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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.

HHH1/2 Ed Wood

Tim Burton's strange tribute to Hollywood's worst director, Ed Wood, is a bittersweet experience, thanks largely to some stellar performances. Johnny Depp plays the transvestial grade-Z movie director of such notorious titles as Plan Nine from Outer Space and Glen or Glenda? Best Supporting Actor Oscar-winner Martin Landau transforms himself into Bela Lugosi, the legendary screen actor and definitive screen Dracula. Lugosi is Ed Wood's idol and best friend, starring in most of Wood's infamously horrible films because he is in the twilight of his film career and cannot find other work. In an industry full of oddities, where truth is stranger than fiction, Landau's resemblance to Lugosi is as uncanny as his performance. LSC Saturday.

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.

HHH Stuart Saves His Family

This film, the latest of the Saturday Night Live cast members' bids for big-screen stardom, is an adaptation of the SNL skit "Daily Affirmation with Stuart Smalley." Stuart (Al Franken), veteran of countless 12-step programs, spouts wisdom on a local cable-TV show while he tries deal with painful memories of his dysfunctional family. Between his overweight, divorced sister Jodie (Leslie Boone), an alcoholic father (Harris Yulin), a co-dependent mother (Shirley Knight), and a loser brother (Vincent D'Onofrio), it's easy to see why Stuart is a bit abnormal. No matter what he tries to do to "save" his family, his efforts always fail so that he is left staring into his trademark mirror: "You're good enough, you're smart enough, and, gosh darn it, people like you." This concept may sound disastrous, but the movie's strength is its ability to walk the fine line between fiction and reality. Although the ad hypes it as "the movie that puts the fun back in dysfunctional," the movie transcends its comic basis by introducting characters that aren't objects of ridicule but real people who crave love and understanding. -TE. Sony Copley Place.

H1/2 Tommy Boy

Another film which includes cast members from SNL (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.

HH1/2 While You Were Sleeping

A romantic comedy with a lot of classic scenes. Sandra Bullock plays Lucy, a lonely Chicago Transit Authority worker who falls in love with Peter, a nice guy who rides the train to work every day. She's waiting for the right opportunity to meet him when one day, she saves him from a speeding train. He's at the hospital in coma, and through some misunderstandings, his family believes that she's his fiance. Then she meets Peter's brother, Jack, and the plot thickens. The film is entertaining because from the starting situation, the story and characters evolve in a likeable way. It isn't jaded or cynical; it's a funny love story that your younger siblings, your girl/boydfriend, or your parents can enjoy. The play-like tone is set early in the film, and for some reason it helps the viewer overcome (even more than good direction in an action film) the looking-into-a-window effect that films generally give. Sandra Bullock performs well in both the romantic and comedic scenes. Overall, it's a nice date movie, or a movie to see with a bunch of friends. But I wouldn't see it for unique cinematic excellence, because it doesn't fully use the features of the film medium. -KS. Sony Copley Place.

HHH1/2 White

The second film in director Krzystof Kieslowski's "three colors" trilogy focuses on the exploits of Karol Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski), a Polish man who is destroyed by the inability to fulfill the love he has for his French wife (Julie Delpy), and must rise from the ashes of his "death" for a chance at spiritual renewal. To do so, he must achieve personal wealth and satisfaction in his homeland before seeking out revenge on his one true love. A comedy that never loses site of its existential ties to the theme of equality, Kieslowski again has directed a winner. -SD. LSC Friday.