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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





**** 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





Broken Lizard's Club Dread -- If you liked Super Troopers, you'll like Club Dread. It's from the same sketch comedy troupe, Broken Lizard, and it's set in a Costa Rican swingers club, which means ample opportunity for sightings of naughty bits. If that's not enough to convince you, there's also a psycho killer on the loose and as anyone who's seen Scary Movie can attest, psycho killers are freakin' hilarious. Rated: R





* 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





Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights -- "Nobody puts Baby in a corner." Who writes dialogue like this?? Who names a character "Baby" for an entire movie? Furthermore, who thinks it would be a good idea to dig up Patrick Swayze and put him in a sequel 17 years later? Hollywood, that's who. And now they're bringing us Dirty Dancing: Hollywood Nights, starring smokin' Diego Luna (Y Tu Mama Tambien) as the Cuban dance partner to -- you guessed it -- a wealthy American girl (Romola Garai). Rumor has it the title roles were originally intended for Ricky Martin and Natalie Portman, and there is indeed a cameo by Swayze. Rated: PG-13





*** 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 Passion of the Christ -- A loud, thudding lockstep depiction of torture and murder with little about philosophy, goodness or celebration, 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 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





Twisted -- Whaddya do if you're a cop and someone keeps coming along and killing all your one-night stands? You hunt that rat bastard serial killer down, sister! Ashley Judd plays the cop-with-a-vengeance; Morgan Freeman (do they have to be in every movie together?) plays her suspicious boss. Andy Garcia plays her equally suspicious cop partner. Rated: R





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: 03/04/04

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