ryan Phillippe, Jesse Bradford, Adam Beach, Paul Walker, Jamie Bell, Barry Pepper, John Benjamin Hickey. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: R, 132 min., War Drama, Box office gross: $33.574 million, Paramount/DreamWorks, Available: 2/6.
In this contemporary adaptation of Mary O'Hara's novel "My Friend Flicka," 16- year-old Katy McLaughlin (Alison Lohman) dreams of fulfilling her family legacy by working on her father's ranch in modern-day Wyoming. But Katy's father wants more for her, insisting that she go to college. Katy finds a wild mustang, which she names Flicka, and sets out to make her a riding horse. But Flicka and Katy are more alike than she could have imagined. Like Katy, Flicka has a disdain for authority and is not about to give up her freedom without a fight.
Director: Michael Mayer. Stars: Tim McGraw, Maria Bello, Alison Lohman, Ryan Kwanten, Daniel Pino. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 94 min., Family Drama, Box office gross: $20.780 million, Fox, Available: 2/6.
Set on and beneath the streets of London, "Flushed Away" is the story of Roddy, an upper-crust mouse who is rather rudely evicted from his Kensington flat when he is flushed down into the bustling world found under London's streets. There he meets Rita, an enterprising scavenger who works the sewers in her faithful boat, the Jammy Dodger. Together they must navigate their way through a busy city filled with dangers for any mouse including terrifying rapids, treacherous whirlpools and, most of all, the villainous Toad and his hench-rats Spike and Whitey. Though completely out of his element at first, the privileged Roddy finds himself an unlikely hero when he learns that this underground metropolis is in danger from the world above.
Director: David Bowers and Sam Fell. Stars: Voices of Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Ian McKellen, Jean Reno, Bill Nighy, Andy Serkis, Shane Richie, Kathy Burke, David Suchet. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 90 min., Animated, Box office gross: $61.607 million, DreamWorks, Available: 2/20.
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
Christopher Guest's latest satire -- with his by-now-famous ensemble cast -- revolves around three actors shooting a small independent film whose lives are turned upside down when buzz starts that their performances are awards-worthy. Debut feature director Jay Berman (Guest), steers cast and crew through a typically tumultuous independent film "Home for Purim," an intimate period drama about a Jewish family's turbulent reunion on the occasion of the dying matriarch's favorite holiday. When Internet-generated rumors begin circulating that three of Purim's stars -- faded luminary Marilyn Hack (Catherine O'Hara), journeyman actor and former hot dog pitchman Victor Allan Miller (Harry Shearer), and ingenue Callie Webb (Parker Posey) -- may be perpetrating Award- worthy performances, a rumble of excitement rattles the cast. Once "Hollywood Now" anchors Chuck Porter (Fred Willard) and Cindy Martin (Jane Lynch) pick up the buzz, Award fever infects the entire production. Unit publicist Corey Taft (John Michael Higgins), talent agent Morley Orfkin (Eugene Levy), and producer Whitney Taylor Brown (Jennifer Coolidge) all smell the sudden potential for a sleeper hit. As does Sunfish Classics president Martin Gibb (Ricky Gervais), who suggests some last-minute changes to the film that he feels will broaden its appeal. Meanwhile, "Purim's" screenwriters, Lane Iverson (Michael McKean) and Philip Koontz (Bob Balaban) grow steadily more horrified as they watch the first film adaptation of their work diverge from their original story. As the hopeful "Purim" team careens toward the end of production and the upcoming Award season, tenuous relationships and brittle dreams play out in unexpected ways.
Director: Christopher Guest. Stars: Carrie Aizley, Bob Balaban, Ed Begley, Jr., Jennifer Coolidge, Paul Dooley, Ricky Gervais, Christopher Guest, Rachael Harris, John Michael Higgins, Michael Hitchcock, Don Lake, Eugene Levy, Jane Lynch, Michael McKean, Larry Miller, Christopher Moynihan, Catherine O'Hara, Jim Piddock, Parker Posey, Harry Shearer, Deborah Theaker, Fred Willard, Scott Williamson. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 86 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $5.490million, Warner, Available: 2/20.
GOOD YEAR, A
London-based investment expert Max Skinner (Russell Crowe) moves to Provence to sell a small vineyard he has inherited from his late uncle. Max reluctantly settles into what ultimately becomes an intoxicating new chapter in his life, as he comes to realize that life is meant to be savored. Confident and cocky, headstrong and handsome, Max Skinner is a successful London banker who specializes in trading bonds. A financial barracuda on the banks of the Thames, Max devours the competition in his efforts to conquer the European market. His latest conquest has netted a tidy seven-figure profit, much to the chagrin of his Saville Row-draped rivals. Max's triumph is in perfect keeping with his philosophy: winning isn't everything, it's the only thing! But then Max receives word from France alerting him to sad news: his elderly Uncle Henry has passed away. Max, Henry's closest blood relative, is the sole beneficiary of his estate, which includes a Provencal chateau and vineyard, La Siroque, where Henry cultivated grapes for more than 30 years. Max reluctantly begins settling into life at the chateau. He reunites with the chateau's longtime vigneron, Francis Duflot (still tending the vines after three decades), whom Max remembers from his boyhood visits. Max's memories and the passage of time bring forth emotions and feelings he thought were long lost, and afford him a new appreciation of his late Uncle Henry's philosophy on life -- and on life in Provence: "There's nowhere else in the world where one can keep busy doing so little, yet enjoy it so much!"
Director: Ridley Scott. Stars: Albert Finney, Russell Crowe, Freddie Highmore, Rafe Spall, Archie Panjabi. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 114 min., Comedy Drama, Box office gross: $7.392 million, Fox, Available: 2/27.
GRUDGE 2, THE
Sequel explores the dark secrets of the grudge when a curse that was once trapped in an abandoned, burned-down house escapes and quickly spreads to anyone who encounters it. Aubrey Davis (Amber Tamblyn) discovers from her bedridden mother that her sister Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is in a hospital in Japan and under investigation for the death of her boyfriend. Her mother is too ill to make the trip to Tokyo and asks Aubrey to bring her sister home. Shortly after Aubrey arrives in Tokyo, reporter and photographer Eason (Edison Chen), seeks her out and warns her that Karen is in the thrall of an unseen and dangerous curse. Aubrey joins forces with Eason to discover the truth and ultimately becomes exposed to the same curse that afflicted her sister. In a parallel plotline, student Allison (Arielle Kebbel), is attending an international school in Tokyo and is desperately trying to fit in with the school's popular crowd. She's willing to do anything they ask -- even if it means exploring a mysterious burned-down house, which is the site of several unexplained murders and strange disappearances, including that of Karen's boyfriend. Upon entering the house, Allison is unknowingly exposed to the curse. She carries it back to the states and into her apartment building where her neighbors, including Trish (Jennifer Beals), are one by one infected by the malevolent curse known as "The Grudge."
Director: Takashi Shimizu. Stars: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Amber Tamblyn, Arielle Kebbel, Joanna Cassidy, Edison Chen, Jennifer Beals. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 102 min., Horror, Box office gross: $39.143 million, Sony, Available: 2/6.
Critically acclaimed account of the strange demise of actor George Reeves, known to a generation of Americans as television's Superman. The price of celebrity is viewed in a stark light in this compelling retelling of Tinsel Town's most infamous real-life mystery -- set against the glamour and corruption of 1950s Hollywood. Low-rent private detective Louis Simo (Adrien Brody) is hired to investigate the death of Hollywood striver George Reeves (Ben Affleck). Haunted by his own success and unable to shed the superhero image created by his popular television show, Reeves is found dead, apparently by his own hand. As Simo probes the circumstances surrounding the actor's death, he finds tantalizing suggestions of foul play involving Reeves' fiancee, his wealthy lover and her movie mogul husband -- and puts himself at risk.
Director: Allen Coulter. Stars: Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, Ben Affleck, Bob Hoskins, Lois Smith, Robin Tunney. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: R, 126 min., Drama, Box office gross: $14.417 million, Universal, Available: 2/6.
MAN OF THE YEAR
What would happen if a popular late-night talk-show host ran for President of the United States -- and won? Acerbic performer Tom Dobbs (Robin Williams) has made his career out of skewering politicians and speaking the mind of an exasperated nation on his talk show. He cracked scathing jokes at a fractured system night after night ... until he came up with a really funny idea: why not run for president? After a flip comment, Dobbs ignites a grassroots movement that puts him on the ballot. Hot on the campaign trail, he debates elected drones and says exactly what frustrated voters have often thought. Nov. 2nd later, the muckraker wins -- only to learn that a computer voting error gave him the victory. With time ticking on the inaugural clock, Dobbs has a big decision to make: Should he go back behind the mike or stay in the Oval Office?
Director: Barry Levinson. Stars: Robin Williams, Christopher Walken, Laura Linney, Jeff Goldblum, Lewis Black. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 115 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $37.442 million, Universal, Available: 2/20.
Often maligned, passionately debated and ultimately a misunderstood young woman, Marie Antoinette (Kirsten Dunst), through director Sofia Coppola's vision, emerges neither as staid historical villain nor divine idol -- but as a confused and lonely teenage outsider thrust against her will into a decadent and scandal- plagued world on the eve of disaster. Coppola brings to the screen a fresh interpretation of the life of France's legendary teenage queen. Betrothed to King Louis XVI (Jason Schwartzman), the naive Marie Antoinette, at the age of 14, is thrown into an opulent French court steeped in conspiracy and scandal. Alone, without guidance, and adrift in a dangerous world, the young Marie Antoinette rebels against the isolated atmosphere at Versailles and, in the process, becomes France's most misunderstood monarch. She's merely a pawn in an arranged marriage meant to solidify the harmony between two nations. Her teenage husband, the Dauphin Louis, is heir to the French throne. But Marie Antoinette is ill prepared to be the kind of ruler for whom the French populace yearns. Beneath her finery, she's a sheltered, frightened and confused young woman, surrounded by vicious detractors, insincere flatterers, puppet masters and gossips. Trapped by the conventions of her station in life, Marie Antoinette must find a way to fit into the complex and treacherous world of Versailles. Adding to her woes is the indifference of Louis. Their marriage goes unconsummated for an astonishing seven years. The awkward future king proves to be a disaster as a lover, sparking grave concerns (and relentless gossip) that Marie Antoinette will never produce an heir. Overwhelmed and distraught, Marie Antoinette seeks refuge in the decadence of the French aristocracy and in a secret love affair with the alluring Swedish Count Fersen (Jamie Dornan). Her indiscretions are soon the talk of France. Whether she is being idealized for her impeccable style or vilified for being unforgivably out of touch with her subjects, reaction to Marie Antoinette is always extreme. Yet, slowly, as she matures, she begins to find her way as a wife, mother and Queen -- only to be tragically swept up in a bloody revolution that alters France forever. A dreamy, modernist take, backed with a pop music soundtrack.
Director: Sofia Coppola. Stars: Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, Rip Torn, Molly Shannon, Judy Davis, Steve Coogan, Asia Argento, Marianne Faithful, Aurore Clement, Shirley Henderson. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 123 min., Drama, Box office gross: $15.962 million, Sony, Available: 2/13.
From acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan ("Memento," "Batman Begins") comes an innovative thriller woven out of the stuff of illusions. In this twisting, turning tale of mystery, two Victorian-era magicians spark a powerful rivalry that builds into an escalating battle of tricks and an unquenchable thirst to uncover the other's trade secrets. At a time when magicians are idols and celebrities of the highest order, two young magicians set out to carve their own paths to fame. The flashy, sophisticated Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) is a consummate entertainer, while the rough-edged purist Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) is a creative genius who lacks the panache to showcase his magical ideas. They start out as admiring friends and partners. But when their biggest trick goes terribly awry, they become enemies for life -- each intent on outdoing and upending the other. Trick by trick, show by show, their ferocious competition builds until it knows no bounds, even using the fantastical new powers of electricity and the scientific brilliance of Nikola Tesla -- while the lives of everyone around them hang in the balance. Rife with sleight-of-hand shocks and revelations, the film delves into a riveting world where the farthest, darkest edges of faith, trust and the possible are probed.
Director: Christopher Nolan. Stars: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Piper Perabo, Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie, Andy Serkis. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 128 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $53.002 million, Buena Vista, Available: 2/20.
Joanna Mills (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is a tough young Midwesterner determined to learn the truth behind the increasingly terrifying supernatural visions that have been haunting her. Joanna has made a successful career for herself as a sales representative for a trucking company. But her private life has been difficult; estranged from her father (Sam Shepard), stalked by an obsessed ex-boyfriend (Adam Scott), and with few friends, Joanna fears that she is losing control. She sees and feels the brutal murder of a young woman she's never met, at the hands of a heartless killer -- a man who appears to be making Joanna his next target. Determined to fight back, Joanna is guided by her nightmares to the murdered woman's hometown of La Salle, Texas. Once there, she is drawn to an outsider, Terry (Peter O'Brien), and discovers that some secrets can't be buried; some spirits never die; and that the murder she is trying to solve may be her own
Director: Asif Kapadia. Stars: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Kate Beahan, Peter O Brien, Adam Scott, Sam Shepard. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 85 min., Horror, Box office gross: $7.744 million, Universal, Available: 2/27.
RUNNING WITH SCISSORS
At once a blistering comedy and a deeply moving human drama, "Running With Scissors" is the mesmerizing tale of how a young man survived a nightmare childhood -- while keeping his sense of humor and his sense of forgiveness intact. The film is writer-director Ryan Murphy's interpretation of Augusten Burrough's personal memoir of a warped, out-of-control, 70s-era coming of age. It's a wild story about the strange power of families, the wonderment of childhood, the madness of adulthood and the revelation of finding your way in spite of it all. The movie begins in 1971 as the neatness-obsessed but sharply observant 6 year-old Augusten (Joseph Cross) finds himself trapped between his troubled parents: his mother Deirdre (Annette Bening), an unpublished, not to mention unstable, confessional poet with delusions of being hugely famous, and his father Norman (Alec Baldwin), an alcoholic math professor who long ago gave up trying to solve the riddle of his wife's problems or his son's precocious behavior. When the Burroughs' marriage goes to pieces, Deirdre signs up for therapy with the eccentric Dr. Finch (Brian Cox), a highly unconventional shrink who takes the family under his wing. From the beginning, Augusten is suspicious of Dr. Finch's peculiarities -- his office includes, among other oddities, a Masturbatorium where the good doctor goes to relax in the middle of tedious sessions. But when Dr. Finch fails to save the Burroughs' marriage, Augusten's life takes an even more wrenching turn. While Deirdre is packed off to a motel to continue her Valium-aided therapy, Augusten is sent to live in the Finch family home -- a kind of Brady-Bunch-gone-bad world where dog kibble is a snack, rules are unheard of, the Christmas tree stays up all year round, Valium is consumed like candy, and if things get dull, an electroshock-therapy machine provides entertainment. As Augusten unwittingly becomes part of the family -- which also includes the shellshocked Mrs. Finch (Jill Clayburgh), "Bible- dipping" daughter Hope (Gwyneth Paltrow), disco-rebel daughter Natalie (Evan Rachel Wood) and Neil Bookman (Joseph Fiennes), Finch's disturbed, 35 year-old "adopted" son who lives in a shed at the back of the house -- he will descend into a kind of surreal childhood hell. Yet, he also finds optimism among the horror, hilarity in the insanity and even love amid the dilapidated ruins as he never loses his spirit or his resilience.
Director: Ryan Murphy. Stars: Annete Bening, Joseph Cross, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jill Clayburgh, Brian Cox, Joseph Fiennes, Evan Rachel Wood, Alec Baldwin, Gabrielle Union, Vanessa Redgrave, Kristin Chenoweth, Patrick Wilson. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: R, 121 min., Black Comedy-Drama, Box office gross: $6.754 million, Sony, Available: 2/6.
SCHOOL FOR SCOUNDRELS
In this film loosely based on the 1960 British comedy, a shy young meter reader (Jon Heder) enrolls in a class to help build his confidence so he can win over his dream girl (Jacinda Barrett), only to find out that the teacher of the class (Billy Bob Thornton) also has his eyes on her. Jon Heder plays Roger, a beleaguered New York City meter person who is plagued by anxiety and low self- esteem. In order to overcome his feelings of inadequacy, Roger enrolls in a top- secret confidence-building class taught by the suavely underhanded Dr. P (Billy Bob Thornton). Aided by his assistant, Lesher (Michael Clarke Duncan), Dr. P uses unorthodox, often dangerous methods, but he guarantees results: Employ his techniques and you will unleash your inner lion. Surrounded by a band of misfit classmates -- Walsh (Matt Walsh), who's dying to move out of mother's basement; Diego (Horatio Sanz), a punching bag for his hen-pecker of a wife; and Eli (Todd Louiso), a shy guy just looking for female companionship -- Roger's confidence grows and he makes his way to the head of the class, even finding the courage to ask out his longtime crush, Amanda (Jacinda Barrett). But Roger quickly discovers that star students have a way of catapulting Dr. P's competitive side into high gear. Soon enough, the teacher sets out to infiltrate and destroy Roger's personal and professional life. Nothing is off limits for Dr. P, not even the object of Roger's affection. In order to show Amanda Dr. P's true colors, Roger must rally his new friends and find a way to beat the master at his own game.
Director: Todd Phillips. Stars: Billy Bob Thornton, Jon Heder, Jacinda Barrett, Michael Clarke Duncan, Sarah Silverman, David Cross, Horatio Sanz, Matt Walsh. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 101 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $17.803 million, Dimension/Genius Products, Available: 2/13.
STRANGER THAN FICTION
Wonderful oddball comedy that pushes the envelope of movie storytelling has Will Ferrell star as Harold Crick, an IRS Agent whose world is turned upside-down when he begins to hear his life being chronicled by a narrator only he can hear. The Narrator, Kay Eiffel (Emma Thompson), a nearly forgotten author of tragic novels, is struggling to complete her latest book, unaware that her protagonist is alive and uncontrollably guided by her words. Fiction and reality collide when the bewildered and hilariously resistant Harold hears the Narrator say that events have been set in motion that will lead to his imminent death. One morning, a seemingly average and generally solitary IRS agent Crick begins to hear a female voice narrating his every action, thought and feeling in alarmingly precise detail. Harold's carefully controlled life is turned upside down by this narration only he can hear, and when the voice declares that Harold Crick is facing imminent death, he realizes he must find out who is writing his story and persuade her to change the ending. The voice in Harold's head turns out to be the once celebrated, but now nearly forgotten, novelist Karen "Kay" Eiffel, who is struggling to find an ending for what might be her best book. Her only remaining challenge is to figure out a way to kill her main character, but little does she know that Harold Crick is alive and well and inexplicably aware of her words and her plans for him. To make matters worse, Kay's publisher has dispatched a hard-nosed "assistant," Penny Escher (Queen Latifah), to force Kay to finish her novel and finish off Crick. Desperate to take control of his destiny and avoid an untimely demise, Harold seeks help from literary professor Jules Hilbert (Dustin Hoffman), who suggests that Harold might be able to change his fate by turning his story from a tragedy into a comedy. Professor Hilbert suggests that Harold try to follow one of comedy's most elemental formulas: a love story between two people who hate each other. His suggestion leads Harold to initiate an unlikely romance with a defiant audit subject, free-spirited baker Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal). As Harold experiences true love and true life for the first time, he becomes convinced that he has escaped his fate, as his story seems to be taking on all the trappings of a comedy in which he will not, and cannot, die. But Harold is unaware that in a Karen Eiffel tragedy, the lead characters always die at exactly the moment when they have the most to live for. Harold and Kay find themselves in unexplored territory as each must weigh the value of a single human existence against what might just be an immortal work of art: a novel about life and death -- and taxes.
Director: Marc Forster. Stars: Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Queen Latifah, Emma Thompson. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 113 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $40.137 million, Sony, Available: 2/27.
ZOOM: ACADEMY FOR SUPERHEROES
Jack Shepard a.k.a. "Captain Zoom" (Tim Allen) is an out-of-shape auto shop owner, far removed from the man who once protected the world's freedom. Reluctantly called back into action by the government, Jack is charged with turning a rag-tag group of kids with special powers into superheroes to save the world from certain destruction. Tucker (Spencer Breslin), Cindy (Ryan Newman), Summer (Kate Mara) and Dylan (Michael Cassidy) each possess a unique and special power that sets them apart from everybody else their age. They also share something else -- a yearning to be normal. Will they learn to control and harness their powers in time to save the world ... and be home for dinner? Based on Jason Lethcoe's popular graphic novel "Amazing Adventures From Zoom's Academy."
Director: Peter Hewitt. Stars: Tim Allen, Courteney Cox, Chevy Chase, Spencer Breslin, Kevin Zegers, Kate Mara, Michael Cassidy, Ryan Newman, Rip Torn. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 83 min., Family, Box office gross: $11.631 million, Sony, Available: 2/13.
All DVDs are screened on a reference system consisting of a Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player w/SACD & DVD-Audio, a Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center), and 50 (rear) speakers and Power 10 subwoofer.
| Contents/Site Map | Home | Resources | Calendar | Sell-Through | DVD | Reviews |
© 1996 -- 2007 OnVideo. All rights reserved
February 1, 2007