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On The Screen

HHHH: Excellent

HHH: Good

HH: Average

H: Poor

HHHH Aladdin

Never less than enormously entertaining, Disney's animated delight is a hilarious musical adventure based loosely on the Arabian Nights tale of a peasant boy and a magical lamp. Thanks to the vocal talents of comedians Robin Williams and Gilbert Gottfried and clever animation by Disney artists, this is probably the funniest animated film ever, but it never loses sight of the exuberant sense of wonder that permeates all of Disney's best works. And with a breakneck pace and an abundance of wonderful images, only a second viewing reveals most of the background gags and beautiful artistry that went into producing this absolute pleasure. LSC Saturday.

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 onthescraction; 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, giving 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 Copley Place.

H1/2 Destiny Turns on the Radio

Campy, offbeat films like The Blues Brothers and The Rocky Horror Picture Show achieve cult status by preserving a manic intensity of the actors to transcend trashy source material; Destiny Turns on the Radio is a lame attempt to make the most of its sci-fi-action-romance-comedy basis. Julian (Dylan McDermott) is an escaped convict who seeks out his old flame Lucille (Nancy Travis) in Las Vegas, who now - three years later - is the girlfriend of a vain casino boss (James Belushi). Along the way, he meets up with Harry (James LeGros), his partner in a bank heist who lost the money and became the proprietor of a strange motel, and Johnny Destiny (Quentin Tarantino, in an obvious, "hip" casting move), a supernatural caretaker of all the luck in the city of sin. Tarantino performs with a light touch, but only James LeGros retains any shred of identification with the audience through his lax attitude. The other actors don't add anything to the incredibly dumb and banal dialogue. It's likely this film's destiny is for the video shelves, if not oblivion. -SD. Sony Copley Place.

HH1/2 Kiss of Death

Ex-con Jimmy Kilmartin (David Caruso) has problems getting his life back in order with his wife (Helen Hunt) and infant daughter, as well as reconciling his past with his cousin Ronnie (Michael Rapaport), who pulls Jimmy back into the game of larceny and, eventually, back in jail. When Jimmy is released and finds that Ronnie has destroyed his life, he vows revenge on Ronnie and mob boss Little Junior (Nicholas Cage). Jimmy acts as a confidential informant for the police (represented by Samuel L. Jackson) in an joint effort with the district attorney's office to put Little Junior away. The film is a breed apart from most other mob films in that it explores the obstacles faced by a man trying to escape his dark past by taking one last plunge into the crime world. And the inner workings of justice are well-represented. Kiss of Death is probably a must-see for fans of the Godfather films and Goodfellas, but it can't live up to those films because of an empty, anticlimatic ending that negates the rest of the film. -Matthew E. Konosky. 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.

HHH1/2 Six Degrees of Separation

Will Smith (from TV's Fresh Prince of Bel Air) stars as a young man who cons his way into the ritzy apartment of an upper-class, New York couple (Donald Sutherland and Stockard Channing) by pretending he is the friend of their child's college friend and the son of Sidney Poitier. Not the combination of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Different Strokes that the plot suggests, Six Degrees is a witty, sophisticated satire. Adapted from John Guare's hit Broadway play, this movie has been described as "a comedy of manners," "a drama of ideas," and "a rich, funny, and disturbing parable of life in the morally wormy Big Apple." For audiences used to modern movies, which are lucky to have one main message, this film's multiplicity of themes could be overwhelming. But whether you love or hate this ambiguity, you'll find it hard to stop thinking about this film and its haunting, dazzling style. LSC Friday.

1/2 Top Dog

For better or for worse, Chuck Norris is back. However, Top Dog fails miserably in that it is neither the typical Norris kickfest nor the children's dog movie as advertised. On the one hand, the violence is too unrealistic even by Norris movie standards, and on the other hand, a PG-13 rating requires one significant target audience to be accompanied by a parent. Reno, the title character police dog, though cute at times, does not make up for an idiotic plot about an inane white supremacist movement. Perhaps it would be more entertaining and less expensive to buy a gallon of paint, remove the lid, and wait. -SD. Sony Copley Place.

HH The Underneath

The basis for this film is simple. Michael Chambers (Peter Gallagher) returns home and finds things different from when he left after a prolonged absence. His brother is still upset by Michael's evil doings in the past, and his ex-wife, Rachel (Alison Elliott), is now involved with Tommy Dundee (William Fichtner), a man whom no one dares cross. His plans for an armored car heist are botched in an attempt at a big score, and he is eventually kidnapped by Rachel and Tommy in a less-than thrilling conclusion. Director Steven Soderbergh (sex, lies, and videotape) uses flashbacks extensively, which often confuses the storyline; however, this isn't half as annoying as the hard-boiled, predictable drama that propels the characters. -MK. Sony Nickelodeon.

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/boyfriend, 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 Cheri.