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Turn It Up Review

How would you like to be elected king for a day? The enormously talented Ice Cube paved the way for chart-topping rap stars to become media moguls, running his own music and film production company. His explosive talent and shrewd business sense made his success look easy. Wow! Anyone can do this! The market soon became flooded with rap artists vying for movie stardom, not to mention creative control. Most of the stories revolve around familiar "urban gangsta" elements such as tough-talking badasses with flashy threads, fast cars, nickel-plated revolvers and beautiful hoochie-mamas. In sum, well-photographed vanity projects that make the stars feel cool.

Case in point: international sensation Pras co-produced and stars in Turn It Up. It's about, what else, a young man's struggle to escape his life of crime. Redemption is the order of the day. Diamond (Pras) is a talented hip-hop performer who harbors big dreams of cutting his own record, but can't afford the inflated costs of studio time. His mercurial loose cannon of a best friend, Gage (Billboard chart-topper Ja Rule), wants to lend a helping hand, stealing $10,000 from an ill-fated drug runner. Unfortunately, the money financing Diamond's career belongs to a vicious British gangster (Jason Stratham, Snatch, good even when he's coasting) who suddenly takes an interest in stealing the rights to Diamond's record. Things sure are heating up around here.

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My Baby's Daddy Review

As I took that long, dark drive home from the multiplex after watching My Baby's Daddy, all I thought about was Raging Bull. Well, actually one scene, after boxer Jake LaMotta (Robert De Niro) has had the crap beaten out of him by Sugar Ray Robinson. As LaMotta, bruised and bleeding, exits the ring, he shouts to Robinson, "You didn't get me down, Ray!"

No quote better captures the excruciating experience of watching, or rather surviving, My Baby's Daddy. It's stupid and pointless. It's vulgar and crass without being remotely funny. It's racist and creepy, with a streak of sentimentality that's as genuine as a con man's handshake. It's full of more clichés than TV Land's primetime lineup. Writing a review is almost pointless, because anything I write will sound like a warning screamed from the rooftop.

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Searching For Debra Winger Review

It's either sad or interesting or -- something -- when the only man in a movie is Roger Ebert. Rosanna Arquette, tired of hearing that old aphorism that there are no good parts for women in Hollywood, takes up a video camera and records interviews with some three dozen actresses at various ages. (The title invokes Debra Winger's recent retirement and reclusiveness -- though since this film she returned to the cinema.)

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Kiss Of The Dragon Review

Wham, bam, thank you ma'am! Jet Li has finally returned to prime ass-kicking form in his latest kung fu extravaganza Kiss of the Dragon.

Jet Li -- one of the most popular stars in Asia rivaling Jackie Chan and Chow Yun-Fat -- has had an impressive string of over 25 films under his belt in his two decades of kung fu prowess and strong acting turns. But after two dismal attempts at winning over American audiences with a small villain role in Lethal Weapon 4 and the horrendous Joel Silver monstrosity Romeo Must Die, it was looking pretty grim for this mighty warrior. So, Li read the e-mails from his fans, taking their compliments and complaints via his web site.

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Life Without Dick Review

Cute and quirky hitman/romance/comedy Life Without Dick has current it-girl Sarah Jessica Parker proving again that her acting range is pretty limited and Harry Connick Jr. showing that even if he does have some acting chops he still likes to sing at least one song in every movie he's in. The plot is complicated -- with Parker accidentally killing her boyfriend (Johnny Knoxville, ugh) after mistakenly assuming he's cheating on her. An incompetent hitman (Connick) falls in love with her, eventually figuring out she's a much better hit-person than he is. Silly but fun and quite watchable.
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