American Pie succeeds where most teenage sex films fail, offering some of the best developed characters in memory. TV soap star Jason Biggs is Jim, the quintessential smart guy in high school who is perpetually horny and can't get laid. Jim and his buddies vow to lose their virginity before high school's over, and the film chronicles their sexual misadventures toward that end. The girls in American Pie are too womanly, too wry, too mature and wise. Luckily, they are a secondary focus, and the filmmakers insight into the miseries of over-sexed teenage males are so right-on, so tender and funny, that the girl problem can be overlooked. -- KCE
Tiffany Square; Carmike 10
Austin Powers 2: The Spy Who Shagged Me (PG-13)
The first film in what I fear is destined to be a lifelong string of serial hits was a bubbly, silly, good-natured spoof that caught moviegoers off guard with its innocent sexual innuendo and pop art freshness. The plot of Austin Powers 2 centers around Austin's loss of his mojo at the hands of Dr. Evil, and Mike Myers himself, in the scenes where he plays Powers, seems to have little mojo workin'. Austin is pasty and sadly un-original his second time out, spouting the same tired lines over and over: "Oh behave!" "Do I make you horny?" The scenes that do work are those featuring the fiendish Dr. Evil and his evil-nik clone, Mini Me. Unfortunately, their scenes are swamped by a relentless barrage of phallic references, designed to thrill and delight teenage boys, and to supply them with a whole new penile vernacular. Look out, after awhile, they're about as funny as a herpes flare-up. -- KCE
Steve Martin plays the ever hopeful but perennially unsuccessful director Bobby Bowfinger, looking for his big break. His only hope for success is to draw a big name star to his film that otherwise features a handful of eccentric wannabes. The crew shoot scenes with action hero Kit Ramsey (Eddie Murphy) in them, without Kit's knowledge. The problem with Bowfinger is that a good number of delightful moments just never add up to a congruous whole. Murphy is terrific as the neurotic, grandiose superstar, and in a double-turn as Ramsey's geeky brother, Jiff. But Heather Graham, as an ambitious starlet, comes across as a stale stereotype. Crowded with too many Hollywood clichs, Bowfinger is simultaneously good-natured and cynical -- a fun romp but not fully successful as a spoof. -- KCE
Tinseltown; Carmike 10; Tiffany Square
*The Blair Witch Project (R)
Intrigued by rumors of a witch outside the Maryland town of Burkittsville, formerly Blair, three film-school students set out to make a documentary. In short order, supernatural forces begin to haunt the young crew, making eerie noises in the dark and leaving physical clues in the woods. What follows is the documentation of their descent into the depths of fear and their ultimate demise. We see what is happening at exactly the moment they see it, through the lenses of their cameras, and we hear their terror, raw and uncensored. There is real blood-curdling power in the sounds of their voices as events unfold and the threesome become more and more lost. -- KCE
Tinseltown; Tiffany Square; Academy Station 6
Deep Blue Sea (R)
Deep Blue Sea is a curious hybrid of the mad scientist flicks of the 50s and 60s and the high-tech horrors that started back in the 70s with Jaws. Updated for savvy '90s audiences, the mad scientist is now a woman, the devoted assistant is a hunky guy, and the script keeps us guessing who will be devoured next by the 45-foot long, brain-enhanced shark created in an undersea lab. Saffron Burrows as the mad scientist is annoyingly beautiful and composed. The audience actually roots for her to be eaten. Despite its overwhelming incredibility, Deep Blue Sea does what it sets out to do: bolts the audience out of their seats with high-pitched action and sends them home to shark nightmares. -- KCE
*Eyes Wide Shut (R)
Now comes Stanley Kubrick's long-awaited, genuinely creepy, tediously paced and undeniably mesmerizing Eyes Wide Shut, a tense waltz through the looking glass, breaking the psychological taboo of sexual infidelity. Bill (Tom Cruise) and Alice (Nicole Kidman) Hartford lust in their hearts and dare to tell each other the details of their fantasies. The film is basically a series of events, chronicling Bill's descent into the maelstrom of jealousy and lust. Cruise's famous smile is a little too wide and genuine for a schmuck like Bill, but Kidman hits every note perfectly. Kubrick throws in occasional moments of tenderness that tend to upset the hypnotic quality of coldness the film imparts, startling the audience to attention. This is a purely adult film, there is absolutely no reason for teenagers or children to see it. Every spoken word, every visual, every theme played is for the already jaded heart. And as with all of Kubrick's films, the effect of the film lasts after you leave the theater. Unsettling, gorgeous and strange, it's one for fans of the recently deceased filmmaker and for initiates alike, but don't see it with your husband or wife if you have a problem distinguishing between fantasy and reality. -- KCE
*For Love of the Game (PG-13)
For Love of The Game is as good a baseball movie as you could hope to see. Kevin Costner plays Billy Chapel, aging pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. Just prior to a game that may be his last, the love of Billy's life (aside from baseball), Jane (Kelly Preston), announces it's over between the two of them. While sitting in the dugout between innings, Billy slips into flashback, trying to figure out exactly what went wrong. Thanks to Preston's fresh performance and to director Sam Raimi's fine depiction of the nuances of the game, the flashback device works. The most charming aspect of For Love of The Game, however, is the film's depiction of the pitcher's inner monologue while on the mound. Near the end For Love of The Game sinks to using gimmicks to simulate significance. But in spite of its slickness, the film works. We absolutely believe Costner can play ball, and Billy Chapel's final game an absolute blowout. --KCE
Chapel Hills; Kimball's Twin Peak; Carmike 10; Tinseltown
The General's Daughter (R)
Somewhere in the heart of this overwrought film lies a cogent mystery. John Travolta with a terrible corn-ball souther accent is Army investigator and warrant officer Paul Brenner. One night gorgeous Captain Elisabeth Campbell (Leslie Stefanson) is found naked and dead on a creepy-looking far corner of an Alabama base. Brenner and former lover Sarah Sunhill (Madeline Stowe) are called to investigate. Scummy, sullen army type suspects with quick tempers come crawling out of the woodwork like fire ants to raise our level of suspicion. The General's Daughter thinks it raises issues about women in the military, and pretends to offer insight into the military culture, but trashes it instead. It desperately wants to guide us through a maze of human intrigue, but, finally, it just buries us neck deep in pseudo-psychological ooze. -- KCE
The Haunting (PG-13)
Director Jan De Bont's The Haunting has little of the subtle scariness and mystery of the 1960's film version, and even less of the essence of Shirley Jackson's book, The Haunting of Hill House. What it does have, however, is one kickass haunted mansion, complete with gargoyles, a fireplace that looks like the jaws of Hell, a fountain that spews blood and various other orgasmic architectural delights. Ridiculous in its brazen excess, just think of The Haunting as a two-hour gothic mansion tour gone awry, and enjoy the view. -- KCE
*The Matrix (R)
Keanu Reeves is Neo, a reclusive computer hacker, nagged by the feeling he doesn't fit in, that 'something is wrong with the world. When Neo is united with Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), a mysterious figure considered by federal agents of the U.S. (ca. 1999) to be 'the most dangerous man alive,' he learns of the Matrix, a computer generated dream world that disguises the lost world of the 20th century. Morpheus and his band of outcasts are among the few pure humans remaining in what is actually the year 2199, and together they are attempting to disband the Matrix and liberate the citizens of Zion, the last purely human outpost in the galaxy. The real star of The Matrix is the choreographed fighting in the style of traditional Kung Fu. Utilizing digital enhancement, wire-stunt work and classic martial arts, the hand-to-hand battles are riveting. Excessive gun play is the only thing that mars the film. -- KCE
Mickey Blue Eyes (R)
Falls soundly in the middle of the post-Gotti mafioso satire genre. Hugh Grant is Michael Felgate, a buttoned-up Britisher who is in love with Gina (Jeanne Tripplehorn). When he proposes marriage she balks, as she fears he will be drawn into the illegal dealings of her father, mobster Frank Vitale (James Caan). Grant plays his usual phlegmatic, bumbling character which, planted in this circumstance, is funnier than usual. He and Tripplehorn work well together. Caan is a natural as the good-natured, loving mobster dad. Ultimately, Mickey Blue Eyes succumbs to cartoonish stereotypes and loses its satiric edge. The buildup to the climax is far more enjoyable than the climax itself. -- KCE
The Muse (PG-13)
WhileThe Muse has a great premise and some funny scenes, it falls short of a good comedic romp. Sharon Stone does a good job of playing the capricious 20th century muse, Sarah. Her blatant materialism hits just the right note. Brooks' character Steven is less engaging -- he comes across as a whiner, and whining isn't funny. Brooks misses a great opportunity to critique the insanity at the heart of the moviemaking industry. Instead, he stops short at a superficial tour of Hollywood, capped by a clumsy deus ex machina ending. Despite the great promise of this film, including some terrific one-liners, The Muse falls flat. -- AL
Notting Hill (PG-13)
Julia Roberts plays, basically, herself -- the most beautiful star in the world who racks up $15 million a picture, but can't succeed in love. She stumbles upon Hugh Grant as the owner of a shabby travel bookstore in London, a guy also unlucky in love, honest, working class and disheveled. The best bits and the most clever lines in the film revolve around Grant's pack of offbeat friends (shades of Four Weddings and a Funeral), and the weakest ones, alas, are when Grant and Roberts get intimate. It's like watching Ken kiss Barbie. Notting Hill does not break Roberts out of the mold she has recently created for herself, and turns out to be an empty ode to a poor, beautiful, little rich girl -- a photographic tribute to Roberts' generous mouth. -- KCE
*Return With Honor (Not Rated)
The posters would lead you to believe that Tom Hanks is in Return With Honor, but he's not -- he simply wanted to see the film get wide distribution, put some money behind its release and thus became its official sponsor. Return With Honor documents the experiences of American flyers shot down and imprisoned in the infamous Hanoi Hilton prison camp, some of them for as long as six years. Previously unseen footage of Vietnam and a clear focus on the soldiers' experiences free this film from what could easily have become another discussion of the validity of U.S. involvement in southeast Asia. This film is about those soldiers who returned to less than fanfare following excruciating imprisonment, and what it took for them to endure.
Kimball's Twin Peak
Runaway Bride (PG-13)
Garry Marshall's heavily hyped re-joining of Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. Roberts plays Maggie Carpenter, everybody's favorite fix-it girl who runs the hardware store in charming and old-fashioned Hale, Maryland. Maggie's a peach but she's got a problem: she can't commit (sound familiar?). Already she's left three guys at the altar, and is engaged to number four. USA Today columnist Ike Graham (Gere) hears about her and writes an acidic piece on the nature of women with Maggie as the centerpiece. She retaliates with a nasty letter, and eventually he ends up in Hale, trying to figure out what makes her tick. The rest of the film is merely a set-up for the eventual coupling of Mr. Drop Dead Gorgeous and Ms. Drop Dead Gorgeous, though a star turn by Joan Cusack as Maggie's best friend makes you wish Ike would sweep her away and dump Maggie. -- KCE
Chapel Hills; Carmike 10; Citadel Terrace; Tinseltown
Star Wars, Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (PG)
Little kids will no doubt love it, but adults hoping to relive the spiritual uplift that was the Star Wars experience of their youth will inevitably be disappointed with The Phantom Menace. There is not one memorable moment involving a human character in this whole epic adventure. Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor as Qui-Gon Jinn, Jedi knight, and his apprentice Obi-Won Kenobi are numbingly cool from the start of the film. Young Jake Lloyd, who stars as Aniken Skywalker, a slave boy with obvious Jedi traits who will grow up eventually to become Darth Vader, is way too little to know so much, and he's a calculating little cuss to boot. The entire film, unlike its predecessors, is devoid of enthusiasm for the cause and completely lacking in dramatic tension. The big computer animated battles are terrific, but you might as well be watching Antz or A Bugs Life. -- KCE
Tinseltown; Silver Cinemas; Broadmoor
*Sixth Sense (PG-13)
Sixth Sense is a fluid, compelling and genuinely scary ghost story starring Bruce Willis as Malcolm Crowe, a child psychologist. Willis' character leads a charmed life with his wife (Olivia Williams) and his fulfilling, successful career until the night he gets plugged by a dissatisfied former patient. We next see Crowe, shaken and changed, outside the house of Cole Sear, a little boy with anxious tendencies and, apparently, deep psychological problems. Turns out Cole can see the dead, and those with unfinished business often show up in his bedroom at night. The most startling moments of the film all revolve around the appearance of those ghosts. Haley Joel Osment, the child actor who plays Cole, is tortured, convincing and winning. Willis doesn't make a false move. The film delivers a wonderful punch at the end with an unexpected plot twist. A sure audience pleaser, Sixth Sense is solid, smart, subtle, atmospheric moviemaking. -- KCE
Chapel Hills; Carmike 10; Tinseltown; Gold Hill Theater
Although Stigmata has been marketed as a '90s version of The Exorcist, it isn't nearly as thrilling. Not that there aren't a few good jump-out-of-your-seat moments -- there are -- but the overwrought camera work that uses ten different angles to show Frankie, the stigmata sufferer, just lying in bed is more conducive to nausea than fear. Patricia Arquette (Frankie) does some passable acting, but her character must go from bland to tormented in 15 seconds so often that there is little room for subtlety. Gabriel Byrne as Father Kiernan doesn't have much material either, although he's cute as a button in his little clerical collar, and that's probably good enough. The film masquerades as a religious protest film cloaked in an MTV soundtrack, but the Vatican is a pretty tired target. Stigmata adds little to ten centuries of religious dissent -- except maybe a little bit more blood. -- AL
Carmike 10; Tiffany Square; Tinseltown
*Stir of Echoes (R)
See review, this issue.
Chapel Hills; Carmike 10; Tinseltown
The Thomas Crown Affair (R)
Poor tycoon Thomas Crown (Pierce Brosnan) is bored with mergers and acquisitions, golf, gliding, catamaran sailing and those endless, fuddy-duddy fundraisers. To spice up his life, he sets up a heist at a New York art museum to steal a prized one-hundred million dollar Monet. He meets his match when insurance investigator/ art expert Catherine Banning (Rene Russo) realizes he's the thief, and will go to any lengths to prove it. Flirtatious banter, sexual foreplay and plenty of nude romping between Catherine and Thomas comprise much of the rest of this intriguing but uneven film. Brosnan comes across as a prissy stuffed shirt. The Thomas Crown Affair is good to look at, and entertains mildly through a glossy veneer. Worth seeing, however, is Russo's full-out performance, packed with lusty charm. -- KCE
Chapel Hills; Tinseltown
*Twin Falls Idaho
See review, this issue
OPENING THIS WEEK
Dog Park (R)
Love, dogs, therapy and serial monogamy. A new comedy with Janeane Garafolo examines the "dating chain".
Tiffany Square; Tinseltown
Double Jeopardy (R)
Once you're convicted of murdering someone, you can't be convicted of it again. So when Ashley Judd plays a woman who has served 10 years of a prison sentence after being set up for killing her husband so he can collect the insurance money and take their son, she decides that maybe she really will kill him, after all. With Tommy Lee Jones.
Chapel Hills; Carmike 10; Tinseltown
Jakob the Liar (PG-13)
Robin Williams plays a Jew in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II, who gives fictitious news bulletins about Nazi defeats over the radio to combat the overwhelming depression and suicide that pervades the ghetto. The Germans learn of the mythical radio, however, and begin a search for the resistance hero who dares operate it.
Chapel Hills; Carmike 10; Citadel Terrace; Tinseltown
Ted Danson, Alfre Woodard, Hope Davis, Loren Dean and Jason Lee round out the cast of Mumford, a film about a psychologist who begins dispensing no-nonsense advice to an array of quirky locals in a small town. His unique style of therapy has a surprising effect on the community, sparking romance in some of the most unlikely places.
Chapel Hills; Tinseltown
American Beauty (R)
Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening (have either of these actors ever given a mediocre performance?) star in the most talked about movie of the year so far, a black comedy directed by British stage sensation, Sam Mendes.
Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation
has moved! The second weekend of the festival that launched Beavis and Butthead has been banned from it's original theater. It will not be shown at Cinema 70, but at the Colorado Music Hall, 2475 E. Pikes Peak Ave. Call 447-9797.
Colorado Music Hall
The striking colors and textures are reminiscent of Southern Colorado and New Mexico. Lovely work.