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Review of the day for the week of February 15, 1999.

Monday:
Simply Irresistible

Simply Irresistible
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Dieters beware: Simply Irresistible is not the movie for you. This fanciful fairy-tale type movie focuses mainly on food, food, food. When I left the theatre I was practically drooling.

This ridiculous depiction of magic and pseudo-witchcraft was less creditable than a politician's campaign speech. Sarah Michelle Gellar (you know her from the hysterically popular Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series) stars as a young chef whose 70-year-old restaurant is finally failing. Then she gets a crush on wealthy department-store owner Tom, who will soon be opening a lavish restaurant nearby. (Sound familiar? This reminded me of You've Got Mail where wealthy Tom Hanks was putting Meg Ryan's longtime children's bookstore out of business.)

Unexplainably, she becomes Super Chef. (Her new culinary skills actually have something to do with a special crab she bought from a ghost-type character.) When she kisses her new beau, they levitate and wind up floating on the ceiling; similar strange occurrences happen throughout this movie.

If I hadn't been so distracted by all the annoying subliminal food messages, I would have been bored. Some of it was mildly humorous, but I just couldn't get past the vastly ludicrous surrealism and hopelessly predictable romance. Not to mention that I must have gained five pounds just watching this movie!

My Rating = Two Stars

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Tuesday:
October Sky

October Sky
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I don't know what it is with the achievement theme in movies. Apparently, many people think that just because the main character accomplishes some all-important goal in the face of adversity, it's the best movie of the year. If it's based on a true story, that's even better.

October Sky just fell way short of my expectations. While the heroes of this film, four high school boys in a small coal-mining town, accomplish their goal of winning a national science fair and gleaning college scholarships, the film itself failed to impress me.

Homer Hiccom (what kind of a name is that anyway?) aspired to be a rocket scientist for NASA. Growing up in his small coal-mining town during the fifties, this didn't seem like a viable career option, but, with his friends - they persevered, building bottle rockets and eventually earning those scholarships.

Half the people sitting around me in the crowded theatre informed me beforehand that I was going to love October Sky (although I never asked them). When we left the theatre, "they" all seemed to have enjoyed it, but, unfortunately, I didn't.

I have a feeling this is going to be one of those movies that I'm "dead wrong" about (at least according to everyone else). However, I stand by my opinion: I was jaded by October Sky because the plot, although based on a true story, was dull.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Wednesday:
Thelma and Louise

Thelma and Louise
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Thelma and Louise is a terrific, yet somewhat flawed film.

What I liked was the way the story came together, with two slightly off-kilter characters getting themselves into trouble. That would be Thelma and Louise, two very different friends. Thelma is a housewife who generally does what her loud, obnoxious husband tells her to do; Louise is a somewhat older waitress who manages to convince Thelma that she needs a vacation. Soon, they're heading for a fun weekend in the mountains.

But, as you would expect to happen, things start going wrong. Louise lets Thelma talk her into stopping at a bar; soon, they've committed murder. (Louise shot a guy who was trying to rape Thelma, even though the situation was under control and they could have just walked away.) Now, of course, they are fugitives.

My major problem with this movie was the end (quit reading now if you don't want to know what happens). Surrounded by police with no chance of escape, Thelma and Louise drive off the Grand Canyon, thereby committing suicide. What exactly is that supposed to prove? Okay, by that point, they were in so much trouble with the law that they probably would have ended in the electric chair or died rotting in jail. However, this was not a particularly effective finish. By having Thelma and Louise commit hari-kari, the screenwriters left no room for character development, and it seemed they left a lot of issues unresolved.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Thursday:
Blast from the Past

Blast from the Past
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Blast from the Past is a tolerable movie.

Brendan Frasier stars as Adam, a thirty-five year old man who has been living his entire life underground, in a tightly sealed chamber with his parents. (Just hours before his birth in 1962, his parents took cover in their expansive bomb shelter because of the nuclear war threat.) When an airplane crashed into their house while they were hiding in their bomb shelter, the shelter locked itself up tight for thirty-five years - at which point it would be safe for them to venture aboveground. (No such thing ever happened, of course.) Now, Adam goes aboveground to find food, other supplies, and, hopefully, a wife.

Obviously, a lot has changed. Adam, however, doesn't seem to be very bright, and doesn't exactly catch on. (Have you noticed that when a comedy places its main character in a very odd situation, the character is always an imbecile to begin with?) It's not long before he meets Eve (Alicia Silverstone), and naturally she falls for him.

I liked the concept of this movie - people staying underground for a long period of time - but I would have liked to see it done more seriously. Also, there were a lot of discrepancies, which could have been made more realistic. At one point, Adam picks up a remote control and seems to use it quite familiarly.

Blast from the Past struck me as Austin Powers of Suburbia, except that Austin Powers didn't age for thirty years. Also, the Austin Powers movie was a lot funnier.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Friday:
Shakespeare in Love

Shakespeare in Love
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Shakespeare in Love is a delightful English romance set in the fifteen hundreds.

Gwyneth Paltrow plays Viola, a gorgeous woman of noble birth whose father plans to marry her to a lord she doesn't like. She does like going to the theatre, and soon falls in love with playwright William Shakespeare. He soon turns his new comedy play into a tragedy, basing it on his relationship with Viola. (Incidentally, I wondered how much of this movie was based in fact, since Shakespeare was a real person. According to one source, most of the characters were real, as were some of the events, but not much is known of Shakespeare's life.)

I thoroughly enjoyed Shakespeare in Love. Aside from the wonderful romance story, there was a little humor, and all the actors were fantastic. While I thought it was more of a woman's movie, I do know one male critic who says he would put it on his top ten movies list for 1998. I loved this film, and thoroughly recommend it.

My Rating = Four Stars

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