Leslie Dixon

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Limitless Review

Despite a rather incomplete premise, this sleek thriller barrels full-steam through its plot. It's involving and entertaining, and sometimes even thought-provoking. And it gives Cooper a role that perfectly uses his skills as an actor.

Plagued by writer's block, Eddie (Cooper) has become a scruffy loser, which prompts high-flying girlfriend Lindy (Cornish) to dump him. Then his drug-dealing ex-brother-in-law (Whitworth) offers him a clear pill called NZT that lets him access all of his brain. Suddenly, words flow freely and his mind races ahead, learning languages (the better for bedding beautiful women) and working the stock market. But his moneymaking schemes put him in league with both a nasty Russian loanshark (Howard) and a fat-cat businessman (De Niro), just as NZT's dark side-effects kick in.

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Mrs. Doubtfire Review

What was the last Robin Williams comedy that anyone was excited about? Williams wore out his welcome about the time he and pal Billy Crystal made the unbearable Father's Day in 1997. About Williams in that movie, Robert Ebert expressed it best: "He's getting to be like the goofy uncle who knows one corny parlor trick and insists on performing it at every family gathering."

When Williams was good--let's say 1982 to 1994 -- the results were oftentimes spectacular, such as 1993's Mrs. Doubtfire, when his cleverness and comic timing transcended the saccharine boundaries of the typical family film and made it legitimately funny. For younger readers looking for a relatively contemporary comparison, Will Ferrell did the same thing in Elf.

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The Heartbreak Kid (2007) Review

While sibling filmmakers Bobby and Peter Farrelly have done enough over the years to sustain their joint career -- which, in this fickle industry, should be lauded -- the two have never come close to duplicating the monumental success of their 1998 hit There's Something About Mary.

Perhaps a reunion with Ben Stiller rekindled a little of that Farrelly fire. because The Heartbreak Kid, a remake of the Charles Grodin-Cybill Shepherd comedy from 1972, is the brothers' most deliberate effort to recapture that Mary magic.

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Hairspray (2007) Review

As Hairspray opens, director Adam Shankman's camera parts the clouds and peers down from the heavens on beautiful Baltimore. A star is born. Maryland's blue-collar port city deserves top billing in the Hairspray credits, for it is as much a central character to the story as John Travolta's portly and protective housewife or Michelle Pfeiffer's catty television producer.

Immediately, the music kicks in. The day-to-day sounds of the bustling town melt with Marc Shaiman's infectious doo-wop score and the camera swoops toward the modest bedroom of typical teen Tracy Turnblad, who is played to perfection by newcomer Nikky Blonsky. Another star is born. But though the angle may descend rapidly, Shankman's movie remains airborne for two full hours, bolstered by the incomparable high that accompanies the raucous joy of musical rebellion.

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Freaky Friday (2003) Review

On the surface, Freaky Friday has all the signs of being awful -- horrible trailer, atrocious poster (Jamie Lee Curtis dressed like a middle-aged Avril Lavigne), and the presence of Mark Harmon. I don't mean to disparage Harmon, whom I actually think is a solid, reliable actor. It's just that since the late 1980s, the moviegoing public has inexplicably and repeatedly rejected him like snobby prom queens.

Plus, it's a Disney live-action movie. Need I say more?

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Just Like Heaven Review

Ah death - so hilarious. If not for the neo-glow cinematography and jangly pop soundtrack, one could almost mistake Just Like Heaven as a potentially morbid downer. The story starts with a car crash, follows with an impromptu haunting, and then introduces a sad sack crippled by his depression. Are we laughing yet?

Heaven actually softens the blow by refining its cute idea about two souls needing a connection. One of them just happens to be a widow and the other a ghost. The former, David Abbott (Mark Ruffalo), lost his wife and hasn't been able to recover from the shock. The latter, Elizabeth Martinson (Reese Witherspoon), was a workaholic doctor who was the victim in the aforementioned car accident. When he moves in to her newly available San Francisco flat, David discovers Elizabeth's restless spirit around every corner, and the two set out to learn why her soul is trapped in limbo.

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The Thomas Crown Affair (1999) Review

Ah, the perils of being a billionaire these days. Million dollar mergers, on-site tailors, gourmet meals every night... and the thrill of stealing priceless works of art just to see if you can get away with it.

If you can relate to this heady premise, you'll love The Thomas Crown Affair. A loose remake of the 1968 Thomas Crown Affair, this version pits Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo against each other in a game of cat-and-cat. Brosnan is Thomas Crown, an uber-wealthy NYC tycoon with an art fetish. Russo is Catherine Banning, a semi-rogue insurance investigator who instantly pegs Crown as the thief when the local Monet goes missing.

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Pay It Forward Review

The very idea behind Pay It Forward -- that when someone does an enormous good deed for you should pay it "forward" to three other, unsuspecting persons -- requires what is described in the film as "an extreme act of faith in the goodness of people."

It's safe to say that your enjoyment of the film is bound by this same rule. Dyed-in-the-wool film critics like myself have been down this road once or twice before, and the enormous leap of faith it takes to convince oneself that, deep down, even "bad" people are good makes me want to reach for my DVD of A Clockwork Orange.

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The Next Best Thing Review

Can it really have been two long years since The Object of My Affection made us laugh and cry with its tale of two best friends (an unlucky in love gal and her gay male roommate) and how they decide to have a baby together? Er... so we didn't laugh. And we didn't cry. And The Next Best Thing takes us there once again, with an even lamer attempt at making "The Oddest Couple Has a Baby."

Fortunately, The Next Best Thing covers very different ground than Affection. Unfortunately, that ground turns out to be providing a platform for Madonna to sing, to show off her yoga skills, and To Show You How Much She Can E-Mote During Her Di-A-Logue, all while affecting a slight (yet very pretentious) British accent. Get outta the way, people, Madonna's gonna act!!! And it isn't going to be pretty. (See also: Evita.)

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