Short Subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

Page 4 of 4

PAY IT FORWARD (PG-13) A crass, manipulative tearjerker aimed at the knee-caps of the Oprah crowd, Mimi Leder's tiny tot social-issue melodrama features The Sixth Sense's waif Haley Joel Osment as an 11-year-old inspired by his new teacher (Kevin Spacey) to go out and change the world by performing good deeds. Osment starts at home, where he tries to fix up his boozer mom with his straight-laced teacher. -- FF

RED PLANET (PG-13) 1/2 Lacking Brian DePalma's neat-o set pieces that made March's Mission to Mars marginally tolerable, this similarly-themed and structured film sends a team of astronauts on a spectacularly botched mission to the fourth planet. With a cast featuring Val Kilmer and Terence Stamp, The Matrix's Carrie-Anne Moss is the only stand-out, and the menace of a malfunctioning, panther-like robot generates little suspense. -- CH

REMEMBER THE TITANS (PG) Producer Jerry Bruckheimer's films tend to be as slick as TV ads, but this depiction of a newly integrated high school football team's victories on the field and off plays more like a public service announcement on steroids. Glossy and shamelessly manipulative, it's nevertheless involving in spite of itself, with Denzel Washington leading an agreeable cast of young actors. Filmed in Atlanta. -- CH

REQUIEM FOR A DREAM (NR) 1/2 Actually, Pi director Darren Aaronofsky's follow-up feature only deserves a single for dishing up an old-hat, moralistic diatribe about the dangers of drug addiction, but why pick nits? Solid performances by Jennifer Connely, Ellen Burstyn and Marlon Wayans and genuinely phenomenal camera work and cutting make this story about the woes of 20- and 60-something junkies one of the year's most impressive outings. -- EM

RUGRATS IN PARIS: THE MOVIE (G) 1/2 A child's first lesson in international awareness (through largely stereotypical French and Japanese characters), the sequel has celebrity voices and references to R-rated movies for baby-sitters. Coco La Bouche (Susan Sarandon), a milder, French-accented Cruella De Vil, brings the gang over so Stu Pickles can do Reptar repair at EuroReptarland. Coco needs to marry for a promotion and widowed Chas Finster wants a new mommy for Chuckie, so Coco goes to work. Adult issues are seen mostly from the children's point of view, and there's still plenty of time for jokes about the Rugrats' real concern: body functions. -- SW

THE 6TH DAY (PG-13) 1/2 Morally complex issues around human cloning are reduced to a basic shoot-'em-up in Arnold Schwarzenegger's best vehicle since True Lies. It would be even better if it didn't degenerate into a series of familiar action sequences that go on far too long. The first half is a good-humored sci-fi movie set in the near future, but once Arnold is accidentally cloned while he's still alive and has to fight to stay that way, it becomes a routine action movie. The sun sets too early on The 6th Day, but half a good sci-fi thriller is far above the recent average. -- SW

UNBREAKABLE (PG-13) When a stadium security guard (Bruce Willis) emerges unscathed from a train wreck, an enigmatic dealer in comic book art (Samuel L. Jackson) suspects him of having extranormal abilities. With the same star, style and Philadelphia setting as The Sixth Sense, M. Night Shyamalan's follow-up provides comparable suspense and craftsmanship, even as the idiosyncratic plot teeters at the brink of comic book camp. -- CH

YOU CAN COUNT ON ME (R) A tender, beautifully written character study about the complicated relationship between a grown brother and sister whose lives have been marked by the deaths of their parents when they were children, this first film from Kenneth Lonergan is a closely observed, thoughtful look at family in an age of much lip service to "family values" with little attention to the subtleties of family dynamics. Laura Linney is the seemingly balanced, responsible single mother, and Mark Ruffalo is her directionless, pothead brother who comes to visit his sister in her small upstate New York town and becomes a significant influence on her 8-year-old son. -- FF


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  • Re: Fresh air

    • Local band Manchester Orchestra, who provided the soundtrack, probably would have appreciated a shout-out.

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