OnVideo AUGUST Video Reviews
AGENT CODY BANKS
Pass math, write a history report and save the world -- not necessarily in that order. Agent Cody Banks is a cool kids spy action adventure starring Frankie Muniz as a typical teenager -- he loves skateboarding, his mom drives him crazy, and he feels like a complete idiot around girls. But Cody has a really big secret even his family and best friends don't know: he's actually an elite undercover agent for the CIA. Cody is living every kid's dream life. Specially trained at a top-secret facility disguised as summer camp, Cody can drive like a stuntman, jump-kick like a pro, and has an arsenal of totally cool gadgets -- plus, his boss is the unbelievably hot Agent Ronica Miles (Angie Harmon). But when he gets his first assignment, Cody discovers he has to befriend high school dreamgirl Natalie Connors (Hilary Duff) in order to spy on her father, a scientist developing a deadly fleet of Nanobots with the power to destroy the planet. The problem? The CIA spent $10 million training Cody, but they didn't teach him how to talk to girls. Packed with effects and elaborate stunts, the film chronicles Cody's adventures as he navigates the dangerous, high-tech world of international spy work while also doing his chores to avoid getting grounded. From car and snowmobile chases to walking on the ceiling with modified shoes and infiltrating hidden laboratories, Cody has to use all his training to save the world ... and maybe get the girl. A fun outing for the tween set.
Director: Harald Zwart. Stars: Frankie Muniz, Hilary Duff, Angie Harmon. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 102 min.), Comedy, 2003, Box office gross: $46.791 million, (MGM), $22.98 VHS SRP, Available: 19030805, DVD: Day & Date.
BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE
Fascinating insight into America's fascination with guns, violence and fear by award-winning director Michael Moore. Moore mixes chilling footage, outrageous animation and candid interviews with everyone from the NRA's Charlton Heston to shock-rocker Marilyn Mason in this tour-de-force that asks the question: Are we a nation of gun nuts ... or are we just nuts? Moore journeys into America's heartland to answer that question following the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School.
BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE
Outrageously funny comedy starring an unlikely screen pair: Steve Martin and Queen Latifah. Martin plays uptight attorney Peter Sanderson who thinks he has met his dream girl online. When he sets up an evening of romance at his house, who should show up but ... Charlene (Latifah), an escaped convict who spins Peter's life out of control. Turns out she wants Peter to clear her name and has plans to disrupt his life until he helps her. Juggling his divorced wife (Jean Smart), his best client (Joan Plowright) and his sanity, Peter helps Charlene with the law while she helps him re-discover life outside attorney-hood. Throw in Peter's two kids, who find Charlene a welcome relief from their straight dad's life; a racist neighbor (Betty White); and Peter's best friend, Howie (Eugene Levy), who finds himself curiously attracted to Peter's unwanted house guest, and you have an uproarious comedy outing.
Director: Adam Shankman. Stars: Steve Martin, Queen Latifah, Eugene Levy, Joan Plowright, Jean Smart, Betty White, Kimberly J. Brown, Angus T. Jones, Missi Pyle, Michael Rosenbaum, Steve Harris. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 105 min.), Comedy, 2003, Box office gross: $130.000 million, (Touchstone), $24.99 VHS SRP, Available: 19030805, DVD: Day & Date.
Six Oscar winning musical has plenty to offer and please: great book (by Kander and Ebb, who also brought the world "Cabaret"), great musical numbers directed and choreographed by Rob Marshall, and outstanding performances by Richard Gere, Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Queen Latifah and Taye Diggs. The film -- based on Bob Fosse's original 1975 production, which was subsequently revived, to great success, in 1996 starring Bebe Neuwirth -- follows the sordid tale of dancer-singer Roxie Hart (Zellweger), who goes on trial for the murder of her lover in Prohibition-era Chicago; her shifty lawyer Billy Flynn (Gere); and her showgirl rival Velma Kelly (Zeta-Jones). It's Chicago, 1929. The city's hot with murder, passion, fame, sex and all that jazz. The Windy City's promise of adventure and opportunity dazzle Roxie, an outwardly innocent performer who dreams of singing and dancing her way out of her ho-hum life. Roxie's one wish is to follow in the golden footsteps of sensational vaudeville performer Velma. Roxie gets her wish when she lands in jail with Velma. Under the crooked care of the prison's Matron Morton (Queen Latifah), Roxie meets up with lawyer Flynn. He agrees to take Roxie's case for a modest fee. Roxie's career explodes, to Velma's chagrin. But the clever Miss Kelly has a few surprises left for her second act. The conceit for the film is that Roxie's "realistic" tale is juxtaposed with musical numbers from her imagination, music that, as in Cabaret, is introduced by an MC -- in this case a bandleader (Diggs). It's all very stunning -- and surprised audiences and critics alike. This was Marshall's first big-screen outing: His previous work was on the stage, followed by TV adaptations of "Annie" and "Cinderella."
Director: Rob Marshall. Stars: Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, Taye Diggs, John C. Reilly, Christine Baranski, Lucy Liu. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 108 min.), Musical, 2002, Box office gross: $150.000 million, (Miramax), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 19030819, DVD: Day & Date.
CRADLE 2 THE GRAVE
Armed with a potent combination of charisma, street smarts and martial arts expertise, Tony Fait (DMX) dominates the streets with passionate precision, taking care of his fiercely loyal crew with a dedication surpassed only by his love for his young daughter. But when his daughter is kidnapped and held in exchange for a cache of priceless diamonds, Fait must forge an unlikely alliance with a Taiwanese intelligence officer, Su (Jet Li), who has pursued the extraordinary stones halfway across the world. Adversaries by code but allied by circumstance, the master thief and the enigmatic agent join forces to wage war on their common enemy: Su's former partner turned international crook who wants the diamonds for their industrial use in a weapon of mass destruction. This "hip-hop kung fu" outing is a classy, fast-paced, exciting example of an Americanized Hong Kong actioner, and pairs Li and DMX to that end. With the help of renowned martial arts director Corey Yuen ("Lethal Weapon 4," "Romeo Must Die"), Li developed and choreographed the film's numerous fight scenes. DMX wrote and recorded three original tracks for the film: "X Gon' Give It to Ya," "Right Wrong" and "Go to Sleep."
Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak. Stars: Jet Li, DMX, Mark Dacascos, Anthony Anderson, Kelly Hu, Gabrielle Union, Tom Arnold, Drag-On, Paige Hurd. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 100 min.), Thriller, 2003, Box office gross: $34.604 million, (Warner), $19.96 VHS SRP, Available: 19030812, DVD: Day & Date.
An American FBI agent (David Morse) and a Taiwanese detective (Tony Leung) team up to solve a series of supernatural serial murders in this exciting Hong Kong psychological thriller. Inspector Hung-tu (Leung) is a burned-out cop on the Taiwanese Police Force faced with a series of weird, seemingly random murders: an executive frozen to death on a summer day, a woman burned to death with no sign of fire. The only commonality: a fungus on their brain. Unable to solve the crimes, an American FBI agent (Morse) is called in, and the mismatched investigators uncover a weird cult based on ancient teachings that may or may not be at the root of the murders. A hip action thriller.
Director: Chen Kudo Fu. Stars: Tony Leung, David Morse, Rene Liu, Dai Li Zen. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 110 min.), Thriller, 2002, Box office gross: $ million, (Columbia TriStar), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 19030805, DVD: Day & Date.
GOOD THIEF, THE
Nick Nolte delivers a riveting performance as Bob Mantagnet, a wisecracking master thief whose luck seems to have finally run out. Pursued by the police at every turn, the king of con gambles it all on the casino heist of a lifetime inside the decadent world of the French Riviera. A savvy rogue with the perfect quote for every occasion, Bob's last bid at glory is to rob the priceless paintings inside an underground vault that's impossible to crack. Based on Jean Pierre Melville's classic "Bob le flambeur."
Director: Neil Jordan. Stars: Nick Nolte, Tcheky Karyo, Said Taghmaoui, Nutsa Kukhianidze, Ralph Fiennes, Emir Kusturica, Gerard Darmon, Marc Lavoine. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 109 min.), Thriller, 2003, Box office gross: $3.370 million, (Fox), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 19030819, DVD: Day & Date.
HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME NOT
Rising young artist Angelique (Audrey Tautou) lives in a candy-colored fantasy world. From the moment she flashes her smile and persuades a flower shop owner to deliver a surprise single rose to her cardiologist lover Loic (Samuel Le Bihan), the world has -- again -- fallen under her spell. In the glorious throes of true love, Angelique is happily planning her future: a career as a painter and a future with Loic ... what more could she desire? It doesn't matter that Loic is married or that his wife is pregnant. But Angelique is in for a rude awakening -- when Loic fails to meet her at the airport for her planned two-week vacation with him, her life slowly begins to fall apart. Halfway into the film, however, the story rewinds and we see events from Loic's point of view -- and he has a slightly more jaded take on their affair. As this new viewpoint evolves, the film turns into a psychological thriller of sorts, becoming an intriguing tale of deception that will make you wonder exactly whom, in the maddening game of love, can you trust? A daring first film by Laetitia Colombani, and an interesting change of pace for Tautou, who's better known for her sweet persona in such films as "Amelie." In French with English subtitles.
Director: Laetitia Colombani. Stars: Audrey Tautou, Samuel Le Bihan, Isabelle Carre, Clement Sibony, Sophie Guillemin. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 96 min.), Romantic thriller, 2002, Box office gross: $0.873 million, (Columbia TriStar), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 19030812, DVD: Day & Date.
HEAD OF STATE
Chris Rock directed and starred in this lame comedy about an obscure Washington D.C. alderman picked to run for president when his party's presidential and vice presidential candidates die. He's groomed by a slick campaign manager (Dylan Baker) but soon takes control of his own fate, picking his profane, violent brother (Bernie Mac) as a running mate and taking the election to the streets, literally. His slogan: "That Ain't Right." Expect the typical juxtapositions of hip-hop and unhip, white and black, and straight and weird.
Director: Chris Rock. Stars: Chris Rock, Bernie Mac, Dylan Baker, Nick Searcy, Lynn Whitfield, Robin Givens, Tamala Jones, James Rebhorn. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 95 min.), Comedy, 2003, Box office gross: $37.788 million, (DreamWorks), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 19030812, DVD: Day & Date.
Ex-military assassin Aaron Hallam (Benicio Del Toro) has gone on a hunting spree in the forests outside Portland, Oregon, killing deer hunters for sport. The FBI, in the form of agent Abby Durrell (Connie Nielson) enlists the help of the assassin's teacher, L.T. Bonham (Tommy Lee Jones), a specialist in deep-woods tracking who prefers to save animals than kill them. Using his well-honed skills to locate Hallam, Bonham soon finds himself and his partner lured into a gut-wrenching game of cat and mouse. With ruthless precision and murderous skill, Hallam remains one step ahead of his pursuers as Bonham and Durrell try to outwit him in the natural and urban wilderness before Hallam turns them into his next victims. Plenty of exciting knife fights and action sequences.
Director: William Friedkin. Stars: Tommy Lee Jones, Benicio Del Toro, Connie Nielsen, John Finn, Leslie Stefanson. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 94 min.), Action thriller, 2003, Box office gross: $34.238 million, (Paramount), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 19030812, DVD: Day & Date.
KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE, THE
Documentary about famed Hollywood executive Robert Evans. The film, narrated by Evans and directed by Brett Morgen and Nanette Burstein, uses varied visual effects, archival footage and clips from classic films to create the documentary. With no producing credits to his name, Evans, then 34, landed a job as chief of production at Paramount Pictures at a time when the studio was teetering on the brink of financial collapse, according to the documentary. During his tenure from 1966-74, a flood of commercially and artistically successful pictures followed. Under Evans' control, Paramount released some of the most financially and critically successful films of the era, including "The Godfather " "Love Story," "Rosemary's Baby," "The Odd Couple," "The Conformist," "Harold and Maude" and "Chinatown." By the early '80s, the "Golden Boy" of Hollywood was losing his luster. After a failed marriage to Ali MacGraw, a cocaine bust and, finally, a rumored involvement in the notorious murder case surrounding the film "Cotton Club," Evans disappeared into near obscurity until he wrote the autobiographical book "The Kid Stays in the Picture," on which the documentary is based.
LIZZIE MCGUIRE MOVIE, THE
Disney's hot TV series "Lizzie McGuire" makes it to the big screen with lovable 15-year-old Lizzie McGuire and her pals Gordo, Kate, and Ethan, who all pack their bags and plan to live la dolce vita while on a class trip to Italy. Once there, Lizzie is mistaken for Isabella (who is part of an Italian pop duo) and begins to fall for Paolo (Isabella's handsome Italian pop star former boyfriend). When Lizzie's mom, dad, and annoying brother Matt get wind of this, they all jet their way to the boot country. In the meantime, Lizzie is transformed from a gawky teen to a beautiful pop star, Gordo struggles to understand his true feelings for her, and a whirlwind of surprising events force Lizzie to find the true meaning of friendship. For tweens only.
Director: Jim Fall. Stars: Hilary Duff, Adam Lamberg, Robert Carradine, Hallie Todd, Jake Thomas, Yani Gellman, Alex Borstein, Clayton Snyder, Ashlie Brillault, Brendan Kelly, Carly Schroeder. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 93 min.), Comedy, 2003, Box office gross: $39.324 million, (Disney), $24.99 VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 19030812, DVD: Day & Date.
LORD OF THE RINGS, THE: THE TWO TOWERS
Part two of the big-screen J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy. Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) continue their mission to destroy the One Ring to save Middle Earth. The title refers to Orthanc -- the stronghold of treacherous wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee) -- and Barad-dur, the fortress of the dark lord Sauron. "Towers" follows several storylines that introduce new characters, go to new parts of Middle Earth and, in the words of one reviewer, builds to "thunderous climaxes that moviegoers will long remember."
Director: Peter Jackson. Stars: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Christopher Lee, John Rhys-Davies, Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd, Orlando Bloom, Hugo Weaving, Andy Serkis, Cate Blanchett. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 179 min.), Fantasy adventure, 2002, Box office gross: $340.000 million, (New Line), TBA VHS SRP, Available: 19030826, DVD: Day & Date.
WHAT A GIRL WANTS
Amanda Bynes stars as Daphne, an irrepressible American teen who impulsively hops a flight to meet the aristocratic father (Colin Firth) she never knew. Determined to fit into dad's world, Daphne stifles her vibrant personality to be the perfect debutante while plunging into a whirl of garden parties, fashion shows and more. With the help of Ian (Oliver James), Daphne discovers it's not worth being her father's daughter if that means abandoning who she really is. She's going to remain true to herself. It's all geared to the tween sensibility (and consumerism) -- filled as it is with glamorous trips to London shops, the tireless pursuit of a cute English boy and endless mischief.
Director: . Stars: Amanda Bynes, Colin Firth, Kelly Preston, Oliver James. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 100 min.), Comedy, 2003, Box office gross: $35.695 million, (Warner), $19.96 VHS SRP, Available: 19030805, 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.
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July 15, 2002