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Short subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

Page 4 of 6

JOE DIRT (PG-13) 1/2 David Spade, amusing in small doses, wears out his welcome many times over as the mullet-headed title character who's out of touch, out of style and out to find the parents who deserted him at the Grand Canyon 25 years ago. Los Angeles shock jock Dennis Miller makes Joe a 15-minute celebrity by giving him a forum to tell his story. The majority of laughs involve Joe being hurt and humiliated. Spade might have been able to keep Joe interesting for an eight-minute sketch, but a feature? No way, Dude. -- SW

JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS (PG-13) 1/2 The titular trio reaches the big screen via a '60s comic book and a '70s animated TV series. Only Tara Reid, as the standard dumb blonde, has a personality as she, Rachael Leigh Cook and Rosario Dawson play punk without attitude. The easy listening hard-rockers become overnight sensations, then realize their records contain subliminal advertising, a "conspiracy to brainwash the youth of America with pop music." As a satire on consumerism it's hardly a teenage Fight Club -- and you wouldn't call the product placement subliminal -- but this mild diversion has its moments. -- SW

JOURNEY INTO AMAZING CAVES (R) Nancy Aulenbach of Norcross, a cave rescue specialist, is paired with British microbiologist Dr. Hazel Barton in this stunning IMAX documentary that takes them to Arizona, Greenland and the Yucatan in search of extremophiles, "microbes which thrive in the harshest of conditions," some of which will be the source of new medicines. A few remarks in Liam Neeson's narration might be explained or challenged, but most are innocuous enough. This Journey is filled with visual excitement for sedentary types, visceral excitement for the Xtreme crowd and a bit of information it won't hurt any of us to know. Playing March 24-Sept. 3 at the IMAX theater at Fernbank Museum. -- SW

JUST VISITING (PG-13) A soupcon of Gallic charm (mostly in Jean Reno's romantic performance as a 12th-century French count who time-travels to 21st-century Chicago) drowns in a vat of American bombast (courtesy of John Hughes, who assisted the original writers with the adaptation) in an English-language remake of Les Visiteurs, one of the most popular films of the '90s in France. This low comedy has a high cheese factor, with eight-plus centuries of culture shock expressed mostly in bathroom humor. -- SW

KINGDOM COME (PG) Soul Food was just an appetizer for this African-American family comedy that brings a dysfunctional brood together to bury their patriarch. Whoopi Goldberg plays it almost straight as the widow while Loretta Devine takes comic honors as her ever-praying sister-in-law. Goldberg's sons, LL Cool J and Anthony Anderson, are in troubled marriages (to Vivica A. Fox and Jada Pinkett Smith) but no problems are too big to be resolved neatly for a feel-good ending. The actors and most of the script make up for technical shortcomings in the funniest funeral since Chuckles bit the dust. -- SW

MEMENTO 1/2 (R) An investigator (Guy Pearce) suffering from short term memory loss tries to track down his wife's killer in Christopher Nolan's ingenious thriller. As in Harold Pinter's Betrayal the scenes unfold in reverse order, so both the audience and the forgetful hero are constantly thrust into the unknown. Complicated. exhilarating and dark, Memento's ending leaves your head spinning -- counterclockwise. --CH

THE MEXICAN (R) In this disposable but entertaining star vehicle Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts have a relationship so dysfunctional you wonder why they bother, but that's Hollywood's idea of romance. They're apart for most of the picture, the heart of which is Roberts' association with James Gandolfini, a hitman with a twist who kidnaps her to ensure Pitt brings an antique pistol back from Mexico. Overall the movie's a mixed bag, with more positives (a literate, often witty script; slightly surreal visuals) than negatives (cliched scenes and plot twists, Nancy Sinatra's overplayed "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" on the soundtrack). -- SW

MUMMY RETURNS (PG-13) 1/2 Even more so than the OK 1999 blockbuster The Mummy, this Raiders of the Lost Ark rip-off is pure adrenaline overkill, a nonstop barrage of movement and noise. Yeah, I realize the breathless preview makes this look like the greatest show on earth, but, truth be told, I was actually bored by many of the frenzied activities taking place on the screen. The original cast, including Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz as the good guys and Arnold Vosloo as the title terror, returns largely unchanged, and the murky story line (marked by its share of inconsistencies and lapses in logic) has something to do with the resurrected Imhotep (Vosloo) fighting a resurrected warrior known as the Scorpion King (pro wrestler The Rock) for global domination. Reportedly, plans are already underway for a third Mummy movie, a development that makes me want to confront Sommers and utter a line from this sorry sequel: "You began a chain reaction that could trigger the next apocalypse!" -- MB

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