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Review of the day for the week of February 22, 1999.

Monday:
My Favorite Martian

My Favorite Martian
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My Favorite Martian is not my favorite movie. Actually, it's probably my least favorite. This idiotic rip-off of every alien movie to date is a miserable waste. Although I must admit I loved Men in Black, even though comedies about aliens generally don't grab me, My Favorite Martian is one of the poorest alien comedies, that I've seen recently.

A Martian lands on Earth and wreaks havoc in the life of Tim, a disgruntled TV reporter who can't get a decent assignment for anything and was just getting fired when the spaceship landed. Mr. Martian does lots of cute "Martian" things, like levitate ice cream cones, change shapes, and French-kiss Tim's love interest while pretending to be Tim. He even has a talking suit (give me a break). Also, he needs Tim's help to rebuild his spaceship so he can leave Earth. Meanwhile, Tim secretly takes video of his Martian for TV footage, thinking that this will be the story that makes him famous.

Watching My Favorite Martian is a mind-numbing experience. It's vastly unrealistic, and irritatingly dense. I'm not saying that the idea of a Martian landing on Earth is realistic to begin with, but come on, a talking suit? A movie's credibility depends not on whether it strays from reality, but how far it strays. I must confess that an hour and a half into this film, I just couldn't take any more. My dad, quite the intellectual, insisted that he had to stay and see how it ended. So, I abandoned him and slipped into Saving Private Ryan across the hall, until My Favorite Martian ended.

My Rating = One Star

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Tuesday:
Message in a Bottle

Message in a Bottle
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Message in a Bottle is Kevin Costner's best movie in a long time. Which is not to say that it's that great, just that it's much better that either Waterworld or The Postman which were both overlong, tedious movies.

Actually, Message in a Bottle is kind of depressing - it features more shipwrecks and dead lovers than the movie Titanic! Costner plays a ship restorer living on the eastern United States coast. Robin Wright Penn plays a newspaper researcher who tracks him down via several letters he wrote, stuck in a bottle, and tossed out to sea. (She found one of these letters and was intrigued.) Although a romance soon blossoms between them, it's clear that he's still very attached to Katherine, his dead wife, (two years in the grave!), so their relationship remains rocky. Meanwhile, she still hasn't told him that she found the letters.

Message in a Bottle is definitely a chick flick, yet it has entertaining moments. I liked Paul Newman in his powerfully acted and sometimes amusing supporting role as Costner's father (and all these years I thought Newman just sold salad dressing!) And I'm glad that Costner finally seems to be moving in the right direction with his films.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Wednesday:
Office Space

Office Space
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Office Space is the movie for anyone who hates their job, their boss, their copy machine, or any combination of the above.

Three disgruntled employees including white collar worker Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) plot to make it big by siphoning money from their company's funds. They will do this with a computer program that steals only fractions of cents at a time. For this reason, no one should notice any missing money, but within a few years it will accumulate into a hundred thousand dollars or so. Simple plan, right? They all think so until it backfires - big time.

Meanwhile, laughable scene follows laughable scene as we watch the characters' miserable lives unfold. Condescending bosses, annoying coworkers, and new consultants are only a few of the problems these poor guys encounter. Also, there is a subplot about Peter's girlfriend, Joanna (Jennifer Aniston) and her miserable job as a waitress.

I thoroughly enjoyed Office Space. The black humor and quick, continuously funny plot makes Office Space a don't-miss comedy. It's an especially terrific movie for disgruntled employees (and who hasn't felt disgruntled at one time or another?) I don't think I found anything to dislike about this movie, and naturally I'm very, well, critical.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Thursday:
Dancing at Lughnasa

Dancing at Lughnasa
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Although Dancing at Lughnasa was a compelling movie at times, frequently it was sluggish, and the ending was not only disappointing but incomplete.

Meryl Streep, who is a fine actress, stars as a severe, serious schoolteacher in pre-World War II Ireland. She lives with her five sisters, one of whom has a young, illegitimate son by her wanderer boyfriend who returns home but does little to help the struggling sisters. When their only brother, a priest who had been visiting Africa for many years, arrives home, he has changed a lot. Actually, it's obvious that he's off his rocker. Aside from his sisters, not too many people offer him a warm welcome home. Several of the sisters are disgruntled and tired of their humdrum life but Streep is the matriarch of the family and runs it with her iron hand.

The acting is well done, but many actors didn't seem convincing as old fashioned Irish women. They looked too modern and American. Furthermore, the plot was weak - nobody seemed to accomplish much of anything and life was slow.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Friday:
Captain Ron

Captain Ron
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Captain Ron is a somewhat amusing if rather dopey and predictable comedy.

Martin Short is a "city guy" who is lucky enough to inherit a yacht. At first he just wants to sell it , but when his teenage daughter announces she wants to get married, he decides that maybe it would be a good idea to take a little family vacation.

So, his wife and two kids accompany him on a Carribean cruise. Unfortunately, the boat is, well, not exactly ship-shape and requires quite a lot of work, including repairs in route. Furthermore, its pilot, Captain Ron, really bothers Short mainly because Short's family loves Ron for some inexplicable reason. (Incidentally, this reminded me of What About Bob?, a funnier movie in which a man named Bob annoys his shrink. His shrink's friends and family love Bob, but the poor guy loses his mind over Bob's antics.)

There were no surprises in Captain Ron; the plot wasn't impressive - it was too silly, even considering that it was a comedy.

My Rating = Two Stars

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