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Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

Page 5 of 5

STUART LITTLE 2 (PG) The similarities to E.B. White's original, classic children's book are becoming increasingly remote. The title character, a talking mouse (voiced by Michael Fox) adopted by a human couple (Geena Davis and Hugh Laurie), pitches woo with a parakeet (voiced by Melanie Griffith) and matches wits with a hawk.

THE SUM OF ALL FEARS (PG-13) A well-crafted throwback to the thrillers of Cold War era, this Tom Clancy adaptation brings back our fears of potential nuclear conflict. At first Ben Affleck seems over his head as CIA analyst Jack Ryan (a role played by Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford), but he ingratiates himself while trying to unravel a terrorist conspiracy against America. The transcontinental plotting can be murky, but the third act features spectacular disasters and the chilling sensation of events spinning out of control.--CH

SWIMFAN (PG-13) Traffic's Erika Christensen develops a fatal attraction for her school's star swimmer (Jesse Brandford) in this thriller from first-time director John Polson.

24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE (R) TV personality/music entrepreneur Andy Wilson (Steve Coogan) is our amusingly self-important eyewitness and guide to the Manchester music scene, from an ill-attended Sex Pistols gig to the flowering of rave culture. The documentary-style elements are first-rate, but the film is more interested in the swirl of events than individual relationships, letting you tap your foot to the beat without providing any emotional toe-holds. If you're already a fan of Joy Division and Happy Mondays, you'll appreciate it all the more. --CH

UNDISPUTED (R) Director Walter Hill referees this match-up of the Boxing and Prison genres, as a jailhouse boxer (Wesley Snipes) gets a bout with a world champion (Ving Rhames) convicted of tape a la Mike Tyson. With Rhames' charisma, a lively pace yet not as much punch as an average "Oz" episode, Undisputed floats like a butterfly, and stings sort of like a butterfly, too. --CH

XXX (PG-13) Vin Diesel -- the Dolph Lundgren of the new millennium - plays an extreme-sports jock and reluctant secret agent in this stunt-driven, pllot-deprived action movie from the hack who "wrote" Airheads and The Jerky Boys. There are lots of super-duper spy gadgets and pyrotechnic displays, some nice European scenery and one moderately exciting sequence involving an avalanche. Otherwise, there's more character development and insightful commentary on ESPN's coverage of the X Games.--BO

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