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Muppets From Space Review


OK
Many critics will disagree with me, but I'm of the opinion that the Muppets, as characters, can do no wrong. Each Muppet has well-developed, quirky traits that make people of all ages love them. And that is what saved this film.

Unlike most of the other Muppet films, our featured star in this particular one is Gonzo. As we all know, Gonzo is a "Whatever", but this explanation of his species is no longer good enough for the long-nosed freak. He longs for family, and the satisfaction of knowing what he is. Then no sooner than you can say, "Wakka-Wakka", Gonzo's origins begin to reveal themselves. And they do this, ever so appropriately, through his breakfast cereal (well I thought it was funny).

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Batman & Robin Review


Unbearable
This fourth episode in the Batman series isn't a movie so much as a theme park. It wasn't scripted so much as run through the Hollywood script mill, where every line of dialogue is reduced to a catchphrase. "Allow me to break the ice," says Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger), "My name is Freeze. Learn it well. For it's the chilling sound of your doom." That groaner is representative of pretty much every line of Batman's arch-nemesis. He later posits such zingers as, "Tonight, hell freezes over!" and "You're not sending me to the cooler!" This is not character development so much as paint-by-numbers screenwriting, where you can imagine the gang sitting around wondering what incorrigible pun they'll come up with next.

Tim Burton's first two Batman films were all about this nerd auteur playing with a gigantic train set, so even though the stories were threadbare and superficial, at least Burton brought a highly stylized pop Gothic look. Jack Nicholson hammed it up nicely as the Joker and Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman was an unforgettably sexy femme fatale who was able to hold her own in a power struggle with the caped crusader. Say what you will, the films had their moments, and even miscast Michael Keaton was an enjoyable wild card.

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Brewster's Millions Review


OK
A guilty pleasure from my childhood, Brewster's Millions is based on an ancient novel. In fact, it's at least the fifth adaptation of the old novel by the same name -- only the spending money is more and more each time.

What money is that? Oh, just $30 million, left to Montgomery Brewster (Richard Pryor) by his sole relative. The catch? The real inheritance is $300 million -- and if Monty wants it, he has to spend the $30 million in 30 days, and at the end of that time he can't have any assets to show for it. Oh, and he can't tell anyone what's going on, either.

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The Falcon and the Snowman Review


Excellent
Underseen (and true) spy drama set in the early 1970s, The Falcon and the Snowman tells the perplexing tale of Christopher Boyce (Hutton), a low-level document controller who filtered reams of material to the Soviet Union. His mistake? Using his coked-up drug pusher buddy (Penn) as his bagman. As Penn's character falls apart, so does the plan. And in a way, so does the film. While most of Falcon is great, some of it drags and doesn't make sense. Still, you do get to hear a bit about Boyce's motivation: His conscience, which told him to expose the CIA for some of its more nefarious and off-topic activities. A good companion piece to better-known thrillers of the era like All the President's Men.

Sudden Impact Review


Weak
The fourth installment in the Dirty Harry series (7 years after the third) has the unlikely tale of Eastwood's Callahan after a murderous woman bend on revenge against the men who raped her and her sister 10 years earlier. Features the first appearance of "Go ahead, make my day." Also note that the movie was later aped as Basic Instinct, right down to the San Francisco setting.

Batman Forever Review


Grim
Batman's reins have been turned over from director Tim Burton (now producing) to Joel Schumacher, from lead Michael Keaton to Val Kilmer, and from an old, baroque Gotham to a heavily stylized, kiddie-pop city.

A lot can be said for the idea that the setting of a picture thoroughly controls its tone. What we Batman Forever is an attempt to make Gotham more like Los Angeles, full of neon, black lights, and people sporting primary-color wigs. Unfortunately, something has been lost in translation.

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A Thousand Acres Review


Terrible
This adaptation (read: poor imitation) of Shakespeare's King Lear sports Michelle Pfeiffer, Jessica Lange, and Jennifer Jason Leigh as the three twisted sisters of ailing king Jason Robards -- only this time the kind is a farmer with a whopping 1000 acres. Parcelling the property becomes a headache thanks to Leigh's ungrateful bitch of a daughter, and soon enough a legal battle ensues... not to mention accusations of abuse, alcoholism, and every other hot-button sin you could name. No one is good in this movie. Everyone plays a variation on the annoying sad sack -- Pfeiffer probably being the worst of all. I don't know anything to redeem the movie except for an understated performance from Leigh -- unless you're into masochism. Avoid.

Norma Rae Review


Good
Sally Field made us like her, really like her, as the scrappy, titular star of this unionization drama, the true story of a poor textile worker who rallies the troops to vote in the union at her plant. Now awfully dated and more than a little one-sided, Norma Rae is a fine showcase for Field's prodigious acting talents, but it's hardly the classic it's often surmised to be.

Splendor in the Grass Review


OK
You only get one chance to see the words "and introducing Warren Beatty," and that's in Splendor in the Grass, Elia Kazan's sprawling love story about tortured teens (Natalie Wood and Beatty) who drift together and apart and together and apart through the 1920s and 1930s. This flip-side of Rebel Without a Cause is really Wood's movie altogether, though a really down and droll last act weakens her emotional tour de force in the first half substantially. Watchable but not great.

Muppets From Space Review


OK

The thing I've always liked best about Muppet movies isall the pop culture sight gags that send adults laughing over the backsof their chairs while the kids sitting next to them just giggle at theMuppets because they're the Muppets.

"Muppets From Space" has more of these over-the- heads- of- babes gags than any of its predecessors, and while thestory -- about hook-nosed, species-unknown Gonzo searching the stars forhis origins -- only moves forward in clumsy fits and starts, when the plotstalls out, the gaps are filled with funny, funny stuff.

After opening credits accompanied by a laughably ominousspace opera score, the story begins with a dream sequence in which Gonzois turned away from Noah's Ark because there's only one of him. As therain starts pouring down, Noah (F. Murray Abraham in a cameo) hands hima small umbrella and wishes him luck.

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