OnVideo MAY Video Reviews
Critically acclaimed comedy inspired by the remarkable true story of a group of ordinary women who changed the world one month at a time by taking it all off for a good cause. The Women's Institute in Great Britain encourages the ancient skills of jammaking, flower pressing, knitting and baking. But when a friend's husband dies of leukemia, Chris (Helen Mirren) enlists the support of her fellow members in a fund-raising initiative for the local hospital. They decide to take the annual WI calendar, normally featuring landscapes or flowers, and create something a little different. Behind the baked goods, the apple pressing and the flower arranging, the women are completely nude. Before they know it, the women are hitting the headlines, while they get up the nerve to bare it all. Amidst the hype, the friendship between Chris and Annie is put to the test.
Director: Nigel Cole. Stars: Helen Mirren, Julie Walters, John Alderton, Linda Bassett, Annette Crosbie, Philip Glenister, Ciaran Hinds, Celia Imrie, Geraldine James, Penelope Wilton. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 108 min.), Comedy, 2003, Box office gross: $21.529 million, (Buena Vista), $24.99 VHS SRP, Available: 5/4, DVD: Day & Date.
Eighteen-year-old Anna Foster (Mandy Moore) just wants the American dream: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. At the very least, she wants the freedom to live like any other teenager. But as the only child of the President of the United States, every detail of Anna's life is constantly monitored by the media, the public and her very protective parents -- backed up by a battalion of Secret Service agents dedicated to safeguard her from danger, including the perils of first dates. While on a diplomatic trip to Europe with her parents, Anna exacts a promise from her father for a rare evening out alone, unescorted by the usual security detail. But when over-protective Dad has a last-minute change of heart and reneges, Anna decides it's time to take matters into her own hands, ditches the agents and goes on the run. In her wild escape, incognito Anna meets charming Brit Ben Calder (Matthew Goode), who aids her European getaway. Reveling in her newfound independence, Anna decides to take Europe by storm, accompanied by Ben and always a step ahead of her zealous bodyguards. As her impromptu European adventure takes her farther away from a life of protocol and draws her closer to her dashing young traveling companion, she dreads the day she has to tell Ben who she really is and go back home. But Ben has a secret of his own -- he's really a secret service agent. For Many Moore fans only.
Director: Andy Cadiff. Stars: Mandy Moore, Matthew Goode, Jeremy Piven, Annabelle Sciorra, Caroline Goodall, Mark Harmon. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 111 min.), Romantic-Comedy, 2004, Box office gross: $12.189 million, (Warner), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 5/4, DVD: Day & Date.
From the people who brought you the surprise video hit "Super Troopers" comes this lame horror-comedy. The non-stop booze-soaked party on an island resort owned by Coconut Pete (Bill Paxton), a rock star has-been, takes a turn for the weird when dead bodies start turning up. Everyone begins to look suspicious. Could it be Sam (Erik Stolhanske) of the Fun Police brigade, who is quick on the trigger with his tequila loaded super-soaker; Jenny (Brittany Daniel), the over-sexed fitness instructor; Juan (Steve Lemme), the flamboyant diving instructor with a secret third-world past; Putman (Jay Chandrasekhar), the bratty-British tennis coach/fanatic; Dave (Paul Soter), the ecstasy-crazed, adopted nephew of Coconut Pete; or the burly masseuse (Kevin Heffernan) blessed with a creepy 'touch' that can render anyone into instant Jell-O? Can the inhabitants of Pleasure Island unite, solve the mystery and restore happy hour to this tropical bacchanal? Who cares?
Director: Jay Chandrasekhar. Stars: Bill Paxton, Erik Stolhanske, Brittany Daniel, Steve Lemme, Jay Chandrasekhar, Paul Soter, Kevin Heffernan, Elena Lyons, Dan Montgomery Jr., Tanja Reichert, Nat Faxon, Michael Weaver. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 97 min.), Comedy, 2003, Box office gross: $4.920 million, (Fox), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. Available: 5/25, DVD: Day & Date.
Winner of the Palme d'Or and Best Director prizes at the 2003 Festival de Cannes, Gus Van Sant's realistic drama takes us inside an American high school on one ordinary day that rapidly turns tragic. As the story unfolds, the kids go about their day, filled with classwork, football, gossip and socializing. With each student, we see high school through a different experience, a new lens. And as these experiences range from friendly and innocent to traumatic and disturbing, young lives shift from light to darkness with surreal speed. A controversial look at the Columbine tragedy.
Director: Gus Van Sant. Stars: Alex Frost, Eric Deulen, John Robinson, Elias McConnell, Jordan Taylor, Carrie Finklea, Nicole George, Brittany Mountain. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 81 min.), Drama, 2003, Box office gross: $1.227 million, (HBO), $19.95 VHS SRP, Available: 5/4, DVD: Day & Date.
FOG OF WAR, THE
A masterpiece from gifted filmmaker Errol Morris As if ripped from today's gripping headlines, the documentary is the thought-provoking, historically riveting story of America as seen through the eyes of Robert S. McNamara, former Secretary of Defense under the administrations of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Inspired by the book "Wilson's Ghost," "The Fog of War" is a 20th Century fable, a story of an American dreamer who rose from humble origins to the heights of political power. One of the last century's most controversial and influential figures in world politics, McNamara takes us on an insider's journey through many of the seminal events of the 20th Century -- from the firebombing of 100,000 Japanese civilians in Tokyo in 1945 to the brink of nuclear catastrophe during the Cuban missile crisis to the devastating effects of the Vietnam War. Through unreleased archival footage and first-hand account interviews with McNamara conducted over a span of two years, "The Fog of War" is not a standard historical drama but rather an important personal drama of a provocative historical figure. Winner of the Best Documentary Oscar, the Best Documentary Award from the National Board of Review and the Los Angeles and Chicago Film Critics Associations, among many, many other honors.
GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING
Delft, Holland, 1665. After her father, a tile painter, is blinded in a kiln explosion, seventeen-year-old Griet (Scarlett Johansson) must work to support her family. She becomes a maid in the house of Johannes Vermeer and gradually attracts the master painter's attention. Though worlds apart in upbringing, education and social standing, Vermeer recognizes Griet's intuitive understanding of color and light and slowly draws her into the mysterious world of his paintings. Vermeer is a perfectionist, often taking months to finish a painting. His shrewd mother-in-law, Maria Thins, struggles to maintain the family's lavish lifestyle on the income from his painstakingly meager output. Seeing that Griet inspires Vermeer, she takes the dangerous decision to allow their clandestine relationship to develop. Plunged into a chaotic Catholic household run by Vermeer's volatile wife Catharina, surrounded by an ever-increasing brood of children, Griet is increasingly at risk of exposure or worse. Alone and unprotected, Griet contends with the attentions of Pieter, a local butcher boy, and Vermeer's patron, the wealthy and lascivious Master van Ruijven, who is frustrated that his money does not buy him control over the artist. While Griet falls increasingly under Vermeer's spell, she cannot be sure of his feelings for her. The Machiavellian van Ruijven, sensing the intimacy between master and maid, gleefully contrives a commission for Vermeer to paint Griet alone. The result will be one of the greatest paintings ever created, but at what cost?
Director: Peter Webber. Stars: Colin Firth, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Wilkerson, Judy Parfitt, Cillian Murphy. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 95 min.), Drama, 2003, Box office gross: $10.428 million, (Lions Gate), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 5/4, DVD: Day & Date.
Endearing and moving family drama about Irish immigrants in New York and their struggles to make it in America. The family -- which arrives in the States via Canada -- are virtually penniless and take up residence in a sleazy apartment overrun by drug addicts, lowlifes and weirdos. Johnny, the father, is an aspiring actor, but his emotions -- and that of wife, Sarah -- is stunted by the haunting memories of their son's death. Their two young daughters are enthusiastic lovers of America -- for them, America is a place of magic where anything is possible -- and the pair befriend a tormented artist, who takes the girls under his wings. Throughout the course of the film, the family learns to cope with the "impossible" obstacles of life in New York City. Carried by the girls' youthful hope and faith, the family finds the heart to live and love again, and along the way heal their wounds. Told by the family's 11-year-old daughter -- a child wise beyond her years. Based on incidents in director Jim Sheridan's life -- the screenplay was penned by Sheridan and his (now grownup) two daughters. Wonderful performances by all involved, particularly Samantha Morton as Sarah and Djimon Hounsou as the "fearsome" artist.
Director: Jim Sheridan. Stars: Paddy Considine, Samantha Morton, Sarah Bolger, Emma Bolger, Neal Jones, Randall Carlton, Ciaran Cronin, Djimon Hounsou. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 107 min.), Drama, 2003, Box office gross: $9.000 million, (Fox), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 5/11, DVD: Day & Date.
LAST SAMURAI, THE
Set in Japan during the 1870s, this martial arts epic tells the story of Captain Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise), a respected American military officer hired by the Emperor of Japan to train the country's first army in the art of modern warfare. As the Emperor attempts to eradicate the ancient Imperial Samurai warriors in preparation for more Westernized and trade-friendly government policies, Algren finds himself unexpectedly impressed and influenced by his encounters with the Samurai, which places him at the center of a struggle between two eras and two worlds, with only his own sense of honor to guide him.
Director: Edward Zwick. Stars: Tom Cruise, Ken Watanabe, William Atherton, Chad Lindberg, Masato Harada, Ray Goodshall Sr., Billy Connolly, Tony Goldwyn. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 154 min.), Action, 2003, Box office gross: $105.600 million, (Warner), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 5/4, DVD: Day & Date.
LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING, THE
New Line has taken a different tack with the third installment in the most successful trilogy of all time: instead of an August video release (as was the case with the first two "Rings" outings), the company will release the 11-Oscar winning "King" May 25 on VHS and as a two-disc DVD set. Later this year, most likely November, the company will release an expanded four-hour edition.
Sauron's forces have laid siege to Minas Tirith, the capital of Gondor, in their efforts to eliminate the race of men. The once-great kingdom, watched over by a fading steward, has never been in more desperate need of its king. But can Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) answer the call of his heritage and become what he was born to be? In no small measure, the fate of Middle-earth rests on his broad shoulders. With the final battle joined and the legions of darkness gathering, Gandalf (Ian McKellen) urgently tries to rally Gondor's broken army to action. He is aided by Rohan's King Theoden who unites his warriors for history's biggest test. Yet even with their courage and passionate loyalty, the forces of men -- with Eowyn and Merry hidden among them -- are no match for the enemies swarming against Gondor. Still, in the face of great losses, they charge forward into the battle of their lifetimes, tied together by their singular goal to keep Sauron distracted and give the Ring Bearer a chance to complete his quest. Their hopes rest with Frodo (Elijah Wood), a tiny but determined hobbit making a perilous trip across treacherous enemy lands to cast the One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom. The closer Frodo gets to his final destination, the heavier his burden becomes and the more he must rely on Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin). Gollum -- and the Ring itself -- will test Frodo's allegiances and, ultimately, his humanity. "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" concludes the epic story of these characters, their relationships and rivalries, and reveals how through courage, commitment and determination even the least of us can change the world.
Director: Peter Jackson. Stars: Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Ian Holm, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, John Rhys-Davies, Liv Tyler, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 201 min.), Fantasy, 2003, Box office gross: $364.000 million, (New Line), $24.97 VHS SRP, Available: 5/25, DVD: Day & Date.
The amazing, true story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team and their incredible triumph against overwhelming odds. In 1980, the United States ice hockey team's coach, Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) challenged a ragtag squad of college kids to take on the awesome juggernaut from the Soviet Union -- the greatest hockey team in the world -- at the 1980 Olympic Games. Despite the long odds, Team USA carried the pride of a nation yearning for a distraction from world events. With the world watching, the team rose to the occasion, prompting broadcaster Al Michaels' now-famous question to the millions viewing at home: "Do you believe in miracles? Yes!"
Director: Gavin O'Connor. Stars: Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson, Noah Emmerich. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 135 min.), Sports drama, 2004, Box office gross: $56.328 million, (Walt Disney), $24.99 VHS SRP, Available: 5/18, DVD: Day & Date.
In this exciting John Woo adaptation of a story by famed sci-fi author Philip K. Dick, Ben Affleck plays Michael Jennings, a man being hunted, but for what he doesn't know why. A world-famous genius hired by high-tech corporations for specialized top-secret projects, Jennings routinely has his memory erased once a job is completed so as not to divulge any company secrets. Highly paid for his work, he expects to earn eight figures for his latest three-year project, which has him locked up in a high-tech facility with no contact with the outside world save a few company workers. But upon finishing the work, instead of a big paycheck, he is given an envelope full of random objects and told that he has agreed to forfeit all payment. With his memory erased per his contract, Jennings has no defense, until he discovers that the objects are clues to his past. Now, with the help of Rachel (Uma Thurman), the woman he has worked with and loved for the last three years, Jennings is in a race against time to put the pieces of his past together -- before his previous employers have him killed.
Director: John Woo. Stars: Ben Affleck, Aaron Eckhart, Uma Thurman, Colm Feore, Paul Giamatti. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 118 min.), Sci-Fi Thriller, 2003, Box office gross: $53.557 million, (Paramount), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 5/18, DVD: Day & Date.
For the first time, a boy -- Jeremy Sumpter -- stars in the title role, opposite Jason Isaacs as Captain James Hook. The story begins on a chilly night in buttoned-up Edwardian London as Wendy Darling (Rachel Hurd-Wood) mesmerizes her younger brothers with tales of swordplay, swashbuckling and Captain Hook, the legendary pirate who fears nothing but a ticking clock. But a clock is ticking for Wendy, too. Her father has decreed that it's time for her to grow up. After tonight, no more stories. She's to be groomed for womanhood and marriage by strict Aunt Millicent (Lynn Redgrave). Unknown to the Darlings, Peter Pan loves Wendy's stories, too, and travels a great distance to hear them. His appearance in their nursery that night, along with a jealous little fairy called Tinker Bell (Ludivine Sagnier), triggers an awfully big adventure for Wendy and her brothers. Following him out the window like a small flock of birds, the children swoop over London's moonlit rooftops, through a galaxy of radiant planets and stars, to the magical Neverland, where they begin an exhilarating new life free of grown-up rules with Peter and the Lost Boys in their secret underground home. Confronting depraved pirates, malicious mermaids, a monstrous crocodile and, worst of all, the vicious steel claw dangling from Hook's right arm, Wendy and her brothers find out what they're made of. And the ongoing battle between Peter and Hook escalates to a thrilling climax, played out against the fantastical backdrop of the enchanted world of Neverland.
Director: P.J. Hogan. Stars: Jason Isaacs, Jeremy Sumpter, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Lynn Redgrave, Richard Briers, Olivia Williams, Harry Newell, Freddie Popplewell, Ludivine Sagnier. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 113 min.), Family, 2003, Box office gross: $48.000 million, (Universal), $24.98 VHS SRP, Available: 5/4, DVD: Day & Date.
SCARY MOVIE 3
Taking shots at the latest crop of blockbusters, "Scary Movie 3" irreverently roasts "The Ring," "Signs," "Matrix Reloaded," "Eight Mile," "The Others" and more, and also skewers pop trends like "American Idol." In the third installment of the "Scary Movie" franchise, Cindy Campbell has to investigate mysterious crop circles and video tapes, and help the President in preventing an alien invasion. Anna Faris stars as the eager anchorwoman Cindy; Charlie Sheen as the alien-attracting farmer Tom and Denise Richards as his hapless wife Annie; Eddie Griffin as Orpheus and Queen Latifah as The Oracle, Aunt Shaneequa; Pamela Anderson and Jenny McCarthy as Catholic School girls; Leslie Nielsen as the President of the United States; Simon Rex as rap star wannabe George; Jeremy Piven as reporter Ross Giggins; Camryn Manheim as the formidable Trooper Champlin; Regina Hall as eerie school teacher Brenda Meeks; Anthony Anderson as rap promoter Mahalik; as well as George Carlin, Fat Joe, Simon Cowell, Method Man, Redman, Macy Gray, Master P., Ja Rule, D.L. Hughley, Wu Tang Clan and The Coors Twins.
Director: David Zucker. Stars: Anna Faris, Charlie Sheen, Eddie Griffin, Queen Latifah, Denise Richards, Regina Hall, Jeremy Piven, Pamela Anderson, Jenny McCarthy, Leslie Nielsen, Camryn Manheim. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 84 min.), Comedy, 2003, Box office gross: $109.897 million, (Dimension), $24.99 VHS SRP, Available: 5/11, DVD: Day & Date.
Biker Cary Ford (Martin Henderson) lives to ride. Now he's riding to live. The Reapers biker gang wants him for a murder he didn't commit. The leader of the Hellions wants to get his hands on his neck and on the contraband he thinks Ford ripped off. And the FBI wants to have a little chat. Exciting action for the younger set, including a wild bike-chase atop and through a moving commuter train.
Director: Joseph Kahn. Stars: Martin Henderson, Ice Cube, Monet Mazur, Jay Hernandez. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 81 min.), Action, 2004, Box office gross: $20.878 million, (Warner), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 5/18, DVD: Day & Date.
TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE, THE
Wildly inventive, visionary and sophisticated animated film that caught the world's attention with its classic, visually-stunning style, eccentric satirical humor, rich imagination crowded with colorful characters and inspired musical score when it premiered at last year's Festival de Cannes. Voted Best Picture on more than 50 Year's Best critics' lists including The New York Times and Los Angeles Times, plus numerous worldwide accolades including two Academy Award nominations for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song. Adopted by his grandmother, Madame Souza, Champion is a lonely little boy. Noticing that this lad is never happier than on a bicycle, Madame Souza puts him through a rigorous training process. Years go by and Champion becomes worthy of his name. Now he is ready to enter the world-famous cycling race, the Tour de France. However, during this cycling contest two mysterious, square-shouldered henchmen kidnap Champion. Madame Souza and her faithful dog Bruno set out to rescue him. Their quest takes them across the ocean to the teeming metropolis of Belleville, where they encounter the renowned "Triplets of Belleville," three eccentric female music-hall divas from the 30's who decide to take Madame Souza and Bruno under their wing. Thanks to Bruno's brilliant sense of smell, the motley sleuths are soon on to Champion's trail, following the clues to an underground betting parlor -- now the chase is on.
Director: Sylvain Chomet. Voices of Michele Caucheteux, Jean-Claude Donda, Monica Viegas, Michel Robin. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 81 min.), Animated, 2003, Box office gross: $3.000 million, (Columbia Tritar), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 5/4, DVD: Day & Date.
WEATHER UNDERGROUND, THE
The remarkable story of The Weather Underground, radical activists of the 1960s, and of radical politics at its best and most disastrous. One of the top documentaries of 2003, "The Weather Underground" chronicles the unbelievable story of The Weathermen, the outlaw faction of radicals who, outraged by the Vietnam War and racism in America, went underground to wage a low-level war aimed at overthrowing the U.S. government. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary.
WELCOME TO MOOSEPORT
Ray Romano's failed attempt to crossover to the big screen also strands Gene Hackman in a weak comedy outing. Former President Monroe "Eagle" Cole (Gene Hackman) is, after two very successful terms in office, looking forward to retiring to the sleepy vacation town of Mooseport where he plans to work on his golf handicap, write his memoirs, and entertain corporate offers. Apart from going through a divorce with the former first lady, Cole intends to enjoy a relaxed and prosperous retirement. When the town fathers ask him to fill a mayoral seat that has recently become vacant, a position to which he'll be acclaimed, Cole sees no reason not to accept. That is until Harold "Handy" Harrison (Ray Romano), the popular owner of the local hardware store, decides to run against him. Cole, who has never lost an election in his entire political career, finds himself facing a potentially embarrassing defeat. Fate ups the ante when he unknowingly makes a move on Harrison's girlfriend, and the campaign becomes a race not just for the job, but for the girl. Not even Cole's high popularity ratings and years of political experience have prepared him to take on "Plumber Power," and what began as a sure thing quickly accelerates into a raucous campaign of clashing egos, misunderstandings and political conniving in the formerly benign and civilized environs of Mooseport.
Director: Donald Petrie. Stars: Gene Hackman, Ray Romano, Marcia Gay Harden, Maura Tierney, Christine Baranski, Fred Savage. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 110 min.), Comedy, 2004, Box office gross: $14.005 million, (Fox), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 5/25, DVD: Day & Date.
YOU GOT SERVED
You find street dancers all across the country -- on street corners, in alleyways, on playgrounds or in dark, sweaty warehouses. Crowds gather to cheer and scream for their favorite crew locked into battle with other formidable crews. With unbelievable raw talent, they demonstrate explosive moves that defy gravity and spin like tops to the rhythmic sounds of urban music. "You Got Served" delves into that competitive, underground world. Elgin and David are best friends and leaders of the best dance crew in the area. When another town's top group challenges them to a battle, David and Elgin, along with their buddies must create and perfect the most cutting edge moves in order to remain on top. The stakes are raised as friends double-cross each other and true motives are revealed. When the biggest battle comes to town, David and Elgin must work past their differences to prove that they are still the best crew on the streets.
Director: Christopher B. Stokes. Stars: Marques Houston, Omari Grandberry, Jarrell Houston, Lil' Kim, Steve Harvey, Meagan Good, Jennifer Freeman. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 94 min.), Comedy, 2003, Box office gross: $33.006 million, (Columbia TriStar), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 5/18, 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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April 30, 2004