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SUMMER MOVIE MANIA
I've Seen Everything So You Don't Have To.
-Jack Sanderson


I realized walking out of a Hollywood multiplex the other day that I had seen everything playing. Searching the paper for another movie to see, I lamented with my movie going buddy, "We've seen everything!" Yup, EVERYTHING. Okay, I'm putting off LOVES LABOUR LOST, cause I just can't imagine watching Alicia Silverstone do Shakespeare. And she would be `doing' him. So let me share the summer fare so far and maybe save you a few bucks.

GONE IN SIXTY SECONDS:  Just about the worst thing I've seen this summer, so far. Imagine that! Cage and Bruckhiemer haven't really hit the mark since "THE ROCK.". 60 SECONDS has a nice cast playing two dimensional stereo types so thin...(insert your own joke here). The thieves are the good guys, because Memphis Raines (Cage) was going straight until the big bad British bully says he'll kill Mama Raines and Memphis's brother unless he gets 50 cars within 3 days. A good thief steals all fifty in a single night. The cops are onto him, but he's got to save his brother. Hey! It's about the family! Having had my car broken into about five times, and living in fear of having it be stolen, I failed to relate to Memphis, or to get a hard on from the fast shiny cars. Even more disturbing is that the writer of this drivel is being let loose on Columbia's "Spiderman" feature script.

Gaffs:  Watch as Giovanni pulls burnt toast from the toaster for his bro, and throws perfect, un-burnt toast on the plate. And when Memphis is driving the last car, watch for the mirror to break, and then not be broken, and then be broken again. Damn my eyes.

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: 2:  Tom Cruise improves on the first M:I not just with the face pulling identity changing trick, but bringing back the team effort a bit. John Woo directs and I wish he would get over his bird fixation, but still good action and a fun ride. The script by Ronald Moore, a swell Star Trek Next Generation and Deep Space Nine writer was obviously a big help. More please!

Gaff: Watch Tom Cruise destroy two of the three vials of genetic warfare. Seconds later, there are two vials left where there should only be one! Minor, but still, for all the money they spend you'd think they would catch that stuff.

BIG MOMMA'S HOUSE:  Definitely Martin Lawrence's best film. Okay, that might not be saying much. But once you get past the fat lady potty humor, the movie has enough funny stuff to justify a matinee price at least. And you gotta respect Ella Mitchell (Big Mama herself) for getting naked in the film. The plot is contrived. (try to look surprised) but a pretty smart film in terms of targeting it's audience. And wise marketing, getting it into theatres well before Eddie Murphy shows Martin Lawrence up in "NUTTY PROFESSOR 2: THE KLUMPS."

Gaff: The worst gaff you could hope to see this summer is in this flick. Ever taken the Universal back lot tour? Malcolm (Lawrence) takes Sherry and her son fishing in a pond my movie buddy and I recognized it immediately as the pond on Universal's back lot. This is also the pond where they store Bruce, the mechanical shark from JAWS. On the tour you see a man (automated dummy) fishing and then Bruce attacks his boat. Watch that `guy' in the other boat. A sharp eye will see him and Bruce doing their bit. Scary flaw.

GLADIATOR:  You saw it already. But let me say this, quick cuts are a poor visual substitute for actual fighting skills. Too much odd dialogue. More splatter, less art. Commodus will fight him himself? Come on! The Joker never faces Batman directly unless he gets stuck.. Oliver Reed looked so life like! I could not tell when he was digitized. He died and they needed him for a few more shots, so say hello the digital age. It's always a pleasure to see Richard Harris and Derek Jacobi working.

SMALL TIME CROOKS: Elaine May and Tracey Ullman steal this movie. Everyone does a lovely job. I can't help but think the script could have been a little better. Seems as though Woody is shooting his first drafts lately. This film harks back to Woody Allen's hilarious short stories. A loser (Woody) decides to rob a bank with his buddies. They rent a shop two doors down from the bank, and his wife (Ullman) runs a cookie shop as a cover. The cookies take off and the story moves quickly and nicely to new levels.

ROAD TRIP:  I said I see everything, right? Tom Green narrates and is funny, but he is trying hard. Josh mistakenly sends his girlfriend a tape of himself having sex with another woman. He and his buddies drive 1800 miles to get it back. Contrived, silly, stupid. There are a few honestly funny moments. It will be great on cable. And Breckin Meyer is cute.

PASSION IN MIND: Elaine May and Tracey Ullman steal this movie. Everyone does a lovely job. I can't help but think the script could have been a little better. Seems as though Woody is shooting his first drafts lately. This film harks back to Woody Allen's hilarious short stories. A loser (Woody) decides to rob a bank with his buddies. They rent a shop two doors down from the bank, and his wife (Ullman) runs a cookie shop as a cover. The cookies take off and the story moves quickly and nicely to new levels.

SHAFT: Samuel Jackson makes a great John Shaft. This is one of the best movies out this summer. Here's a text book case of a remake done right. Start off with good helpings of the familiar song, bring back the original actor in a different role, and show what has been learned in society since the first one: not much. This is a brilliant plot. A racially motivated murder spins into a tale of revenge and justice by small steps and great scenes. Jeffrey Wright just about steals the movie as local drug lord, People. He should not be forgotten come Oscar time.

SHANGHAI NOON: SHANGHAI NOON will relieve the pain and itching you're still experiencing from having watched last Summer's WILD, WILD WEST Jackie Chan goes Western as a guard from the China's Forbidden City out to rescue the kidnapped Princess. Owen Wilson is terrific as a cowboy who relishes his role as a benevolent bandit. Of course the two team up, and hilarity ensues. It's a little long, but a real audience pleaser. This flick and SHAFT are currently your two best bets.

TITAN A.E.:  A.E. means After Earth. It's a thousand years in the future and the planet earth has been destroyed by the evil Drej. As if anyone other than us would be responsible for ruining the earth. And guess what, music hasn't changed in a thousand years! This animated film has some original ideas, but none of them are in the plot or the characters. I can get 90 minutes of "Oh, pretty." at the mall. The computer generated animation contrasts too highly to the animated/drawn characters. It's two movies layered over each other. The space scapes are great, but didn't they look here: (http://oposite.stsci.edu/pubinfo/Pictures.html)

FANTASIA 2000: Oh, this again. Whales fly, triangles dance, Donald and Daisy duck temp on Noah's Ark and Disney rips off "Princess Monoke." The best thing here is the Al Hirshfeld tribute set to "Rhapsody in Blue" and capturing a flavor of New York in the 30's. On a personal note, I didn't get to see the last scenario all the way through because the sound went out on Donald and Daisy, and the film broke on the last bit. No one at Disney's spectacular new Imax Theatre came into to explain to the full audience came out to apologize or explain. The audience literally wandered away and when I finally found a manager, I was offered a ticket to another performance because the money was gone to the bank and no one there knew how to fix the projector. I declined in disgust and lamented the twenty some odd dollars I had spent. So let me just say, although I haven't seen it, I hear "Dinosaur" sucks.

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