Scott Kroopf

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Limitless Review


Excellent
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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Class Action Review


Good
Class Action is solid, well-made, engaging. In case you were wondering, mark that comment down as a positive review with a dash of disappointment. This movie is, very simply, a good story well-told, but it holds the capacity to do much more. There are moments when the film sears straight into the heart and mind, yet others when it clings a little too tightly to the safety of conventional drama.

Gene Hackman and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio go head-to-head as an estranged father and daughter who face off in a high-stakes class action lawsuit. Hackman plays Jedediah Tucker Ward, whose quick wit and dedication to defending the little guy (sometimes to the little guy's peril) has made him a legendary hot-shot attorney. Mastrantonio plays his daughter Maggie, who has never had a good relationship with her father, but who did grow to share his passion for being a lawyer. The one major difference: Jedediah is a man on a mission to topple the world's evil, and Maggie works in defense of that evil. She has just made partner at a flashy firm, and is carrying on an affair with one of her superiors (Colin Friels).

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One Missed Call Review


Unbearable
People are obsessed with cell phones. They talk while shopping for groceries, getting their hair done, even running on treadmills at the gym. Hell, I've seen a person talk on their cell phone while swimming in a pool. With this in mind, it isn't surprising that there's now a horror movie about ghosts traveling through cell phones. Want to witness the exorcism of a cell phone? Behold One Missed Call.

The cell phone-jumping ghost plays by unique rules. Sometimes, it's a physical creature and attacks people like the ghost from The Ring. Other times, it causes fatal freak accidents like the ghost in Final Destination. Often, it finds victims by searching through the former victim's cell phone address book. It gives a few days notice by leaving a post-dated voicemail of the victim's voice right before death. The ghost is kind enough to leave red candies in the deceased's mouth, too.

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Breach Review


Good
Moving briskly from equivocator Stephen Glass to the chairman of the Benedict Arnold Fan Club, Robert Hanssen, director Billy Ray turns his tonal focus from Shattered Glass's journalistic felony to high crime in the intelligence agency. In what seems to be a new trend of cinematically capturing events before they have actually played out, Breach reenacts what is widely accepted as the greatest fracture of FBI security in the history of the organization.

Following possible terrorists and their contacts, Eric O'Neil (Ryan Phillipe) eagerly tries to discuss bureau protocol with his team, only to be ignored and have his well-prepared report on the subject shoved back in his face. That is, until he is dragged into a bureau conference room on a Sunday to meet with his superior and head agent Kate Burroughs (Laura Linney). It's here that O'Neil is asked to shadow Russian intelligence specialist Robert Hanssen (Chris Cooper) for what is originally agreed to be sexually perverse activities. It isn't till O'Neil is taken under wing by the intelligence expert that Burroughs reveals that Hanssen has actually been selling information to the Russians for some time and has cost the government billions of dollars and uncountable agent lives.

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Zathura Review


Terrible
In Zathura, a board game magically comes alive when played, thrusting its participants into a wild adventure through outer space. Based on a children's book by Chris Van Allsburg, Zathura shares a striking resemblance to another Van Allsburg book turned movie called Jumanji. Each film centers on kids who get sucked into oddly-titled-board games gone wild. While the concept works magically on paper, the translation to film has not been so successful. Marginal special effects and a heavy-handed dead-end plot crippled Jumanji. And unfortunately, Zathura suffers from the same problems as its predecessor.

In the film, pre-teen brothers Danny and Walter (Jonah Bobo and Josh Hutcherson) are always at odds with each other. Because Walter is a few years older and more independent, he wants nothing to do with Danny. But Danny is full of energy and desperate for some attention. Yet, everyone else in his broken family is sadly unavailable. Danny's older sister (Kristen Stewart) is too consumed with teenage boys; his dad (Tim Robbins) is too wrapped up with this work; and his mom is only available for selected visitation periods. What Danny wants most is to play with his brother.

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Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure Review


Excellent
The obvious inspirations for Wayne and Garth, Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) first hit history in this witty, winning tale of two modern-day So-Cal misfits who end up travelling through time. The impetus? A future society bases all of its culture on the music Bill and Ted's band, Wyld Stallyns (And notably the phrase, "Be excellent to each other") -- but all of that might never happen if the burnouts don't get their history report done.

Alas, it doesn't look good. Bill and Ted are walking mistakes as it is. They can't pronounce Socrates and believe Caeser was "a salad dressing dude." But their grasp of superlative adjectives like triumphant and gnarly is impressive indeed, so maybe there's hope.

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Runaway Bride Review


Good
Julia Roberts has made a career out of being one of Hollywood's most irresistible glamour dolls. Dress her up in any role and she'll flash that wide smile, deliver her awkward laugh, and expose a peculiar giddiness, which gives her a sense of vulnerability that fans have come to adore. Ever since the Cinderella story Pretty Woman ten years ago that catapulted her career to mega-stardom, her roles have all been typecast around her good looks and charismatic personality (Steel Magnolias and My Best Friend's Wedding). Runaway Bride is no exception to the rule. However, as the old saying goes; if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Runaway Bride brings writer Garry Marshall back together with Roberts, Richard Gere, and memorable Pretty Woman costar Hector Elizondo for another unlikely love story.

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How to Deal Review


Unbearable
You could take a camcorder to the mall, videotape strangers at random, and end up with a better movie than Mandy Moore's How to Deal. Soggy and melodramatic, this mess aims to address the obstacles we encounter en route to romance. But a pessimistic mood causes the picture to drag its feet. Staged without an ounce of genuine sentiment, Deal makes Britney Spears' dismal Crossroads look like Casablanca.

Screenwriter Neena Beber draws inspiration from two separate Sarah Dessen novels, but can't squeeze one decent movie out of the material. In only her second starring role, Moore plays Halley Martin, a disillusioned high schooler learning how to deal with a lifetime's worth of problems. Halley's divorced dad (Peter Gallagher) has a new fiancée, while her mom (Allison Janney) is still coping with the split. Her best friend, Scarlett (Alexandra Holden), is pregnant, and her older sister's pending nuptials appear doomed from the start. Out of the blue, Halley is falling for a detached hunk (Trent Ford) who might be able to convince her that true love exists.

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The Last Samurai Review


Weak
Towards the end of Ed Zwick's The Last Samurai, Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) washes away the memories of his brutal past and clears his path to honor and redemption with these words: "A man does what he can until his destiny is revealed."

No dice. For nearly three hours I did what I could to try to care about where this self-important vanity project was going, and concluded that it is Tom Cruise's destiny to never win an Academy Award.

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Jumanji Review


Weak
If nothing else, Jumanji is the most unfortunately titled film of the year. And if you haven't turned on your television in the last month you may still be among the few who don't know what it means. For the uninitiated, Jumanji is an ancient board game set in the spooky jungle. When the game is played, it causes supernatural things to happen, including the creation of a horde of monkeys, earthquakes, a monsoon (indoors), and a stampede through the suburbs of the New England town in which Jumanji is set.

The story begins some 26 years earlier, when young Alan (Robin Williams) and Sarah (Bonnie Hunt) unearth the game and start playing. On Alan's first move, he finds himself sucked into the game as a prisoner, only to be released when the game is continued in 1995 by Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter (Bradley Michael Pierce). Unfortunately, the ill effects of the game disappear only when it is finished, so the three track down Sarah, who, after years of therapy, has finally come to grips with the shock of seeing Alan vanish, and they continue where they left off.

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Son of the Mask Review


Unbearable
You may have read about film critics who quit because they just can't tolerate the poor quality of the movies they're watching. I'm willing to bet more than a few threw down their notepads, cursed their career choice, and considered graduate school options after watching Son of the Mask.

The long-delayed sequel to the 1994 Jim Carrey hit is a terrible movie. Let's not mince words. It's an awful, unoriginal, infuriating, and endless mess. The always likeable Jamie Kennedy stars as Tom Avery, a struggling animator whose life is in flux. His wife, Tonya (Traylor Howard from TV's Monk), wants a baby badly, but the immature Tom doesn't want that responsibility. He's content to play with his precocious dog, Otis, draw on his sketch pad, and kid around with his tolerant wife.

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Paradise Review


Good
Paradise was supposed to be a star vehicle for Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson -- who were then on something like their eighth marriage and running on star power fumes. This was not exactly Burton and Taylor in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

The couple is not the reason to watch this down home drama; it's the secondary plot that resonates. When you're a kid, there are moments when the curtain gets pulled away from the world you know and reality starts making some unpleasant appearances. That realization is tenderly presented in the performances from a prepubescent Elijah Wood and Thora Birch (Ghost World).

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