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Review of the day for the week of January 25, 1999.

Monday:
Mobsters

Mobsters
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Mobsters is far too reminiscent of The Godfather, which means it's not only boring but a rip-off of another much more successful film as well.

It does have on thing going in its favor: Christian Slater. But even he can't save this poor film (although he does make it a little less lousy.)

Mobsters takes place in the nineteen-twenties, when prohibition drove many to bootlegging liquor. Slater plays Lucky Luciano, the leader of a group of four mobsters who dabble in the bootlegging business, among other things. Caught in the struggle between two mob bosses, he decides to play the two crime families against each other, for his own benefit. Meanwhile, he carries on an ill-fated romance with a stripper.

Slater is a good actor, but this film was too tedious. Also, the ending was almost comical in its simplicity: Slater decides that there will be no mob boss. All the big mobsters will form a committee and take votes, just like all large corporations. I almost had to laugh at the idea, especially when it was stated that "under Luciano, peace reigned in organized crime". However, that was pretty much the only amusing moment in this typical, dull-as-dishwater mob movie.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Tuesday:
Fire Birds

Fire Birds
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Fire Birds wasn't a bad movie; it wasn't poorly scripted or clumsily acted. It certainly wasn't boring. It just seemed a little...weak. I guess I mean that there just wasn't that much to it.

Nicholas Cage stars as a navy fighter pilot assigned to help the DEA keep drug smugglers out of the country. He has a rather sexist attitude about his girlfriend - or rather, ex-girlfriend, at least when the movie starts - who is also a pilot. No wonder she doesn't want to date him anymore.

Meanwhile, Tommy Lee Jones plays Cage's superior, a forty-year-old navy officer who is going through something of a midlife crisis. Being a workaholic, he doesn't like the idea that he is expected to instruct students but isn't supposed to fly in actual missions anymore.

By the end of the movie, everything was just too easily resolved. The flight scenes were exciting, the acting was convincing, and the plot was grabbing - but everything unraveled predictably and just a little too smoothly. After a big mission, all the characters seem to have solved all their problems, although it's hard to see how. When Cage and his girlfriend fly off together at the end, you have to wonder how long it'll be until they start fighting again. And Jones seems to be perfectly happy with his life having had the opportunity to fly in another mission (on which he was wounded, no less). I guess I just felt like there should have been more.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Wednesday:
Heart and Souls

Heart and Souls
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Heart and Souls is a dopey, unsurprising, but somewhat amusing movie.

It begins in the 1950's when several very different people board a bus. One is a man who seems to have a complex about singing in front of people; he has just come from his second failed audition for the chorus. Another passenger is a woman who has been avoiding the issue of deciding to marry her long-term boyfriend; she hopped the bus to go after him and tell him she definitely wants to get married. A switchboard operator and a criminal are also on board, along with the bus driver. The driver swerves to avoid hitting a car, only to go off a bridge. Everyone is killed.

Then they become something like guardian angels to a little boy born at the time of the accident. They levitate, materialize and disappear, and talk to the little boy. Only he can hear and see them, leading his parents and teachers to suspect he has psychological problems.

Really, you'd think the screenwriters could do better. Come on, ghosts only visible to one person? The old levitation trick? None of this is even done in an original manner. Although some parts of this film are funny, but I found it too silly and fanciful for my taste. If a movie is going to be unrealistic, it should at least be unrealistic in a creative way! For example, the 1996 occult thriller "The Craft" featured a levitation trick, but they did it in an inventive manner. Of course, I think witchcraft makes a much more engrossing movie topic than guardian angels, anyway.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Thursday:
At First Sight

At First Sight
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At First Sight is an arguably mediocre film. Yes, it stars Val Kilmer, and yes, it's definitely better than Batman and Robin, were you couldn't see most of his face for a good portion of the movie.

For a good part of At First Sight, Virgil (Val Kilmer) can't see anything. Blind since the age of three, Virgil now works as a masseuse at a spa. On a much- needed vacation, Amy (Mira Sorvino) reluctantly visits the spa, meets Virgil, and falls in love with him. Soon she brings him back to her home in New York and convinces him to see a doctor who may be able to surgically restore Virgil's sight. Although the surgery is successful, Virgil suddenly has a lot more problems than he did when he was blind. Having lost his sight at such an early age, he doesn't know what he's seeing; not surprisingly, his relationship with Amy becomes strained. Also, a non-relationship with his father, who walked out on his family when Virgil was eight and magically reappears when he hears that Virgil's sight is restored, becomes a less than fascinating subplot.

At First Sight wasn't impressive. The acting was commendable and the plot was, if not transfixing, mildly interesting. Although I thought the ending was appropriate and showed some intelligence on the part of the screenwriters, I found it too predictable. And, I was disappointed with how the subplot about Virgil's father was resolved- there was no character development on his father's part. Lastly, Virgil's romance with Amy, touted as the film's main selling point, seemed less important than the previews made it out to be. I guess that there were so many confusing issues in this film that the romance just became buried in all the confusion. A more neatly constructed plot would have added to At First Sight.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Friday:
Wildcats

Wildcats
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Goldie Hawn stars in the wildly, unrealistic movie Wildcats. Hawn plays a teacher who has always dreamed of coaching football, but the school administrators don't want her to because she's a woman.

So, they agree to let her coach one of the worst teams around, saying that if she can make them a winning team she can coach at her school. They do this of course because they don't think anybody can coach such a bad team. (The players are truly pathetic.) Hawn almost backs out after a few days, but eventually she decides to stick it out. In fact, she even helps the team win a few games.

It's pretty obvious where this film is headed. Subplots about her kids and ex-husband were O.K., although predictable and not too amusing. There were some funny parts but I just wasn't too impressed by the plot of this film.

My Rating = Two Stars

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