ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE
Outright craziness abounds in this absorbing road tale about a makeshift family of professional thieves on a crime spree. James Woods and Melanie Griffith are a scheming couple who "adopt" two young, wired, dysfunctional teens (Natasha Gregson Wagner and Vincent Kartheiser) about to hit bottom and attempt to teach them the ropes of criminal life. It's "National Lampoon's Family Vacation" meet "Bonnie & Clyde" gone totally weird.
Director: Larry Clark. Stars: James Woods, Melanie Griffith, Vincent Kartheiser, Natasha Gregson Wagner. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 101 min.), Drama, 1999, Box office gross: $0.193 million, (Trimark), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 5/11, DVD: Day & Date.
BABE: PIG IN THE CITY
This sequel to the highly successful "Babe" got blind-sided by bad pre-release buzz and poor positioning by Universal: it's a brilliant film, almost surreal in its telling, that follows Babe and farmer Hogget's wife on a misguided journey into the "city" to make money to save the farm. The pair encounter evil humans and evil animals (including a nasty family of chimps) but the pig's "humanness" rises to the occasion and goodness wins out. A tad dark for most kids -- and some adults, evidently -- but the cinematography and fable-like storytelling make a winning combination.
Director Sidney Lumet has fallen on hard times. This weak remake of John Cassavete's 1980 classic -- about an ex-mob mistress who risks everything to save the life of a young boy orphaned when his family is rubbed out by her criminal cohorts -- is merely a star vehicle for Sharon Stone, who fails mightily in filling the shoes worn by Gena Rowlands in the original. Spruced up for the 1990s, this Gloria doesn't age well. Rent the original before watching this one.
Director: Sidney Lumet. Stars: Sharon Stone, Jeremy Northam, Jean-Luke Figueroa, Cathy Moriarty, George C. Scott, Mike Starr. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 108 min.), Thriller, 1998, Box office gross: $4.155 million, (Columbia TriStar), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 5/25, DVD: Day & Date.
Lackluster comedy has Eddie Murphy star as an inspirational guru who moves from the streets of Miami to national television to become an over-the-top marketing genius, taking a home shopping network -- and the country -- by storm. Straying into his new job as guru of consumerism, the holy man raises the network's profits as well as raising the consciousness of the jaded exec (Jeff Goldblum) who inadvertently got him there in the first place. For Murphy fans only.
Director: Stephen Herek. Stars: Eddie Murphy, Jeff Goldblum, Kelly Preston. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, min.), Comedy, 1998, Box office gross: $12.065 million, (Buena Vista), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 5/18, DVD: Day & Date.
Two out of work actors end up becoming stowaways on an ocean liner bound for Europe, wreaking havoc with crew and passengers alike as they evade the authorities and foil the bomb plot of a deranged crewman in this Marx Bros.-type slapstick. Starring Stanley Tucci and Oliver Platt as the troubled thespians, the film plods along at a lackadaisical pace, as if it were a stand- up comedian waiting for non-existent laughs. Too many double- takes and not enough belly laughs.
Director: Stanley Tucci. Stars: Stanley Tucci, Oliver Platt, Alfred Molina, Campbell Scott, Tony Shalhoub, Lily Taylor. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 101 min.), Comedy, 1998, Box office gross: $2.197 million, (Fox), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 5/18, DVD: Day & Date.
Misfired satire of religion and the porn industry, with a young Morman who takes the word of the lord door-to-door finding himself involved in sex films as the super-hero Orgazmo -- who packs an orgasm- making gun -- to finance his wedding. Things spiral out of control when his new-found friend and porn sidekick invents a real ray-gun and the pair take their roles too seriously. A real stinker of an outing -- somewhere way below the worst bad taste of John Waters -- by Trey Parker, creator of TV's "South Park." Use of four-letter words will offend even the staunchist defender of the First Amendment.
Director: Trey Parker. Stars: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Dian Bachar, Robyn Lynne, Michael Dean Jacobs. CC, (MPAA rating: NC-17, 94 min.), Comedy, 1998, Box office gross: $0.549 million, (PolyGram), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 5/11, DVD: No.
SAVING PRIVATE RYAN Academy Award winning (including best director for Steven Spielberg) World War II epic that swirls around the D-Day landing at Omaha Beach and branches out in the search for the missing-in- action Pvt. Ryan, whose three siblings were all killed within days of each other. Gruesome and horrible in its depiction of the blood-soaked human cost of battle, the film is ultimately a search for the minute amount of humanness that rises up against all odds to the contrary. Powerful filmmaking.
Director: Steven Spielberg. Stars: Tom Hanks, Edward Burns, Tom Sizemore, Matt Damon, Vin Diesel, Giovanni Ribisi, Jeremy Davies. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 160 min.), War, 1998, Box office gross: $211.000 million, (DreamWorks), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 5/25, DVD: No.
STAR TREK: INSURRECTION
The ninth feature film in the Star Trek franchise has the crew of the Starship Enterprise initially investigating a survey mission gone awry on a strange planet. Here they not only discover a planet whose population has attained eternal youth, they uncover a sinister plot by an aging, dying race to forcefully "cleanse" the planet of its civilization in order to harness the "fountain of youth." Against Federation orders, the crew joins in to save the planet and its inhabitants. Not as spectacular as previous voyages, but nevertheless an outer space thrill ride.
Director: Jonathan Frakes. Stars: Patric Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, F. Murray Abraham. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 103 min.), Science Fiction, 1998, Box office gross: $70.118 million, (Paramount), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 5/11, DVD: Day & Date.
Story of the rise and fall of a mythical 1970s glam rock god who fakes an onstage shooting at the peak of his fame and then suddenly disappears when the hoax is revealed. A la "Citizen Kane," a journalist digs into the story via interviews with the star's wife, lovers and friends 10 years later. Its a sensual romantic musical video paean to a rock time gone by. Stars Ewan McGregor, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Toni Collette and Christian Bale.
Director: Todd Haynes. Stars: Ewan McGregor, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Toni Collette, Christian Bale. CC, (MPAA rating: R, min.), Rock Drama, 1998, Box office gross: $1.043 million, (Miramax), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 5/11, DVD: No.
VERY BAD THINGS Five buddies on a bachelor party romp in Las Vegas accidentally kill a prostitute, setting off a horrific chain of events that leads to paranoia, various coverups, and more murders before the happy couple trip the light fantastic down the wedding aisle. A mad comic vision that attempts to strip away the veneer of middle-class civility by showing the dark side of seemingly normal people. There's some very funny moments here but for the most part the film is just too over-the-edge dark to be enjoyable. Kudos to the fine ensemble cast -- particularly Cameron Diaz playing against her goody-goody roles of the past -- for attempting to pull it off. Stars Christian Slater, Daniel Stern, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Jon Favreau and Jeremy Piven.
Director: Peter Berg. Stars: Christian Slater, Cameron Diaz, Daniel Stern, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Jon Favreau, Jeremy Piven. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 100 min.), Dark Comedy, 1998, Box office gross: $9.876 million, (PolyGram), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 5/18, DVD: No.
YOU'VE GOT MAIL
Rough remake of Ernst Lubitsch's 1940 classic "The Shop Around the Corner," about co-workers in a shop who don't know they're lonely-hearts pen pals. Here it's updated with Meg Ryan as a neighborhood book store owner and Tom Hanks as a young mogul from a national conglomerate out to put her out of business, who fall in love via e-mail. The pair cross paths in the course of their business, never suspecting that the other is each's online paramour, until, of course, the duality is revealed. It's "Sleepless in Seattle" for the wired generation.
Director: Nora Ephron. Stars: Tom Hanks, Parker Posey, Meg Ryan, Jean Stapleton, Dave Chappelle, Dabney Coleman. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 120 min.), Comedy, 1998, Box office gross: $114.000 million, (Warner), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 5/4, DVD: Day & Date.
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