Bringing Down the House -- This all starts out looking like a formulaic comedy about a square white guy (Steve Martin) and a hip black gal (Queen Latifah). But don't be fooled -- this film soon becomes a fresh and funny story that relies just as much on the background characters as on the two leads to get the laughs across. He's a divorced tax lawyer who's lonely, she's an ex-con who fakes her way into his life to get some lawyerly help. Both are terrific, as are pal Eugene Levy (at his leering best), and possible client Joan Plowright, who's unexpectedly hilarious. A wild and crazy movie with some real heart. (ES) Rated PG-13
Coral Reef Adventure -- Think of it as a way to explore all 1,300 miles of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, but without the danger of those pesky shark attacks. Greg MacGillivray, who also brought us The Living Sea and Dolphins, now brings Coral Reef Adventure to the IMAX screen. With a strong conservation message throughout, viewers get the sense of swimming along with some of the world's top self-described "fish nerds" as they navigate trenches and skirt the coral reefs of Fiji, Tahiti and Rangiroa (in French Polynesia) in search of new species. Not rated
Frida -- For all director Julie Taymor's (Titus) visual splendor, the life story of painter Frida Kahlo still falls flat due to an overdone performance by Salma Hayek. Alfred Molina is splendid as her complex husband Diego Rivera, but everyone else involved seems to have forgotten that they were making a movie in addition to telling the facts of Kahlo's life, and so the film lurches from overdone moments to unfocused visual and verbal rambles. (Marty Demarest) Rated: R. At the Met Cinema on March 12 at 3 pm, 5:30 pm and 8 pm.
Tears of the Sun -- Antoine Fuqua's first picture since the Oscar-winning Training Day melds archetypal action filmmaking to social conscience, with stirring results. Tears of the Sun tells the story of a reserved Navy Seal (Bruce Willis) whose unit is dispatched to Nigeria to "extract" a volunteer nurse (Monica Bellucci) who is married to an American. She doesn't want to leave her patients, and complications lead to a trek through the jungle toward the Cameroon border by Willis' squad and the hardiest of Bellucci's charges. It's bracing to see an actress holding her own in a movie like this. And even if the movie relies on archetype, it asks a plain, timeless and utterly topical question: How can you turn your eye from senseless slaughter? Rated: R (RP)
& lt;i & Capsule reviews are written by Ed Symkus (ES) and Ray Pride (RP), unless otherwise noted. & lt;/i &
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Publication date: 03/06/03