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Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

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LIKE MIKE (PG) That's Mr. Wow to you! Lil Bow Wow plays an adolescent boy who, when struck by lightning while holding a pair of Michael Jordan's sneakers, becomes a basketball star. (Hey, is it any more far-fetched than being bitten by a genetically-modified spider?) This family sports fantasy include such unexpected supporting players as Crispin Glover, Anne Meara and Eugene Levy.

LILO & STITCH (PG) A fluffy but destructive alien mutation hides from his intergalactic pursuers by passing as the pet of a lonely Hawaiian girl. Imagine the Tasmanian Devil impersonating E.T. and you'll have a sense of the Looney Tunes level of slapstick. The schmaltz gets high enough to surf on, but the characters are appealing and Disney replaces its usual atrocious pop songs with Elvis hits.--CH

LITTLE SECRETS (PG) Evan Rachel Wood is a gifted young violinist who spends her summer practicing for symphony auditions while her friends attend summer camp. As the neighborhood secret keeper, she lends an objective ear to neighborhood kids needing to assuage their guilty consciences. But Emily has some secrets of her own.

LOVELY & AMAZING (R) An acutely observed alterna-melodrama about three Los Angeles sisters and their equally neurotic mother, indie director Nicole Holofcener's follow-up to Walking and Talking observes her troubled, surly, sad characters with a degree of wit and insight that makes them likable and real. --FF

THE MASTER OF DISGUISE (PG) Test your Dana Carvey tolerance in this comedy from the former cast member of "Saturday Night Live." Here plays a nebbishy quick change artist whose retinue includes old ladies, George W. Bush and a guy who looks like a turtle. Surely one of his alter egos must be funny. Right?

MEN IN BLACK II (PG-13) Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones return as attitudinal alien-busting secret agents in this mind-bogglingly, jaw-droppingly egregious sequel to their somewhat diverting 1997 cash cow. A negligible "plot" gives them something to squawk about amid the usual barrage of computer-generated effects, but the movie exists most appreciably to serve the greed of its responsible parties. The best to said of the monumental mess is that it's all over in a (suspiciously) brief 88 minutes. --BO

MINORITY REPORT (PG-13) A half-century from now, high-tech police can arrest perpetrators before they commit their crimes, and officer Tom Cruise believes in the system until it sets its sights on him. Director Steven Spielberg offers a brilliant extrapolation of future law-enforcement and marketing techniques, which inform many of suspense sequences while inspiring ideas about privacy and guilt. Some jarring shifts in tone (an Indiana Jones-esque fight here, a gross-out sight gag there) hinder the narrative and thematic momentum, and the director's emulation of 1940s film noir results in both highly mannered acting and superbly moody, filtered cinematography. --CH

MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING (PG) While not as accomplished as Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding,- this is nevertheless a gratifying romantic comedy that gently tweaks stereotypes even as its characters wallow in them. Adapted by Nia Vardalos from her own one-woman show, the film centers on the plight of a 30-year-old lonelyheart (Vardalos) who risks the wrath of her family when she falls for a non-Greek (John Corbett).--MB

THE NOTORIOUS C.H.O. (NR) Clever comedian Margaret Cho goes bawdier in a performance she claims was inspired by the nasty, larger-than-life sistas of rap music. Recorded in a performance at Seattle's Paramount Theater, Cho's naughty probes of her over-used orifices and the nooks and crannies of her mind is sometimes funny, sometimes not, but will certainly appeal to devout fans of the good girl-gone-outlaw. --FF

PANDORA'S BOX (R) Atlanta's own director/producer team of Rob Hardy and Will Packer present this locally made thriller about a psychiatrist drawn into a deadly game of cat and mouse. With Michael Jai White, Monica Calhoun and Joey Lawrence.

POSSESSION (PG-13) A pair of young English professors (Gwyneth Paltrow and Aaron Eckhart) unearth a secret affair between two famed Victorian poets (Jeremy Northam and Jennifer Ehle) in caustic director Neil LaBute's attempted change of pace. Whenever he strays from the film's literary mystery, he gets bogged down in gratuitous American-British put-downs and facile insights into the human heart, with one plot point hinging on whether Paltrow will literally let her hair down.--CH

READ MY LIPS (NR) An angry, hearing-impaired office worker (the seething, sensual Emmanuelle Devos) forms a mutually beneficial relationship with a well-meaning ex-con (Vincent Cassel) in this gripping, surprising French drama. The first half is a barbed, moody examination of corporate culture that gradually gives way to a more conventional crime story, but the film has consistent suspense, humor and insight into the isolation of its lead characters. At Tara Cinema.--CH

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