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New on Video for the weekend of
February 25 - 27, 2000


Double Jeopardy

Ashley Judd stars as Libby, a wife convicted of murdering her husband, Nick (Bruce Greenwood), aboard a boat at sea. Although his body is never found, the coast guard finds her covered in blood and holding the murder weapon, so she is found guilty and loses custody of her son. Libby goes to jail and her best friend, Angie (Annabeth Gish), takes custody of the young boy and the large insurance settlement.

Suddenly, Angie stops bringing the boy to Libby on visiting day because she has moved out of town. Peturbed and frightened, Libby tracks them down to make a shocking discovery - her husband isn't dead!

Determined to get her son back and take revenge on her cheating husband, Libby decides to track them down and murder the husband because, according to a cellmate, she can't be tried for the same crime twice, which is referred to in the Constitution as protection from Double Jeopardy. Will Libby do it?

First of all, don't get your legal advice from a felon. The case described above is not Double Jeopardy. Murdering your husband on a boat six years ago and murdering your husband at some other place at some other time are two distinct crimes. That's one of many incorrect assumptions and plotholes that we must overlook. If things like that don't bother you then you will like the film.

Judd is very believable as the mother seeking justice and the return of her son, although she does lack emotive ability in some key moments. Her acting seems forced in the most dramatic moments, but she does a good job overall, especially in the latter part of the movie when she tracks down her husband. Tommy Lee Jones makes an appearance as the former law professor and current parole officer who must chase down Judd when she escapes. Tommy Lee Jones chasing after a fugitive? That sounds very familiar and, unfortunately, doesn't pose much of an acting challenge for him.

Double Jeopardy is good, harmless entertainment if you are willing to suspend disbelief and accept some leaps in logic. Grade: C


The horror movie that tried to become a hit by getting released at Halloween now comes to the video store shelves just in time for president's day? The best way to describe the film is Alfred Hitchcock's Birds, except the birds are bats. Lou Diamond Phillips, fresh off a critically acclaimed Broadway run in The King and I, just can't find a good movie to star in. Why couldn't the studio hold this rental release until Halloween?

Letters from a Killer

Like Judd in Double Jeopardy, Patrick Swayze plays a man wrongfully accused of murdering his wife. While in jail, he corresponds with three women. Once released, he gets framed for murder again. Man, this guy has bad luck.

New on Video for the weekend of
February 18 - 20, 2000


The Muse

Writers always fear the loss of creativity, which can end a career. Hollywood is littered with writers who only had one good idea. They spend their days dream of having another and telling everyone the story of how they hit it big once.

In this amusing tale, Albert Brooks stars as Steven Phillips, an Academy award nominated writer who is facing the end of the line. He can't sell his latest script, and the studio wants to terminate his three picture deal. His agent, the studio head and everyone else thinks Steven has, "lost his edge." It's a desperate situation as Steven goes from studio to studio calling on every friend to get his picture made.

His best friend, Jack (Jeff Bridges), is a successful, Oscar-winning writer, but he has a secret. He didn't do it by himself. Jack sees Steven is desperate and introduces him to The Muse (Sharon Stone), a mythological figure who inspires creativity. She can help Steven write his next film, but the cost is very high. The Muse requires that Steven pay for all of her expenses, and she has some pricey tastes.

Will The Muse help Steven out of his predicament, or will he lose his cool and force her to give him a permanent case of writer's block?

The film is funny, but seems to be too laid back. It needs to be spiced up with some background music and the actors need to let go a little bit. Each performer seems to be restrained and would benefit from an over the top performance. Stone comes closest to finding the farce in her character and the movie. Also, the end comes too soon. Instead of being a short movie (just 87 minutes), Brooks should have extended it to include a better and less sudden ending.

With all that criticism, I still think the movie is pretty funny. It contains some hilarious cameos from Hollywood's biggest players and the premise is a good one. If you like Albert Brooks or Hollywood parodies, you will enjoy the film. Grade: B-

Breakfast of Champions

Bruce Willis stars a car salesman on the verge of a nervous breakdown due to his crazy life, nutty family and overbearing mistress. Based on the Kurt Vonnegut novel.

The Story of Us

Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer star as a married couple thinking about divorce and looking back on 15 years of marriage.

In Too Deep

Omar Epps stars as an undercover cop trying to break up the most notorious crime organization in the city. LL Cool J plays the crime boss, "God".

An American Tail III

Our hero Fievel tries to help a group of mice living in Manhattan.

New on Video for the weekend of
February 11 - 13, 2000

The Astronaut's Wife

When the audience laughs at the trailer, you know the movie is going to stink.  I learned this lesson after seeing the trailer for this film during Austin Powers 2.

Charlize Theron stars as Jillian, the wife of Astronaut Spencer Armacost. While on a mission in space, there is an explosion and his crew loses contact with NASA for two minutes. When they return to earth, his partner Alex dies, which causes suspicion about what happened out there, but Spencer seems to be fine.

When he takes a job with an aeronautics firm, Spencer and Jillian move to New York, and she becomes pregnant with twins. Soon, a NASA official, Sherman Reece (Joe Morton), approaches Jillian claiming that something horrible happened in space that changed her husband. What was it? Are the babies in danger? Is Jillian in danger?

In the opening sequence, Jillian and Spencer are watching the classic Penny Serenade with Irene Dunne and Cary Grant. I suggest renting that film instead because The Astronaut's Wife is bad. Very bad. Horrible.

Writer/Director Rand Ravich fixates on small details and chooses these insignificant moments for absurd close-ups that don't have any impact on the audience or the film. He also uses bizarre and misplaced sound effects that distract instead of adding to the film. He creates a dull script that is extremely predictable. The movie jumps right into the action instead of giving the audience a chance to learn about these characters and develop some feelings for them. The ending, the only surprise in the film, is so bad that I am glad I didn't pay $7 to see it in the theater. Ravich must have known that his movie stinks because he doesn't credit himself until the end, probably expecting that most have left the theater during the movie.

Depp decides to use an extreme southern accent that is annoying and Theron just doesn't have anything to work with in the film. Nick Cassavetes shows up as Depp's partner, Alex Streck, and can't act to save his life. His father would be very ashamed. Grade: D-

Blue Streak

Martin Lawrence stars as a thief who is captured by the police during a heist, but not until he has hidden the bounty in a local building. When he gets out of jail, it turns out that the hiding place is now a police precinct. He decides to pose as a cop to get his loot.

Ruby Bridges

Based on actual events in Louisiana during 1960, Ruby Bridges tells the story of one six year old African American girl's plight when she is chosen as one of the first students to integrate an all white school. Stars Penelope Ann Miller, Kevin Pollack, Lela Rochon and Michael Beach.

New on Video for the weekend of
February 4 - 6, 2000



I thought I was going to hate this film. After watching the advertising blitz last summer and seeing a behind-the-scenes-type story, I wasn't impressed. However, I think this is a great film that was mishandled by the marketing department.

We are all familiar with the story of Tarzan, a young boy raised by gorillas after the death of his parents in the jungles of Africa. However, Disney is able to bring the gorillas and other jungle animals to life with distinct personalities and stunning emotions.

Baby Tarzan is raised by the gorilla Kala (Glenn Close), even though her mate and dominant male of the pack, Kerchak (Lance Henriksen) refuses to accept Tarzan as his child. Along the way, young Tarzan (Alex Linz) makes friends with our comic relief characters, gorilla Terk (Rosie O'Donnell) and elephant Tantor (Wayne "He played Newman on Seinfeld" Knight).

Once he grows up, Tarzan (Tony Goldwin) learns that he is human, after meeting a group of researchers. He falls in love with the young lady, Jane (Minnie Driver), who teaches him how to be human. Jane and her father, Professor Porter (Nigel Hawthorne), do not want to harm the animals of the jungle, but their evil tour guide, Clayton (Brian Blessed), has other plans. When Tarzan is forced to choose between the humans and the gorillas, who will he choose?

The movie should not be rated G. The power and image of Disney protected this film when reviewed by the Motion Picture Association of America (the people who assign ratings), but it contains too many violent and intense scenes for young viewers, even though it is an animated feature. Parents should watch the movie before their children do to see if their kids can handle the content.

Because it is more adult oriented than I anticipated, I liked the film. I was moved by Glenn Close's portrayal of Kala, the gorilla who mothers Tarzan. She is able to add a dimension of sensitivity and caring to the character. Also, I liked Brian Blessed's portrayal of the evil Clayton. It isn't easy to make a cartoon character strike fear in the hearts of the audience, but Blessed is able to create a dastardly character that everyone can root against.

The movie plays well on the small screen and the animation is terrific, especially the always-difficult-to-draw scenes of Tarzan swinging through the jungle. Those of us familiar with jungle cartoons, such as the classic George of the Jungle, will be amazed at the complexity of the scenes and animation. Grade: A-

Stir of Echoes

Kevin Bacon stars as a man whose hypnosis session turns kinda weird. Now, he sees dead people. OK, it sounds like The Sixth Sense, but let's not pile on. This movie was in the can and scheduled for release by the time The Sixth Sense was released. It just had the misfortune of coming out second.

Chill Factor

Cuba "how far we have fallen" Gooding, Jr. is an ice cream truck driver who is kidnapped by Skeet Ulrich, who is trying to keep a weapon away from the military. Remember when Cuba starred in great films like Boyz 'N The Hood, Jerry Maguire and As Good As It Gets? Rent one of those if you want to think highly of his work.

Love Stinks

Tell me about it. As if I didn't know already.

French Stewart stars as commitment-phobic man sued by his longtime girlfriend for palimony.

New on Video for the weekend of
January 28 - 30, 2000

My Life So Far

A nice little movie told from the point of view of an inquisitive 10-year old Scottish boy, Fraser (Robert Norman). All of his life, he has had a thirst for knowledge, especially knowledge that is forbidden. When his 60-something Great Uncle Morris (Malcolm McDowell) becomes engaged to a 24-year old French woman, Heloise (Irene Jacob), she inadvertently encourages his rebel streak, and he falls in love. Unfortunately, he is not the only man in the house who is taken with Heloise.

This is one of those small little movies that emerges from nowhere and ends up in the video store after no one catches it at the theater. Norman is delightful as the innocent young boy who wants to learn about all the forbidden topics in life - sex, death and jazz. Colin Firth is excellent as Edward, the boy's father who is also rebelling against his father figure.

The most interesting portion of the movie is the theme of generational warfare, especially among the men. Check it out this weekend.
Grade: B+

Runaway Bride

Just in time for the ladies who don't want to be bothered with the Super Bowl. Julia Roberts stars as a legendary woman who has become known for leaving her fiances at the altar. Richard Gere is the reporter who wants to write the story, but falls in love with the subject. If you don't care if the Rams beat the Titans this weekend, this one is for you.

My Son the Fanatic

Parvez (Om Puri) is a Pakistani immigrant who has spent 25 years in England driving a cab. Most of his business comes from prostitutes who need transportation to and from appointments, and he has formed a loving relationship with one of them, Bettina (Rachel Griffiths). His son, Farid (Akbar Kurtha), is supposed to marry an English girl, but he has decided that he wants to live a more traditional Pakistani lifestyle instead of continuing to assimilate into the English culture. He becomes involved with a fundamentalist group and causes a great rift in the family as he rebels against the type of life Parvez is leading.

I was moved by Puri's performance. He portrays a loving father trying to let his son explore and investigate life, but feels he must step in when his new obsession goes too far. Rachel Griffiths plays a familiar role in movie history, the prostitute with a heart of gold, but it is not cliched and Director Udayan Prasad takes some bold chances by showing her "at work", unlike movies such as Pretty Woman, which whitewash the issue. This adds another dimension to Griffith's character, which makes her more interesting and believable.
Grade: B

New on Video for the weekend of
January 21 - 23, 2000

An Ideal Husband

Rejoice! The long drought of entertaining new videos is over. Based on an Oscar Wilde play and set in 1895, An Ideal Husband is this week's most interesting new arrival at your local video store.

Jeremy Northam stars as Robert, an up-and-coming Member of Parliament faced with an ethical challenge. Mrs. Chevely (Julianne Moore) threatens to reveal his scandalous past unless he supports a project that she has invested in. If he changes his position, he faces charges of flip-flopping. If he stays true to his earlier public statements, he faces the loss of his loving and beautiful wife, Gertrude (Cate Blanchett).

Things become more complicated when Mrs. Chevely and Robert seek the advice and counsel of Lord Arthur Goring (Rupert Everett), London's most eligible, but confirmed bachelor. Several interesting plot twists ensue revolving around past and current love interests.

The film is a wonderful political thriller, but also a whimsical farce typical of Wilde's work. Everett is utterly charming and witty as the man who refuses to get married and Moore shows a darker, more mischievous side to her that has not been revealed in other characters she has played. Although the film's advertising centered on Everett, don't count out Northam. He puts in a strong performance as the man trapped by a past that brings him much embarrassment. Check it out this week. Grade: A-


You can always count on Steve Martin to deliver a funny, satirical and insightful script. In this film, Martin plays a washed-up, struggling independent film maker who will go to any lengths to get a big Hollywood star (Eddie Murphy) in his film, even filming him without permission and using a double. Also stars last summer's It-Girl Heather Graham.

Twin Falls Idaho

A critically acclaimed film about the troubles and challenges faced by a pair of Siamese twins. This film earned raves on the festival circuit last year.

New on Video for the weekend of
January 14 - 16, 2000

The Mystery Men

We are all familiar with crimefighters like Superman and Batman, but what about the lesser-known superheroes?

In this film, based on the underground cartoon classic, Captain Amazing (Greg Kinear) is Champion City's leading crimefighter, but he is doing his job too well. He has captured all the dangerous criminals and his sponsors want him to perform more high profile deeds of daring. Left without much of a challenge, Captain Amazing schemes to help his arch nemesis, Cassanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush), earn his parole. Captain Amazing figures he will allow the supervillian to return to his evil ways, then capture him in a high profile event that is sure to keep his sponsors happy. However, Frankenstein captures our hero and the only people who can stop him are The Mystery Men.

Who are The Mystery Men? A collection of superhero-wannabes with less than thrilling superpowers. Can they stop Cassanova Frankenstein? Questionable.

Ben Stiller plays Mr. Furious, whose only power is his ability to become very angry. Anyone who saw his guest appearance on Friends will recognize the character.

William H. Macy shines as The Shoveler, a superhero who uses a shovel as his main weapon against crime, but is constantly nagged by his wife to give up his sagging career. He puts in the best performance of the group by delivering his most humorous lines with a straight faced, dead pan delivery. The blue collar attitude and delivery style match his character very well.

Hank Azaria is The Blue Raja, a master of cutlery who lives with his mother. Proving that he is a modern day Mel Blanc, Azaria develops another character and voice that is nothing like what we have seen from him before. He takes his ludicrous character seriously and registers some of the films biggest laughs.

Unfortunately, the script does not live up to the stellar cast. Director Kikna Usher and writer Neil Cuthbert load up the film with too many characters and cheap potty jokes, when they should have spent more time focusing on the main characters I have already mentioned. We should have seen more of The Shoveler's battles with his wife, Blue Raja's difficulty living at home while trying to be a super hero and more background on the Captain Amazing/Cassanova Frankenstein rivalry. Kinnear and Rush are hilarious when on screen, but they aren't given enough time. Grade: C+

Detroit Rock City

In the 70's, you liked disco or you liked KISS. This film follows the travails of a group of teenage guys as they try to make it to a KISS concert.

Lake Placid

Nominated by Roger Ebert as one of the worst movies of 1999 and I second that nomination. Local residents try to cope with a tremendous alligator who lives in the town's lake. Kinda like JAWS meets Jurrasic Park.

New on Video for the weekend of
January 7 - 9, 2000

The Thomas Crown Affair

Y2K fears, and traditionally low rental numbers for this week after the holidays, scared off most distributors, but MGM forged ahead with its release of this Pierce Brosnan-Rene Russo remake of the classic Steve McQueen film.

Brosnan plays Thomas Crown, a very rich acquisitions company owner who also likes to steal rare paintings. When he pilfers an expensive Monet from the local art gallery, Catherine Banning (Rene Russo), an insurance investigator/bounty hunter, and Mike McCann (Denis Leary), a New York City detective, investigate the crime. The NYPD doesn't believe that Crown, a major donor to the gallery, did it, but Banning uses some unconventional methods to see if she can recover the painting and collect the reward. Soon, Crown and Banning seem to be falling for each other, but is it an act to throw each other off the trail?

I want this film to be a sexy thriller. There are moments when the movie seems to be heading down a stylish path, but it often goes for a misappropriate lighthearted mood, especially with the accompanying music. Russo suffers most from the lighthearted direction, but shines when allowed to be sleek and sexy intstead of vulnerable and indecisive. Brosnan, with that English charm, is perfectly cast. Movie tries to become a love story towards the end, which doesn't work, and suffers from some illogical plot twists. However, the climax is brilliant. Grade: C

New on Video for the weekend of
December 31, 1999 - January 2, 2000

Mickey Blue Eyes

Think of every mob cliché that comes to mind. They all appear in this lackluster mafia spoof. Hugh Grant stars as Michael, an uptight British art auctioneer deeply in love with Gina (Jeanne Tripplehorn). After dating for three months, he decides to propose to her. As bad luck would have it, she is the daughter of a major mafia figure and doesn't want Michael to be corrupted. Soon, his new "business associates" are laundering money through the auction house, the FBI is starting to investigate and Michael wants to keep it all a secret from Gina. Can he avoid becoming corrupted and take Gina's hand in marriage?

You will recognize many of these characters and even some of the actors from classic mob pictures like The Godfather and Goodfellas. Unfortunately, Hugh Grant is playing the same type of flustered cter that he started portraying in Four Weddings and a Funeral, then continued with 9 Months and Notting Hill. Does he have any range? The film is doomed by a lack of chemistry between Grant and James Caan as well as a recycling of predictable mafia jokes. If you want to see a funny mob spoof, check out Analyze This with Billy Crystal and Robert DeNiro. Grade: D+

Universal Soldier: The Return

Jean-Claude Van Damme returns in a sequel to one of his best known roles. Wrestler Goldberg also make an appearance. With any luck, the Y2K bug will render all copies of this movie unplayable.

Dudley Do-Right

Brendan Fraser stars as the cartoon star and Sarah Jessica Parker is his long-suffering love interest.

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