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by Inlander Staff


50 First Dates -- Remember Groundhog Day, where Bill Murray's insufferably smug TV reporter is doomed to repeat the same day over and over until he gets Andie MacDowell to fall for his unpleasant self? 50 First Dates is a variation on that theme, except this time it's a winsome amnesiac (Drew Barrymore) whose short-term memory loss forces Adam Sandler to woo her over and over and over again (like fifty times) until she knows they're dating. Rated: PG-13





* Against The Ropes -- Having sat on the shelf for about a year and a half, the film "inspired by the life of" female boxing promoter Jackie Kallen finally gets a release, but it will be down for the count in the first round. Meg Ryan looks great tossing her hair while wearing short outfits, but her character talks too much. Her boxer, played by Omar Epps, is more street punk than polished fighter, and even though he regularly wins, the film falls short by only including snippets of most fights. Cliches abound, predictability runs rampant, any drama comes much too late to be effective. (ES) Rated PG-13





Barbershop 2: Back in Business -- It's back to the south side of Chicago where Calvin (Ice Cube) and the gang (Cedric the Entertainer, Sean Patrick Thomas, Eve) are still cutting hair and cracking wise. Enter some big bad developers who want to open a franchise -- "Nappy Cuts" -- across the street, and Queen Latifah as the sassy (could she be anything else??) stylist next door. Rated: PG-13





**** Big Fish -- Tim Burton's newest fantasy is more down to earth than his recent films. A son (Billy Crudup) finally tries to get to know his elusive, story-spinning father (Albert Finney) when Dad is on his deathbed. An amazing past is revealed, filled with circuses and strange towns and huge people and short people, and lots of love. The young Finney character is flawlessly played by Ewan McGregor. (ES) Rated PG-13





* The Butterfly Effect -- Long shelved, The Butterfly Effect premiered at Sundance this week before griming theaters across the country, a callow and cruel grab-bag of time-travel pretension. (RP) Rated: R





Calendar Girls -- Aging Yorkshire wives and mothers go the Full Monty route when the husband of one is diagnosed with leukemia. The ladies set out to star in a tastefully photographed pin-up calendar, the proceeds of which will all be donated to cancer research. Rated: PG-13





**** Cold Mountain -- Anthony Minghella's adaptation of Charles Frazier's bestseller. Some performances are steeped in sorrow -- Jude Law's - and others are crackerjacks -- Renee Zellweger's hillbilly sprite and Natalie Portman's lonely widow. Nicole Kidman portrays an object of longing, a woman who comes into focus. It's lovely and tragic. (RP) Rated: R





Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen -- Lindsay Lohan has made her young career out of playing the ol' switcheroo. In The Parent Trap, she connives with her twin (played by herself) to reunite their parents. In Freaky Friday, she wakes up one morning to find out she's become her mother. And in her latest film, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, she goes from being the most popular girl in her school to being just another new kid in the suburbs, which are already presided over by their own drama queen. But there's nothing that a teenage drama queen likes more than scheming against and plotting the downfall of another teenage drama queen. Rated: PG








*** Eurotrip -- The producers of Road Trip and Old School take the European getaway; refreshingly awkward comedy often ensues in a journey that leads from London to Amsterdam to French nude beaches, with much quaffing of absinthe and doffing of duds. Some inspired gross-outs are left in their wake. (RP) 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





**** Lost in Translation -- Bill Murray is a middle-aged actor in Tokyo to film a whiskey commercial for $2 million. Scarlett Johansson is a newly-married twenty-something in town with her celebrity photographer husband. Both of them, searching for themselves, find each other (and the intensity of Japan) in director Sofia Coppola's second film. It's hilarious and romantic. (Marty Demarest) Rated: R





** Miracle -- Here we go again -- another underdog sports movie, this time a true story, about the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team, made up of college players, and their spirited bid for victory over the Russian machine of a team that might as well be professional. The film is well made, and there's a solid performance by Kurt Russell as Herb Brooks, a man who was convinced he was right about everything, especially his relentless and sometimes brutal coaching of the team. But it goes on too long, is padded with unnecessary side stories, and hey, most people know how it ends. (ES) Rated: PG





*** Monster -- Real-life prostitute turned serial killer Aileen Carol Wuornos is played with startling dedication to her craft by Charlize Theron, in a film that never strays from the unpleasant road it sets out on. Her young, na & iuml;ve lover is played by Christina Ricci, also terrific in the part. Neither of the characters provides even the least positive note, and it's difficult to root for either of them. Theron, putting on some pounds and some drastically unflattering make up, has reached a high point in her career. The film is tough to take, but fascinating to watch. (ES) Rated R





**** Mystic River -- An excellent adaptation of the Dennis Lehane crime thriller and character study by screenwriter Brian Helgeland and director Clint Eastwood. Three urban boyhood pals grow apart and come together years later, each with inner demons. The thug, Jimmy (Sean Penn), is grieving over his daughter's murder; the investigative cop, Sean (Kevin Bacon) can't get over his wife leaving him; and possible suspect Dave (Tim Robbins) keeps reliving a horrible incident from his youth. Powerful stuff. (ES) Rated R





**** The Return of the King -- The emotional climaxes that ring throughout the three-and-a-half hours of The Return of the King make up for a movie with many, many endings, all of them sad. 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





*** Something's Gotta Give -- Jack Nicholson's rogue Harry likes a younger woman (Amanda Peet), a younger man (Keanu Reeves) swoons over Diane Keaton's tired-of-love Erica, and all the audience can do is root for the two pairs to get sorted out. It's fresh, breezy and funny, and features comedic nude scenes from both leads, as well as some sweet romance. (ES) Rated PG-13





**** The Triplets of Belleville -- A little French boy, Champion, is adopted by his grandmother, Madame Souza, and he grows up to be a champion cyclist. His puppy, Bruno, grows up to be an obese, train-hating mutt. Evil French vintners kidnap Champion and take him to Belleville, a metropolis across the sea that's partly Paris and partly Manhattan. Souza and Bruno take off in chase, encountering three tree-tall female triplets, the Triplets of Belleville, 1930s musical hall stars whose scat-musique concert doo-wop dazzles the brain even more than the inspired and inventive surrealism of director-designer Sylvain Chomet. An unlikely mix of Disney movies like 101 Dalmatians and The Aristocats and Max and Dave Fleischer's syncopated work on Betty Boop, it is weird, unforgettable and magical. (RP) Rated: PG-13





Welcome to Mooseport -- Former U.S. president Gene Hackman retires to a quaint New England village where he hopes the bucolic setting and quieter lifestyle will enable him to write his memoirs. The townspeople have other ideas -- who better to fill the vacant mayoral seat than someone who knows political life inside and out? Just when it looks like a shoo-in, hardware store owner Ray Romano shows up as Hackman's surprisingly fierce competition. Rated: PG-13





Young Black Stallion -- With an exclusive engagement at IMAX, Young Black Stallion -- a prequel to the 1979 hit The Black Stallion -- is Disney's first live action foray into large format. Young Neera is separated from her father in World War II-era North Africa. Left to fend for herself in the desert, she befriends a wild young colt -- who helps her reunite with her family. Rated: G





Publication date: 02/26/04

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