Short Subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

Page 3 of 5

FINDING NEMO (G) Pixar's latest computer-animated catch follows a meek, single-dad clown fish (Albert Brooks) as he journeys from the Great Barrier Reef to an aquarium in a Sydney dentist's office to save his son. The film's episodic format plays to Pixar's imaginative strengths, while the clever, air-tight script doesn't rely too heavily on "fish out of water" puns. Scene-stealing voice actors include Willem Dafoe as a scarred angel fish planning a great aquarium escape and Barry "Dame Edna" Humphries as a shark called Bruce trying to kicks the habit of eating his finny fellows.--CH

FROM JUSTIN TO KELLY (PG) The 2002 American Idols run the gamut of emotions from J to K in this sanitized spring break movie, which is as innocent as a 1960s Beach Party flick but not as funny. (The "Whip-Cream Bikini Contest" displays as much skin as a convent fashion show.) Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini each come to South Florida with two standard-issue friends, one of whom keeps them apart except when they have a radio-friendly duet to sing, in a movie that's as formulaic and artificial as its stars. -- SW

THE GUYS (PG) Shortly after 9/11, Joan the journalist (Sigourney Weaver) helps Nick the firehouse captain (Anthony LaPaglia) writes a eulogy for his "guys" lost in the World Trade Center collapse. Anne Nelson's play brought catharsis to New York after debuting in December of 2001, but time hasn't been kind to the work, and the undramatic script becomes an uncinematic movie. LaPaglia adds humor and gravity to his scenes, but Weaver can't keep Joan's agonizingly sincere digressions from sounding self-absorbed. At Madstone Theaters Parkside. --CH

HOLES (PG) This adaptation of Louis Sachar's children's book is good enough to be enjoyed equally by kids and their parents. Sachar himself wrote the script, which focuses on the plight of a hapless teen (Shia LaBeouf) wrongly convicted of robbery and sent to a boys' correctional facility in the middle of a desert. There, the warden (Sigourney Weaver) and her aides (Tim Blake Nelson and a hilariously over-the-top Jon Voight) order the boys to spend every day digging holes. While the ending may tie everything up a bit too tidily, there's no denying that there's real imagination at work here. --MB

HOLLYWOOD HOMICIDE (PG-13) You might think you've seen it all before in this haphazard action movie about mismatched detective partners who must overcome one hell of a contrived generation gap to save the day. In fact, you've just seen most of it before. Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett play against their wooden type, and director Ron Shelton devotes an inordinate amount of time to their extra-curricular activities: the former's a part-time real-estate broker, the latter a yoga instructor and aspiring actor. Nevertheless, the film relies on such usual suspects as crooked cops and hip-hop hoodlums, and culminates with a generic car chase.--Bert Osborne

HOUSE OF FOOLS (R) In this cliche-ridden Russian film from Andrei Konchalovsky an insane asylum loaded with adorably infantalized patients on the Russian-Chechen border is caught up in the battle between the Chechen civil war's opposing forces. With its magic realist tone and some interesting assertions of a unique Russian mind-set, House of Fools is an occasionally captivating, but more often silly little film. At Marietta Star Cinema--FF

THE HULK (PG-13) The big screen can scarcely contain Marvel Comics' emerald anti-hero with anger management issues, rendered as a muscle-bound force of nature thanks to computer effects. Alas, Ang Lee's film adaptation fails on nearly every other level, collapsing under flabby scripting and weakling performances from Jennifer Connelly and Eric Bana as the Hulk's emotionally inert alter ego Bruce Banner. The Hulk's desert battles with tanks, helicopters and jet fighters truly astonish, but it's a sad comment when a film's best scenes involve no actors, just CGI software and military hardware.--CH

IMAX IMAX Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure (NR) The greatest survival story of the 20th century lends itself to Imax treatment. Kevin Spacey narrates Sir Ernest Shackleton's attempt to cross Antarctica by dogsled without his usual sarcasm but without overselling it either. The visuals combine Frank Hurley's original photographs and film footage, which retain amazing clarity, with recreations of the original expedition. Coral Reef Adventure (NR) A Fijian, concerned that a local reef is dying, hooks up with underwater filmmakers Howard and Michele Hall, who diagnose a combination of ocean warming, overfishing and residue from upriver logging. Enjoy the kick-ass photography and CSN songs, but tune out Liam Neeson's narration that tries to hang ecological baggage on a narrative too flimsy to support it. Through Sept. 1. Fernbank Museum of Natural History IMAX Theater, 767 Clifton Road.


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