Movie Picks 

click to enlarge Jim Carey is the Grinch.
  • Jim Carey is the Grinch.

Bedazzled (PG-13)

Starring Brendan Fraser as Elliot, a pitiful technical support geek who sells his soul to the Devil (Elizabeth Hurley) in order to become a babe magnet. Of course, things don't work out -- in hilarious fashion. The real delight of this film is Fraser. Each time he finds himself in a new ridiculous situation, he demonstrates amazing comic talent, using a very plastic face, a perpetually surprised expression and a slightly awkward physicality to produce radical transformations. The film almost falls flat at the ending, where the writers couldn't seem to resist the temptation to moralize. Otherwise, Bedazzled is a genial comedic take on Faust, and a good showing by a talented actor. See full review.-- AL


*Billy Elliot (R)

See full review.
Chapel Hills

*Bring It On (PG-13)

With one foot firmly planted in the sexed-up teen genre, Bring It On is a perky and often hilarious take on the world of competitive cheerleading. Skillfully mixing wonderfully choreographed routines with self-deprecating humor and some sweet puppy romance, Bring It On keeps you laughing from start to finish, succeeding in part because it does not succumb to heavy-handedness in the rich girl-poor girl, white girl-black girl central conflict which is significant but not pandering. The cheering is terrific, the teen-speak dialogue relentless, the camera moves supple and graceful and the climax is satisfying. See full review.-- KCE

Silver Cinemas

Coyote Ugly (PG-13)

John Goodman plays the father of Violet (Piper Perabo), a wannabe musician. Violet gets a gig as bartender at Coyote Ugly, where the gorgeous bartenders double as dancers. The audience might expect a buddy film -- the cinematic equivalent of a trip to a topless joint -- but there's not much to ogle at, except silly want-to-be-sexy scenes, where the girls get very close in their wet leather pants -- nothing more than highly conventional Playboy poses. The film is most interesting in its depictions of the contradictions and pitfalls of modern gender, sexuality, and the hazards for women attempting to reclaim sexual power. See full review.-- AL

Silver Cinemas

Disney's The Kid (PG)

Bruce Willis plays Russell Duritz, a very successful, and sometimes mean, image consultant. Two days before his 40th birthday, Russell is visited by Rusty (Spencer Breslin), the eight-year-old incarnation of himself, who is disappointed when he finds out how his life turned out. Willis does a fine job holding his own next to the pudgy, lisping and very cute Breslin. There is nothing offensive in the film, but if you take your kids be prepared to explain a lot -- The Kid is far more of an adult film than a child's. Pleasantly entertaining. See full review.-- AL

Silver Cinemas

Hollow Man (R)

Filmmaker Paul Verhoeven's (Basic Instinct) latest thriller is an empty, excruciating mess. Kevin Bacon stars as Dr. Sebastian Crane, a government scientist determined to become the first invisible human. Special effects aside, no other aspect of Hollow Man is entertaining or enlightening. To use the guise of invisibility the way Crane does defies the presence of brains or imagination -- his is the petty psyche of a borderline psycho Peeping Tom bent on menacing women. This overblown spectacle of a film rings empty, void, vacant, meaningless, superficial, delusive, ineffectual, unsatisfying -- in a word, hollow. See full review.-- KCE

Silver Cinemas

The Legend of Bagger Vance (PG-13)

If you haven't recently memorized Zen for Dummies, Bagger Vance may hold little charm. In your less-than-elevated state, you might find that this picture of Depression-era Savannah, at the height of the worst spate of lynchings in U.S. history, is rather too rosy. You also might find that Bagger Vance's (Will Smith) "yassuh" and "no suh, Mr. Junuh," in duet with Junuh's (Matt Damon) casual treatment of Bagger rubs you the wrong way, and you might wonder what the Fresh Prince is doing suddenly playing Mr. Bojangles. You might have to stifle a snicker at the video-golf special effects that follow the ball across the sculpted terrain. This is the cult of golf at its most banal, claiming that feeling the beat of earth, the pulse of the tides is really, as Bagger Vance proclaims, what you do when you cut work to drink beer and play nine holes. See full review.-- AL

Tinseltown; Carmike 10; Chapel Hills; Kimball's Twin Peak

The Little Vampire (PG)

Based on a popular series of children's books by Angela Sommer-Bodenburg. Nine-year-old Tony (Jonathan Lipnicki) has moved with his family from California to Scotland where his father (Tommy Hinckley) is designing a golf course. One evening Rudolph, a young vampire who badly needs a snack, flies into Tony's room. The two become fast friends, and Tony becomes caught up in the vampire family's quest to once again become human. The real fun of the movie comes from some of its unexpected twists -- like the fact that the vampires are good and the vampire catchers bad -- as well as from nice atmospherics that seem to hit just the right note of scary-but-not-too-scary. Little ones will probably get a great kick out of the gags like the cows that become afraid of the light and start hiding out in dark barns after their vampire encounters. See full review.-- AL


*Meet the Parents (PG-13)

Within the framework of what, on the surface, looks like a typical family comedy lurks a biting satire on the empty material satisfactions of WASP existence in America. Ben Stiller is the unfortunately named Gaylord "Greg" Focker, a Jewish male nurse who immediately unravels when he has to meet the parents of his girlfriend Pam (Teri Polo) -- a blonde with an Oyster Bay pedigree. Robert DeNiro gives a pitch perfect performance as Daddy Dearest for whom no suitor of his precious Pammy will ever measure up. Uproarious scenes of physical comic chaos meld with an interesting perspective on the untruths we tell to make ourselves look better in this ultimately sweet and very funny film. Owen Wilson turns in a killer appearance as Pam's too perfect, but lonely, ex-fianc Kevin. Stiller and DeNiro spar with graceful comic ease, and ultra-suburbia has rarely been drawn more convincingly. -- KCE

Tinseltown; Chapel Hills; Carmike 10; Gold Hill Theaters

*Men of Honor (PG-13)

Finally, after a long stretch of mediocre comedies, Robert DeNiro returns to dramatic acting as Billy Sunday, a racist master chief Navy diver in charge of training Navy salvage mates at a facility in Bayonne, N.J. Academy Award-winner Cuba Gooding Jr. (Jerry Maguire) gives a solid performance as Carl Brashear, the first African American to be accepted into diving program in the newly integrated 1950s Navy. Loosely based on the story of Carl Brashear's life, Men of Honor overshoots its mark, working harder than it needs in making a point of Brashear's tireless diligence and sense of honor. Much of the dramatic impact that drives the film is due to director of photography Anthony Richmond's work. Both DeNiro and Gooding are intensely captivating in the way they use their bodies as thinking extensions of Navy men, completely focused on opposing goals. A well-rounded family film.See full review.

Chapel Hills; Tinseltown; Carmike 10

Pay It Forward (PG-13)

Haley Joel Osment is Trevor, a latchkey kid, weary of his mother's (Helen Hunt) problems with alcohol. Eugene Simonet, a scar-faced Kevin Spacey, is Trevor's social studies teacher who gives his class a confusing and challenging extra-credit assignment: Think of an idea to change our world -- and put it into action. Trevor comes up with an ingenious solution which quickly sets off an exponential eruption of good-deed-doing. Hunt plays the hard-ridden, recovering alcoholic, single mom with grit and heart. And given Spacey's compelling performance, their dance of romance is genuinely moving. But instead of ending as a love story with a social message, Pay It Forward succumbs to grandiosity, insisting on becoming a forced religious allegory. Any power that the film built up with its lovely characterizations and charming story is quickly released like a gush of air from a balloon. This is a classic example of a very good movie ruined by the director's ambitions for a blockbuster ending. See full review.-- KCE

Tinseltown; Kimball's Twin Peak (closes Tuesday); Chapel Hills; Carmike 10

The Perfect Storm (PG-13)

The Perfect Storm turns out to be something of a wash. While there are plenty of white-knuckle moments, the film's stolid attempts at inciting reverence for the famed crew of the Gloucester fishing vessel, the Andrea Gail, tend to throw a wet blanket over the compelling true-life events recounted by Sebastian Junger in his best-selling book. Director Wolfgang Petersen's clunky manner of making this obvious point feels heavy-handed and artificial. An editor could have done wonders with the film, but unfortunately we're stuck with what we've got -- a few spectacular scenes and some strong performances mish-mashed with too much forced solemnity and enough clichs to gag a whale. The Perfect Storm is well worth seeing, but it's far from perfect. See full review.-- KCE

Silver Cinemas

Red Planet (PG-13)

See full review, page 58.

Tinseltown; Carmike 10; Chapel Hills; Gold Hill Theaters

Remember the Titans (PG)

Remember the Titans glorifies youth, manhood and the pursuit of football as the best avenues for social justice. The field of justice is, in this case, an Alexandria, Va., high school ordered to desegregate in 1971, where the school board hires a black man, Coach Boone (Denzel Washington) to coach their successful Titans football team. As usual, Washington manages to hit just the right note throughout the film, helping to redeem a fairly cheeseball script and bring out its nobility. It helps if you're willing to believe that the struggle against racism is best fought by men on the model of a war. Whether the male/war model contributes to lasting change is questionable. But war makes for good un-nuanced drama, and Remember the Titans takes full advantage of that. See full review.-- AL

Tinseltown; Chapel Hills; Carmike 10; Gold Hill Theaters

The Replacements (PG-13)

Keanu Reeves in full surfer-speak is Shane Falco, an All-American college football star who never made it to the big leagues.When the Washington Sentinels' players go on strike, legendary coach Jimmy McGinty (Gene Hackman) is brought in to put together a team of replacement players to carry the Sentinels through. Falco is recruited as quarterback because he possesses a quality missing in the regular crew -- heart. The bulk of the action takes place on the football field. Every scene is utterly predictable. The dialogue is so lame that even the worst clichs are repeated over and over. Even the formidable Gene Hackman couldn't save this giant gridiron groaner. See full review.-- KCE


Scary Movie (R)

Scary Movie, a ripoff of teen slasher flicks Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, may win the overall competition for grossest gross-out jokes of any film ever. The brothers Wayans seem to have a concept here but they set up every joke so tediously and assiduously that by the time the punchline appears the joke is dead already. Given a big budget, the Wayans seem to wander, aggrandize, overcompensate and falter. The competent cast play imperiled teenagers adequately, and some of their lines are genuinely funny, but to watch Scary Movie is, basically, to suffer through an extended doo-doo riff with accents of snot, pee-pee and semen. -- KCE

Silver Cinemas

What Lies Beneath (PG-13)

Dr. Norman (Harrison Ford) and Claire Spencer (Michelle Pfeiffer) are a well-to-do married couple living alone in their lakeside home. Bored, beautiful Claire becomes a lightning rod for a ghost from Norman's adulterous past. Director Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump) kills What Lies Beneath's fleeting moments of excitement by piling up so many false starts of plot and faux shocks of terror that by the time the story finally gets around to making sense with some nitty gritty horror scenes, the audience has become numb to the suspense. See full review.-- Cole Smithey

Silver Cinemas


102 Dalmatians (G)

Cruella de Vil (Glenn Close) is released from prison promising to be good -- but that's bad news for Pongo, Perdy and all of the puppies.

Gold Hill Theaters (opens Wednesday)

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (PG)

Jim Carrey brings the meanest, greenest, humbuggiest of all Dr. Seuss' characters to life.

Carmike 10; Chapel Hills; Gold Hill Theaters; Tinseltown

Rugrats in Paris (G)

John Lithgow, Susan Sarandon and Debbie Reynolds provide the voices in the big screen story of cartoon stars Chuckie, Tommy, Angelica, Phil, Lil, Baby Dil and Didi as they go to Paris to visit ReptarLand.

Carmike 10; Chapel Hills; Tinseltown

The 6th Day (PG-13)

Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a man living in a time when anything can be cloned, including humans. When he returns home one day to find that he's been replaced by a clone, he must fight to save his family and identity. With Robert Duvall.

Carmike 10; Chapel Hills; Tinseltown

Bounce (PG-13)

Gwyneth Paltrow and Ben Affleck star in this romanctic tale about a romance between two lost souls and the secret that threatens to ruin their newly-found trust. With Natasha Henstridge and Johnny Galecki.

Carmike 10; Chapel Hills; Tinseltown


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