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Review of the day for the week of January 11, 1999.

Monday:
Metro

Metro
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Eddie Murphy stars in the intense drama, and wonderfully funny comedy, Metro.

Murphy plays a cop whose good friend, another cop, is shot. While the police reasonably try to keep him from becoming involved in the case, because his personal feelings could obviously get in the way, he doesn't want to stay out of it. Little does he know that a seemingly unrelated case will lead him to the killer.

In one scene, Murphy actually gets a gun to the killer's head and is surely tempted to shoot him - for killing his friend. When he doesn't, it shows that his character has a lot of self-restraint and common sense (killing the guy would have cost him his job, etc...). But here's my problem: I knew he wasn't going to waste the guy, so there was no suspense. This film could have been a bit less blatantly transparent.

Meanwhile, a subplot about his ex-girlfriend, whom Murphy desperately wants to win back, is rather predictable. However, Murphy's acting is terrific, and, as usual in his films, there is plenty of humor to keep the plot rolling. (It was sort of funny that she kept saying, "Troy was so disappointed that you didn't come to see him". I thought Troy was Murphy's kid, but halfway through the movie we find out Troy is a dog!) Plenty of great action scenes, and remarkable acting make Metro a good rental movie.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Tuesday:
A Civil Action

A Civil Action
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Let's face it: John Travolta no longer looks the way he did in Grease. But, he's still a great actor, and now he's even getting parts in which he actually acts (he's come pretty far, huh?).

Travolta plays Jan, a personal injury lawyer - the really blood-thirsty, leach-like, money hungry kind - until he takes the case of Ann Anderson (Kathleen Quinlan) and her group of parents who have lost children to leukemia or other unusual health problems. They blame the city's water supply, claiming it must have been contaminated with nasty chemicals from a nearby factory.

After learning that the factory is a very small part of a very large and very prosperous business empire, Jan sees the case as a potential gold mine. As the case progresses, he actually seems to start to care about his clients, although you can never be sure whether or not it's an act.

When you think about it, some of Travolta's co-stars in A Civil Action have better character development than he does. (William H. Macy, have you noticed, always seems to play the beaten-down, underdog roles. His desperate, close-to-broke lawyer character here reminds me of his Fargo role, in which he played a desperate, close-to-broke car salesman. Pick your pity angle.)

Supposedly, A Civil Action is based on a true story (screenwriters' definitions of "based" often tend to be a little different than you would think, so I don't know how true-to-life it is.) For the most part, this is a well-acted, interesting story, and certainly held my attention. Although I wasn't quite as impressed with A Civil Action as I was with some legal thrillers, such as The Rainmaker (the best legal thriller I ever saw on the silver screen), I still highly recommend it.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Wednesday:
My Blue Heaven

My Blue Heaven
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My Blue Heaven is a terrific comedy starring Steve Martin.

Martin plays a crime family member who is placed in the witness protection program so he can testify in two important trials. Relocated to the small town of Fryburg, he is soon arrested, "for no reason whatsoever", as he puts it. (Actually, he committed several misdemeanors.) Fortunately, his FBI agent gets him off the hook.

Joan Cusack plays the hotshot assistant D.A. who wants to prosecute him. Her self-righteousness and snobbiness are hilarious.

There are many other comical characters in this marvelous story, but Martin's is the funniest. While his New York accent is lacking, his acting is excellent, and he brings his character to life. The supporting actors were marvelous as well, and I thoroughly and highly recommend this comedy.

My Rating = Three Stars

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