NEW FILMS FRIDAY
KISS THE GIRLS - A psychological thriller, based on James Patterson's best seller, about a police psychologist (Morgan Freeman) racing to save his niece from a serial killer. Ashley Judd co-stars as a victim who escaped. Reviewed in this section on Page W12. R (violence, attempted rape, profanity, vulgarity). (Carmike 12, Century, Cottonwood, Gateway, Plaza 5400; Redwood, with "Face/Off"; Reel, Sandy 9, Trolley Square.)
THE MATCHMAKER - Janeane Garofalo ("The Truth About Cats and Dogs") stars in this romantic comedy about an election campaigner who is sent to western Ireland, only to have the natives try to find her a soulmate. Denis Leary and Milo O'Shea co-star. Reviewed in this section on Page W12. R (profanity, vulgarity, sex). Carmike 12, Creekside, Crossroads, Midvalley, Sandy 9.)
U TURN - Oliver Stone again steps into "Natural Born Killers" territory with this dramatic thriller about a punk (Sean Penn) whose vehicle breaks down in a small Arizona town, whereupon he finds himself confronted by one oddball after another. Co-stars include Nick Nolte, Claire Danes, Billy Bob Thornton and Jon Voight. Reviewed in this section on Page W3. R (violence, gore, sex, nudity, profanity, vulgarity, drugs). (Broadway, Century, Cottonwood, Sandy 9.)
NEW FILMS MONDAY
THE LONG WAY HOME - A documentary, which premiered at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival, on the plight of thousands of Holocaust survivors after World War II, including their efforts to establish a new Jewish homeland in Palestine. Narrated by Morgan Freeman and featuring readings by actors Ed Asner, Helen Slater and David Paymer. To be reviewed when it opens next week. Not rated, probable PG (profanity, nude photos). (Exclusive, Tower.)
THE BIG SLEEP - * * * * - Thrilling and hilarious 1946 Howard Hawks film noir classic, with Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe, trying to solve a string of murders, and Lauren Bacall as an implicated wealthy divorcee. This is the original 1945 version that was never released, with a wraparound documentary showing what was added later. Excellent all the way. Made before ratings (1945), probable PG (violence). (Avalon.) (July 11, 1997) - C.H.
TOWER OF TERROR HORROR FILM FESTIVAL - A monthlong collaboration between local radio station KBER-FM, the Institute of Terror and the Tower Theatre, which includes screenings of horror films - some with local connections - and guest appearances. Up first are "Halloween V: The Revenge of Michael Myers," the 1989 sequel to the "Halloween" slasher series (midnight, Oct. 3 and 4) and "The Tingler," director William Castle's infamous 1959 thriller about brain parasites (9:30 p.m., Oct. 6-9) Stuntman/actor Don Shanks, who played "The Shape" in "Halloween V," will appear at the Oct. 3 screening. (Tower.)
WORKS FROM ALONG THE WASATCH FRONT - The Utah Film & Video Center's monthly presentation of film and video works by local artists, which will feature the first 85 minutes of works brought in the day before the screening. This program is not rated but may contain material in the R-rated range. (Utah Film & Video Center, Friday only, 8 p.m.)
AIR BUD - * * - Disney family fantasy built around a contrived concept - a basketball-playing golden retriever. The story has the pooch running away from its master, a cruel birthday clown (Michael Jeter), and befriending a lonely 12-year-old boy. The dog is amazing; the movie is by the numbers. PG (violence, vulgarity). (Trolley North.) (Aug. 1, 1997) - C.H.
AIR FORCE ONE - * * * - More entertaining than it has a right to be, this action-thriller - which cobbles together bits of "Airport '75," "Die Hard" and even "Star Wars" - benefits from taut direction and superb performances, especially from Harrison Ford as the president of the United States, who must rescue his family when Russian terrorists hijack the presidential plane. R (violence, profanity, gore, vulgarity). (Brewvies, Carmike 12, Cottonwood, Midvalley; Redwood, with "The Game"; Trolley North.) (July 25, 1997) - J.V.
BATMAN & ROBIN - * * - George Clooney is the Dark Knight in this cluttered, frenzied fourth entry in the series, which has Batman, Robin (Chris O'Donnell) and Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone) going up against Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman). Schwarzenegger is "The Terminator" programmed to tell jokes, O'Donnell is bland and Silverstone is awful. Only Thurman rises above the chaos with a funny, sexy, scary performance. PG-13 (violence, vulgarity, profanity). (Kaysville, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (June 20, 1997) - C.H.
CON AIR - * * 1/2 - This thriller about killers taking over a plane is as ridiculous as they come, but it gets a boost by an unlikely cast headed by Nicolas Cage, John Cusack and John Malkovich. Some good humor and wild stunts (with the requisite fireballs and impossible escapes), but nasty, sordid subplots seem out of place. Filmed partly in Ogden, Salt Lake City and Wendover. R (violence, gore, attempted rape, profanity, vulgarity, racial epithets). (Sugar House.) (June 6, 1997) - C.H.
CONSPIRACY THEORY - * * * - Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts are terrific together as, respectively, a wacky, paranoid New York cabbie who publishes a newsletter about government conspiracies, and the Justice Department attorney who takes him seriously when bad guys start chasing him. Silly, implausible but filled with action and humor . . . not to mention star power. R (violence, torture, profanity). (Cinemas 5, South Towne.) (Aug. 8, 1997) - C.H.
CONTACT - * * * - Well-made, scientifically sound adaptation of Carl Sagan's bestselling novel about mysterious signals from space picked up by an astronomer who is obsessed with finding life in outer space. Jodie Foster (at her most mannered) has the lead, with James Woods, Tom Skerritt and Matthew McConaughey lending support. Marred by silly movie conventions, but still engrossing. PG (violence, profanity, vulgarity, sex, brief partial nudity). (Murray, Sandcastle, Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (July 11, 1997) - C.H.
COP LAND - * * * 1/2 - Sylvester Stallone eschews his musclebound persona for this low-key drama about a middle-aged, hearing-impaired sheriff in a small New Jersey town, which is populated by corrupt New York cops. Excellent performances from a great cast (Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, etc.), good script and direction from independent filmmaker James Mangold ("Heavy"). But it's Stallone's show, and he runs with it. R (violence, profanity, vulgarity, brief nudity, drugs). (Brewvies.) (Aug. 15, 1997) - C.H.
THE EDGE - * * 1/2 - An exciting, but ultimately unfulfilling adventure drama/thriller, written by David Mamet, about two rivals (Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin) who are forced to cooperate to survive when they are stranded in the Alaskan wilderness. Hopkins is great, as is local animal performer Bart the Bear, who threatens the duo. But the disappointing plot twist at the end spoils things. R (violence, profanity, gore). (Carmike 12, Century, Gateway, Holladay, Plaza 5400; Redwood, with "Speed 2: Cruise Control"; Reel, Sandy 9, Trolley Square.) (Sept. 26, 1997) - J.V.
EXCESS BAGGAGE - * 1/2 - A spoiled teenager (whiny Alicia Silverstone) fakes her own kidnapping to get attention from her wealthy father, but after locking herself in the trunk of her BMW it's stolen by a weirdo car thief (weirdo Benicio Del Toro). Only Christopher Walken as her mysterious "Uncle Ray" seems to be having any fun in this dour, unfunny yarn. PG-13 (violence, profanity, vulgarity). (Cinemas 5.) (Aug. 31, 1997) - C.H.
FACE/OFF - * * * - Bizarre horror/sci-fi/action thriller from director John Woo ("Broken Arrow") has a crackpot plot, laced with absolutely stunning stunts and chases. Troubled FBI agent John Travolta uses high-tech plastic surgery to impersonate a nutso terrorist (Nicolas Cage) - then, the terrorist does the same thing to take on the agent's identity! Too violent and profane but extremely entertaining. R (violence, gore, profanity, vulgarity, drugs, nude cartoon) (Redwood, with "Kiss the Girls"; Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (June 27, 1997) - C.H.
THE FIFTH ELEMENT - * * 1/2 - Visually dazzling sci-fi set in the 23rd century, with cab driver Bruce Willis becoming mixed up with a genetically engineered young woman (Milla Jovovich) and a nervous monk (Ian Holm) as they try to prevent an "evil" fireball from destroying the Earth. A wacky comedy with a story so convoluted that it makes no sense whatsoever - but there's lots of eye candy. PG-13 (violence, nudity, sex, profanity, vulgarity). (Sugar House.) (May 9, 1997) - C.H.
FIRE DOWN BELOW - turkey - Idiotic Steven Seagal vehicle, co-produced by the ponytailed martial-arts hero himself. He's a federal undercover agent in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky, battling bad guys (led by Kris Kristofferson) who are dumping toxic waste in abandoned mineshafts. Loads of country stars show up in minor roles. Seagal also co-wrote several country songs heard in the background! R (violence, profanity, sex, vulgarity). (Cinemas 5; Redwood, with "Wishmaster.") (Sept. 6, 1997) - C.H.
THE FULL MONTY - * * * - Somewhat raunchy, surprisingly touching and always hilarious British comedy about six financially strapped English steelworkers (including "Trainspotting's" Robert Carlyle) who are inspired by a touring Chippendales show to take it all off for a one-night show, in hopes of making a killing at the box office. But they find that their inhibitions get in the way. Strong characterizations and laugh-out-loud visual gags highlight this winner. R (nudity, profanity, vulgarity). (Broadway, Carmike 12, Cottonwood, Midvalley, Sandy 9.) (Sept. 12, 1997) - C.H.
THE GAME - * * * - If you think too much, you'll spoil this tense, funhouse-styled thriller, from "Seven" director David Fincher, about self-absorbed businessman (Michael Douglas) who is trying to figure out the rules of a deadly role-playing game he's reluctantly playing. Not exactly brain food, but fun nonetheless. R (violence, profanity, gore, nude photos). (Century, Creekside, Midvalley; Redwood, with "Air Force One"; Reel, South Towne, Trolley Corners, Trolley North.) (Sept. 12, 1997) - J.V.
GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE - * 1/2 - The cult TV cartoon show is adapted as a live-action farce, with Brendan Fraser as the buffed-up dummy in this broad, low-humor spoof of "Tarzan." Some amusing gags and a great computer-generated elephant (that acts like a dog), but too many vulgar and stupid jokes make much of it dull going. John Cleese voices the talking ape. PG (violence, vulgarity, brief partial nudity). (Double feature with "Hercules": Carmike 12, Century, Cinemas 5, Gateway, Olympus.) (July 16, 1997) - C.H.
G.I. JANE - * 1/2 - Demi Moore, complete with shaved head, buffed bod and "tough-guy" demeanor, storms through this fictional tale of the first female Navy SEALs candidate (though "G.I." is an Army term). Irritatingly directed with a jittery camera and a music-video mindset by Ridley Scott ("Thelma & Louise") as if he's imitating his brother Tony's "Top Gun." Co-produced by Moore and Scott; Anne Bancroft co-stars. R (violence, attempted rape, profanity, vulgarity, nudity). (Flick, Olympus, South Towne, Trolley North.) (Aug. 22, 1997) - C.H.
HERCULES - * * * * - Hilarious Disney animated comedy mixes up its Greek mythology and throws in all kinds of modern gags to tell the story of the son of Zeus, trained by a satyr so he can go up against evil Hades. Great sight gags and terrific voice work from Danny DeVito, Susan Egan, Rip Torn, Bobcat Goldthwait, Matt Frewer and especially James Woods. Might be a bit violent for very young ones. G (cartoon violence and gore, mild vulgarity). (Double feature with "George of the Jungle": Carmike 12, Century, Cinemas 5, Gateway, Olympus.) (June 27, 1997) - C.H.
IN & OUT - * * 1/2 - This hit comedy has small-town high school teacher Kevin Kline about to be married when he's "outed" as gay by one of his former students (Matt Dillon). At first he inisists it's not true, then discovers that he really is gay. Some big laughs before it runs out of steam. Kline is hysterical, and Tom Selleck and Joan Cusack are also terrific. Debbie Reynolds, Wilford Brimley and Bob Newhart get a few laughs but are underused. PG-13 (profanity, vulgarity, sex). (Carmike 12, Century, Flick, Gateway, Holladay, Plaza 5400, Reel, Sandy 9.) (Sept. 19, 1997) - C.H.
IN THE COMPANY OF MEN - * * * - Stunning film debut from writer-director Neil LaBute, a controversial drama about two men (Aaron Eckhart, Matt Malloy) who take revenge on all the women by wooing, winning and dumping an innocent, hearing-impaired woman (Stacy Edwards) while on business trip. Great script, superb performances, despite some low-budget technical inadequacies. R (profanity, vulgarity, implied sex). (Brewvies.) (Aug. 29, 1997) - C.H.
L.A. CONFIDENTIAL - * * * - Good-looking and glitzy, but sometimes confusing and very violent crime noir thriller, based on James Ellroy's novel, about a pair of mismatched detectives in 1950s Los Angeles investigating murders and a conspiracy that involves crooked cops and prostitutes who look like famous starlets. The cast, which includes Kim Basinger, Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito, certainly helps. R (violence, gore, profanity, nudity, sex, drug use, racial epithets). (Broadway, Gateway, Holladay, South Towne.) (Sept. 19, 1997) - J.V.
LEAVE IT TO BEAVER - * * - Cute Cameron Finley is winning as "The Beav" in this big-screen adaptation of the beloved '50s TV sitcom, Christopher McDonald and Janine Turner make an enjoyable Ward and June Cleaver and the first half is pretty funny - but it quickly runs out of steam. PG (comic violence, mild vulgarity). (Kaysville, Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Aug. 22, 1997) - C.H.
LIAR, LIAR - * * * - Jim Carrey stars in this wacked-out fantasy-comedy as a lawyer whose son's birthday wish magically forces Dad to tell the truth for 24 hours. Carrey is way over the top, but the material serves him well and there are many hysterical scenes. It's also quite raunchy (though not as crass as the "Ace Ventura" flicks or "Dumb & Dumber"). PG-13 (sex, vulgarity, profanity, partial nudity, violence). (Sandy Starships, Valley Fair.) (March 21, 1997) - C.H.
THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK - * * 1/2 - Cold, money-motivated sequel has no warmth, practically no story and is loaded with dumb contrivances. But it does have wall-to-wall action - director Steven Spielberg's specialty - and that may be enough for summer audiences. Jeff Goldblum returns to lead another expedition to another island loaded with more species of dinosaurs in this bigger-is-better special-effects extravaganza. PG-13 (violence, gore, profanity). (Kaysville, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (May 23, 1997) - C.H.
MEN IN BLACK - * * * - An amusing, if derivative and at times uneven, sci-fi-thriller/comedy from the director of "The Addams Family" and "Get Shorty" and producer Steven Spielberg. In it, two dark-suited security agents (Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones) must stop an intergalactic terrorist from stealing a galaxy. Great special effects and some audacious sight gags greatly help, but some are spoiled by the film's overly revealing trailers. PG-13 (violence, profanity, gore, vulgarity). (Gateway, Holladay, Plaza 5400; Redwood, with "Money Talks"; South Towne, Trolley Square.) (July 3, 1997) - J.V.
MIMIC - * * 1/2 - Derivative but at-times thrilling science-fiction/thriller about a scientist (Mira Sorvino) trying to stop the genetically engineered mutant insects she created from running amok in New York. Not unwatchable, but the "homages" to "Alien" are a little too glaring and some more humor would have helped. R (violence, profanity, gore, vulgarity). (Redwood, with "The Peacemaker"; Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Aug. 22, 1997) - J.V.
MONEY TALKS - * 1/2 - Fast-talking Chris Tucker - a poor man's Eddie Murphy - stars in this "48HRS."/"Beverly Hills Cop" ripoff about a con artist (Tucker) and a TV newsman (Charlie Sheen) falsely accused of murder. Utterly predictable and extremely violent. And though he gets off a few funny riffs, Tucker's helium-voiced patter quickly becomes annoying. R (violence, gore, profanity, vulgarity, partial nudity). (Redwood, with "Men in Black.") (Aug. 22, 1997) - C.H.
MRS. BROWN - * * * - Restrained version of one of history's most unusual relationships, between a Scottish horse-riding coach (Billy Connolly) and Queen Victoria (Dame Judi Dench), who became reacquainted in the years following the death of Prince Albert. At times the action is too subdued and inconsistent, but dazzling performances from the leads help. PG (profanity, violence, brief nudity, vulgarity). (South Towne, Tower.) (Aug. 1, 1997) - J.V.
MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING - * * - Julia Roberts is luminous in a part reminiscent of her starmaking "Pretty Woman" role, but her character does some despicable things as she plots to sabotage her pal Dermot Mulroney's marriage to spunky Cameron Diaz. Sluggish in the second half, but Rupert Everett is hysterical as Roberts' gay editor. PG-13 (two extremely vulgar gags, profanity, comic violence). (Kaysville, Sandcastle, Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (June 20, 1997). - C.H.
NOTHING TO LOSE - * * - There is some funny business here, thanks to the inspired, if unlikely teaming of Tim Robbins and Martin Lawrence as worlds-apart ordinary Joes who are thrown together by fate and then decide to pull off a heist. But the script and direction by Steve Oedekerk ("Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls") are as dull as can be. R (violence, profanity, vulgarity, sex, partial nudity). (Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (July 18, 1997) - C.H.
OUT TO SEA - * * 1/2 - "Grumpy Old Men Take a Cruise." Thin, sitcom-style script hampers this vehicle for Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, brothers-in-law who pose as dance hosts on a cruise - except that Matthau can't dance! Some very funny bits of business, some obviously improvised, from a pair of old pros. Hal Linden, Donald O'Connor and other familiar faces have little to do, though Brent Spiner (Data on "Star Trek: The Next Generation") gets some laughs as a slimy lounge lizard. PG-13 (vulgarity, profanity). (Kaysville.) (July 2, 1997) - C.H.
THE PEACEMAKER - * * * - The story is a by-the-numbers save-the-world yarn, but the stars (George Clooney and Nicole Kidman) and the director's savvy attitude toward character dynamics makes this one a cut above such mindless action-thrillers as "Con Air." Clooney is an experienced military intelligence officer and Kidman is a nuclear scientist who must find stolen nukes. R (violence, profanity). (Carmike 12, Century, Gateway, Holladay, Plaza 5400; Redwood, with "Mimic"; Reel, Sandy 9, Trolley Corners.) (Sept. 26, 1997) - C.H.
PICTURE PERFECT - * * - Jennifer Aniston's bid for movie stardom is a sitcom-style effort that could be a padded-out episode of "Friends." She's an ad exec who invents a fictional boyfriend to rise in the company. Things are fine until she is required to produce the boyfriend for an important client dinner. A few laughs, an attractive cast (including Olympia Dukakis and Kevin Bacon) but it's pretty thin stuff. PG-13 (profanity, vulgarity, sex, revealing clothing, mild violence). (Sandcastle, Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Aug. 1, 1997) - C.H.
SOUL FOOD - * * - Bad casting and plotting sabotages this well-meaning, but empty family drama, about three sisters (Vanessa L. Williams, Vivica A. Fox and Nia Long) who continue their squabbling even after their mother (Irma P. Hall) falls ill. Frankly, the supporting characters are more interesting than the leads. R (profanity, violence, sex, partial nudity, racial epithets, vulgarity). (Century, Creekside, Crossroads, Midvalley, South Towne.) (Sept. 26, 1997) - J.V.
SPAWN - * 1/2 - A cluttered and badly acted big-screen version of Todd McFarlane's comic-book "hero from hell," who must fight evil forces in order to reclaim his humanity. The dialogue is as bad as it gets, but some B-movie sensibilities and some at-times decent special effects make sure it's not completely unwatchable. PG-13 (violence, vulgarity, profanity, brief partial nudity). (Cinemas 5.) (Aug. 1, 1997) - J.V.
SPEED 2: CRUISE CONTROL - * * - Ridiculous sequel to the first film has Sandra Bullock on a cruise ship instead of a bus, this time helping her new boyfriend (Jason Patric) battle a demented computer wizard (Willem Dafoe) who has taken over the ship to pull off a diamond heist. "Under Siege" meets "The Poseidon Adventure" by way of the "Love Boat." PG-13 (violence, profanity, vulgarity). (Redwood, with "The Edge.") (June 13, 1997) - C.H.
A THOUSAND ACRES - * * * - Well-acted, but ultimately shallow adaptation of Jane Smiley's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, about two close-knit sisters (Jessica Lange and Michelle Pfeiffer) who inherit their family's 100-year-old farm, as well as a bunch of long-hidden family secrets. Great performances from Lange and Pfeiffer, as well as Jason Robards as the family patriarch, are the selling point. R (profanity, violence, brief nudity, vulgarity). (Broadway, Carmike 12, Gateway, Plaza 5400, Sandy 9, Villa.) (Sept. 19, 1997) - J.V.
WILD AMERICA - * * * 1/2 - Hilarious and thrilling comic adventure - a true story, albeit a bit far-fetched at times - about three teenage brothers (including Jonathan Taylor Thomas, of TV's "Home Improvement") who leave their small-town Arkansas home to film American wildlife. Fine performances all around; directed for maximum laughs and thrills. PG (violence, profanity, vulgarity). (Kaysville.) (July 2, 1997) - C.H.
WISHMASTER - turkey - Dreadful genie-in-a-bottle variation, as a demon grants wishes to trick people into giving up their souls. Cameos by horror stars Robert ("Freddie Krueger") Englund, Tony ("Candyman") Todd and Kane ("Jason") Hodder don't help; executive producer Wes Craven gets top billing but he didn't write or direct. R (violence, gore, profanity, sex, vulgarity). (Century, Crossroads, Midvalley; Redwood, with "Fire Down Below"; South Towne.) (Sept. 20, 1997) - C.H.
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