Mary Gross

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Club Paradise Review


Terrible
Before "celebrity" reality shows, ensemble comedies were the lifelines that kept failing showbiz careers from bottoming out. This subgenre was like a post-Thanksgiving meal concocted of small quantities of disparate leftovers. It was never particularly good, but if one dish didn't taste good, at least you had a dozen other Tupperwares to open.

Club Paradise is a prototypical specimen, starring a dozen actors in career lulls, including Mork, Twiggy, a gaggle of Second City vets, Jimmy Cliff, and even Lawrence of Friggin' Arabia. A word of warning: these leftovers are rotten.

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The Santa Clause Review


Good
Attempting to bring the Christmas movie into the 1990s, Disney enlisted drug offender and raunchy stand-up Tim Allen to play Santa Claus based on the strength of his TV show Home Improvement. Funny then that The Santa Clause would indeed become a minor classic of the genre considering its iffy pedigree.

Credit that to a clever script that has Santa falling from a roof on Christmas Eve (and presumably dying in the process -- be ready to explain that to the kids) and Allen's Scott taking up his job after donning the Santa suit. Scott then has a year to prepare to take over the job full time. This mainly works out to Scott's putting on a ton of weight and growing a Santa-style beard, all the while denying he is becoming Mr. Claus.

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40 Days & 40 Nights Review


OK

One of the more gratifying feelings a movie critic can have is the feeling of going into a picture expecting tiresome clichés of an overplayed genre, only to discover delightfully surprising freshness and soul where all the hackneyed conventions usually are.

"40 Days and 40 Nights" is such a movie. Misleadingly marketed as just another misogynistic romp through the young male libido, this often ribald comedy about a frustrated 20-something giving up sex for Lent is what the puerile, simplistic "American Pie," "Tomcats" and "Saving Silverman" might have been, had they been made by people with imagination and wit.

Directed by Michael Lehmann -- the man behind the twisted teen angst and irony of the subversive '80s cult hit "Heathers" -- "40 Days" finds many new and inventive ways to make sexual frustration funny.

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