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Review of the day for the week of February 16, 1998.

Monday:
Amos and Andrew

Amos and Andrew
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Samuel L. Jackson and Nicholas Cage, more recently serious actors, team up in this hilariously crazy older comedy.

Because of a complicated misunderstanding, Andrew Sterling (Jackson), a famous black rights leader is shot at by police in his new summer island home. Realizing that this is not going to be good publicity, the police chief, who is campaigning for reelection, decides to make it look like they were shooting at an intruder in Sterling's home. There was no such person, but they just drag a common criminal (Cage) out of his jail cell and have him pose as the non-existent intruder. They promise to let him go free and not reveal his name if he helps them, but he hears on the news (while inside Sterling's house) that they've already revealed his name. He then kidnaps Sterling and breaks into a neighbor's house, where he orders pizza and hangs out until the owners come home. Then, of course, he takes them hostage too.

Cage and Jackson are a hilarious pair and make this movie enjoyable. The script is well written and the plot is complicated enough to keep you entertained.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Tuesday:
Saturday Night Fever

Saturday Night Fever
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Saturday Night Fever one of John Travolta's better movies from the seventies was made before he became forty and you can truly enjoy the handsome young Travolta here.

Travolta plays a young man who loves to dance but can't find a partner for an upcoming contest. One girl wants to dance with him, but he snubs her. In turn, the beautiful girl he does want as a partner - and a girlfriend - snubs him. Finally, she does agree to dance with him, but makes it clear she still doesn't want to date him. Meanwhile, his family berates him for not being more like his perfect older brother, Frank Jr., a priest. As it turns out, Frank hates being a priest and decides to leave the priesthood, much to the family's disappointment.

It's fun to watch Travolta dance - no one can do it better - and the old seventies music has a great beat. Saturday Night Fever's subplots are so diverting, it's almost as good as Grease.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Wednesday:
Sphere

Sphere
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Sphere was a disappointment. I didn't dislike it; I was just expecting more. (Also I was disappointed because I'd previously read the book by Michael Crichton, and the film deviated immensely from the book.).

A psychologist named Norman Goodman (Dustin Hoffman) and several scientists are brought by U.S. Naval intelligence - almost without choice - to an underwater habitat to study what appears to be an alien vessel. Supposedly, it crashed into the ocean about three hundred years earlier. Upon entering the ship, the scientists discover that it is really a time machine from the future, which accidentally wound up in the past. Are you following me? Inside the vessel they also discover an enormous sphere, that appears to be liquid, and solid at the same time. It has no seams or entrance, yet one of the scientists enters it, only to come back out and remember nothing. Then, a giant squid attacks the habitat and it becomes apparent that something must have been in the sphere. But what? Strange things continue, and an alien appears to be communicating with them via computer.

This movie teases you. You keep thinking something exciting is really going to show its face. I found it downright corny. The great actors in this movie just didn't have enough to work with.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Thursday:
Splash

Splash
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Splash is one of those annoying movies that takes a fairy-tale element, modernizes it, and gives the actors nothing to work with.

Specifically, Tom Hanks, an unusually excellent actor, can't even save this movie. He plays a recently - dumped boyfriend who goes to Cape Cod, even though he can't swim. Naturally he almost drowns and is saved by a beautiful mermaid. Yeah, right! Finding his wallet, she decides to follow him back to New York, where she is promptly arrested for walking around naked. (Apparently mermaids don't wear clothes.) She shows the cops his wallet and they call him; he rushes to pick her up and takes her back to his apartment. She doesn't stay put for long, taking his credit cards and heading for Bloomingdales'. And the fool is madly in love with her. Too bad she can only stay five days, or she'll never return to being a mermaid.

Her experiences in New York, never having been around civilization before, are funny at times, but the plot was too far-fetched and obvious to hold my attention for long. This was definitely not one of Hanks' better movies.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Friday:
American Graffiti

American Graffiti
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I was told that American Graffiti was supposed to be like Grease, but it isn't nearly as engaging.

For one thing, it's missing John Travolta. For another, the music in Grease was fun; in American Graffiti it's irritating.

The plot is more or less the same: life in the fifties for teens. Ron Howard plays the main character, who is going off to college. He thinks that he and his girlfriend should see other people while he's away, to prove that they really love each other. (This being the fifties, fewer girls went to college. I kept having the urge to smack some sense into their heads!) He entrusts his 1957 Chevy to a not so trustworthy friend who immediately gets into trouble with the car. Richard Dreyfruss plays a teen who is considering skipping college for a while.

This is vaguely amusing at some points, but overall holds little entertainment value.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Saturday:
The Wedding Singer

The Wedding Singer
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Although some of Adam Sandler's previous films were tediously unimpressive, I thoroughly enjoyed The Wedding Singer.

In case you haven't guessed, Sandler portrays a wedding singer named Robby Hart - who gets stood up at his own wedding. Despite being bummed, he agrees to help Julia, (Drew Barrymore) a waitress friend, plan her wedding. Soon, it becomes blatantly obvious that they are falling for each other and will wind up together at the end of the movie, but that doesn't stop it from being side - splittingly funny all the way through.

At one point, Sandler's young nephew shows up just in time to tell his ex-girlfriend, "You're a bastard", just when Sandler's trying to win her back. Many such hilarious scenes follow. This having taken place in the eighties, there were a few references to formerly big stars, and a laughable scene where Julia's fiance brings home a CD player and she thinks it plays records.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Sunday:
The Silence of the Lambs

The Silence of the Lambs
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Silence of the Lambs is one of the best movies I've ever seen. It has everything - it's scary, there are lots of plot twists, but unlike some horror movies, it has emotional substance, and the acting is creditable.

Jodie Foster portrays Clarise Starling, a young FBI agent in training. Her boss sends her to visit Hannibal Lechter, a psychiatrist turned cannibal, who may have information on Buffalo Bill, the serial killer they are currently tracking. In an attempt to retrieve information from him, Clarisse is forced to recount troubling incidents from her past (What else would you expect from a psychotic psychiatrist?). He gives her information in riddles, and she has to track down every little clue.

One thing I like is that Foster isn't one of those all-too-common actresses who just stands around and looking gorgeous - she has tremendous acting ability. The other actors give excellent performances as well - especially the actor (Anthony Hopkins) who plays Lechter. Crazy people are such interesting characters - and the complicated plot is brilliant.

My Rating = Four Stars

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