OnVideo JULY Video Reviews
AGAINST THE ROPES
Inspired by the true story of Jackie Kallen, the most successful female manager in boxing history. Kallen (Meg Ryan) is an up-and-coming boxing promoter who has grown up with a love of the sport running through her veins. Determined to become the first lady of boxing, she comes across talented boxer Luther Shaw (Omar Epps) in a brawl -- and she knows that he's a champion in the raw. Determined to follow her heart, she becomes Luther's manager and convinces him that he can fight his way out of a thug's life. Together with veteran trainer Felix (Charles S. Dutton, who also directed), Jackie and Luther discover they need each other to realize their dreams and take the boxing world by storm. The film was delayed for a year -- first when the war in Iraq superseded Paramount's marketing program, then again when "In the Cut," starring Ryan, was released. Unfortunately, it wasn't worth the wait: this typical boxing saga is altogether uninteresting and loaded with trite dialogue.
Director: Charles S. Dutton. Stars: Meg Ryan, Omar Epps, Timothy Daly, Tony Shalhoub, Charles S. Dutton. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 110 min.), Drama, 2004, Box office gross: $5.881 million, (Paramount), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 7/13, DVD: Day & Date.
AGENT CODY BANKS 2: DESTINATION LONDON
Frankie Muniz returns as super-cool teen spy Cody Banks in this family comedy sequel. In Cody's new adventure, a rogue CIA agent (and Cody's own instructor) has stolen a top secret mind-control device from the U.S. government. With worldwide security at stake, Cody has to go undercover in London to get it back. In hot water right away, Cody is forced to pose as a student at an elite music boarding school and keep the other kids from discovering his true identity, all the while infiltrating covert hideouts, tracking his target -- and practicing the clarinet. To help him on his mission, Cody is assigned a new handler: a wisecracking CIA reject named Derek (Anthony Anderson) who's desperately trying to get back into the Agency's good graces. He's supposed to be posing as the boarding school chef, but unfortunately he has no idea how to cook. As things get more difficult, the duo finds surprise help from a fellow student named Emily (Hannah Spearritt), a hip, beautiful British Secret Service counterpart to Cody's CIA teen. Together they journey above, below, and around London to retrieve the mind-control device and keep from getting caught.
Director: Kevin Allen. Stars: Frankie Muniz, Anthony Anderson, Hannah Spearritt. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 90 min.), Teen action, 2004, Box office gross: $23.222 million, (MGM), $22.98 VHS SRP, Available: 7/13, DVD: Day & Date.
BARBARIAN INVASIONS, THE
Director-writer Denys Arcand's sequel to his 1986 "The Decline of the American Empire." A moving and entertaining story about the humor, hope and unspoken bonds that hold family and friends together. This witty and tender film tells the emotional story of a father and son who think they have nothing in common, but learn that they both share an insatiable appetite for life. It's has been years since Sebastien (Stephane Rousseau), a wealthy London investment banker, has been home to visit his parents in Canada. He has been avoiding a run-in with his father, Remy (Remy Girard), a spirited and lustful professor of history who long ago divorced Sebastien's loving mother Louise (Dorothee Berryman.) But when a crisis calls Sebastien home to Quebec, father and son must confront one another at last. To Sebastien, his father Remy is unreasonable and cold. To Remy, his son Sebastien is a symbol of the coming "barbarian invasions," of all the negative changes in the world. But desperate to bring his father some kind of happiness, Sebastien pours his energy into an all-consuming mission: to reunite the "merry band" that marked Remy's complicated past -- friends, colleagues and former mistresses included. In the process, Sebastien discovers more about his father than he ever imagined, more about what he wants and hope for in his own life, and more about the pleasures of wine, women, conversation and the love and compassion of good friends. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign-Language; Marie-Josee Croze won the 2003 Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award for the role of a young drug addict who offers unusual assistance to Remy. French with English subtitles.
Director: Denys Arcand. Stars: Stephane Rousseau, Remy Girard, Dorothee Berryman, Marie-Josee Croze. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 99 min.), Drama, 2003, Box office gross: $1.649 million, (Miramax), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 7/13, DVD: Day & Date.
BUTTERFLY EFFECT, THE
Evan Treborn (Ashton Kutcher) has lost track of time. From an early age, crucial moments of his life have disappeared into a black hole of forgetting, his boyhood marred by a series of terrifying events he can't remember. What remains is the ghost of memory and the broken lives of his childhood friends, Kayleigh (Amy Smart), Lenny (Elden Henson) and Tommy (William Lee Scott). Throughout his childhood, Evan was under the care of a psychologist who encouraged him to keep a journal, detailing the events of his day-to-day life. Now in college, Evan reads from one of those journals and finds himself thrust inexplicably back in time. Evan comes to realize the notebooks he keeps under his bed are a vehicle, a way to return to the past to reclaim his memories. But these recollections only leave Evan feeling responsible for the damaged lives of his friends, especially Kayleigh, the childhood sweetheart he still loves. Determined to do something now that he was incapable of doing then, Evan purposely travels back in time, his present-day mind occupying his childhood body, in an attempt to re-write history and spare his friends and loved ones these traumatic experiences. By altering the events of the past, Evan hopes to transform the present. But every time Evan changes something in the past, he returns to the present to find his actions have unexpected and disastrous consequences. Try as he might, he can't seem to create a reality that allows he and Kayleigh to live "happily ever after."
Director: Eric Bress, J. Mackye Gruber. Stars: Ashton Kutcher, Melora Walters, Amy Smart, Elden Henson, William Lee Scott, John Patrick Amedori, Irene Gorovaia, Kevin Schmidt, Jesse James. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 113 min.), Sci Fi thriller, 2004, Box office gross: $57.384 million, (New Line), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 7/6, DVD: Day & Date.
CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE DRAMA QUEEN
Comedy with attitude tells the story of a teenager plucked from the city she loves and plunked down in the wilds of suburban New Jersey. Clothes. Music. Friends. Each is a minefield in every teenager's daily battle -- one wrong step and kaboom. Is it any wonder that the smallest decisions are played out with the highest drama? Such is life for Lola Cep (Lindsay Lohan). Lola feels her life is simply not worth living when she moves with her family from every single thing on the planet that she loves (read: the Big Apple) and is plopped down in the middle of the cultural wasteland that is suburban New Jersey. As she juggles making new friends at a new school while standing up to a new rival, Lola finds it hard enough just to live her life, let alone remember how important it is to live her dream. So much drama. So little time!
Director: Sara Sugarman. Stars: Lindsay Lohan, Adam Garcia, Glenne Headley, Alison Pill, Eli Marienthal, Carol Kane. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 90 min.), Comedy, 2004, Box office gross: $28.695 million, (Buena Vista), $24.99 VHS SRP, Available: 7/20, DVD: Day & Date.
Left alone in Paris while their parents are on holiday, Isabelle (Eva Green) and her brother Theo (Louis Garrel) invite Matthew (Michael Pitt), a young American student, to stay at their apartment. Here they make their own rules as they experiment with their emotions and sexuality while playing a series of increasingly demanding mind games. Set against the turbulent political backdrop of France in the spring of 1968 when the voice of youth was reverberating around Europe, the film is a story of self-discovery as the three students test each other to see just how far they will go. In NC-17 and R-rated editions.
Director: Bernardo Bertolucci. Stars: Michael Pitt, Eva Green, Louis Garrel, Anna Chancellor, Robin Renucci. CC, (MPAA rating: NC-17, 115 min.), Erotic drama, 2004, Box office gross: $2.492 million, (Fox), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 7/13, DVD: Day & Date.
GOOD BYE, LENIN!
Winner of six European film awards including the 2004 Golden Globe nominee for best foreign language film. The German smash-hit screwball comedy of totalitarian proportions about an East German woman who awakens from a coma after the fall of communism and her devoted son who goes through desperate lengths to make her believe nothing has changed. October 1989 was a bad time to fall into a coma if you lived in East Germany -- and this is precisely what happens to Alex's proudly socialist mother. Alex has a big problem on his hands when she suddenly awakens eight months later. Her heart is so weak that any shock might kill her. And what could be more shocking than the fall of the Berlin Wall and the triumph of capitalism in her beloved East Germany? To save his mother, Alex transforms the family apartment into an island of the past, a kind of socialist-era museum where his mother is lovingly duped into believing that nothing has changed. What begins as a little white lie turns into a major scam as Alex's sister and selected neighbors are recruited to maintain the elaborate ruse -- and keep her believing that Lenin really did triumph after all. In German with English subtitles.
Director: Wolfgang Becker. Stars: Daniel Brčuhl, Katrin Sass, Chulpan Khamatova, Maria Simon, Florian Lukas. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 121 min.), Comedy, 2004, Box office gross: $3.738 million, (Columbia TriStar), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 7/27, DVD: Day & Date.
From writer/director Guillermo del Toro ("Blade II," "The Devil's Backbone") comes "Hellboy," a supernatural action-adventure based on Mike Mignola's acclaimed Dark Horse Comics series of the same name. Born in the flames of hell 60 years ago during World War II, Hellboy (Ron Perlman) was brought to Earth by evil madman Grigori Rasputin (Karel Roden) to perpetrate evil. Destined to be a harbinger of the apocalypse, Hellboy was rescued by Allied Forces led by Professor Broom (John Hurt), founder of the clandestine B.P.R.D. (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense), who raised him like a son and developed his extraordinary paranormal gifts. Despite his dark origins, Hellboy becomes an unlikely champion of good, battling the evil forces that threaten our world. At the B.P.R.D., Hellboy becomes part of an unlikely family that includes the telepathic "Mer-Man" Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) and Liz Sherman (Selma Blair), who is pyro-kinetic. Hidden from the very society they are assigned to protect, they stand as a key line of defense against Rasputin -- who seeks to reclaim Hellboy to the dark side and use his powers to bring about Armageddon. As Broom says of the B.P.R.D., "Make no mistake about it, there are things out there that go bump in the night. We're the ones who bump back."
Director: Guillermo del Toro. Stars: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Jeffrey Tambor, Karel Roden, Rupert Evans, John Hurt. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 121 min.), Action, 2004, Box office gross: $58.576 million, (Columbia TriStar), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 7/27, DVD: Day & Date.
HUMAN STAIN, THE
Based on Pulitzer Prize-winning author Philip Roth's best-selling novel. This moody romantic thriller is the story of Coleman Silk, who throughout his life has been a master of deception and self-reinvention. As a promising college student (Wentworth Miller), Coleman's first love, Steena (Jacinda Barrett), is shattered by a secret. Years later, as an esteemed professor (Anthony Hopkins), his career is ruined by false accusations of racism, the shock of which gives his wife a fatal heart attack. Now, as he embarks on a scandalous affair with the mysterious Faunia (Nicole Kidman), Coleman experiences an erotic reawakening that carries him back to the past. But with his resurrected passion also comes the threat of danger from Faunia's ex-husband (Ed Harris), and Coleman is faced with the imperative to expose his true identity before it's too late. A hot performance by Kidman and as-always journeyman performances by Hopkins and Harris keep the film afloat.
Director: Robert Benton. Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, Ed Harris, Gary Sinise, Wentworth Miller. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 106 min.), Drama, 2003, Box office gross: $5.381 million, (Miramax), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 7/20, DVD: Day & Date.
Powerful, critically-acclaimed story of two people -- an elderly Muslim shopkeeper and a young Jewish boy -- from seemingly wholly opposite cultures who form a special bond of friendship and together confront life's painful and joyful rites of passage. During the early 1960s, Paris, like much of Europe, was an explosion of life. As the old gave way to the new, everything was in flux and the city was filled with an energy that promised cultural shifts and social change. Against this background, in a working class neighborhood, two unlikely characters -- a young Jew and an elderly Muslim -- begin a friendship. When we meet Momo, he is in effect an orphan even though he lives with his father, a man slowly retreating into a crippling depression. His only friends are the street whores who treat him with genuine affection. Momo buys his groceries at the neighborhood shop, a crowded dark space owned and run by Ibrahim, a silent exotic looking man who sees and knows more then he lets on. After his father abandons Momo, Ibrahim becomes the one grownup in Momo's life. Together they begin a journey that will change their lives forever. The film was a 2004 Golden Globe Nominee for Best Foreign Film, won a 2004 National Board of Review award for best foreign film and nabbed a Best Actor Award at the 2004 Venice Film Festival for Sharif. 15-year old Pierre Boulanger made his film debut here and won a Best Actor award at the 2003 Chicago International Film Festival. In French and Turkish with English subtitles.
Director: Francois Dupeyron. Stars: Omar Sharif, Pierre Boulanger. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 95 min.), Drama, 2003, Box office gross: $2.040 million, (Columbia TriStar), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 7/6, DVD: Day & Date.
NEVER DIE ALONE
Based on legendary street novelist Donald Goines' book of the same name, this film noir tale is about King David (DMX), a hard-boiled, stylish criminal who returns to his hometown seeking redemption and finding only violent death. King David's final moments are spent with Paul (David Arquette), an aspiring journalist who knows him for just a few minutes but is changed forever by their meeting. King David -- half preacher, half Satan, and all street smarts -- gives to Paul an audiotape featuring the story of his recent exploits, leaving behind a riveting, poetic sermon on villainy and its consequences. The tapes reveal that the cycle of violence and retribution King David's actions spawned have come back on him full circle, as he suspected they might all along.
Director: Ernest Dickerson. Stars: DMX, David Arquette, Michael Ealy. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 89 min.), Crime Thriller, 2004, Box office gross: $5.573 million, (Fox), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 7/13, DVD: Day & Date.
STARSKY & HUTCH
The cult TV series makes it to the big screen. Detective David Starsky (Ben Stiller) is the most dedicated undercover cop working the mean streets of Bay City, California. Maniacally devoted to his job, when he's on duty no crime goes unpunished -- and he's always on duty. Detective Ken "Hutch" Hutchinson (Owen Wilson) is having career issues of his own -- he's a good cop, but his hazardously laidback personality and desire for a quick buck don't always get the job done. As soon as the two mismatched crime fighters unhappily begin their first day on the beat as a team, a "floater" turns up on the Bay City coastline. With the help of Hutch's dynamite, street-savvy informant Huggy Bear (Snoop Dogg), the two begin to unravel the mysterious murder case. All signs seem to point at wealthy businessman Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn), but Starsky and Hutch just can't seem to make a case against him. The unlikely duo will use their canniest undercover skills, hardcore street smarts and striking good looks to solve the crime and make sure the criminal does the time.
Director: Todd Phillips. Stars: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Snoop Dogg, Juliette Lewis. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 100 min.), Action, 2004, Box office gross: $87.127 million, (Warner), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 7/20, DVD: Day & Date.
WHOLE TEN YARDS, THE
Retired hitman Jimmy "The Tulip" Tudeski (Bruce Willis) is living the quiet life in a beachfront bungalow in Mexico, miles away from his former life. Thanks to falsified dental records supplied by onetime neighbor and friend Nicholas "Oz" Oseransky, D.D.S. (Matthew Perry), Jimmy faked his own death and has taken up a new line of work befitting his newfound domestic tranquility: cleaning the house and perfecting his culinary skills with his wife Jill (Amanda Peet), a novice assassin who has yet to pull off a clean hit. Suddenly, an uninvited and most unwelcome connection to their past shows up on the Tudeski's doorstep. It's Oz, breathless and desperate, begging them to help rescue his wife, Cynthia (Natasha Henstridge), from the Hungarian mob. Now Jimmy, Oz and Jill will have to go the whole nine yards -- and then some -- to manage the mounting Mafioso mayhem, in this misguided sequel to the 2000 hit comedy "The Whole Nine Yards."
Director: Howard Deutch. Stars: Bruce Willis, Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet, Natasha Henstridge, Kevin Pollak. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 99 min.), Comedy Thriller, 2004, Box office gross: $15.857 million, (Warner), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 7/27, DVD: Day & Date.
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.
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July 1, 2004