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Movie Picks

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*Billy Elliot (R)

The plot of this film is nothing really new, clichd even: young-child-overcomes-parental-disapproval-to-follow-his-true-dreams-to-the-point-of-melodrama. But Billy Elliot manages to really shine through some tough spots with a combination of fine acting, terrific cinematography and a deep respect for the inner lives of the mute masculine characters. Jamie Bell, who plays Billy, is a somewhat gangly child on the cusp of adolescence. Opposite him are a cast of adults whose lives have all turned out for the worse, and in each, the actors convey the sorrow and the panic of adult lives out of control. This is, in large part, a film about class, about how a middle-class woman helps a working-class boy get out of his tough situation, about how working-class men are forced to cope with their lives, about the redemption of masculinity through work and art. A must-see. See full review. -- AL
Kimball's Twin Peak

Bounce (PG-13)

So why do you suppose a smart writer/director like Don Roos (The Opposite of Sex) would rehash this well-worn plot of secrets and love? I suppose if he had something new to say on the theme, it might make sense. Unfortunately, Bounce doesn't fit the bill. Perhaps Roos couldn't resist casting Ben Affleck as a callous advertising executive who casually gives his boarding pass to a young writer, then is stricken with guilt when the plane crashes, killing all aboard. Perhaps Roos was smitten by the vulnerability of Gwyneth Paltrow, the grieving widow of the downed writer who, a year after the crash, is trying to make it as a real-estate broker when Affleck seeks her out to make amends. What we have before us is a perfectly passable movie with no spring in its step. The characters are flat, the relationships predictable, and while it covers all the plot bases, it plumbs no new depths. See full review. -- AL
Chapel Hills; Tinseltown; Cinemark 16

Bring It On (PG-13)

With one foot firmly planted in the sexed-up teen genre, Bring It On is a perky and often hilarious take on the world of competitive cheerleading. Adorable dimpled blonde Kirsten Dunst is Torrance, the head cheerleader of the Toros -- five-time national cheerleading champions whose prized routines have been ripped off from an inner-city squad from L.A., the fabulous Clovers. Coming up with a new routine in time for the nationals provides the central conflict of the movie, but the peculiar brand of adolescent sexiness native to cheerleaders dominates the film. The cheering is terrific, the teen-speak dialogue relentless, the camera moves supple and graceful, and the climax is sweet and satisfying. See full review. -- KCE
Silver Cinemas

Charlie's Angels (PG-13)

A strange and oddly enjoyable hybrid directed by a video director named McG, this Charlie's Angels is no television throwback, but a tongue-in-cheek, over-the-top female martial arts fantasy in which every uttered word is a sexual innuendo -- and a funny one at that. Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore are utterly engaging as three gorgeous chicks with all the usual hangups who just happen to also be secret agents capable of dismantling the high-tech world's most sophisticated security system. Don't worry about the plot; it doesn't matter. All that matters is the pace and the ass-kicking which are both non-stop, cleverly filmed and arresting in a very Jackie Chan-ish manner. Diaz, in particular, shows terrific comic flair. -- KCE
Chapel Hills; Tinseltown; Gold Hill Theaters; Cinemark 16

Lost Souls (R)

Lost Souls follows former exorcism survivor Maya Larkin (Winona Ryder) on a cigarette-smoking, coffee-drinking, Satan-hunting bender. There are lots of oblique references toward lurking evil that Director Janusz Kaminski applies to mask the lack of action on the screen, but watching Lost Souls is boring. You might be able to have a little fun picking out all of the stolen little plot threads from other horror films, but that still won't make up for the tedium this movie will inflict. -- Cole Smithy
Silver Cinemas

Lucky Numbers (R)

An inexplicable mess from the ever-marketable director Nora Ephron (Sleepless in Seattle), starring big box office draws John Travolta and Lisa Kudrow. Lucky Numbers is the droll telling of a bungled Lotto scheme involving a popular television weatherman (Travolta), the station's Lotto girl (Kudrow) and a cast of eccentric, small town supporting characters. Travolta is completely engaging and Kudrow's hard-hearted, ruthless ambition makes for a compelling screen presence. However, the sight of the microphone dangling from a boom and not edited out of half the film is, to say the least, distracting. The editing, too, is jolting and confusing. Bill Pullman makes a surprise appearance about two-thirds of the way into the movie and becomes a major character, leaving the viewer to feel that his earlier entry must have been accidentally left on the cutting room floor. If Ephron thought the stars' drawing power would be enough to compensate for lesser production quality, she was wrong. Lucky Numbers is an unfortunate disappointment. -- KCE
Silver Cinemas

*Meet the Parents (PG-13)

Within the framework of what, on the surface, looks like a typical family comedy lurks a biting satire on the empty material satisfactions of WASP existence in America. Ben Stiller is the unfortunately named Gaylord "Greg" Focker, a Jewish male nurse who immediately unravels when he has to meet the parents of his girlfriend Pam (Teri Polo) -- a blonde with an Oyster Bay pedigree. Robert DeNiro gives a pitch perfect performance as Daddy Dearest for whom no suitor of his precious Pammy will ever measure up. Uproarious scenes of physical comic chaos meld with an interesting perspective on the untruths we tell to make ourselves look better in this ultimately sweet and very funny film. Owen Wilson turns in a killer appearance as Pam's too perfect, but lonely, ex-fianc Kevin. Stiller and DeNiro spar with graceful comic ease, and ultra-suburbia has rarely been drawn more convincingly. -- KCE
Chapel Hills; Tinseltown; Cinemark 16

*Men of Honor (PG-13)

Finally, after a long stretch of mediocre comedies, Robert DeNiro returns to dramatic acting as Billy Sunday, a racist master chief Navy diver in charge of training Navy salvage mates at a facility in Bayonne, N.J. Academy Award-winner Cuba Gooding Jr. (Jerry Maguire) gives a solid performance as Carl Brashear, the first African American to be accepted into diving program in the newly integrated 1950s Navy. Loosely based on the story of Carl Brashear's life, Men of Honor overshoots its mark, working harder than it needs in making a point of Brashear's tireless diligence and sense of honor. Much of the dramatic impact that drives the film is due to director of photography Anthony Richmond's work. Both DeNiro and Gooding are intensely captivating in the way they use their bodies as thinking extensions of Navy men, completely focused on opposing goals. A well-rounded family film. See full review. -- Cole Smithey
Chapel Hills; Carmike 10; Tinseltown; Cinemark 16

Proof of Life (R)

Despite what should have been a compelling plot, based on an exciting premise and set in an exotic location, the movement in this film is slow, stumbling and repetitive. The fundamental problem is director Taylor Hackford's resolve to focus on the simmering romance between stars Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe instead of on the business at hand -- the kidnapping of an American executive (David Morse) in South America and the efforts by K&R (kidnap and ransom) experts (Crowe and David Caruso) to have him released. Ryan is miscast as the executive's wife, Alice, a hippie of sorts who dislikes being a corporate wife. The role would have been better inhabited by someone who can make an audience believe she has a serious social conscience and a backbone. Crowe's best moments occur in the company of his macho compadre, fellow K&R expert Dino, played with flavor by David Caruso. And Morse gives an excellent performance as the kidnappee. But what is worthwhile in Proof of Life -- the fabulous cinematography, a potentially intriguing and thrilling plot -- is lost in the film's refusal to just tell the story. See full review. -- KCE
Kimball's Twin Peak; Carmike 10; Tinseltown; Cinemark 16

Remember the Titans (PG)

Remember the Titans glorifies youth, manhood and the pursuit of football as the best avenues for social justice. The field of justice is, in this case, an Alexandria, Va., high school ordered to desegregate in 1971, where the school board hires a black man, Coach Boone (Denzel Washington) to coach their successful Titans football team. As usual, Washington manages to hit just the right note throughout the film, helping to redeem a fairly cheeseball script and bring out its nobility. It helps if you're willing to believe that the struggle against racism is best fought by men on the model of a war. Whether the male/war model contributes to lasting change is questionable. But war makes for good un-nuanced drama, and Remember the Titans takes full advantage of that. See full review. -- AL

Chapel Hills

Scary Movie (R)

A ripoff of teen slasher flicks Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, this one might win the overall competition for grossest gross-out jokes of all time. The brothers Wayans seem to have a concept here but they set up every joke so tediously and assiduously that by the time the punchline appears the joke is already dead. The competent case play imperiled teenagers adequately, and some of their lines are hilarious, but to watch Scary Movie in its entirety is, basically, to suffer through an extended doo-doo riff with accents of snot, pee-pee and semen. You get the picture. -- KCE
Silver Cinemas

Unbreakable (PG-13)

Bruce Willis is David Dunn, a Philadelphia security guard who mysteriously emerges unscathed from the derailment of a train that kills every other passenger. He is pursued by Elijah (Samuel L. Jackson), an erudite gallery owner and comic book collector who tries to convince the survivor that he possesses superhuman powers that explain his invincibility. Director M. Night Shyamalan's visual style is certainly compelling, but Unbreakable, lovely as it may be, is doomed by its bizarre script. Shyamalan's purported theme is this: "These are mediocre times, and it's hard for people to believe there's something extraordinary inside themselves." David discovers what is extraordinary about himself, but there is no triumphant relief from the leaden discomfort he feels about himself and his place in the world, and the viewer is stuck, too, with no dramatic shift. If the above were the only problems with Unbreakable, it might have been palatable. But the film is plagued with a cheap-shot ending that is not just distasteful but downright inedible. The result is a complete derailment, and not even Dunn survives. See full review.
Chapel Hills; Carmike 10; Tinseltown; Cinemark 16

Vertical Limit (PG-13)

While the film promises a sophisticated thrill-ride, Vertical Limit succumbs to the same hackneyed ideas that weighed down other mountain-climbing movies like Cliffhanger and K2. By the time the fifth nitro-fueled explosion occurs, you may well ask yourself if it was the actors or the audience that the writers were mocking when they wrote the script. Vertical Limit was undoubtedly a very difficult film to shoot, and stands as a technical achievement of sorts. The movie was shot at 10,000 feet above sea level in the Southern Alps of New Zealand, and does a very convincing job for the most part of placing an audience smack in the middle of cold, high-altitude terrain. But all of the well-observed details in the world can't redeem Vertical Limit for its penchant for explosions. I dare say that if the screenwriters had done away with any and all of them, it would have improved the movie by 50 percent. -- AL

Chapel Hills; Carmike 10; Tinseltown; Cinemark 16

What Lies Beneath (PG-13)

Dr. Norman (Harrison Ford) and Claire Spencer (Michelle Pfeiffer) are a well-to-do married couple living alone in their lakeside home. Bored, beautiful Claire becomes a lightning rod for a ghost from Norman's not-so-distant adulterous past. Director Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump) kills What Lies Beneath's fleeting moments of excitement by piling up so many false starts of plot and faux shocks of terror that by the time the story finally gets around to making sense with some nitty-gritty horror scenes, the audience has become numb to the suspense. See full review. -- Cole Smithey
Silver Cinemas


OPENING THIS WEEK

*Extreme (not rated)

Most of us have that one friend who brags about skiing double black diamonds in Vail or climbing the rock faces in Garden of the Gods without a rope. After seeing Extreme in Imax I now know what they are talking about and why it must be such a rush. This is not a 3D film, so you won't go home feeling like you were strapped to a surfboard riding 30 foot waves, but the stunts featured are indeed extreme. World class surfers, skiers, snowboarders and climbers fill the giant screen, taking the viewer into the world of daredevil sports and into the minds of the people that perform them. Arial views and extreme close-ups are narrated with voiceovers by the athletes, and backed up by a killer soundtrack from Soulfood featuring everything from world music to hip hop. The end credits are fascinating, showing how some of this stuff was filmed. -- John Lindsay

Cinemark 16 IMAX

*T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous (not rated)

Making its 3D Imax debut in Colorado Springs at the new Cinemark theatre is T-Rex. The story revolves around a paleontologist (Peter Horton of thirtysomething fame), his daughter, a museum and a mysterious dinosaur egg that transports the audience back to the day of the dinosaurs. The plot is dull and predictable (and contains way too many close-ups of our lead) but, who cares? We are here to see the dinosaurs. Unfortunately, they don't see as much screen time as one would hope -- Jurassic Park this ain't. That aside, when the big guys do appear, the 3D effects will have you jumping in your seat. The 3D effects, augmented by the huge sound system, are stunning. You may even forget that you are wearing special 3D glasses. (Don't worry. These are much better then the flimsy cardboard ones.) Some scenes may be a little intense for younger kids, but overall this should be a great family moviegoing experience. Colorado Springs now has the only 3D Imax in the state and T-Rex makes great use of the technology. -- John Lindsay

Cinemark 16 IMAX

Dude, Where's my Car? (PG-13)

After partying, Jesse and Chester (Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott) wake up to find their stash gone, car missing and girlfriends very mad -- but they can't remember why. The two go on a mission to find out what happened the night before, but end up in an intergalactic battle involving aliens, strippers and a suitcase full of cash. With Kristy Swanson.

Chapel Hills; Carmike 10; Tinseltown; Cinemark 16

Miss Congeniality (PG-13)

When the FBI needs a female agent to infiltrate the Miss United States pageant, they pick a very unlikely subject -- uncoordinated, boyish loose cannon Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock).

Chapel Hills sneak preview, Sat., Dec. 16, 7 p.m. Tinseltown sneak preview, Sat. Dec. 16, 7 p.m.

What Women Want (PG-13)

Mel Gibson plays a man who finds we can suddenly read women's minds, including that of his boss (Helen Hunt). With Marisa Tomei and Lauren Holly.

Chapel Hills; Carmike 10; Tinseltown; Cinemark 16

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