Movie Picks 

click to enlarge Laura Dern and Steve Martin in Novocaine, opening this week
  • Laura Dern and Steve Martin in Novocaine, opening this week

American Pie 2 (R)
The first American Pie was one of the funniest, most original teen flicks of last year. Unfortunately, the sequel plays to the lowest common denominator. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Silver Cinemas

*Bandits (PG-13)
Pratfalls, snappy dialogue and snazzy character work make Bandits a laugh-out-loud movie that even manages to pull off a surprise ending. The real treat at the bottom of the cinematic box of this film is Billy Bob Thornton's comic physicality and controlled vocal range. Bruce Willis stays in his signature mannered mode, allowing Thornton to steal scenes at will. -- Cole Smithey


*The Glass House (PG-13)
The Glass House is supposed to be a thriller, but unfortunately, the thrill is gone about 15 minutes into the movie when we understand, without having to think too hard, how the story is bound to play out. Bottomline: wait until it comes out on video or DVD. -- Kathyrn Eastburn

Silver Cinemas

*Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's Stone (PG)
See full review, page 61.

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Heist (R)
Heist is worth seeing for the pleasure of watching three actors at the top of their game. Gene Hackman and Danny DeVito are equally devilish, hamming it up with writer/director Mamet's flowing, brutish dialogue. Ricky Jay as Pinky Pincus is their perfect comic foil, and his performance is among the best supporting work we've seen on film this year. (Be warned: the eponymous heist involves an airliner hijacking set at Boston's Logan Airport; though the plane is grounded, it will undoubtedly invoke uncomfortable memories for some viewers.) -- Patton Dodd

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

click to enlarge Three Kings - on screen this Thursday
  • Three Kings - on screen this Thursday

K-PAX (PG-13)
There are just too many mysteries in this film. For example, when the main character, Prot (Kevin Spacey), arrives suddenly in the middle of Grand Central Station, did he arrive on a beam of light or on the 4:17 local? When Prot is then hauled off to a tony psychiatric institute in mid-Manhattan and treated by Dr. Mark Powell (Jeff Bridges) for severe psychological trauma, is it he or the doctor who is crazy? Or what about this: When the director, writer and director of photography sat down to discuss making K-PAX, had they resolved all of the mysteries for themselves or had they just decided to inflict undramatic uncertainty on their audience just to see how it came out? Their refusal to take a position themselves on whether Prot is alien or human undermines the main characters and ceases to be captivating about mid-way through the film. -- Andrea Lucard

Cinemark 16

Legally Blonde (R)
This weak and predictable comedy by debut feature director Robert Luketic is a poorly lit attempt at dredging humor from a sterile and flat script. While Reese Witherspoon makes an attractive ditzy blonde with enough book smarts to overcompensate for her character's fashion victim obsessions, this film is a career misstep for a talented actress capable of creating much more complex characters. -- Cole Smithey

Silver Cinemas

Life as a House (R)
There's no question that Kevin Klein is a skilled actor, and his portrayal of an essentially empty man trying to fill himself up before he dies is nicely understated. The portrayal of ex-wife Robin (Kristen Scott Thomas) is also a fine piece of work, but best of the actors is actually young Hayden Christensen, as a glue-sniffing, multiply pierced Goth who is going through an adolescent crisis of the first order. Beyond that, I was not impressed. The story heaps one silliness upon another in an attempt to make the characters more sympathetic. Some people like their movies deeply sentimental, with unabashedly happy endings, no matter what. And if you're one of them, you'll love Life as a House. -- Andrea Lucard


*Monsters, Inc. (G)
John Goodman is the voice of Sully, the scariest monster of Monstropolis, a parallel world, and Billy Crystal plays his sidekick, Mike Wazowski, a giant neon green eyeball with arms and legs and not much more. There is a ton of tongue-in-cheek humor, and frame after frame is packed with pop cultural references, sight gags and just plain cool action. The writers clearly went to town in amusing themselves. Go see it for the cool factors, but leave your hopes for decent social commentary behind. -- Andrea Lucard

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Serendipity (PG-13)
Serendipity is sweet but ultimately flavorless. John Cusack stars as Jonathan Tragar who bumps into lovely Sara Thomas (Kate Beckinsale) while both are Christmas shopping at Bloomingdale's. It's clear to the audience that they are meant to be together, but naturally, it doesn't happen quite that simply and seven years later, Jonathan and Sara begin to dwell on what might have been. The movie enters a hide-and-seek, cat-and-mouse chase formula which annoys more than anything else. When it's finally all over, we wish that Sara and Jonathan had hooked up about an hour earlier. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Chapel Hills, Tinseltown

Waking Life (R)
When I heard about Richard Linklater's new movie, Waking Life, an animated examination of dreams, I thought if anyone could pull off the disjointedness of a dream, it would have to be the mind of the man behind the generation-defining ode to Attention Deficit Disorder, Slacker. Alas, the movie quickly betrayed itself as another Slacker in cartoon drag. The same litany of dime-store philosophers, ranters and conspiracy theorists appear in the all-too-familiar lineup. Waking Life is visually stunning, though. Linklater was able to give the film a beautiful pop look that makes each scene more interesting as pure surface than as part of a story. -- Noel Black

Kimball's Twin Peak


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