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Review of the day for the week of January 4, 1999.

Monday:
Man with One Red Shoe

Man with One Red Shoe
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While Man with One Red Shoe is one of Tom Hanks earlier movies, it's certainly not one of his best. Although amusing, this film was nothing compared to some of his later roles, such as the powerfully acted Apollo 13 or the terrific romantic comedy You've Got Mail.

Hanks is Richard Drew, a dorky musician who becomes mixed up in an unrealistic government scheme purely by chance. (Incidentally, the government agents and their scheme were a little too stupid, even for a comedy.) Meanwhile, Drew has problems of his own: he is a frustrated composer who just can't finish writing the piece that he has been working on; his best friend's slightly wacky wife desperately wants to sleep with him; and aside from her rejected advances, his love life is totally dead.

When the bumbling government idiots sufficiently screw up his life, all kinds of confusion ensues, and some hilarious scenes result. (By the end of the movie, Richard's best friend has seen so many "imaginary" dead bodies that he ends up in a mental hospital.) Also, Richard falls into a predictable but comical romance with one government agent, who was originally supposed to spy on him.

While Man with One Red Shoe wasn't the best movie I've seen, it does contain some great comedy (especially a concert scene where everything is disastrous), and, although Hanks is the only likeable character in this film, the others lend to the humor of his situation.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Tuesday:
Faculty

Faculty
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First, Usher was the most annoying singer on the radio. Then, when he first appeared on the soap The Bold and the Beautiful, he became the most annoying actor on television. Finally, with his motion picture debut in The Faculty, he has graduated to being the most annoying movie actor.

Fortunately, his part in this movie is small, but the other actors are just as irritating, although that's largely due to the highly flawed script. The Faculty wants desperately to be a serious, intense sci-fi film, yet fails miserably.

Elijah Wood plays the class geek who discovers a "new species" on the school football field (it appears to be some sort of amphibian). Later, he discovers that the school faculty is made of slimy space-alien zombies who obviously intend to take over the planet. Now, it's up to him to save the world, with some help from a few other classmates. They include the school drug dealer, the class snob, the loner lesbian, and a new girl from Atlanta, who is a total hick (her thick southern accent made my skin crawl).

The special effects, however, did not, although they were ridiculously overdone. It's quite evident that the screenwriters tried to give the characters depth, personality, and realism, but here they also failed miserably. Mixed with the alien plot, their personal problems and the psychological explanations offered for their personalities seemed out of place and silly.

My Rating = One Star

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Wednesday:
Mighty Joe Young

Mighty Joe Young
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Mighty Joe Young is your typical cutesy animal movie - except for the fact that the cutesy animal in question happens to be a huge, abnormally large, ferocious looking gorilla. Still, that doesn't really mask the format - it remains a dopey animal flick. (Although I'm an animal lover, I just couldn't warm to Mighty Joe Young - the ape or the movie.)

In Mighty Joe Young, a gigantic ape named Joe is introduced to Los Angeles, when his owner, Jill Young (Charlize Theron) and Gregg O'Hara, (Bill Paxton) a well-meaning zoologist, have brought him to live on a wildlife preserve. Previously, Jill and Joe had lived on top of a secluded mountain in Africa, where they'd had few visitors. Jill only agreed to leave Africa in order to protect Joe from their big, bad enemies - poachers. As the movie progresses, Joe is eventually running wild in Los Angeles.

Mighty Joe Young is too unbelievable, too silly, and way too predictable. The premise of a gigantic ape running loose in New York City was too far-fetched. And, I could give you a list long enough to fill this entire web site of things that would be done differently - if such an incident did occur.

Young children - ten and under - might enjoy this movie, but its premise, plot, and even its special effects are much to weak to interest anyone else. (Joe didn't even look remotely real to me. I think they should have filmed a real gorilla, and employed camera tricks to make him appear larger than life.)

One more thing: Mighty Joe Young stomping around, destroying vehicles and property, and causing utter chaos and confusion was entirely too reminiscent of Godzilla, for my taste.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Thursday:
48 Hours

48 Hours
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48 Hours is one of Eddie Murphy's earlier - and not necessarily better - movies.

Murphy plays a criminal who temporarily gets out of jail in order to help a cop (Nick Nolte) hunt down some of his former criminal "friends". Obviously, they get on each other's nerves. Murphy wants to do things his way, and actually does a much better job than Nolte, who happens to be the one in charge. Feeling threatened, Nolte resents Murphy since he is better at catching criminals and divining important information.

There is some laughable comedy in 48 Hours, but this film is more serious and less stupid than some of Murphy's other films, such as The Nutty Professor, which was more of a Dumb and Dumber type comedy. Murphy made the same mistake with Holy Man - he attempted to play a serious role and mix it with comedy, and that just didn't work. (Which is not to say that it can't be done - Robin Williams, for example, is an expert at blending comedy and solemnity in his roles - Patch Adams or Good Will Hunting are great examples.) Perhaps Murphy should take an acting lesson or two from Williams!

On a final note, although I'm not generally that crazy about police/action type stories (I confess that I honestly have never seen NYPD Blue) , I still don't think 48 Hours is a particularly captivating police story. I've seen many action movies that are much more thrilling than 48 Hours.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Friday:
The Best of Times

The Best of Times
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The Best of Times is certainly not the best of Robin Williams' movies.

Williams plays a bank employee whose domineering, insulting father-in-law, the bank president, treats him like dirt. Williams' wife is justifiably jealous because he seems to care more about football than about her. (For years he's been obsessing about the football he didn't catch during an important high school game.) Now, he wants to get his old team back together so that they can have a rematch with the team that beat them (because of his slipup). When his wife, who is opposed to this idea, tells him, "It's me or the football game", guess what he chooses?

Meanwhile, there are subplots about his friends in their small hellhole of a town. (Apparently, everyone has marital problems. It's worse than a soap opera, but at least it concludes much more quickly than one!)

The problem with this film is the predictability of its plot. Not only was it obvious that Williams' team would win the game in their rematch, but I felt this was a poor way to end the film. Williams obviously feels that he let his teammates and friends down, which he did; the script would have had much more class if Williams had lost the game, but learned that his friends had never held the first loss against him. He should also have learned to forgive himself and move on with his life. I was unimpressed by his character development - or lack of it. However, this film does provide some comic relief, and Williams is a talented actor to keep even poorly plotted films at least somewhat entertaining.

My Rating = Two Stars

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