Short subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

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IMPOSTOR (PG-13) Based on a Philip K. Dick story of the same name, this high-tech take on The Fugitive finds Gary Sinise as a futuristic engineer accused of being an alien spy. Featuring Madeleine Stowe and Vincent D'Onofrio, the film has literally spanned a millennium, having seen its theatrical release postponed for nearly two years.

IN THE BEDROOM (R) A thoughtful, admirable, first-director effort from actor Todd Field (Eyes Wide Shut), this story of how two chilly, noncommunicative Maine WASPS cope with their only son's death has a writerly attention to character, nuance and human behavior. Though Field's representation of his characters' suffering can at times feel a little meta-Bergman and precious, this timely story of grief and the search for revenge has enough application to the current social climate to make it resonate. --FF

JIMMY NEUTRON: BOY GENIUS (G) An accident-prone boy inventor comes to the rescue when aliens kidnap his parents in a computer-animated, big-screen version of the Nickelodeon cartoon. Voice actors include Martin Short, Andrea Martin and Patrick Stewart.

JOE SOMEBODY (PG) His work as Buzz Lightyear aside, Tim Allen is the new Steve Guttenberg, a bland actor whose generic films keep getting bankrolled. Allen's disrespected corporate employee gets punched out by a co-worker, and declares that he wants a rematch, which suddenly earns him love and respect (is this a multi-million dollar corporation or an elementary school?) You know you're in trouble when you're actively waiting for Jim Belushi to make an appearance in a movie. --MB

KATE & LEOPOLD 1/2 (PG-13) Meg Ryan, whose ceaseless attempts to remain the pixie queen of frothy romantic comedies are becoming embarrassing, plays Kate, an ambitious sales executive who falls for a 19th century Duke (Hugh Jackman, making another career misstep) transported to present-day New York. After an insufferable first half in which we watch Leopold predictably become perplexed by modern-day gadgets, the second half marginally picks up thanks to the pleasing presence of Breckin Meyer as Kate's good-natured brother. --MB

THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING (PG-13) Adapting the first and longest book of J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy, Peter Jackson offers an all-but-perfect fantasy epic that's no simple piece of story-book escapism. The titular fellowship (played by a superbly cast ensemble including Elijah Wood and Ian McKellan) contend with evil forces as journey across land of Middle-Earth to destroy a magic ring. Jackson offers a full immersion in an imaginary world, and even when some virtual environments look fake, they bristle with personality. Thrilling -- and exhausting -- at a full three hours, Fellowship's greatest achievement is that it never loses sight of the human side of its fanciful story. --CH

THE MAJESTIC (PG) Jim Carrey makes another bid for respectability in director Frank Darabont's fantasy set in the McCarthyite 1950s. Carrey plays Pete, a blacklisted, amnesiac screenwriter mistaken for a long-lost WWII vet in a small town. The first part of the movie, dealing with Pete's involvement with the town's perpetually chipper residents will strike some viewers as inspiring and others as manipulative, while the final act, centered on Pete's stand against the House Un-American Activities Committee, whitewashes a tragic chapter in U.S. history. --MB

MONSTERS INC. (G) Remember the Warner Bros. cartoons in which the coyote and sheepdog would carry lunchpails and punch time clocks? Pixar's latest feat of computer animation employs a similar blue-collar incongruity, depicting the endearing monsters who scare children, and the chaos that erupts when a human kid gets loose in their world. The script isn't as solid as the Toy Story movies', but the creepy-crawlies come in wildly imaginative shapes and hues, and the climactic chase is excitingly surreal. With the voices of John Goodman, Billy Crystal and Steve Buscemi.

NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE (R) The ferocity with which director Joel Gallen and his five writers deconstruct and devour the teen flick deserves some respect, as the film includes letter-perfect take-offs on everything from the John Hughes oeuvre of the 80s right up to the student-skewering hits of today. But for all its eager-beaver zeal to deliver raunchy laughs, the film provides the gross-outs but not the gags -- at least, not enough good ones to make it anything more than a quickie toss-off. --MB

OCEAN'S ELEVEN 1/2 (PG-13) There are a number of ways Steven Soderbergh could have botched his replay of Lewis Milestone's tongue-in-cheek 1960 Rat Pack Heist film. But Soderbergh shows, yet again, his flexibility when it comes to tackling a new genre, and an ability to adapt the winking cool of the original to the swingers generation. Hip, funny and laid-back, the only thing missing is an explanation for why former-indie-with-a-vision Soderbergh is so hung up on recrafting old genre material and rehashing others' work. --FF


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