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Amelia Review


Grim
This terrific true story has been so overproduced that there's virtually no life left in it. Even though every frame looks exquisite, not one scene rings true because the filmmakers leave all humour and passion off the screen.

In 1928, Amelia Earhart (Swank) bursts onto the dawning aviation scene as a confident pilot giving men a run for their money. Quickly snapped up by promoter George Putman (Gere), her aerial achievements instantly grab media attention. Reluctantly agreeing to marry George if she can keep her independence, she works rather too closely with the government's first aviation chief Gene Vidal (McGregor). And then in 1937 she sets off to fly around the world with navigator Fred Noonan (Eccleston).

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My Best Friend's Wedding Review


Good
An out-and-out blatant chick flick from the first frame on, My Best Friend's Wedding will be as enjoyable to its female patrons as it is frustrating to its male ones. Yes, Julia Roberts is back, and in fine form -- playing Julianne, the bad girl, against Cameron Diaz's squeaky-clean bride-to-be (Kim). The best friend in question is Michael (Dermot Mulroney), Roberts's long-time confidant. When Michael reveals his imminent marriage, Julianne develops a jealousy to be reckoned with, and makes it her life's work to break up the couple.

In addition to its problems with alienating male viewers, the real flaw in My Best Friend's Wedding is the lack of chemistry between the Mulroney and Roberts. While I'd probably be a little shy smooching on Julia, hey, that's no excuse for a seasoned pro. Then there's also the minor detail that the trailer tells the story better than the film -- leaving some gaping plot holes -- but who's quibbling? Roberts is the one to watch here, along with Rupert Everett as her gay editor and co-conspirator in this mess. It's really these two that make this picture fun -- and funny. And it's in Wedding's fall-down funny moments that the picture really shines.

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How Stella Got Her Groove Back Review


Grim
While admittedly I am not the target audience for this film, it would seem that all an older woman needs to do to get her Groove back is sleep with a younger man. What could've been The Graduate from Mrs. Robinson's point of view is instead a snickering, boring, and utterly predictable movie that runs over two hours. Also wins a prize for most overuse of the phrase "Don't go there" (4 times in the first 50 minutes, at least). Goldberg saves the picture from complete inanity.

The Joy Luck Club Review


Excellent
SCENE: Two guys shooting baskets at a basketball court. The conversation is mundane, until GUY #1 starts talking about movies.

GUY #1: I don't know how he doesn't sleep with Famke Janssen in that movie, it's friggin' mystifying to me. She's all legs and hair.

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Sleeping with the Enemy Review


Grim
Sleeping with the Enemy made over $100 million in 1991, and you can bet every penny came from the presence of Julia Roberts. This was when she was truly America's sweetheart thanks to that smile, that hair and a winning performance in Pretty Woman. At that time, you could have put her in a movie with a Sweathog and Scott Baio and it would have topped $85 million.

When I was 13 and first saw Sleeping with the Enemy I was under that spell, like every other heterosexual male in America. Having recently watched it again, I realize how duped I was.

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Black Widow Review


Weak
The grand dame of Lifetime-class "women's thrillers," Black Widow is both obvious (dig the title and try to figure out the plot -- Theresa Russell's the black widow; Debra Winger is the FBI agent hot on her tail!) and hopelessly dated (good lord, what's with Winger's hair?). Today, Widow is interesting as kitsch and camp and because poor Dennis Hopper is in it. Check it out next time it's on the WE network.

Rain Man Review


Essential
Do you know about "high level" autistic people? They are amazingly intelligent. They can carry on conversations, memorize phone books, follow schedules, recite statistics, calculate square roots, and count the number of toothpicks spilled on the floor in just a few seconds. But they can't think abstractly -- they can't tell you the price of a car in comparison to the price of a candy bar. Also, they get rather disturbed when someone interrupts their routine.

Raymond Babbitt (Dustin Hoffman) is a "high level" autistic man living in a mental hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. When his father dies, he inherits $3 million, much to his brother's dismay. Raymond's brother, Charlie (Tom Cruise), never knew about him. He was very angry to hear that their estranged father left everything to Raymond except for a 1949 Buick Roadmaster. Charlie leaves his shaky car business in Los Angeles and travels to Ohio to find out where his father's estate went. When Charlie discovers Raymond, he decides to abduct him and bring him back to his home in L.A. until he gets his share of the money.

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Snow Falling on Cedars Review


Weak
The transformation of an intricate novel into a successful film can be a daunting task. Filmmakers must effectively generate symbolism and imagery onto the screen, instead of allowing the readers to interpret it for themselves. That's why people are always saying that a movie was never as good as the book.

Unfortunately, Snow Falling on Cedars, directed by Scott Hicks (Shine), is a prime example of an unsuccessful interpretation of a tremendous novel.

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Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights Review


Terrible
In the middle of the lousy Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, Patrick Swayze makes an appearance as a hotel dance instructor. At first, I laughed like mad over this kitschy connection: Swayze! This was tremendous. Were more Dirty Dancing alumni going to appear? Was Cynthia Rhodes going to pop up as a chorus girl? Jennifer Grey as a lifeguard?

However, as a still agile Swayze danced with the new movie's star, Romola Garai, it dawned on me: The new movie needed Swayze, or rather his hunky heir. Part of what made the original Dirty Dancing so appealing was Swayze's presence. Physically, you couldn't take your eyes off him, and he had a cool, aloof sex appeal that set up good girl Grey to fall madly in love with him. And Grey did a masterful job falling for his charms, slowly and assuredly.

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Stepmom Review


Terrible
One of the worst atrocities of American cinema in recent memory, here we get a one-two punch from two women (Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts) who really should have known better. The setup: Ed Harris is leaving his dried-up wife for a younger dish (see if you can guess who plays who), but mom won't leave well enough alone after she discovers stepmom is incompetent. A cancer diagnosis ensues, but there'll be lots of singing and cleansing tears before the funeral. Shiver. Just thinking about this story makes us throw up in our mouths a little bit. Chris Columbus's most notorious work.

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