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On The Screen

HHHH: Excellent

HHH: Good

HH: Average

H: Poor

HHH Bad Boys

Miami Narcotics Detectives Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) are assigned to protect a beautiful material witness (Tia Leoni) from the bad guys. Smith and Lawrence work well together. Bad Boys is a great film with the right qualitative balance of action and comedy. This balance is filmed with skill by director Michael Bay. You get caught up in the action; it's of such quality that you become part of it. The direction adds an altogether new dimension to the pleasant combination of action and comedy. The one thing that takes away from the film is the lousy editing. The scene transitions are sometimes annoyingly noticeable; I got the feeling that a lot of material that aided continuity was cut out. However the interesting story, fast pace, and in-sync comedy make this a great action film which only increases my anticipation for the summer film season. -Kamal Swamidoss. Sony Cheri.

HH Circle of Friends

This romantic trifle from Ireland bears the earmarks of a formulaic lighthearted Hollywood coming-of-age drama. College student Bennie (Minnie Driver) vies for the attention of Jack (Chris O'Donnell), star rugby player and all-around sensitive guy, between her two friends: faithful, trustworthy Eve (Geraldine O'Rawe) and seductive, beautiful Nan (Saffron Burrows). From first glance, we know that Jack and Bennie are made for each other, with sophomoric ideals and hearts of gold, but they are kept apart by the tyranny or jealousy of others, namely Sean (Alan Cumming), a local serpentine villain, and Bennie's own overprotective parents. When tragedy eventually strikes, it comes as no surprise: The plot devices can be seen a mile away. The movie relies on its simple-minded charm and fresh performances to win over audiences, but it comes up short. -Scott Deskin. Sony Cheri.

HHH Muriel's Wedding

This funny but superficial look at life in the small town of Porpoise Spit, Australia nonetheless manages to touch on such heavy issues as grand larceny, paraplegia, adultery, and parental suicide. Unfortunately, P.J. Hogan's first film lacks character development. Muriel's obsession with the rock band ABBA and her wig-and-satin karaoke act are all too reminiscent of the last big film from Down Under: The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, but her antics provide insight into the Australian psyche. In all, Muriel's Wedding is a funny, touching look at one woman's struggle to overcome obesity, poverty, insecurity, and friendlessness to come into her own. Watch it. -Teresa Esser. Sony Nickelodeon.

HHH1/2 Outbreak

Dustin Hoffman and Rene Russo are government doctors trying to find the antibody for a highly infectious, absolutely fatal disease. Donald Sutherland and Morgan Freeman round out the leads as Army officers working from their own agenda. Their objectives and mutual interactions form the plot to this entertaining suspense-action film. It's mostly a plot movie, but what a plot! If you accept the opening premise, then everything that follows is plausible. As a suspense film, there are lots of crucial moments where Hoffman must "do the right thing;" Sutherland, as the bad guy, pulls off his role quite well. -KS. Sony Copley Place.

HHHH Pulp Fiction

Winner of the Palm d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival, this movie combines standard plots of hit men, junkies, and criminals, with an amazing facility with storytelling. The plot consists of three principle stories: First, the daily experiences of two hit men (John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson); second, Travolta's character involved with his gangster boss' wife (Uma Thurman) as an escort; and third, the plans of a boxer, who has been paid off to take a dive in the ring, instead choosing to win the fight and take off with the money and his girlfriend. Although these film noir concepts may seem a bit clichd, writer-director Quentin Tarantino infuses his characters with crackling dialogue and a sense of purpose (e.g., Jackson's hit-man character quoting Bible verses as a prelude to execution). Tarantino's career may still be young, beginning with the cult hit Reservoir Dogs (1992) and recently surfacing in his scripts for True Romance and Natural Born Killers, but his latest film confirms his mission to shake up the current course of cinema. Sony Copley Place.

H1/2 Tommy Boy

The latest film to include cast members from Saturday Night Live (about the fourth this year, so far) features Chris Farley as a bumbling college graduate with a D+ average, poised to take the reins of the family auto parts factory from his father (Brian Dennehy). Meanwhile, his dad's new wife (Bo Derek) and her dark, brooding son (Rob Lowe) have plans to take over the same factory. Conflict ensues, Farley enlists David Spade, a sales representative for the company, to help him, and they both hit the road. Needless to say, Tommy Boy borrows heavily from its much funnier predecessor, Wayne's World. Even if you manage to evaluate both films at the same juvenile level, none of the new film's lip-syncs can match Wayne and Garth's version of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." Yet, with the intellectual content of Cheez Whiz, this film is best viewed in the comfort of one's own home, and (probably) beats another episode of SNL. -TE. Sony Cheri.