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On The Screen

HHHH: Excellent

HHH: Good

HH: Average

H: Poor

HHH Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

Though this silly movie is merely a vehicle for the comedic talent of Jim Carrey, it is genuinely funny. Carrey's facial and vocal caricatures are hilariously fresh, and he shines in this, his first starring role. Playing Ace Ventura, the world's only pet detective, he is hired to track down Snowflake, the Miami Dolphins mascot. The abduction of Dan Marino (as himself) complicates the plot, which is surprisingly interesting, considering the genre of the film. In a cascade of foolhardy blunders and semi-decent detective work, Ace tracks down the perpetrators in his own unique way. Be prepared to laugh a lot at the up-and-coming big-screen comedian. --J. Michael Andresen. Loews Copley Place

HHH Cool Runnings

Based on the true story of 1988 Jamaican Bobsled Team, the film is actually quite enjoyable despire its overused themes. Starring Leon (remember Madonna's "Like a Prayer" video?), Doug E. Doug, and John Candy, the film follows four Jamaican athletes and their coach on an adventure from a sunny island to the Calgary Winter Olympics. The underdog story has its own unique scenario, and manages to pass as a sweet mixture of comedy and heart. --Craig K. Chang. LSC Friday

H Gunmen

A politically incorrect film about a race to find a boat full of cash. The film relies on two rules: 1) Shoot anyone that gets in your way. 2) Keep your eyes on the money. If for nothing else, watch it to see Patrick Stewart say a Hail Mary and various expletives while being buried alive. Definitely not for kids. --CKC Loews Fresh Pond

HHHH In the Name of the Father

Daniel Day-Lewis offers a riveting portrayal of a young man named Gerry Conlon who is convicted, along with friends and family, of an IRA bombing of a British pub in 1974. The film addresses the grave injustice that the British government dealt the Conlons, but it uses the relationship in prison between Gerry and his father Guiseppe (an excellent Pete Postlethwaite) to carry the film's message of hope and redemption. Director Jim Sheridan's pro-Irish bias provides an effective retaliation against England's tendency to make Ireland a scapegoat for the IRA's actions. And Emma Thompson gives a solid performance as the lawyer who struggles to bring freedom to the Conlons. Quite simply, it ranks as one of the best films of 1993. --Scott Deskin. Loews Copley Place

HHH Mrs. Doubtfire

After a messy divorce, Daniel Hillard (Robin Williams) will do anything to see his kids again. His plot involves becoming a woman. As Mrs. Doubtfire, he manages to turn around his life and the lives of others. Williams' hilarious performance and a few touching scenes make up for a dismal beginning and much run-of-the-mill slapstick. --CKC Loews Copley Place

HH The Pelican Brief

Julia Roberts is a law student who has created a legal brief which details her ideas on who recently murdered two Supreme Court justices and how it relates to the president. Denzel Washington is a reporter for the Washington Herald whom Roberts contacts when her lover and his friend are killed after they see the brief. Roberts is near perfect and plays the stressed and paranoid student to the hilt. Washington is convincing, playing the determined reported who will stop at nothing to get a story. The strength of the film is in how it is able to carefully develop its plot and keep the audience's attention until contents of the brief are revealed at the very end. --Patrick Mahoney. Loews Copley Place

HHH Philadelphia

Hollywood's film "about" AIDS is really about discrimination and human dignity. Tom Hanks is the HIV-positive lawyer who alleges he was fired from his prestigious law firm because of AIDS discrimination, and Denzel Washington is the homophobic lawyer that agrees to take his suit to court. The film's power lies in its message, but at times it suffers from Jonathan Demme's heavy-handed direction, mistaking stilted sentiment for raw emotion. Still, the performances of Hanks, Washington, and a fine supporting cast carry the film to a near-triumphant conclusion. --SD Loews Cheri

HHHH Schindler's List

Director Steven Spielberg triumphs in this historical drama about Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), who was responsible for saving the lives of more than a thousand Jews during the Holocaust. Shot almost entirely in black and white, the film takes you to the Poland of the late 30s and early 40s. Neeson is great, carefully portraying the slow change from a man who only cares about money to one who cares only about saving lives. Ben Kingsley perfectly plays Itzhak Stern, Schindler's Jewish accountant who cunningly sidesteps Nazi officials. Ralph Fiennes portrays the unswervingly-loyal Amon Goeth, the Commandant of the Nazi labor camp. Through Fiennes the audience is able to witness the hatred, brutality, and widespread death. Overall the movie is incredibly powerful, and brings to light one of the darkest periods of human history. --PM Loews Nickelodeon

HHH1/2 What's Eating Gilbert Grape

Bolstered by excellent performances by Leonardo DiCaprio, who received a Golden Globe nomination for his role, and Johnny Depp, this film may be the most honest and original film of the year. Gilbert Grape (Depp) is plagued through much of the film by a nagging ambivalence to the problems in his life. The ways in which he eventually confronts these problems, however, are so subtlely reached that the story can never be accused of plot manipulation or cliche. --SD Loews Nickelodeon