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NEW FILMS FRIDAY

BOSSA NOVA — Brazilian filmmaker Bruno Barreto ("Four Days in September") teams with his wife, actress Amy Irving, for this romantic comedy about an English-language teacher who falls for one of her Brazilian students, a fortysomething attorney. In English and in Portuguese, with English subtitles. R (profanity, vulgarity, sex, brief violence). (Exclusive, Tower.)

BUT I'M A CHEERLEADER — Natasha Lyonne ("Detroit Rock City") stars in this campy comedy as a seemingly model teenager whose parents, believing she is gay, send her to a "rehabilitation" facility. Clea DuVall, Cathy Moriarty and RuPaul Charles co-star. A selection of the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. R (vulgarity, profanity, sex, nude photos). (Exclusive, Tower.)

THE CELL — Unconventional thriller starring Jennifer Lopez as a child psychologist who journeys into the mind of a comatose serial killer to try to find his latest victim. Vince Vaughn co-stars as an FBI agent aiding her. The feature-filmmaking debut of music-video director Tarsem Singh. R (violence, gore, profanity, nudity, torture, rape, brief drug use, brief sex). (Broadway; Carmike 12; Century; Gateway; Holladay; Jordan Commons; Jordan Landing; Midvalley; Redwood, with "Scary Movie"; Ritz.)

GODZILLA 2000 — Not to be confused with the Americanized version, this is the "real" fire-breathing, nuclear-powered dinosaur that returns in this Japanese-produced science-fiction film, which pits our hero against alien life forms. Dubbed. Not screened for local critics; reviewed in this section. PG (violence, mild profanity). (Carmike 12; Century; Cottonwood; Midvalley; Redwood, with "Hollow Man"; Ritz; South Towne; Trolley Corners; Trolley North.)

THE ORIGINAL KINGS OF COMEDY — An MTV Films co-production, this concert film features full-length, standup routines by comedians Steve Harvey (TV's "The Steve Harvey Show"), D.L. Hughley (TV's "The Hughleys"), Cedric the Entertainer and Bernie Mac. Directed by Spike Lee. R (profanity, vulgarity, racial epithets). (Exclusive, Century.)

SAVING GRACE — Winner of an Audience Award from this year's Sundance Film Festival, this comedy follows a financially strapped widow (two-time Oscar nominee Brenda Blethyn) who tries to grow marijuana in her greenhouse as a way to pay off her mounting debts. Craig Ferguson (TV's "The Drew Carey Show") co-stars. R (drug use, profanity, vulgarity, brief violence, brief nudity). (Exclusive, Broadway.)

MIDNIGHT MOVIES

PI — *** — Yes, it's short on genuine emotion, but this low-budget, science-fiction thriller (which garnered first-time filmmaker Darren Aronofsky the Best Director Award at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival) is a mesmerizing glimpse into the mind of a twentysomething mathematics genius who teeters on the edge of insanity during his quest to discover a formula or pattern to nature. In black and white. R (drug use, profanity, violence, sex, gore, ethnic slurs). (Tower, Friday and Saturday.) (Oct. 9, 1998)

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HANK GREENBERG — The first selection in the new "One Night Stand" series at the Tower Theatre is this acclaimed documentary about the late first baseman for the Detroit Tigers, who became professional baseball's first Jewish star during the '30s and '40s. Not rated, probable PG (athletic violence, racial epithets). (Tower, Tuesday only.)

THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE —**** — The title of this chilling, blackly comedic 1962 thriller has come to stand for something more (it's become somewhat iconic), and the film itself has withstood time pretty well. Taut direction by John Frankenheimer and great performances (by Frank Sinatra and Laurence Harvey, especially) help make Richard Condon's tale of a seemingly paranoid Korean War veteran all the more memorable. In black and white. Made before ratings, probable PG (violence). (Jordan Commons.)

MICHAEL JORDAN TO THE MAX — The greatest professional basketball player who ever lived is profiled in this large-screen documentary, which takes a look at his life and career, including his game-winning shot against the Utah Jazz in the final game of the 1998 NBA Finals. Among those interviewed are Jordan, former Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson and actor Bill Murray, Jordan's co-star in the movie "Space Jam." Not rated, probable G. (Jordan Commons.)

RETURN TO THE SECRET GARDEN — A sequel of sorts to Frances Hodgson Burnett's beloved novel "The Secret Garden," the latest from Utah's Feature Films for Families is a live-action drama/fantasy about a 9-year-old American girl who works together with her sickly British cousin to investigate a mystery on her estate. Directed by Scott Featherstone ("Same River Twice"). Not screened for critics; to be reviewed next week. G (nothing offensive). (Saturday and Sunday, Jordan Landing.)

THE TIME MACHINE — **** — Perhaps the best of filmmaker George Pal's science-fiction films, this 1960 fantasy does justice to its source material, the H.G. Wells novel about a scientist who uses his newest invention to travel into the future. Rod Taylor is terrific as the obsessive inventor, and the special effects (which won a special Oscar) still outshine many of today's digital effects. Made before ratings, probable PG (violence). (Jordan Commons.)

WHALES — Underwater cinematographer Al Giddings ("Titanic," "The Abyss") co-directed this large-screen documentary about sea mammals, which follows a mother whale and her calf during a seasonal migration from Hawaii to Alaska. Featuring music by local composer Sam Cardon and narration by Patrick Stewart. Shown in the large-screen format. Not rated, probable G. (Jordan Commons.)

WILDFIRE: FEEL THE HEAT — Large-screen documentary about crews fighting huge wildfires throughout the west, including specialized teams of smokejumpers and waterbombers. Narrated by actor Andre Braugher ("Frequency"). Shown in the large-screen format. Not rated, probable PG (firefighting violence). (Jordan Commons.)

CONTINUING FILMS

THE ADVENTURES OF ROCKY & BULLWINKLE — ** — Jay Ward's beloved cartoon characters finally come to the big screen in this live-action/animated comedy (a la "Who Framed Roger Rabbit"), but frankly, it wasn't worth the wait. The humor's labored, and the cartoon characters are much more "animated" than their flesh-and-blood co-stars. A real disappointment. Running time: 85 minutes. PG (slapstick violence, mild profanity). (Cinemas 5, Sandy 9, Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (June 30, 2000)

AUTUMN IN NEW YORK —* 1/2 — Once meant to be a high-profile romance, with Richard Gere and Winona Ryder as its starry lovers, this sappy romantic drama isn't laughably, excruciatingly bad (at least, compared to some of the movies its studio, MGM, has screened recently). But with this cast and filmmaker (Joan Chen), it's certainly disappointing. Running time: 104 minutes. PG-13 (profanity, sex). (Carmike 12, Century, Creekside, Gateway, Jordan Commons, Jordan Landing, Midvalley, Ritz, Trolley Square.) (Aug. 15, 2000) — Stephen Whitty, Newhouse News Service

BIG MOMMA'S HOUSE—* 1/2 — Unless you're thrilled by the sight of comedian Martin Lawrence in drag, stay away from this crude and unfunny comedy, about an FBI agent who impersonates the title character to question a woman (Nia Long) who's been targeted by an escaped convict. "Mrs. Doubtfire" meets "Stakeout," but with far fewer laughs. Running time: 101 minutes. PG-13 (violence, vulgarity, profanity, brief nudity). (Cinemas 5, Sandy 9, Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (June 2, 2000)

BLESS THE CHILD —* 1/2 — A movie about a 6-year-old girl being abducted by Satan worshippers is certainly going to be dark, but must the filmmakers bang us over the head with symbolism? Scowling gargoyles, burning candles and ominous chants dominate the imagery, and try to follow the premise without laughing. Kim Basinger and Jimmy Smits star. Running time: 110 minutes. R (violence, profanity, gore, drug use). (Broadway; Carmike 12; Century; Gateway; Holladay; Jordan Commons; Jordan Landing; Plaza 5400; Redwood, with "What Lies Beneath"; Ritz.) (Aug. 11, 2000) — Christy Lemire, Associated Press

BOYS AND GIRLS — * — An awful, would-be "When Harry Met Sally" for teens, starring Freddie Prinze and Claire Forlani as longtime acquaintances who try to resist falling in love. Painfully unfunny, and even the closing-credits gag isn't worth sticking around for. Running time: 93 minutes. PG-13 (profanity, vulgarity, slapstick violence, brief sex, brief partial nudity). (Sandy 9, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (June 16, 2000)

CENTER STAGE —* 1/2 — One of the most erratic films in recent history, this wanna-be "Fame" for the Britney Spears crowd features great dancing but horrid acting and dialogue so bad that it's hilarious. Dancer Amanda Schull is a dubious new presence, but the person doing real damage to his career is director Nicholas Hytner. Running time: 114 minutes. PG-13 (profanity, vulgarity, partial nudity). (Cinemas 5, Sandy 9, Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (May 12, 2000)

CHICKEN RUN — *** — It's not quite as inspired or as clever as their "Wallace and Gromit" shorts, but this clay-animated comedy-adventure from Aardman Studios is an amusing parody of "The Great Escape," following a henhouse trying to escape from a merciless farm owner. Great sight gags and good voice work (from Mel Gibson, Miranda Richardson and others). Running time: 85 minutes. G (violence). (Holladay, Jordan Commons, Jordan Landing, Midvalley, Ritz, Trolley Square.) (June 23, 2000)

COYOTE UGLY —* 1/2 — Almost entertaining because of its sheer cheesiness, this combination of "Flashdance" and "Cocktail" gets laughs when it's trying to be dramatic and yawns when it's trying to be funny. Bad choice of the idiotically grinning Piper Perabo ("The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle") for the lead role, too. Running time: 94 minutes. PG-13 (profanity, violence, vulgarity, partial nudity). (Carmike 12; Century; Creekside; Gateway; Jordan Commons; Jordan Landing; Midvalley; Redwood, with "Gone in Sixty Seconds"; Ritz; Trolley Square.) (Aug. 4, 2000)

DINOSAUR —** 1/2 — The visuals from Disney's latest, a digitally animated (with live-action backgrounds) prehistoric adventure about the title character, are amazing. But the story's a thin rip-off of "The Land Before Time," and the characters are surprisingly shallow. However, kids will probably eat it up, though some scenes may be too terrifying for really young ones. Running time: 82 minutes. PG (violence). (Plaza 5400.) (May 19, 2000)

DISNEY'S THE KID —* 1/2 — Don't let the title fool you. Instead of a remake of the Charlie Chaplin classic, this is a sappy comedy-fantasy about a self-absorbed image consultant (Bruce Willis), who is visited by his 8-year-old alter-ego (abrasive newcomer Spencer Breslin). Extremely manipulative and unfunny. Running time: 101 minutes. PG (brief violence, mild vulgarity). (Carmike 12, Jordan Landing, Plaza 5400, Ritz, South Towne, Villa.) (July 7, 2000)

FREQUENCY —** 1/2 — This fantasy-thriller has a good setup: Solar flares enable a police officer (Jim Caviezel) to communicate with his long-dead father (Dennis Quaid) by two-way radio. But it bogs down in a bad subplot involving a serial killer and tries to make up for it at the end. Not bad, but it should have been better. Running time: 118 minutes. PG-13 (violence, profanity). (Cinemas 5, Sandy 9, Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (April 28, 2000)

GLADIATOR —*** 1/2 — It might be a notch below such sword-and-sandal greats as "Spartacus," but director Ridley Scott has made a resounding return to form with this dramatic adventure about the title character (Russell Crowe), a once-honored Roman general forced to fight in the arenas while seeking revenge on his former friend (Joaquin Phoenix). Extremely violent, but also thrilling and a real feast for the eyes. Running time: 154 minutes. R (violence, gore, brief nudity, profanity). (Brewvies, must be 21 or older; Jordan Commons.) (May 5, 2000)

GOD'S ARMY — *** — It's of interest mainly to its target audience, LDS moviegoers, but Richard Dutcher's drama about Mormon missionaries in Los Angeles is surprisingly well-made and acted. Admittedly, it does end in a too-conventional "Hollywood" manner, but it's clearly a labor of love for Dutcher and his cast. PG (brief violence, vulgarity, mild profanity). (Kaysville, Sandy 9, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (March 10, 2000)

GONE IN SIXTY SECONDS —* 1/2 — You don't go into a Jerry Bruckheimer production expecting Shakespeare, but this remake of the '70s cult film is dumb even by his standards. And Nicolas Cage gives yet another irritatingly quirky performance as a retired car thief who is forced back into the business to aid his younger brother. Not nearly exciting enough. Running time: 119 minutes. PG-13 (violence, profanity, sex, vulgarity, brief partial nudity). (Jordan Landing; Plaza 5400; Redwood, with "Coyote Ugly.") (June 9, 2000)

HOLLOW MAN —* 1/2 — Some terrific digital effects, but the only purpose they serve in director Paul Verhoeven's latest is giving him an excuse to show naked females and, toward the end, gore. Possibly the summer's biggest disappointment, considering the premise and cast. Running time: 114 minutes. R (violence, profanity, gore, nudity, sex, vulgarity). (Carmike 12; Century; Gateway; Holladay; Jordan Landing; Plaza 5400; Redwood, with "Godzilla 2000"; Ritz; South Towne; Trolley Corners.) (Aug. 4, 2000)

THE IN CROWD —* 1/2 — Only a vaguely techno score and a pansexual central figure distinguishes "The In Crowd" from summer thrillers of years past. However, this impersonal mishmash about obsessions and jealousies that turn deadly best be described as some community theater mix of "Rebecca" and "Caddyshack." Running time: 108 minutes. PG-13 (vulgarity, violence, nudity, profanity, drug use). (Valley Fair.) (July 21, 2000) — Elvis Mitchell, New York Times News Service

KEEPING THE FAITH — ** — Too long for its own good, this romantic comedy is an inauspicious directing debut for Edward Norton, who also stars as a priest squabbling with his best friend, a rabbi (Ben Stiller), for the love of another childhood friend (Jenna Elfman). Too many cheap gags, too. Running time: 129 minutes. PG-13 (vulgarity, sex, violence, profanity, ethnic slurs, nude drawings). (Sugar House.) (April 14, 2000)

ME, MYSELF & IRENE —** 1/2 — Like its main character, the latest comedy from the Farrelly brothers ("There's Something About Mary") is as mean-spirited and cruel as it is funny and sweet. The real selling point is another over-the-top Jim Carrey performance as a mild-mannered cop with multiple personalities, which both fall for the woman (Renee Zellweger) he's supposed to be escorting. Running time: 116 minutes. R (vulgarity, profanity, violence, nudity, gore, racial epithets). (Brewvies, must be 21 or older; South Towne.) (June 23, 2000)

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE II — *** — This sequel to the 1996 smash hit features bigger and better stunts and a much more streamlined storyline. Tom Cruise is a bit aloof in his role as agent Ethan Hunt, who must stop terrorists from unleashing a deadly virus. But co-star Thandie Newton supplies the needed warmth and heat, and the action scenes are spectacular. Running time: 126 minutes. PG-13 (violence, profanity, vulgarity, brief gore). (Brewvies, must be 21 or older; Jordan Commons; Kaysville.) (May 24, 2000)

NUTTY PROFESSOR II: THE KLUMPS —* 1/2 — Even-cruder and much-less-funny sequel to the 1996, which again stars executive producer Eddie Murphy in several roles — including that of Professor Sherman Klump and his monstrous alter-ego Buddy Love, who is accidentally freed by a genetic experiment. The concentration this time is on sex jokes, few of which hit the mark consistently. Running time: 110 minutes. PG-13 (vulgarity, profanity, sex, violence, racial epithets). (Carmike 12; Century; Holladay; Jordan Landing; Midvalley; Redwood, with "X-Men"; Ritz; South Towne; Trolley North; Trolley Square.) (July 28, 2000)

THE PATRIOT —** 1/2 — Sure, it's "Braveheart in the American Revolution," but director Roland Emmerich's latest tries hard to overcome that and a speech-heavy script. Fortunately, he's enlisted Mel Gibson, who stars as a former war hero who reluctantly joins the struggle against the British Army. Too long and extremely violent, but Gibson and Heath Ledger, who co-stars as his son, are very good. Running time: 157 minutes. R (violence, gore). (Jordan Commons, Jordan Landing, Midvalley, Trolley North.) (June 28, 2000)

THE PERFECT STORM — ** — Director Wolfgang Petersen can make just about anything exciting, but he can't bail out this all-star dud (featuring George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Diane Lane) about New England fishermen and rescue workers contending with one of the most destructive storms in history. Some exciting sequences in the second half, but the first half's a snore. Running time: 130 minutes. PG-13 (violence, profanity, gore, vulgarity). (Holladay, Jordan Commons, Jordan Landing, Midvalley.) (June 30, 2000)

POKEMON THE MOVIE 2000 —* 1/2 — It's not as brutally violent as the first "Pokemon" film, but this follow-up is another badly animated piece about Pokemon trainer Ash Ketchum and his pals, who must help restore the balance of nature and stop an evil Pokemon collector. Basically an advertisement for the trading cards and toys, and a real endurance test for adults. Running time: 102 minutes. G (animated violence). (Jordan Commons, Jordan Landing.) (July 21, 2000)

THE REPLACEMENTS — ** — You may think you haven't seen this one before, but trust me, you have. On the surface, the film's premise seems original. But when you get down to it, it's is a retread of an oft-used Hollywood plot, recalling "Major League" and other flicks that bunch crazy personalities together as a team and have them clash before they bond and realize — "Hey, I love you man!" Keanu Reeves, Gene Hackman and Orlando Jones ("MadTV") star. Running time: 114 minutes. PG-13 (profanity, violence, vulgarity). (Carmike 12; Century; Cottonwood; Gateway; Jordan Landing; Midvalley; Redwood, with "Space Cowboys"; Ritz; South Towne; Trolley Corners.) (Aug. 11, 2000) — Nekesa Mumbi Moody, Associated Press

RETURN TO ME — *** — Character actress Bonnie Hunt doesn't need to steal scenes for a change in this charming romantic comedy (which marks her directorial debut) about a man (David Duchovny) who falls in love with the woman (Minnie Driver) who received his dead wife's heart. PG (profanity, gore). The leads are good, and the supporting cast (which also includes Carroll O'Connor and Robert Loggia) is terrific. (Avalon, Kaysville, Midvalley.) (April 7, 2000)

ROAD TRIP — * — As if we needed more reason to dislike "American Pie," this lowbrow sex comedy cops most of the same jokes and makes them even less funny. The cast looks too old, too, especially Breckin Meyer, who stars as a student desperate to retrieve an incriminating videotape that was accidentally mailed to his girlfriend. Running time: 97 minutes. R (vulgarity, sex, nudity, violence, drug use, profanity). (Sugar House.) (May 19, 2000)

SCARY MOVIE —* 1/2 — What's really scary about this wildly uneven, off-the-wall spoof of recent horror movies is that the MPAA let it slip by with just an R rating. A handful of guilty laughs at the beginning, but this Zucker brothers-styled comedy becomes so extremely crude it makes the "South Park" movie and "American Pie" look tame by comparison. Running time: 89 minutes. R (vulgarity, violence, nudity, profanity, sex, drug use, gore, racial epithets). (Century; Holladay; Jordan Landing; Plaza 5400; Redwood, with "The Cell"; Ritz; South Towne.) (July 7, 2000)

SHANGHAI NOON —*** 1/2 — By far the best of Jackie Chan's American film work, this fast-paced comedy-adventure brings him to the Wild West, as he plays a Chinese bodyguard who comes to America to rescue a kidnapped princess (Lucy Liu, from TV's "Ally McBeal"). Great stunts and gags, but Owen Wilson ("Armageddon") steals the show as a gunslinger aiding him. Running time: 110 minutes. PG-13 (violence, profanity, drug use, vulgarity, racial epithets, brief partial nudity). (Cinemas 5, Kaysville, Sandy 9, Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (May 26, 2000)

SMALL TIME CROOKS — *** — Hearkening back to his early, screwball roots, Woody Allen's latest is a surprisingly funny and sweet comedy about the title characters, an ex-con (Allen) and his wife (Tracey Ullman) who scheme to rob a bank. Great gags and performances, and Elaine May steals the show as a ditzy accomplice. Running time: 95 minutes. PG (profanity, nude artwork). (Sandy 9, Sugar House.) (May 19, 2000)

SPACE COWBOYS —** 1/2 — The material begins to fail them, especially toward the end, but veteran actors Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and James Garner still have fun as the title characters, four astronaut washouts who get their chance to go into space — so they can repair a malfunctioning satellite that is threatening to crash to Earth. Running time: 123 minutes. PG-13 (profanity, violence, brief nudity, brief vulgarity). (Broadway; Carmike 12; Century; Cottonwood; Gateway; Jordan Commons; Jordan Landing; Midvalley; Redwood, with "The Replacements"; Ritz.) (Aug. 4, 2000)

SUNSHINE —** 1/2 — Its lessons about the importance cultural identity are well-done, but this epic-length drama from acclaimed filmmaker Istvan Szabo (1981's "Mephisto") is much too long, and it keeps driving the same points home in a rather heavy-handed manner. Still, the acting's quite good, especially from Ralph Fiennes (in three different roles) and Rosemary Harris as the members of a Hungarian Jewish family. Running time: 179 minutes. R (sex, violence, profanity, nudity). (Exclusive, Broadway.) (July 28, 2000)

THOMAS AND THE MAGIC RAILROAD — ** — This lethargic, live-action family film, "starring" characters from the children's television series "Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends," comes too late to capitalize on the success of the show. And real-life co-stars Mara Wilson and Peter Fonda look uncomfortable and/or embarrassed to be there. Not terrible, but certainly a disappointment. Running time: 85 minutes. G (mild violence). (Jordan Commons, Jordan Landing, Trolley North.) (July 26, 2000)

THE TIGGER MOVIE — *** — Not as memorable as the earlier adaptations of A.A. Milne's beloved short stories, but this animated feature is still a charming tale about Tigger's efforts to find out whether he really is the only one of his kind. Good animation, but the real stars are six new songs by longtime Disney songwriters Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman, as well as a great message. G (nothing offensive). (Kaysville.) (Feb. 4, 2000)

TITAN A.E. — ** — Well-animated, but dull and derivative, animated science-fiction thriller about the few remaining Earthlings who are scattered throughout space when the planet is destroyed by invaders. Some good voice work (particularly by Matt Damon), but the one-liners fall flat and there are too many similarities to other sci-fi films. Running time: 95 minutes. PG (violence, gore, brief nudity). (Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (June 16, 2000)

TOY STORY 2 — **** — Contrary to popular belief, sometimes sequels can be every bit as good as the original. Case in point: this very funny follow-up to the 1995 smash hit, which again stars Tom Hanks and Tim Allen as the voices of computer-animated characters Woody and Buzz Lightyear, respectively. Not only is the animation light-years better than that in the original, the story is great, as Buzz and the other toys must rescue Woody from a collector who believes he is a valuable action figure. G (slapstick violence, mild vulgarity). (Sandy 9, Valley Fair.) (Nov. 24, 1999)

U-571 — *** — This World War II thriller shouldn't work — the script's full of holes and it conveniently changes historical fact. Yet it's gripping and suspenseful, and stars Matthew McConaughey and Harvey Keitel help bail it out as the crew of a U.S. Navy submarine posing as the crew of a German U-boat. In English and German, with English subtitles. Running time: 118 minutes. PG-13 (violence, profanity). (Kaysville, Sandy 9, Sugar House.) (April 21, 2000)

WHAT LIES BENEATH — ** — Despite its eerie resemblance to "Rear Window," this supernatural thriller from director Robert Zemeckis starts well. But it basically turns into "Fatal Ghostly Attraction," as a husband and wife (Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer) are haunted by the ghost of his former lover. Too many cheap scares for its own good. Running time: 125 minutes. PG-13 (profanity, violence, sex, gore, brief vulgarity). (Broadway; Carmike 12; Century; Cottonwood; Gateway; Jordan Commons; Jordan Landing; Midvalley; Redwood, with "Bless the Child"; Ritz.) (July 21, 2000)

WHERE THE HEART IS — ** — Despite a great supporting cast (which includes Ashley Judd, Stockard Channing and Joan Cusack) and a few bright moments Billie Letts' best-selling novel gets a surprisingly superficial treatment, and Natalie Portman's not believable as a teen who goes on to greater things after giving birth in a department store. Running time: 120 minutes. PG-13 (profanity, violence, vulgarity, brief sex). (Sugar House.) (April 28, 2000)

X-MEN — *** — Probably the best comic-book-to-film adaptation since the first "Batman" movie, thanks to director Bryan Singer's unique spin on the conflict between the title characters against evil mutants trying to subjugate mankind. Exciting and surprisingly heady, with great performances by Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and newcomer Hugh Jackman. Running time: 103 minutes. PG-13 (violence, partial nudity, vulgarity, brief profanity). (Carmike 12; Century; Creekside; Jordan Landing; Midvalley; Redwood, with "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps"; Ritz; South Towne; Trolley Square.) (July 14, 2000)