OnVideo JANUARY Video Reviews
It was bound to happen, sooner or later. The raucous characters from the wildly successful "American Pie" and "American Pie 2" have gone and done it. Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) are getting married. With East Great Falls High, foreign exchange students, band camp, crazy glue and summer college vacations now a thing of the past, Jim and Michelle's friends and family are ready to help usher the couple down the aisle and over the threshold into adulthood. Michelle wants the wedding to be perfect. Not exactly an easy task, even with everyone on their best behavior and getting along. Michelle's knock-out sister, Cadence (January Jones), has flown in to help out her sis as Maid of Honor. And once normally out of control Stifler (Seann William Scott) and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) catch sight of Cadence -- the war to woo is on. Cautioned to tone it down by a nervous Jim -- who already has his hands full trying to impress Michelle's somewhat stuffy parents, Stifler abandons his customary plan of attack and becomes the charming would-be boyfriend of every nice girl's dreams -- which leaves Finch with no choice but to play the bad boy, with Cadence torn between perfect gentleman Stifler and that low-life Finch. Throw in Jim's Dad (Eugene Levy) dispensing well-meaning (but sometimes clueless) advice to his son and future daughter-in-law; Jim and Finch's wild trek to chase down the perfect wedding dress for Michelle; an unexpected bachelor party complete with naughty "maid" and sexy female "cop"; dancing lessons; a church full of dead flowers; personal grooming mishaps; and one, big, hairy wedding cake and you have more of the grossness that made the first two outings such big hits.
Director: Jesse Dylan. Stars: Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, January Jones, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Seann William Scott, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Fred Willard, Eugene Levy, Molly Creek, Deborah Rush. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 95 min.), Comedy, 2003, Box office gross: $105.000 million, (Universal), $22.98 VHS SRP, Available: 1/2, DVD: Day & Date.
As a last hurrah after college, friends Jeff, Karen, Paul, Marcy and Bert embark on a vacation deep into the mountains. With the top down and the music up, they drive to a remote cabin to enjoy their last days of decadence before entering the working world. Then somebody gets sick. Karen's skin starts to bubble and burn as something grows inside her, tunneling beneath her flesh. The group is so repulsed, shocked and sickened watching their friend deteriorate before their eyes; they lock her in a shed to avoid infection. As they debate about how to save her, they look at one another and realize that any one of them could also have it. What soon began as a struggle against the disease turns into a battle against friends, as the fear of contagion drives them to turn on each other. The kids confront the terror of having to kill anyone who comes near them, even if it's their closest friend. The survivors have to find help before they're all killed by the virus, or by the local lynch mob out to destroy anyone who may have come in contact with it.
Director: Eli Roth. Stars: Rider Strong, Jordan Ladd, Joey Kern, Cerina Vincent, James DeBello, Arie Verveen, Giuseppe Andrews. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 94 min.), Horror, 2003, Box office gross: $30.000 million, (Lions Gate), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/20, DVD: Day & Date.
CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS
Very strange documentary about a seemingly average middle-class family rocked by scandal in the affluent Long Island town of Great Neck -- in the late 1980s, the father and one of his three sons are arrested on multiple counts of molestation of young boys. The film paints an interesting portrait of a dysfunctional family and the truth behind the charges -- as with the famous McMartin case in Los Angeles several years back, the truth is hard to come by. The Friedmans operated a computer class in their home, and though some boys attending claimed abuse, others denied seeing anything wrong. Was the case a result of overzealous police and officials -- like in the McMartin case -- or was there something really going on (dad Arnold Friedman, it turns out, was a closet pedophile)? Truth and reality twist and change depending on whom in the film faces the camera. Adding further weirdness to the proceedings is the inclusion of home videos by the Friedmans -- it seems the family was obsessed with documenting themselves. A powerful filmic investigation into one American family's life.
FREDDY VS. JASON
Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) is in hell -- literally. It's been nearly 10 years since Krueger, one of the scariest horror movie characters of all time ("The Nightmare on Elm Street" series), invaded peoples' dreams to exact his deadly form of revenge and murder. But now, his memory has been systematically erased by a town determined to put an end to Freddy once and for all. Potential victims have been drugged to prevent them from dreaming, rendering impotent the master of nightmares. Like an inmate with a life sentence, Freddy's been reduced to plotting a fantastic revenge that will never happen. Until, that is, Freddy resurrects Jason Voorhees (Ken Kirzinger), the equally iconic madman from the "Friday the 13th" series. Jason is the perfect means for Freddy to once again instill fear on Elm Street, creating a window of opportunity for him to emerge from his purgatory. Recognizing how easily manipulated Jason is, Freddy tricks Voorhees into journeying to Springwood to start a new reign of terror. But as the bodies begin to pile up on Elm Street and Freddy's fearsome reputation assumes new life, he discovers that Jason isn't willing to cease his murderous ways and step aside so easily. Now, with a terrified town in the middle, the two titans of terror enter into a horrifying showdown of epic proportions, alternating between the world of dreams and the harsh reality of the living world. Who will win and who will lose in this battle to end all battles?
Director: Ronny Yu. Stars: Robert Englund, Ken Kirzinger, Monica Keena, Kelly Rowland, Jason Ritter, Christopher George Marquette, Lochlyn Munro. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 98 min.), Horror, 2003, Box office gross: $82.200 million, (New Line), $22.99 VHS SRP, Available: 1/13, DVD: Day & Date.
HOUSE OF THE DEAD
A group of college co-eds visit the mysterious Isla del Muerte, which centuries before had been home to a priest banished from Spain for creating a death-cheating serum. To their horror, the students find the priest is still alive and using the living to harvest body parts to sustain himself. Trapped on an island taken over by blood-feasting zombies, the students seek refuge in a mysterious ancient house, where they must use every weapon at their disposal to survive the night as killer undead creatures stalk them inside the House of the Dead. Good riddance.
Director: Uwe Boll. Stars: Jonathan Cherry, Tyron Leitso, Clint Howard, Ona Grauer, Ellie Cornell, Jurgen Prochnow. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 90 min.), Horror, 2003, Box office gross: $10.500 million, (Artisan), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/27, DVD: Day & Date.
Secret agent spoof. When the British Secret Service uncovers a plot to steal the Crown Jewels, Agent Number One is quickly put on the case -- and just as quickly killed. And when all the other able agents are murdered, only one remains -- Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson), an office-bound junior intelligence worker who bumbles his way onto the case. Armed with a highly specialized automobile and high-tech gadgetry, English is Britain's last hope to catch the thief and stop a plot that threatens world security.
Director: Peter Howitt. Stars: Rowan Atkinson, Natalie Imbruglia, John Malkovich, Ben Miller, Tim Pigott-Smith, Kevin McNally. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 87 min.), Comedy, 2003, Box office gross: $28.000 million, (Universal), $22.98 VHS SRP, Available: 1/13, DVD: Day & Date.
When two American sisters become caught up in the intimate intrigue of Paris, cultures and human passions collide -- and the result is a comedy of manners and morals, money and marriage, sex and sorority that sheds incandescent light on what it means to be an American abroad. The story follows the journey of Isabel Walker (Kate Hudson), a quintessential young Californian newly arrived in the City of Light to visit her pregnant sister, Roxeanne (Naomi Watts). A darkly romantic poet, Roxy has just been jilted by her scoundrel husband, Charles-Henri de Persand (Melvil Poupaud), and it appears they are headed for "le divorce." Meanwhile, Isabel leaps into l'amour with a married French diplomat (Thierry Lhermitte) who happens to be the uncle of Roxy's soon-to-be-ex. As scandal ensues, the American idealism and irrepressible spirit of the Walker sisters comes up against the French sophistication and stubborn rationalism of the Persand family. Complicating the two families' relations is a painting in Roxy's possession that is discovered to be worth millions of dollars. And then, quite suddenly, a crime of passion disrupts all the scheming and culture clashes - and opens up new possibilities for understanding. Based on the best-selling novel by Diane Johnson. Memorable only for the attractiveness of the two leads.
Director: James Ivory. Stars: Kate Hudson, Naomi Watts, Thierry Lhermitte, Leslie Caron, Glenn Close, Stockard Channing, Sam Waterston, Thomas Lennon, Matthew Modine, Bebe Neuwirth, Jean-Marc Barr, Romain Duris, Stephen Fry. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 117 min.), Romantic comedy, 2003, Box office gross: $9.074 million, (Fox), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/27, DVD: Day & Date.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO
The saga of the mythic guitar-slinging hero, El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas), continues in Robert Rodriguez's bravura action epic that is the third entry in his "El Mariachi" trilogy. The new adventure is set against a backdrop of revolution, greed and revenge. Haunted and scarred by tragedy, El Mariachi has retreated into a life of isolation. He is forced out of hiding when Sands (Johnny Depp), a corrupt CIA agent, recruits the reclusive hero to sabotage an assassination plot against the president of Mexico, which has been conceived by the evil cartel kingpin Barrillo (Willem Dafoe). But El Mariachi also has his own reasons for returning -- blood revenge. The desperado returns with his two trusted sidekicks Lorenzo (Enrique Iglesias) and Fideo (Marco Leonardi). And the legend of El Mariachi reaches new heights of excitement and adventure. Shot with a high-definition digital camera by director-writer-production designer-director of photography- editor Banderas, the film is a glorious and entertaining homage to Spaghetti- Westerns loaded with plenty of bloodshed, stunts, fights, chases and color.
Director: Robert Rodriguez. Stars: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe, Eva Mendes, Mickey Rourke. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 98 min.), Action, 2003, Box office gross: $56.000 million, (Columbia TriStar), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/20, DVD: Day & Date.
Kevin Costner is Charley Waite, a proud cowboy who, with his companions Boss Spearman (Robert Duvall), Button (Diego Luna) and Mose Harrison (Abraham Benrubi) free graze their cattle across the vast prairies of the West. The men share a friendship forged by a steadfast code of honor and by living a life unencumbered by civilization. When their wayward herd forces them near the small town of Harmonville, the cowboys encounter a corrupt sheriff (James Russo) and tyrannical kingpin rancher Denton Baxter (Michael Gambon). But life takes an unexpected turn for loner Charley when he meets the spirited Sue Barlow (Annette Bening), a woman who embraces both his heart and his soul. Boss and Charley, however, find themselves swept into a violent showdown with Baxter and his gang. As they defend themselves and their freedoms in a monumental gun battle, these proud cowboys are also forced to confront and conquer their own internal demons. Though a bit long at 139 minutes, Costner's Western here harks back more to the old-fashioned Westerns of John Ford -- allowing time for character development -- rather than just tipping a hat to cutsy Western conventions a la such films as "Young Guns." And the slow buildup to the final, bloody shoot-out is well worth the wait.
Director: Kevin Costner. Stars: Kevin Costner, Robert Duvall, Annette Bening, Michael Gambon, Abraham Benrubi, Michael Jeter, Diego Luna, James Russo. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 139 min.), Western, 2003, Box office gross: $58.000 million, (Buena Vista), $24.99 VHS SRP, Available: 1/20, DVD: Day & Date.
OUT OF TIME
Matt (Denzel Washington) is the chief of police in small Banyan Key, Florida. A hardworking man who's good at his job, he's respected by his peers and beloved by his community. But beneath the surface there's turmoil. Matt's estranged from his wife Alex (Eva Mendes) who also happens to be a detective, and is having an affair with Ann (Sanaa Lathan), whose ex-football player husband (Dean Cain) gets wind of the pairs extra- marital trysts. Ann needs some cash fast, and trades Matt a life insurance policy for some drug money evidence to be used in a trial several years down the road. But Ann's house burns down one night, and Ann and her husband are killed. The cause: arson. Knowing he'll be the key suspect, Matt starts his investigation -- as does his wife. Now Matt finds himself in a race against time to solve the murders before she uncovers the clues he's finding and he himself falls under suspicion. A taut thriller.
Director: Carl Franklin. Stars: Denzel Washington, Eva Mendes, Sanaa Lathan, Dean Caan, John Billingsley, Robert Baker, Alex Carter. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 105 min.), Thriller, 2003, Box office gross: $36.000 million, (MGM), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/6, DVD: Day & Date.
Real-life story of James Robert Kennedy, a mentally disabled man who, for more than 40 years, was a fixture at all the high school football games in Anderson, South Carolina. The film focuses on the mentoring relationship between the high school football coach (Ed Harris) and Radio (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), known as the man who was "the same as everybody else, just a little slower than most," and how their unique friendship ultimately transforms the conservative attitudes of the small South Carolina town.
Director: Michael Tollin. Stars: Cuba Gooding Jr., Ed Harris, Alfre Woodard, S. Epatha Merkerson, Debra Winger. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 109 min.), Family, 2003, Box office gross: $49.000 million, (Columbia TriStar), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/27, DVD: Day & Date.
Documentary follows the lives of eight young Americans who share one goal: to win the annual National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., which has now become a highly rated event on ESPN watched by more than 2 million viewers. The Bee is as intense a competition and quest for glory as any Olympic match, and for the spellers and their families, the stakes are just as high. A nail-biting face-off contest between kids of all backgrounds, the undeniable pressure becomes even more extraordinary as it is felt by ordinary teenagers. The Bee becomes a dramatic backdrop for the bigger story about kids and families today, showing that within the roller coaster ride of the National Spelling Bee there can be found the heart of America.
Director: Jeffrey Blitz. Stars: . CC, (MPAA rating: G, 97 min.), Documentary, 2003, Box office gross: $5.700 million, (Columbia TriStar), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/20, DVD: Day & Date.
One of Europe's most daring and inventive writer- directors, Francois Ozon, reunites with his two favorite leading ladies, Charlotte Rampling and Ludivine Sagnier. Deliciously sophisticated and sexy, Swimming Pool is the first Ozon movie to be made in the English language. Sarah Morton (Rampling) is a famous British mystery author. Tired of London and seeking inspiration for her new novel, she accepts an offer from her publisher John Bosload (Charles Dance) to stay at his home in Luberon, in the South of France. It's the off-season, and Sarah finds that the beautiful country locale and unhurried pace is just the tonic for her -- until late one night, when John's indolent and insouciant French daughter, Julie (Sagnier), unexpectedly arrives. Sarah's prim and steely English reserve is jarred by Julie's reckless, sexually charged lifestyle. Their interactions set off an increasingly unsettling series of events, as Sarah's creative process and a possible real-life murder begin to blend dangerously together. In rated and unrated versions.
Director: Francois Ozon. Stars: Charlotte Rampling, Ludivine Sagnier, Charles Dance, Marc Fayolle, Jean-Marie Lamour. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 102 min.), Drama, 2003, Box office gross: $10.105 million, (Universal), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/13, DVD: Day & Date.
A raw and revealing insight into urban adolescence in 2003, a provocative portrait of what teens today are thinking, doing, feeling and going through. Winner of the Directing Award at the Sundance Film Festival, first-time director Catherine Hardwicke's "thirteen" is a unique project co-written with then-13-year-old Nikki Reed who lived many of the events seen on screen. Together, they forged a fast-and-furious, unblinking picture of the cliques and clashes, hidden dangers and secret rituals, dashed hopes and unrelenting dreams of two American girls looking to make their way in a new world for which few maps exist. The story follows the transformation of Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood), who begins as a promising, pig-tailed student still playing with teddy bears and Barbie dolls. But when Tracy enters the hyper-sexualized peer-pressure cooker of junior high, she witnesses the power and hipness of Evie Zamora (Reed), who has become widely known as "the hottest chick in school." Ultra-popular, model-gorgeous and bewitchingly snobby, Evie represents everything Tracy suddenly wants, and needs, to be. At first Tracy has no hope of being accepted into Evie's elite clique. She's got the wrong attitude, the wrong friends, definitely the wrong look. But Tracy learns to remake herself, step by step, into the ultimate ideal of a 2003 teen. She discovers how to do the makeup, the clothes, the hair, the act. She cracks the code of popularity, gains Evie as a mercurial best friend, and even starts winning attention from boys. And yet, the further Tracy dives into premature adulthood, the higher the stakes get. She loses the closeness she once had with her hard-working mother (Holly Hunter), starts failing classes, and despite her seething hatred of her mother's ex-addict boyfriend (Jeremy Sisto), becomes a drug abuser herself. Despite it all, Tracy is still 13, caught in a whirlwind of emotion in which everything she does, everything she says, all that she wants, seems to matter in a huge way.
Director: Catherine Hardwicke. Stars: Evan Rachel Wood, Nikki Reed, Holly Hunter, Deborah Unger, Jeremy Sisto, Kip Pardue, Brady Corbet. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 100 min.), Drama, 2003, Box office gross: $4.500 million, (Fox), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/27, DVD: Day & Date.
For centuries, two races have evolved hidden deeply within human culture - the aristocratic, sophisticated Vampires, and the brutal, feral Lycans (werewolves). To humanity, their existence is no more than a whisper of a myth. But to each other, they are lifelong mortal rivals, sworn to wage a secret war until only one race is left standing. In the midst of this ongoing struggle, a Vampire warrior, the leather-clad, butt-kicking Selene (Kate Beckinsale), discovers a Lycan plot to kidnap a young human doctor. After shadowing Michael (Scott Speedman) through the city, she forms an unprecedented bond with him, and when the Lycans make their next move, Selene is there to fend off their vicious assault. As she races to save Michael and unravel the Lycan intrigue surrounding him, Selene discovers a secret that has terrifying repercussions for both tribes -- a nefarious plan to awaken a new invincible species of predator that combines the strengths of both creatures and the weaknesses of neither, which threatens to tip the balance of power in favor of the werewolves, who have been on the losing end of the struggle for centuries. Slick, fast-paced, stylish, gothic horror-thriller set amidst the rain-soaked streets, subways and underground tunnels of an unnamed Eastern European city. Special effects are top-notch and the soundtrack -- loaded with thunder, screams and things that go bump in the night -- will rock and rattle your surround sound system.
Director: Len Wiseman. Stars: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Bill Nighy, Michael Sheen, Shane Brolly, Erwin Leder, Robbie Gee, Sophia Myles, Kevin Grevioux. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 121 min.), Horror thriller, 2003, Box office gross: $51.000 million, (Columbia TriStar), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/6, DVD: Day & Date.
Molly Gunn (Brittany Murphy) is the toast of the New York social scene. The freewheeling daughter of a late rock legend, Molly is an "it girl" on top of the A-list -- designers want to dress her, the most eligible bachelors want to date her, and her birthday bash is one of the hottest tickets in town. Her life is a never-ending party. But when Molly's inheritance is stolen by her accountant, the party comes to an abrupt end. Molly is forced to do something she's never done before -- get a job. With the help of her best friend Ingrid (Marley Shelton) and pal Huey (Donald Faison), Molly lands a position as nanny to the daughter of high-powered music executive Roma Schleine (Heather Locklear). Molly's new charge is Ray Schleine (Dakota Fanning), a precocious, uptight 8-year-old "going on 40" who's obsessed with germs and lives her life as perfectly as possible. Emotionally distant from her mother, Ray has grown up with a revolving door of nannies and too little stability, so she tries to control everything she can. Molly has never needed to be a responsible adult. Ray has taken the weight of the world on her young shoulders. They're about to teach each other how to act their age. A perky, crisp comedy for young girls.
Director: Boaz Yokin. Stars: Brittany Murphy, Dakota Fanning, Marley Shelton, Donald Faison, Jesse Spencer, Austin Pendleton, Heather Locklear. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 92 min.), Comedy, 2003, Box office gross: $36.643 million, (MGM), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/6, DVD: Day & Date.
All DVDs are screened on a reference system consisting of a Rotel RDV-1080 DVD Audio/Video Player, 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 -- 2004 OnVideo. All rights reserved
January 1, 2004