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Godzilla 2000

"Godzilla 2000" is the feel-good comedy of the summer, and it may not even mean to be.

With its cheesy special effects, horrendous dialogue and even worse dubbing, "Godzilla 2000" is funnier than "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps," "Me, Myself & Irene" and "Scary Movie" combined.

It's also a welcome return to the monster movies from the Japanese film company Toho, especially after the vapid 1998 computer-graphic remake of "Godzilla."

We are back in familiar territory here.

Takao Okawara, who directed "Godzilla vs. Destroyer," "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla" and the classic "Godzilla vs. Mothra," is at the helm again. Hiroshi Kashiwabara ("Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla") and Wataru Mimura ("Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla") wrote the script, if you can call it that.

Yes, this latest film will satisfy purists. At a recent screening, many in the crowd cheered when the name "Toho" appeared on the screen.

Let's see, how to explain the plot?

Well, Godzilla (Tsutomu Kitagawa in a rubber suit) rises from the ocean, radioactive and angry about something, and stamps across a Japanese city. People scurry and scream.

Then a mysterious rock rises out of the ocean and flies through the air. The rock becomes a UFO. It shoots fire. Godzilla shoots fire. The two square off as stunned Japanese people watch.

An ambitious young news photographer (Naomi Nishida) chases the monster, trying to snap his picture, which makes him angrier. Doesn't she know Godzilla hates flash photography?

And there is the obligatory conflict between the head of the Godzilla Prediction Network (Takehiro Murata), who wants to study the creature, and the leader of the Crisis Control Intelligence Agency (Hiroshi Abe), who wants to destroy Godzilla.

It's not terribly complicated, but you don't watch a "Godzilla" movie to be challenged. You want to laugh at all the bad lines. And with this film, you'll laugh so hard, you'll cry. Among them:

"That sound can only mean one thing — Godzilla."

"If an alien is still alive in there, I want to know about it."

"I can't imagine a life form that could survive 60 million years . . . . Let's just hope it's friendly."

This new "Godzilla," like its predecessors, is a technical mess. It was poorly shot. The audio levels are inconsistent. And there is no rhyme or reason to the editing. Sometimes the monster looks green, sometimes he looks blue, sometimes he looks black, depending on the lighting. But that's much of the film's campy charm.

It's much more fun to watch this "Godzilla" than the high-tech remake starring Matthew Broderick. In that movie, the dialogue was bad, but it was trying to be good. And you couldn't even see the multimillion-dollar, computer-generated creature, because it was constantly obscured by mist and rain.

Here, you can see Godzilla in broad daylight, in all his scaly glory. And he almost looks as if he's smiling!

If you've never seen a "Godzilla" movie in a theater, go see this one. It is much more fun watching a film filled with bad special effects on a big screen with a crowd of people, than sitting home alone on a rainy Saturday afternoon and watching it on television.

"Godzilla 2000" is rated PG for monster violence and mild language. Running time: 97 minutes.