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Meet the Parents
  • Meet the Parents

*Almost Famous (R)

Director Cameron Crowe's autobiographical film turns out to be a winner. Crowe is depicted as 15-year-old William, (Patrick Fugit) a budding journalist, protg of rock critic Lester Bang (Philip Seymour Hoffman). On his first assignment for Rolling Stone, William is immediately torn between his growing friendship with the band, Stillwater, and the need to be "honest and unmerciful," as advised by Bang. Complicating matters is groupie Penny Lane, played by Kate Hudson. Smitten with her, William can't help but see the band through her eyes. The bulk of the film follows Stillwater, William, Penny and the rest of the entourage across America. Hoffman steals the show, as usual, in his few brief scenes. Almost Famous is well-scripted, meticulously cast, skillfully acted, and best of all it has a beating heart that explains the strange end of the classic rock era with empathy, humor and grace. -- KCE

Tinseltown; Kimball's Twin Peak; Chapel Hills

Autumn in New York (PG-13)

Richard Gere plays a womanizing, aging restaurateur who falls for Winona Ryder, a youthful artiste dying from a heart ailment. Much is made of his age and her youth -- he gives her a few last laughs; she opens up his heart. Gere is an appealing leading man and Ryder does the best she can with a silly role that involves being quixotic. The production values are quite appealing, but in some ways the very prettiness of the film is its most annoying feature. The last I checked, love, eating, sex, and dying were all quite messy endeavors, but Autumn in New York makes them appear like orderly activities. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with a tidy little film, but it manages to take most of the interest out of what otherwise would be compelling subject matter. -- AL

Silver Cinemas

*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 Los Angeles, the fabulous Clovers. Coming up with a new routine in time for the nationals competition provides the central conflict of the movie, but the peculiar brand of adolescent sexiness native to cheerleaders dominates the film. Skillfully mixing wonderfully choreographed routines with self-deprecating humor and some sweet puppy romance, Bring It On keeps you laughing from start to finish, succeeding in part because it does not succumb to heavy-handedness in the rich girl-poor girl, white girl-black girl central conflict which is significant but not pandering. The cheering is terrific, the teen-speak dialogue relentless, the camera moves supple and graceful and the climax is satisfying. -- KCE

Chapel Hills; Tinseltown; Carmike 10; Gold Hill Theaters

The Cell (R)

The Cell explores the dark territory inside the mind of serial killer Carl Stargher (Vincent D'Onofrio) as psychologist Catherine Deane (Jennifer Lopez) risks her sanity by interacting with the killer's subconscious to attempt to locate his last victim in time to rescue her. Creepy dreamscapes and funky color schemes give a nod to suspense thrillers likeThe Silence of the Lambs, but The Cell's extravagant imagery doesn't hold a candle to David Fincher's Seven for terror, dread, and suspense. As a horror or suspense film, The Cell falls short by pulling its punches in refusing to live up to the creepy and volatile standards it lays out. -- Cole Smithey


Disney's The Kid (PG)

Bruce Willis plays Russell Duritz, a very successful and sometimes mean image consultant. Two days before his 40th birthday, Russell is visited by Rusty (Spencer Breslin), the eight-year-old incarnation of himself, who is disappointed when he finds out how his life turned out. Willis does a fine job holding his own next the pudgy, lisping, and very cute Breslin. There is nothing offensive in the film, but if you take your kids be prepared to explain a lot -- The Kid is far more of an adult film than a child's. Pleasantly entertaining. -- AL

Silver Cinemas; Broadmoor

*The Exorcist (R)

Given the numerous and terrible episodes of head-twisting, levitating, and bile vomiting in the original Exorcist, audiences could hardly have guessed that director William Friedkin had already cut out 11 minutes of what he considered "excess" footage. Writer William Blatty was furious, believing that the movie had lost its moral center. Friedkin finally agreed to reexamine the missing scenes 25 years later and became inspired to rework much of the material back into the film. Significant is an added conversation between the two exorcists in which Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) explains to Father Karras (Jason Miller) the reason that this demon has chosen to consume the young girl. Overall, the newly restored scenes give the audience a much clearer understanding of Regan's possession and assign a stronger empathy with Father Karras as the film's protagonist. Though the supernatural incidents are resolved in the closing scenes of the movie, The Exorcist promises to haunt viewers with its classic, troubling images of evil. -- Cole Smithy

Tinseltown; Chapel Hills

*Gladiator (R)

Russell Crowe (The Insider) acts up a righteous storm in his Roman get-up, proving once and for all that his versatility as an actor matches his prowess. Though director Ridley Scott would like you to think Gladiator is about strength, honor, duty, democracy and the danger of mob rule, in truth, it is an old-fashioned revenge drama -- and a pretty good one at that. Crowe as Maximus, beloved general of Roman troops turned slave, then gladiator, and Joaquin Phoenix as Commodus, insecure usurper to the throne, make marvelous foes. Unfortunately, Scott is so enamored of his production team's ability to show heads, hands and other body parts being severed, that the fight scenes become clamorous and redundant. -- KCE

Silver Cinemas

*Meet the Parents (PG-13)

Within the framework of what looks, on the surface, 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 all alone, ex fianc Kevin. Stiller and DeNiro spar with graceful comic ease, and ultra-suburbia has never been drawn more convincingly. -- KCE

Kimball's Twin Peak; Tinseltown; Chapel Hills; Carmike 10

M: I-2 (Mission: Impossible 2) (PG-13)

Director John Woo keeps similarities to director Brian De Palma's 1996 Mission Impossible to a minimum by incorporating his signature slow motion, ballet-of-bullets action sequences against the taut resolve of Tom Cruise's most ambitious action performance to date. Cruise performed his own stunts, much to the chagrin of Paramount studio execs. The film's realism of danger allows it to operate on a high level of believability and determination. -- Cole Smithey

Silver Cinemas

The Patriot (R)

Clunky script devices continually squeak and rattle throughout the The Patriot. This is a Mel Gibson movie, and screenwriter Robert Rodat bows reverently to his leading character -- Gibson perfectly walks a tightrope over any dramatic context with artless skill. The Patriot is an uncomfortably smooth ride over mixed terrain of emotional posturing, flashy action sequences and cultural misrepresentation. -- Cole Smithey

Chapel Hills; Silver Cinemas; Gold Hill Theaters

*Remember the Titans (PG)

Remember the Titans glorifies youth, manhood and the pursuit of football as the best avenue for social justice. The field of justice is, in this case, an Alexandria, Va. high school ordered to desegregate in 1971. To emphasize the desegregation order, 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 that helps redeem a fairly cheeseball script and bring out its nobility. Other notable performances include the white team captain Bertier (Ryan Hurst) and Big Ju (Wood Harris) who becomes Bertier's best friend. As with the best military movies, this buddy relationship becomes the emotional center of the film. 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. -- AL

Tinseltown; Chapel Hills; Carmike 10

Scary Movie (R)

Scary Movie, a ripoff of teen slasher flicks Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, may win the overall competition for grossest gross-out jokes of any film ever. 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 dead already. Given a big budget, the Wayans seem to wander, aggrandize, overcompensate and falter. The competent cast play imperiled teenagers adequately, and some of their lines are genuinely funny, but to watch Scary Movie is, basically, to suffer through an extended doo-doo riff with accents of snot, pee-pee and semen. -- KCE

Carmike 10

Space Cowboys (PG-13)

A macho adventure about four Air Force men grounded by a commander (James Cromwell) during the heyday of NASA. Forty years later, when a Russian communications satellite goes kaflooey, head man Frank Corvin (Clint Eastwood) is called out of retirement to fix a problem so obsolete that only senior citizens can solve it. Corvin demands that his buddies "Hawk" (Tommy Lee Jones), "Tank" (James Garner), and Jerry (Donald Sutherland) get to tag along. The glacial pacing of the first third is almost compensated by the last, but the technical mumbo-jumbo almost kills that. Overall, an acceptable Hollywood movie, with some cool special effects. The only big revelation is that the male fantasy of drinking-swearing-fighting-and-getting-all-the-babes only gets more ridiculous with old age. -- AL

Tinseltown; Carmike 10; Chapel Hills

The Watcher (R)

Debut feature director Joe Charbanic (music video director for Keanu Reeves' band Dogstar) dilutes any hope for captivating cinematic entertainment in The Watcher by beating the chase scene, an otherwise innocent cinematic device, until there is nothing left. It doesn't help matters that Keanu Reeves, as David Allen Griffin, insists on crystallizing his worst-actor-in-Hollywood title by playing a serial killer about as menacing as a sleeper sofa. No stars for this lame attempt at stylish suspense and psychological voyeurism. -- Cole Smithey

Carmike 10

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. -- Cole Smithey

Tinseltown; Chapel Hills


Best in Show

Director Christopher Guest and his cast -- Parker Posey, Eugene Levy, Michael McKean and Catherine O'Hara -- star in this "behind the scenes" look at the cut-throat world of competitive dog showing.


Beautiful (PG-13)

Minnie Driver, Hallie Kate Eisenberg, Joey Lauren Adams, Ali Landry and Leslie Ann Stefanson star in the story of a beauty queen who will do anything to win the Miss America title, including hiding the fact that she has an illegitimate daughter. Directed by Sally Field.

Chapel Hills

*The Contender (R)

See full review, page 42

Tinseltown; Chapel Hills

Dr. T and the Women (R)

When the women in his life (Farrah Fawcett, Helen Hunt, Laura Dern, Shelly Long, Kate Hudson) become too much for him to handle, an elite Dallas gynocologist (Richard Gere) escapes his life by going to the golf course, only to find himself involved with one more woman. Comedy directed by Robert Altman.

Tinseltown; Chapel Hills

The Ladies Man (R)

Tim Meadows plays his smooth-talking, brandy-sipping funkalicious Saturday Night Live character Leon Phelps, a.k.a the Ladies Man. After losing his job, Leon must find the one rich lady who still wants him. With Will Ferrell and Billy Dee Williams.

Tinseltown; Chapel Hills; Carmike 10

Lost Souls (R)

Winona Ryder plays a woman who discovers a conspiracy to enable the Devil to walk the earth, and she must convince a New York reporter (Ben Chaplin) that he is the target of the plan. With John Hurt.

Tinseltown; Chapel Hills; Carmike 10

Pay It Forward (PG-13)

Oscar winnirs Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt star in the story of an emotionally and physically scarred teacher who urges his students to develop a philanthropic plan to change the world, but ends up changing his.

Tinseltown sneak preview, Sat. Oct. 14, 6:45 p.m.

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