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Sullivan’s Travels (1941)

A | **** | +1| Teens & Up

Sullivan wants to address the problem of human suffering, but his producers argue, rightly so, that he doesn’t know enough about suffering to make a movie about it. But their attempts to dissuade him backfire when he decides to go on the road with ten cents in his pocket in an effort to experience poverty first-hand. Read More >

Nicholas Nickleby (2002)

B | *** | +1| Teens & Up

Writer-director Douglas McGrath, who previously adapted and directed the charming 1996 version of Emma, does a respectable job of retelling as much of Dickens’ tale as possible in the time alloted. The casting is generally very good, with Christopher Plummer as the heartless, well-to-do uncle Ralph Nickleby, Jim Broadbent as the squinting, leering Squeers of horrific Dotheboys Hall, and Juliet Stevenson as his equally terrible wife. Read More >

The Gathering Storm (2002)

B+ | *** | +1-1| Teens & Up

Although the title is taken from the first volume of Churchill’s history of the war, The Gathering Storm is as much about Churchill’s personal life as his political trajectory — sometimes to excess, since the political side is usually more interesting. The warts-and-all portrait includes his loving but sometimes strained marriage to Clementina (Vanessa Redgrave), his financial troubles and hard drinking habits, his melancholia or "black dog," his amateur painting and bricklaying, and his habit of absent-mindedly losing himself in rehearsing or dictating speeches while in the bathtub or dressing and undressing. Read More >

Superman (1978)

A- | ***½ | +0| Teens & Up

A classic tribute to an American pop-culture icon, Superman is the first great comic-book movie and a nostalgic ode to the ideals of a more innocent time. Read More >

Animals are Beautiful People (1975)

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

Highlights include daredevil cartwheeling baboons, the remarkable partnership of the badger and the honey-guide bird, and the astonishingly intricate lengths to which the Kalahari bushmen go to find water. There’s a sequence with the animal residents of the fertile Kavango flood plains intoxicated on fermented fruit, and footage of an ostrich mating dance that strikingly resembles Fantasia’s animated ostrich ballet. Read More >

Knights of the Round Table (1953)

B | **½ | +2| Kids & Up*

The story starts a bit stiffly with the tale of Arthur’s rise to power, beginning with the adult Arthur (Mel Ferrer) and rival Mordred (Stanley Baker) meeting at the sword in the stone with their respective advocates, Merlin (Felix Aylmer) and Morgan le Fey (Anne Crawford). Things improve with the arrival of Lancelot (Robert Taylor), who even before meeting Arthur is willing to die for him and his ideals of chivalry, courtesy, and virtue. Read More >

Open Range (2003)

B | *** | +1-1| Teens & Up*

Gunplay is largely restricted to a single, lengthy sequence; and, where in a typical action movie thousands of bullets might be expended without anyone in the audience batting an eye, in this film every bullet counts, and the viewer feels its impact. Read More >

The Rookie (2002)

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

There’s an easygoing, folksy charm to this film, accentuated by a country-themed soundtrack and characters who say such things as “I’m gonna need a longer street for that talk” and “Lord knows I’m ready for both sides of the bed to be warm again.” Read More >

Rugrats Go Wild! (2003)

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

(Written by Jimmy Akin) When Cartoons Collide!!! That’s what they could have used as a tag-line for Rugrats Go Wild. Read More >

Rugrats in Paris (2000)

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

(Written by Jimmy Akin) The second Rugrats movie begins with a wedding: little Tommy Pickles’ widowed grandfather, Lou, is finally marrying his late-in-life flame, Lulu. Read More >

The Rugrats Movie (1998)

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

(Written by Jimmy Akin) Changes are coming to the pastel-colored Rugrats universe, and The Rugrats Movie brings them. It is the biggest things that has happened to the series in its nearly ten year run: a new Rugrat is being born. Read More >

The Medallion (2003)

C- | ** | -2| Teens & Up*

Jackie’s current string of Hollywood buddy movies (the Rush Hour and Shanghai flicks; The Tuxedo) have brought him success in the U.S. — but at a price. For one thing, he’s never been allowed to do the kind of really elaborate, extended action-comedy sequences that were the heart and soul of solo efforts like First Strike and Rumble in the Bronx. For another, he’s had to share the spotlight with a string of costars ranging from alternately funny and irritating (Owen Wilson, funny in Shanghai Noon but irritating in Shanghai Knights, and Chris Tucker, alternatingly funny and irritating throughout both Rush Hour movies) to just plain irritating and not funny (Jennifer Love Hewitt in The Tuxedo). Read More >

The Wind in the Willows [BBC-Unwin] (1996)

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

Like the Peter Rabbit episodes, The Wind in the Willows begins and ends with charming live-action sequences, this time featuring a narrator (Vanessa Redgrave) telling the story to some children. Once again episodes and dialogue are drawn straight from the source material, though with Grahame’s much longer story more editing has been necessary. The animation, though less striking than Peter Rabbit’s lovely watercolor backgrounds, evokes the classic illustrations of Ernest Shepard. Read More >

The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends (1993)

A | ***½ | +2| Kids & Up

With evocative watercolor backgrounds and character design strongly reminiscent of Potter’s illustrations, animation ranging from fine to excellent, and dialogue and narrative drawn straight from the source material, the series is remarkably faithful to the text, spirit, and look of Potter’s beloved stories. Read More >

Rush Hour (1998)

C+ | **½ | -2| Teens & Up

After fifteen years of trying, Jackie Chan finally broke into the U.S. market with Rumble in the Bronx and Jackie Chan’s First Strike; but it wasn’t until Rush Hour that he really connected with mainstream American audiences. Read More >

Rush Hour 2 (2001)

C+ | **½ | -2| Teens & Up*

Rush Hour 2 follows so closely in the footsteps of its hugely successful predecessor that an actual review is practically unnecessary. Read More >

Shanghai Knights (2003)

C+ | **½ | -2| Teens & Up*

That includes this film’s predecessor, Shanghai Noon, which, as its witty title suggests, was a clever East-meets-Old-West tribute to the classic Hollywood Western. This sequel, set in London, barely manages to be a tribute to Shanghai Noon. Yet in his inventive, elaborate stunt choreography Jackie pays wordlessly eloquent homage to the great physical performers of the past: The Three Stooges, Gene Kelly, Keystone Cops, Harold Lloyd. And two ladder-fu sequences recall one of Jackie’s own memorable triumphs in Jackie Chan’s First Strike. Read More >

The Tuxedo (2002)

C+ | **½ | -2| Teens & Up*

The suit is in fact the Tactical Uniform Experiment (TUX), a high-tech weapons system that acts directly on the user’s nervous system, instantly enabling Jimmy — who, unlike most of Jackie’s characters, has no special skills of his own — to dance like Fred Astaire, climb walls and ceilings like Spider-Man, and, of course, fight like Jackie Chan. Read More >

Roman Holiday (1953)

A- | ***½ | +1| Teens & Up

Audrey Hepburn is utterly beguiling in her star-making role opposite Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday, a delightful romantic comedy about a poised young princess of an unspecified European country who spends a magical day with an American reporter (Gregory Peck) in the Eternal City, playing hooky from her official duties. Read More >

Iron Monkey (2001)

B+ | ***½ | +0| Teens & Up

Miramax execs would like you to think of Iron Monkey as this year’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It might be more accurate, though, to call it this year’s The Legend of Drunken Master. Read More >

Freaky Friday (2003)

C | **½ | -1| Teens & Up

(Co-written with Suzanne E. Greydanus) In the very end there’s a scene in which Anna’s grandfather (thrown into the movie as a hard-of-hearing joke) is lamenting that “youth is wasted on the young.” Too bad the makers of this new Freaky Friday forgot that. Read More >

Northfork (2003)

D+ | **½ | -2| Teens & Up*

With its surreal, dreamlike ambiance, juxtaposition of transcendent and mundane elements, lyrical imagery, and contemplative pacing, Northfork alternately evokes comparisons to such films as Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire, Malick’s Days of Heaven, and certain films of Tarkovsky, Bergman, David Lynch, and Carl Dreyer. Read More >

Road to Morocco (1942)

B+ | ***½ | +0| Teens & Up

This time out the boys take their Road act to Arabian Nights territory, where, as usual, they sing (especially Bing), crack wise (especially Bob), and vie over Lamour, who again has an agenda of her own. The story, which is taken about as seriously as the plot of a typical Looney Tunes cartoon, has Bing and Bob shipwrecked and washed up on the road to Morocco. Read More >

Monsieur Beaucaire (1946)

B | *** | +0| Teens & Up

Beaucaire (Hope) is barber to Louis XV of France — until the former’s romantic altercations with a chambermaid named Mimi (Joan Caulfield) inadvertently result in banishment for both Mimi and himself. At the same time, the king finds it expedient to rid the court of the Duc le Chandre, a renowned swordsman and celebrated ladies’ man, by making a political marriage between le Chandre and Princess Maria of Spain (Marjorie Reynolds). Read More >

My Favorite Blonde (1942)

B+ | ***½ | +0| Teens & Up

One of Bob Hope’s best comic-thriller vehicles, My Favorite Blonde benefits from its semi-serious spy-thriller ambiance, tolerably cogent plot, scene-stealing penguin, and above all one of the more human, less caricatured, less one-dimensionally narcissistic characters in Hope’s movie oeuvre. Read More >

Atlantis (1991)

A- | ***½ | +0| Kids & Up

Loosely structured into thematic "chapters" such as "light," "rhythm," and "grace," accompanied by an ecclectic Eric Serra score, Atlantis is a documentary Fantasia, a poetic marriage of image and music (though the score, apart from an aria from Bellini’s La Sonnambula, lacks the pedigree of Disney’s masterpiece). Marred only by a brief opening voiceover, which muses pretentiously about man’s evolutionary origins in the ocean, Besson’s otherwise wordless film lets the beauty of the undersea world speak for itself. Read More >

The Emperor’s Club (2002)

B | *** | +2| Teens & Up

He’s overly pedantic: Instead of merely urging a student to stay off the grass, he exhorts, "Walk where the great men who have gone before you have walked" — not just because it’s good for the grass, but "because it’s good for you." Read More >

Seabiscuit (2003)

B | *** | +1-2| Adults

Seabiscuit canters handsomely around the track less like a scrappy race horse than a slightly overfed show horse, playing to the crowd, confident that there’s no real competition breathing down its neck. It is right. Read More >

Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003)

C | ** | +0| Kids & Up*

If Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over were consistent, that protest would become Juni’s mantra, repeated every thirty seconds or so from that point on until the end of the film. Then again, if Spy Kids 3-D were consistent — about anything at all — it might actually start making some kind of sense. Read More >

Blackbeard’s Ghost (1968)

C+ | **½ | +0| Kids & Up

Highlights include an ominous retelling of the story of Blackbeard’s curse and a slapstick scene pitting the heroes against the gangsters. Undeniably silly and somewhat dated, Blackbeard’s Ghost remains harmless, modestly entertaining family fare. Read More >

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