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by Inlander Staff


50 First Dates -- Drew Barrymore has genuine sparks with a (surprisingly) sweet Adam Sandler. But neither of them brings any sense of character to this story about a relationship that must start anew each day due to Barrymore's short-term memory loss. (MD) Rated: PG-13





The Alamo -- Forget the Alamo. Only the most devoted of Texas history buffs should bother to be irritated by this slashed-down epic that seems not to have any special reason for hanging around. With Billy Bob Thornton as Davey Crockett, Jason Patric as Jim Bowie and Dennis Quaid as General Sam Houston. (RP) Rated: PG-13





Dawn of the Dead -- There are a few interesting performances in this quick 'n' twitchy remake of the 1978 zombie classic. Unfortunately, none of them are from the undead, and the scares are sparse. (MD) Rated: R





Ella Enchanted -- Gail Carson Levine's retelling of Cinderella -- Ella Enchanted -- was one of the most compelling and delightful books for young adult readers to come out of the 1990s. Cursed by her fairy godmother's gift of "complete obedience" at birth, young Ella (Anne Hathaway) has more than the usual need for wreaking a little teenage rebellion. Deliverance comes in the form of Prince Charmont (Hugh Dancy). Rated: PG





Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind -- Shy Joel (Jim Carrey) and extrovert Clementine (Kate Winslet) are an item until one tires of the other and has a scientific procedure that can erase a person from another's mind. Complications follow. This is an often funny, often very sad, constantly startling look at relationships and the fragility of memory. Philosophical issues run right up against emotional ones. Solid acting, imaginative direction, brilliant writing. (ES) Rated R





The Girl Next Door -- Nope, this isn't one of those raunchy high school kid films with loudness and nudity as its highlights. It's a surprisingly witty twist on that kind of movie. There's Matt (Emile Hirsch), the boy next door to the house-sitting Danielle (Elisha Cuthbert), and he's amazed that the girl is taking an interest in him. His interest goes in a different direction when he finds out she's a porn star. And when her producer, Kelly (Timothy Olyphant), makes the scene, things get dangerous. The film is mostly comic, and Danielle is mostly a tease. (ES) Rated R





Hellboy -- A superb example of a comic book -- and the attitude and style that goes with it -- coming to life. Ron Perlman plays the title character, a friendly red demon who kills off monsters for a secret government agency. There are violent but bloodless battles galore, with horrid creatures and evil Nazis. There's fire and destruction everywhere. But accompanying all that is a wonderfully warped tongue-in-cheek sense of humor -- and even a little bit of romance. (ES) Rated PG-13





Hidalgo -- This is a film about Frank Hopkins (Viggo Mortensen) and his Mustang, Hidalgo -- members of the Buffalo Bill Cody Wild West Show. A sheikh (Omar Sharif) invites them to take part in a 3,000-mile desert race for big stakes, and the rest is a big entertaining movie, with a couple of extraneous visual effects, but some splendid action, acting and storytelling. (ES) Rated PG-13





Home on the Range -- This short, sweet farewell to hand-drawn animation from Disney finds three cows (Roseanne Barr, Judi Dench and Jennifer Tilly) out to save the farm from foreclosure. The film's Americana look suits the slight story, but the songs fall flat. Still, Cuba Gooding Jr.'s spunky stallion, psychedelic marching bovines and the three leading ladies give the film charm even if it lacks polish. (MD) Rated: PG





The Human Body -- Consider what it means to see the inner workings of the lungs via endoscope and then picture that five stories up on the IMAX screen. In addition to lots of fascinatingly "ewwww" footage, The Human Body also features "the fusing of a father and mother's DNA inside a newly fertilized human egg, a sequence which took nearly a year to capture." Not rated.





IMAX Nascar -- For those of us who are always late to something, everyday is Nascar. For the rest of you, there's IMAX Nascar. Kiefer Sutherland is your personal pit boss on this up-close and personal look at life behind the wheel. With in-car footage reaching 180 miles an hour, a 12,000-watt sound system and five stories of heart-stopping racetrack action, you'll be sore from kicking the seat in front of you, trying to stomp on the brakes. Not Rated.





Jersey Girl -- A single father (Ben Affleck) who no idea how to raise his young daughter (Raquel Castro). Enter an inquisitive and free-spirited woman (Liv Tyler) to help get his life back together. This is safe, commercial territory for all involved, but it's well acted and funny, and carries a few surprises. (ES) Rated PG-13





Johnson Family Vacation -- Family vacation... family vacation... where have we heard those words before? That's right, Cedric the Entertainer follows in the legendary steps of the Griswolds, except he's headed to Missouri from California, and there's no Grandma strapped to the roof of the car. Rated: PG-13





The Ladykillers -- This misfire from the usually brilliant Coen Brothers is a fine example of not leaving well enough alone. The story is a good one: A smooth-talking con man (Tom Hanks) manages to move himself and his "musician friends" into the home of a na & iuml;ve, elderly woman (Irma P. Hall), but he is really setting up shop for a big heist. The problem is that it was done so much better and with so much more class and style in the 1955 British version. (ES) Rated R





Lewis & amp; Clark -- The IMAX folks have packed a lot into this vivid account of the two adventurers' travels across the American wilderness. (ES) Unrated





The Passion of the Christ -- Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ is a protracted representation of the last 12 hours of Jesus Christ's life. Not for the faint of heart and especially not for children or even teenagers, Gibson's dark vision focuses on Christ (Jim Caviezel) having his flesh rent into tatters, shredding into gobs of viscera. In short, Gibson's Gospel is one of brutality and suffering. (RP) Rated: R





The Prince & amp; Me -- This is being referred to as a modern fairy tale, but fairy tale lite would be more accurate. A farm girl who wants to go to med school (Julia Stiles) meets up with the playboy Prince of Denmark (Luke Mably) when he comes to America looking for a good time, and who keeps his identity a secret. But the story is built on one coincidence after another and the story loses its hold when the action switches to Denmark, where she must choose between royalty and reality. It all falls flat. (ES) Rated PG





The Return of the King -- Peter Jackson is a maestro of ceaseless and varied visual raptures, including both awe-inspiring armies of the dead, and a daughter-avenges-father scene on the battlefield that might be the best thing onscreen all year. (RP) Rated: PG-13





Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed -- The crime-solving gang leaps to the big screen again, taking on a foe who's bringing their past enemies to life. This time, the live-action Velma is as pitch-perfect as Shaggy. But director Raja Gosnell doesn't know how to take the cartoon premise and make it fill a movie. So he crudely crams fart and underwear jokes next to drug and gay humor. The result is bad in entirely new ways. (MD) Rated: PG





Secret Window -- Johnny Depp's oddball approach to roles -- though always interesting -- can either work for or against the movie. Here, playing a successful writer going through a divorce, his tics make sense. Unfortunately, the rest of the film is a hackneyed, predictable affair that lurches from laughter to suspense without succeeding at either. (MD) Rated: PG-13





Starsky and Hutch -- It's a smooth and hip translation from old TV show to new movie, with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson in the leads. The two "difficult" cops are teamed up to take on a murder case that turns out to be drug-related. Stiller gives us a terrific by-the-books uptight character, and Wilson is just as good going the laid-back route. (ES) Rated PG-13





Taking Lives -- There's identity theft like the kind you see on those amusing Citibank commercials, and then there's identity theft like that in Taking Lives. Not content just to steal your information and maybe buy a new pickup, the identity thief of Taking Lives likes to take actual lives and then assume the identities of his hapless victims. Angelina Jolie plays the FBI profiler assigned to the case. Also starring Kiefer Sutherland, Gena Rowlands and Ethan Hawke. Rated: R





Walking Tall -- This is one mean-spirited movie, with no improvement over the not-so-good original. Pro wrestler the Rock plays a soldier returning home from war, only to find that the town has changed for the worse, now that it's under the control of a greedy, sleazy and vicious old friend. (ES) Rated R





The Whole Ten Yards --This superfluous sequel to Howard Deutsch's The Whole Nine Yards is riotously unfunny, and may be one of the most unnecessary follow-ups of all time. Bruce Willis' beefy hitman is now a hausfrau who seems to be a severe Atkins diet victim; the capable Amanda Peet is a study in compensatory overacting; the rest is just numb. Also starring Matthew Perry and Natasha Henstridge (RP) Rated: PG-13





Capsule reviews are written by Ed Symkus (ES), Ray Pride (RP) and Marty Demarest (MD) unless otherwise noted.





Publication date: 04/15/04

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