Writer-director John Singleton was only 23 when Boyz hit the big screen in 1991, and if the intervening years have brought anything into sharper focus, it's his immaturity as a writer. Boyz is a sledgehammer of a film -- powerful, but hardly subtle. Singleton centers his story on the character of Tré Styles, who's about 11 in the opening sequence. After Tré gets into a fight at school, he's taken to live with his father, Furious (Laurence Fishburne), who has a better shot at teaching him how to be a man than his mother (Angela Bassett) does. Tré's best friends are Doughboy -- a tough, pudgy, troublemaking little kid -- and Ricky -- Doughboy's good-looking, athletic younger brother. As the sequence winds to a close, Furious' paternal influence keeps Tré out of trouble while the fatherless Doughboy ends up being arrested for shoplifting.
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One look at Dewey (Black) and you can figure out the problems plaguing this bloated burnout. He's broke and jobless. His heavy metal bandmates kick him out after a botched gig. And his roommate and long-time friend Ned (White, pulling double duty) threatens him with eviction unless he can provide some rent money. When a snooty prep school calls Ned with a substitute teaching position, Dewey assumes his roommate's identity and takes over a classroom of eager young minds.
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Spawned by the evil pen of Paul Rudnick, Marci X is about Marci (Lisa Kudrow), the rich daughter of a billionaire media tycoon who has to rescue the family empire from a boycott against rapper Dr. S (Damon Wayans, frighteningly unfunny), who's on a Death Row-esque record label owned by Marci's daddy. It all starts with Marci's dad getting a heart attack after receiving word of the boycott - led by Christine Baranski in yet another of her humorless harridan roles - and having to convalesce for a couple weeks. Marci then goes, with her three debutante friends, of course, to a Dr. S concert in order to plead with him to apologize for his profane lyrics, end the controversy, and end daddy's stress.
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The title is evidently the former, though the movie is hardly the overwrought mess that I'd expected to see (for example: Message in a Bottle). Instead, The Deep End of the Ocean is a surprisingly thoughtful and laconic character study, full of nuance and genuine emotion, largely driven by Pfeiffer's unraveling character Beth. The well-known plot involves the sudden disappearance of Beth's 2 year-old son Ben, who vanishes while she is visiting Chicago. Nine agonizing years later, a kid who can only be Ben shows up -- as Sam, a neighbor's boy who wants to mow the lawn. Sure enough, it's him, but he doesn't remember his family,
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