Donna Arkoff Roth

Donna Arkoff Roth

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The Haunting (1999) Review


Terrible
Some houses should never be visited. And some movies should never be remade. The Haunting represents both of those tenets.

A loose remake of the 1963 Haunting, this version gives us a creepy haunted house and four hapless people to populate it. Chief among them is Eleanor (Taylor), a real wacko who believes there are children's spirits in the house that speak to her. And she's right! Wow, original! And hey kids, the sexy Zeta-Jones plays a bisexual in the movie! Oooooh, scandalous! (Sarcasm, people.)

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13 Going On 30 Review


Good
If 13 Going On 30 had feet, they'd never touch the ground. The effervescent retro romance opens with the jingly strokes of an '80s pop synthesizer and races through the best of Rick Springfield ("Jesse's Girl"), Michael Jackson ("Thriller"), and The Go-Go's ("Head Over Heels") in five minutes flat. Either you're tapping your feet right now or running for the hills. The toe-tappers, obviously, will have a better time at this one.

In 1987, gawky teen Jenna can't see the girl-next-door beauty that exists beyond her braces. She keeps best friend Matty - her pudgy and unbearably sweet admirer - at arm's length. After a major disappointment involving a rigged game of "Seven Minutes in Heaven" at her 13th birthday party, Jenna makes a fateful wish to be older. With the help of some potent fairy dust, 13-year-old Jenna becomes 30-year-old Jenna (Garner), a Manhattan magazine editor pushing copy for Poise, a struggling fashion rag.

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Forces of Nature Review


Good
Any time you go to see a romantic comedy with big budget stars and a promo tagline like, "He went from the eye of the storm into the arms of a hurricane," you have to be a little scared. After all, for every When Harry Met Sally..., there are a dozen While You Were Sleeping's, and the worst part is that the bad ones always seem to make more money.

Surprisingly, my fears about sitting through Forces of Nature were unfounded and alleviated pretty quickly. Forces of Nature is basically Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, except that John Candy has been replaced with Sandra Bullock, Steve Martin is now Ben Affleck on his way to get married, and instead of hating his travelling companion, Ben is falling in love with her. With a set-up like this, you have to be especially worried, because Hollywood thrives on taking totally unrealistic premises and turning them into trite, sentimental, and naive romantic comedies with unrealistic happy endings. The reason this romantic comedy is pulled off, despite such an unrealistic premise though, is that the plot is actually somewhat darker an more honest than that of you typical popcorn movie. Additionally, the more unrealistic moments are played for laughs and not tears.

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Grosse Pointe Blank Review


OK
John Cusack returns to film after a string of disappointments (City Hall, Money For Nothing) with... yet another disappointment! Grosse Pointe Blank is full of possibilities (a great hook, a sharp cast, and a wry cynicism that is shamefully lacking from film these days) but comes up short on all sides. As Martin Blank, Cusack had the chance to portray a hitman coming to terms with his own mortality on the eve of his high school reunion. And while he performs with characteristic charm and sly sarcasm, as do his compatriots (including Joan Cusack, Jeremy Piven, and the object of his affection Minnie Driver), it's the blown opportunities for hit-it-home funniness that really make the whole experience somewhat lackluster. Apart from that, Grosse Pointe Blank is really a poorly made movie on a technical level. Editing, cinematography, and continuity are all just plain bad, and together they give the impression of an amateurish rush job, despite the fact that the film is already dated (taking place in 1996). Let's hope Romy and Michele have more to offer next week....

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