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Review of the day for the week of February 8, 1999.

Monday:
She's All That

She's All That
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She's All That was amusing to a point, but the plot was ridiculously obvious. It reminded me of Can't Hardly Wait, a similarly stupid, vastly inaccurate Generation X depiction that was, strangely enough, rather entertaining in a bang-your-head-against-the-wall sort of way. The difference is She's All That was slightly less comically dense, which perhaps is why I was bored. (Can't Hardly Wait, for all its faults, at least held my attention, probably because it was too bad to be boring.)

But I'll stop meandering and get to my point. Rachel Leigh Cook and Freddie Prinze, Jr., star as a couple of teenagers who attend the same high school but are worlds apart. She is a shy, sensitive artist from a working class family; he's a rich, outgoing, rather obnoxious member of the school's "in" group.

If you can't already tell that they will be a happy couple by the end of the movie, you must never have seen a movie before.

She's All That does contain some diverting comedy as well as a few marginally interesting subplots, but this doesn't detract from the basic plot: a corny, by the book movie romance.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Tuesday:
Life is Beautiful

Life is Beautiful
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Life is Beautiful just doesn't fit into any particular movie category. I kept trying to figure out what genre this movie was aimed at - it seemed too comical to be a drama, and too tragic to be a comedy. It also appeared to me that the most emotionally dramatic points of the movie were underscored by levity, and the most potentially comical scenes were too sad to really provide amusement.

Of course, I had my doubts when I heard this film described as "a comedy about being in a World War II concentration camp". "Comedy" and "concentration camp" sounded like mutually exclusive phrases to me. As it turned out, I was absolutely right.

Guido, a Jewish waiter, and his family are sent to a concentration camp during World War II. He explains the situation as a game to his young son, Joshua. Using his quick wit and silly personality, Guido makes light of everything - even some enormously bad situations. His antics sometimes endanger his life - and his son's - but in the end, they save Joshua's life. However, Guido is killed.

Life is Beautiful was well acted, but I expected to have at least one scene where Guido takes something seriously, and he never does. Life is Beautiful might have been better if it was done as a strictly serious film. I didn't find this film very laughable, and the failed attempts at humor were really misplaced. Also, it started slowly, and the first forty-five minutes of the film could easily have been eliminated.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Wednesday:
Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes
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Kathy Bates and Jessica Tandy star in the terrific movie Fried Green Tomatoes.

Bates plays a woman in her late forties whose marriage is no longer what it used to be; she wants to get her husband to pay more attention to her. Meanwhile, they often visit his cranky old aunt, who can't stand Bates; consequently, she always waits in the hall of the old-people's home where his aunt stays. During one such visit, she meets a pleasant old woman (Tandy) who begins telling her the story of a girl named Idjy. On subsequent visits, she tells Bates more and more, unraveling the tale of an unsolved murder and Idjy's friendship with a girl named Ruth. Bates and Tandy become great friends.

Fried Green Tomatoes is at times very serious, yet it is often humorous as well. (You just won't believe how the murderers disposed of the body!) This film focuses mainly on friendships, and is probably what you'd call a chick flick. Not only was I impressed by all the actors, but I found it a very engrossing, rentable film.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Thursday:
Betsy's Wedding

Betsy's Wedding
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Betsy's Wedding is an average movie - simply mediocre.

Betsy (Molly Ringwald) decides to marry her boyfriend Jacob. Immediately, both sets of parents start clamoring to fund and plan the wedding. (Betsy and Jacob vainly protest that they just want something simple.) Obviously, it's a who-can-outdo-who situation.

Meanwhile, Betsy's older sister Connie is extremely jealous that Betsy is getting married; soon, however, she starts a romance with an Italian guy who hints at mob connections. (This is not the best basis for a relationship, as Connie is a police officer!) Also, Betsy's uncle (Joe Pesci) doesn't think his wife knows about his philandering ways, but he's in for a surprise.

Although parts of Betsy's Wedding were amusing, towards the end it became slightly dull. Also, some of the scripting was downright corny, such as a scene where Connie's boyfriend tried to convince Connie he loved her. When he started saying stuff like, "You are the blood in my veins..." I wanted to wring the scriptwriters' neck. Can you say "phony"? That line could have been taken from a trashy romance novel!

My Rating = Two Stars

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Friday:
Payback

Payback
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Payback is a loud, action-packed, explosive film about Porter, a middle-aged fellow who goes to an enormous amount of trouble to retrieve $70,000 that he felt was rightfully his - simply because he helped steal it.

That would be Mel Gibson, a remarkably easy actor to watch on the silver screen for two hours. He's a criminal whose two partners in crime - his wife and a close friend- stab him in the back (actually they shoot him in the back - twice, if you want to get technical) , leave him for dead (which he isn't) and take off with Porter's share of the $130,000.

Much later, when his wife overdoses on drugs, Porter isn't too brokenhearted. He is upset about losing his cash, though. Aided by several people, including his ex-girlfriend, a prostitute, he sets out to get his money back.

Payback was certainly entertaining, but I wouldn't say it's Gibson's best movie. (Ransom, for example, was a much better thriller.) For the most part, Payback was well written, but there were a few weak links in the plot. Take his romance with the hooker - it made the plot of Payback seem like Pretty Woman meets The Fugitive!

My Rating = Three Stars

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