Reviews

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Phone Booth (2003)

B- | *** | +1-1| Adults*

Phone Booth takes the formula of Die Hard and Speed, in which the protagonist is trapped in a confined space by a wily psychopath with whom he communicates only by phone (or walkie-talkie), to its narrowest physical dimensions yet. Read More >

Sahara (1943)

A- | ***½ | +2| Kids & Up*

One of the best WWII-era WWII movies, Sahara is a thoroughly entertaining war actioner starring Humphrey Bogart as a tough American sergeant commanding a tank crew in the Libyan desert. Read More >

8 Mile (2002)

D- | *** | +2-3| Adults*

(Written by Robert Jackson) 8 Mile is the story of a cast of characters who were dealt a lousy set of cards by life and who then proceed to tear most of their cards in half. Read More >

Alex and Emma (2003)

D+ | | -2| Adults

Take Two: The big problem: Neither set of romantic entanglements is actually romantic, and neither set of characters is interesting. Nonmarital affairs in both storylines include an energetic though non-explicit bedroom scene played for laughs. Read More >

Final Solution (2002)

A- | *** | +4| Teens & Up*

It’s a melancholy truth that religion is often a key ingredient in long-standing conflicts festering in certain troubled regions around the globe: the Middle East, Northern Ireland, the Balkans. Final Solution depicts the way religion has been involved in the racial strife in South Africa — but it also points to the role that faith can and should play in reconciliation and healing as well. Read More >

The Game (1997)

D | **½ | -3| Adults*

(Written by Robert Jackson) What do you get for the man who has everything? Read More >

Gods and Generals (2002)

C- | ** | +0| Teens & Up*

(Written by Robert Jackson) Gods and Generals is an extremely one-sided account of the first half of the Civil War. Read More >

Hey Arnold! The Movie (2002)

D | | +0| Kids & Up*

(Written by Jimmy Akin) Nickelodeon’s animated "Hey Arnold!" TV series, created by the Snee-Oosh animation house, is one of the better cartoon shows around. Read More >

The Hunted (2003)

C+ | **½ | -1| Adults

(Written by Jimmy Akin) The Hunted is the story of two superheroes. Not the Superman / Spider-Man / X-Men kind of superheroes, with x-ray vision, webshooters, and the ability to control the weather. The Batman kind. You know, no actual superhuman powers, just the superhuman skill levels that are de rigueur for big screen action heroes these days. Read More >

Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie (2002)

B+ | *** | +2| Kids & Up

(Review by Mark Shea) I know. It sounds uninspiring on paper, if you haven’t seen them. But — you gotta trust me on this — these guys are really funny, a sort of strange brew mixing Monty Python, MTV, your third grade Sunday School teacher and a tiny bit of Robin Williams — all with a G rating. Read More >

The Powerpuff Girls Movie (2002)

B+ | *** | +0| Kids & Up*

(Review by Jimmy Akin) The City of Townsville… is in desperate need of heroes! Read More >

Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998)

B+ | *** | +0| Kids & Up*

(Written by Jimmy Akin) Scooby-Doo was born in 1969. He was reborn almost thirty years later, in 1998. Read More >

Treasure Planet (2002)

B | *** | +0| Kids & Up*

(Written by Jimmy Akin) Treasure Planet is Robert Louis Stevenson meets George Lucas. More specifically, it’s Treasure Island meets The Phantom Menace. Read More >

Two Weeks Notice (2002)

C+ | **½ | -2| Adults

(Written by Jimmy Akin) From its opening minutes, Two Weeks Notice promises to be the story of how two mismatched, lovable losers get together and fall in love. Read More >

Narc (2002)

D- | **½ | -3| Adults*

(Written by Robert Jackson) Narc is trying to be something. Really hard. It’s obvious. The question is: What is it trying to be? Read More >

Hollywood Homicide (2003)

D+ | | -2| Adults*

The only thing that makes this particular film worth noting is the melancholy milestone it marks in the career of the man who was once Hollywood’s biggest star: It has now been a full decade since Harrison Ford took on a role worth caring about. Read More >

National Security (2003)

F | | -3| Adults*

Martin Lawrence rants endlessly against the White Man and Steve Zahn tries to endure him in the obnoxious odd-couple action-comedy National Security (Columbia), directed by Dennis Dugan. Read More >

The Pianist (2002)

A+ | **** | +2| Teens & Up*

Now, almost ten years later, Polanski has finally faced his demons and made a film of almost ferocious objectivity — a film devoid of even the smell of polemicism, sentimentality, melodrama, or cliché. Not a celebration of the human spirit, resisting both deceptive moral uplift and despairing moral nihilism, neither demonizing the Germans nor lionizing the Jews, The Pianist is a work of exquisite restraint. Any misstep might have resulted in reducing the horror of genocide to a prop in a morality-play, but Polanski surefootedly avoids every trap and temptation in his path. Read More >

Bruce Almighty (2003)

C- | ** | +1-2| Adults

Theologically speaking, the question was absurd and meaningless; but the answer, I think, contained profound insight. God is both the source and the goal of our being, the meaning as well as the master of our lives. Imagine reality without God, and life becomes meaningless; imagine divine omnipotence at the disposal of anything other than divine love, and existence becomes infinite horror. Read More >

John Q (2002)

D- | | -3| Adults*

John Q, which is sort of the moviegoing equivalent of being taken hostage, was directed by Nick Cassavetes (She’s So Lovely). Cassavetes — like the film’s hero, John Q. Archibald (Washington) — has a child in need of a life-saving organ transplant. I feel for the director, and for his hero. I cannot condone the actions of either. Read More >

Bend It Like Beckham (2002)

C | **½ | -2| Teens & Up*

Movie audiences reliably enjoy just about every ingredient involved in Bend It Like Beckham, an East-meets-West comedy about an Indian family living in London’s Hounslow borough. Read More >

Planet of the Apes (2001)

C | **½ | -2| Teens & Up*

Helena Bonham Carter is also convincingly simian as the chimpanzee Ari, though less so than Thade, since she has to be visibly feminine and potentially attractive to the human lead (Mark Wahlberg). But the gorillas, like Attar (Michael Clarke Duncan) and Krull (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), are as compellingly realistic as Thade, if not quite as expressive. Read More >

Dogma (1999)

F | *** | -4|

Like the creators of Dogma, I feel the need to begin with a disclaimer of my own. This review is an exercise in film criticism and commentary informed by Christian faith. It is neither an anti-Dogma activist polemic nor a pro-Dogma apologetical treatise. I come not to praise Kevin Smith, nor to bury him, but to critique his work. I will tell you what I think is good about it, and what I think is evil, and why I think the work as a whole deserves its unacceptable rating (not only from this site but also from the ). But this is a complex film, and deserves careful evaluation. Those who are only interested in one-sided spin, whether bad or good, will not find it here. Read More >

Cats and Dogs (2001)

C+ | **½ | +0| Kids & Up*

Not that I’ve anything against cats. But there’s a particular breed of cat fancier who looks down at dogs precisely for qualities like their obedience, loyalty, and desire to please, explicitly preferring the fierce independence and proud impassiveness associated with cats. I wonder whether this kind of cat appreciation isn’t often rooted in a misguided human ideal — whether such people don’t prefer cats because they themselves like the idea of being remote and independent. Read More >

The Mighty (1998)

A- | ***½ | +2| Kids & Up*

Based on the children’s book Freak The Mighty, Peter Chelsom’s less oddly named The Mighty tells the story of a remarkable friendship between two young boys, both outcasts. Max (Elden Ratliff) is dull-witted but intimidating; Kevin (Kieran Culkin) is bright but crippled by Morquio’s Syndrome. Read More >

A Mighty Wind (2003)

B- | *** | -1| Adults

Like Spinal Tap, A Mighty Wind follows a number of musicians who never actually existed, but often feel as if they might have. There’s a convincing history to the Folksmen, Mitch & Mickey, and the New Main Street Singers, developed by Guest through a combination of pseudo-archival footage, interview sequences, and period album covers that folk fans might almost remember having seen in their collections. Read More >

What a Girl Wants (2003)

C+ | **½ | +0| Teens & Up

Despite these similarities, What a Girl Wants differs from The Princess Diaries in three important respects, all of which are, as far as they go, good ideas. Read More >

The Princess Diaries (2001)

C+ | **½ | -1| Kids & Up

Everyone knows going in that Hathaway’s frizzy hair, horn-rimmed glasses, pratfalls, slouch, and puckered expressions aren’t going to hold her back for long. (Indeed, it takes a formidable effort to suspend one’s disbelief and accept that they hold her back at all. Hathaway manages to be suitably awkward in the medium shots, but every closeup blows the girl’s cover by revealing her cover-girl beauty. Casting the gorgeous 20-year-old "Get Real" actress as an 15-year-old ugly duckling is about as plausible as Jennifer Lopez playing a wedding planner who can’t get a date or Drew Barrymore playing a late bloomer who’s Never Been Kissed.) Read More >

Agent Cody Banks (2003)

C- | **½ | -2| Teens & Up*

Welcome to our second annual Spring Frankie Muniz Morally Problematic Spy Kids Rip-Off Movie, featuring hilarious hijinks offending each year against a different one of the Ten Commandments. Read More >

Maid in Manhattan (2002)

C+ | **½ | -2| Adults

He’s a wealthy, unattached scion of a political dynasty; she’s a hard-working maid whose mother and workplace "sisters" discourage her from yearning for more. An updated "Cinderella" story in the Pretty Woman mold, Wayne Wang’s Maid in Manhattan (Columbia) makes agreeably diverting viewing for most of its 105-minute running time, though after the magic runs out at midnight the movie meanders through an autopilot resolution that lacks a glass slipper. Read More >

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