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By The Inlander & r & & r & CLUELESS


Apart from giving my 8th grade mind an impossible standard to hold the girls at my high school to, Clueless let kids in outlying America (i.e. anything that wasn't Beverly Hills) in on the hippest things 1995 had to offer. The heroine, Cher (based on Jane Austen's Emma) single handedly popularized the Jeep Wrangler for teen girls by crashing hers into everything. The hyper-current (in 1995) feel means the film hasn't aged well, but it's hilarious to remember a time when feather boas were hot. (LB) Rated PG-13





EVAN ALMIGHTY


$175 Million? Seriously? In this hyper-expensive "comedy" about a present-day flood and the present-day man present-day God tasks with saving northeastern Virginia, the story blows, the special effects aren't special, and Steve Carrel phones it in. Almost unwatchable. (LB) Rated PG





EVENING


When two daughters (Natasha Richardson and Toni Collette) return home for what will likely be the final days of their ailing mom (Vanessa Redgrave), they become her audience, and are told very surprising stories of what happened to her 50 years earlier. The film flashes back to show us those stories, with mom played by Claire Danes in her younger days. It's a terrifically written, beautifully acted, warm film with universal messages about living life to the fullest, and having no regrets. (ES) Rated PG-13





1408


1408 is a movie about a hotel room, which makes it unique. It's also a movie based on something written by Stephen King, which makes it a far-from-unique thing in Hollywood. John Cusack stars as a paranormal investigator who checks into a supposedly haunted hotel room, then talks to... something on the telephone. Samuel L. Jackson gets a chance to be creepy and ominous as the hotel manager who doesn't want things to get bad. (MD) Rated PG-13





GRAND CANYON:


THE HIDDEN SECRETS


Number of gas tanks to fill on a trip to the Grand Canyon from Spokane: 4. Number of times stopped at McDonald's on the way down: 10. Getting a personalized tour of the Grand Canyon at the nearest IMAX: priceless. Actually, $7.75. But that is a menial fee to see the winner of the 2000 IMAX Hall of Fame award. Not only do you see the grandeur of the canyon itself, but through the oversized screen, the hidden secrets are brought to life from the panoramic landscapes of the crest to the concealed rapids below. (KM) Not Rated





HURRICANE ON THE BAYOU


Katrina can be discussed in human, social and political terms in forums ranging from political roundtables to Spike Lee films. But Hurricane on the Bayou examines the hurricane as an ecological issue. Beginning as a documentary about the Mississippi Delta, the filmmakers end up turning their IMAX cameras on Katrina as an example of a worst-case scenario. (MD) Not Rated; no deaths are depicted





KNOCKED UP


A story about a slacker (of course) who gets an ambitious young entertainment reporter preggers, Knocked Up is a nice commentary on the current state of the family. Writer/director Judd Apatow's male characters are enthralling, especially Pete (Paul Rudd). His women lack multi-dimensionality but the casting choices (Katherine Heigl and Leslie Mann specifically) add depth and warmth. (LB) Rated PG





License to Wed


Ben (John Krasinski) proposes. Sadie (Mandy Moore) agrees but wants to be married by Rev. Frank (Robin Williams) -- who consents, but requires a series of odd (stupid) pass-or-fail pre-marriage counseling sessions. The rest is the same as Meet the Parents with Frank as the Robert DeNiro character. I developed a mild man-crush on John Krasinski from watching him in The Office. Now, thanks to License to Wed, I'm over it. (BK) Rated PG





LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD


It's been a dozen years since Bruce Willis last played Detective John McClane, but the wait was definitely worth it. This time out he's attempting to save America from an attack on the vast computer networks that run it. The gimmick is that he's an analog cop in a digital world, and doesn't understand what he's fighting. But he's ably aided (both story- and acting-wise) by computer aficionado Matt Farrell (Justin Long). The action is spectacular and relentless, and the film carries a terrific sense of humor to go along with all the fist-smashing, bullet-flying, explosive mayhem. (ES) Rated PG-13





OCEAN'S THIRTEEN


George Clooney and the rest of the well-dressed criminal crew return to Las Vegas to come to the vengeful aid of their pal Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould), who's had his fiscal posterior handed to him by dirty dealer Willy Bank (Al Pacino). The story becomes a drone of white noise, color and empty spectacle punctuated by dead-end subplots that lead to a predictable backslapping conclusion. (CS) Rated PG-13





PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END


Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley return to argue, do battle, and (this time) star in a film with a story that makes little sense -- something about "nine pirate lords" and hints of them going up against Lord Beckett, who wants to "rule the seas." Visual effects are great, but add nothing to the story; the soundtrack is ear-splittingly bombastic; Keith Richards pops by for five minutes to give "advice" to his son (Depp) and plunk a tune on a pirate guitar. Arrrgh! (ES) Rated PG-13





RATATOUILLE


Brad Bird, the genius behind the animated films The Iron Giant and The Incredibles, returns with a Pixar film about a food-loving rat in Paris who turns out to be a great chef, and becomes the brains behind the new concoctions at a restaurant that's popular, but has seen better days. It has exquisite visuals, superb voice acting, and a lovely story about the importance of friendship and family. It's also a riot for kids and adults. (ES) Rated G





SICKO


The best thing about this Michael Moore documentary is that there's less Michael Moore. Holding his ego in check with unbelievable restraint, he takes a back seat and lets a comparison of our f-ed up health system to others around the world take center stage. Many of the Moore-ian pratfalls still exist, though. Rather than presenting and disputing counter arguments, homeboy just ignores them. That won't win him converts, but he's always preferred preaching to the choir. It's probably too much to ask that he lose his ego and gain real rhetorical chops in one film. (LB) Rated PG-13





TRANSFORMERS


Autobots and Decepticons descend to Planet Earth to continue their longtime battle and search for a missing source of power. It's one of those good-versus-evil things. But Earth's occupants don't have much to do but get out of the way of these huge machines that can convert into cars, trucks and planes. Directed by Michael Bay, and starring Shia LaBeouf and the gorgeous Megan Fox, with John Turturro and Jon Voight in the supporting cast. Much eye-popping devastation and unexpected humor. (ES) Rated PG-13

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