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Review of the day for the week of May 11, 1998.

Monday:
Cujo

Cujo
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Cujo, an adaptation of a Steven King book, opens with a crazed and ravenous dog trying to catch a rabbit. Then it switches to the bedroom of a little boy having nightmares. His parents assure him that "there are no real monsters", and you just know what's going to happen then.

Not that Cujo's predictability renders it boring. It proves an entertaining and diverting horror film.

The little boy's name is Tad, and his mother is having an adulterous affair, which his father finds out about. Still mad, he leaves on a business trip, and she takes Tad to get the car fixed. Once there, however, they find the place deserted - except for the huge dog, Cujo, who attacks and traps them in their car. (In earlier scenes, he killed off his owner and as well as another man.) The car battery is too weak to start the car so they are stuck.

Lots of blood and gore appears; some fantastic scenes include where the boy and his mother are being attacked in their car. The subplots about the different characters keep you interested while all the action gets started.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Tuesday:
Black Dog

Black Dog
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Patrick Swayze, Randy Travis, and Meatloaf star in Black Dog, a semi-thrilling, semi-amusing action film.

This is your typical action flick - a lot of cars crashing and catching on fire, and plenty of people shooting at each other. Swayze is Jack Cruise, a now-paroled prisoner who originally went to jail for vehicular manslaughter - in other words, while driving a truck long distance, he got overtired and accidentally killed two people. Having permanently lost his drivers' license, he now works a low-paying job that doesn't pay the bills, even with his wife's income. When he finds a foreclosure note on their house, he decides, against his better judgement, to take an "off the records" (meaning illegal artillery) delivery job. Soon, however, it becomes clear that he's in big trouble - several attempts are made by a guy named Red (Meatloaf) to sabotage the delivery. Randy Travis plays a country singing fool who was hired to make the journey with him, and two other men - and one of them is leaking information on their location. Meanwhile Jack's wife and daughter are kidnapped and held hostage just so he doesn't "quit" the lousy job this turned out to be.

One thing that annoyed me was all the country music in this movie. Another thing was the unrealistic ending. And I couldn't figure out if this was supposed to be a comedy or not - they had some funny jokes, and some lines that were obviously meant to be funny but weren't, but there were a lot of tiresome action scenes too.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Wednesday:
How to Make an American Quilt

How to Make an American Quilt
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No, the movie, How to Make an American Quilt is definitely not about quilt-making. It's much more complicated than that.

Twenty-six year old Finn (Winona Ryder), who is engaged to a wonderful young man named Sam, visits her grandmother (Ellen Burstyn) and Aunt Glady (Anne Bankcroft) for the summer - mainly to relax and think over Sam's marriage proposal.

The "Grasse Quilting Bee" meets often at her grandmother's home, and all the women in the quilting group - including her grandmother - share their love stories and secrets with Finn. Some of these "love stories" are very sad, but most are humorous - especially Aunt Glady's story. (In a furious rage at her husband, Gladys "broke" many things in a truly hilarious way.)

During the summer, Finn finds a new boyfriend, and begins to wonder if she really loves Sam. What has Finn learned from these "old love" stories? What decision does Finn make about marrying Sam? Before the movie is over, you'll know in a delightful way.

Although the acting was marvelous, and the movie a treasure, I'd leave fathers and husbands at home - this movie probably won't appeal to them.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Thursday:
He Got Game

He Got Game
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In his well-plotted new movie, He Got Game Denzel Washington does an excellent job of portraying a profoundly interesting character.

That would be Jake Shuttlesworth, a jailed criminal (it takes a while before you find out what he did) whose son Jesus (Ray Allen) is a huge basketball prospect. Every college wants Jesus to attend their school because they know he'll probably go on to the NBA. Temporarily released from prison, Jake attempts to convince Jesus to attend the state governor's old alma mater, Big State University. Jesus, bitter and angry with his father for - we find this out only about two thirds of the way through the movie- killing his mother in a fit of rage, refuses to even speak to him at first. He also forbids his younger sister to speak to their father, although she seems happy to see Jake again. (Jesus has more or less raised her, with some help from his aunt and uncle.) Jake is quickly running out of time to convince Jesus to go to Big State; he'll soon be hauled back to jail.

Jesus receives many tempting offers from different schools, and everyone keeps repeating the phrase, "This is the biggest decision of your life". Even his girlfriend wants him to meet an agent she knows. Determined to get out of the ghettos and improve his life, Jesus has to make his decision carefully. Meanwhile, Jake is still trying to keep from returning to jail.

I didn't agree with the fact that - don't read any further if you don't want to know the end - Jesus eventually forgives his father - it seemed unforgivable to me. But I did like the story of how Jesus used basketball "as a tool" to help improve his life, and that he was smart enough to make sure he got an education too. The acting was terrific also, and overall it was an intriguing story.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Friday:
Three Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain

Three Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain
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Big news! I've discovered a cure for insomnia! It's the new movie Three Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain! I swear you could drink an entire pot of coffee and still fall asleep during this movie!

Three brothers, Rocky(Mathew Botuchis), Colt (Michael O'Laskey II), and Tum Tum Douglas (James Paul Roeske II) get ninja training from their Japanese grandpa Mori, (Victor Wong III). The two older brothers decide to give up ninja training and pursue other interests, but the younger brother wants to continue. For his birthday, they go to a big amusement park called Mega Mountain so he can see Dave Dragon (Hulk Hogan), a TV superhero. While they're at the park, a group of villains headed up by Loni Anderson capture the park and hold everyone in it for ransom. Naturally, it's no surprise the three brothers and Dave Dragon use their ninja training to defeat the villains. The ending is oh-so apparent.

Maybe children who like karate movies will find this movie interesting, but I just couldn't stand it. The plot was ridiculously stupid and obvious, as were the characters. All I can say is that Loni Anderson must have been pretty desperate to take such a ridiculous part - I guess she didn't get enough money out of Burt Reynolds after all!

My Rating = Two Stars

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Saturday:
Deep Impact

Deep Impact
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Here's why Deep Impact is such an astoundingly fascinating movie. I had a rash, my face was itching like crazy, and I was extremely uncomfortable. Deep Impact was intriguing enough to distract me from my miseries - for over two hours. This movie held my complete, undivided attention, and kept me mesmerized.

Morgan Freeman does an incredible acting job as the President Beck of the United States; he has the unthinkable job to announce to the American public that a huge meteor is going to hit the earth with catastrophic results. Tea Leoni also does a terrific acting job as a snoopy reporter Jenny Lerne who finds out about it just days before the President breaks the terrifying news. A subplot about Tea's efforts to get her long-divorced parents back together before the world comes to an end, despite the fact that her father has remarried to a woman only two years older than Leoni, is diverting.

Meanwhile, the Army makes several attempts to divert the meteor's path and prevent it from striking earth. This includes sending seven astronauts headed by Spurgeon Tanner (Robert Duvall) up into space to plant nuclear bombs on the meteor and blow it up. This fails. When the meteor gets closer, they try sending up nuclear missiles from earth. These, too, fail. Fortunately, one million people have been selected to live in a safe underground limestone cave until two years after the meteor strikes - at which point they will be able to resume life on earth. Yet another subplot involves the teenager Leo Biederman (Elijah Wood) who discovered the meteor and was insured a place in the cave - but doesn't want to leave his girlfriend, whom he married so she could come with him. Unwilling to leave her family, the married teenagers are separated.

With an intriguing story, extraordinary special effects, and fantastic acting especially by Freeman and Leoni) you can see why Deep Impact is a winner. I'd definitely see it again, and there are very few movies I'd see twice.

My Rating = Four Stars

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Sunday:
Night Watch

Night Watch
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Night Watch is a prime example of a movie with no plot, no adequate acting, and definitely no entertainment value. To tell you the truth, I walked out after an hour.

Ewan MacGregor is college student Martin Belos who takes a job as a night watchman at a morgue. Can you see where this one's going already? I sure could. He's got a nutty friend who sneaks in one night and poses as a corpse to scare him. Now that's original. How many times have moviegoers seen the body-under-a-sheet-sitting-up gag? After plenty more of these stupid stunts, the plot gets going a little - a serial killer has been murdering prostitutes, and it's painfully obvious who the killer is from the beginning. So there's not much else to this movie except blood and gore.

I don't see how this pointless, plot-lacking script ever got made into a movie in the first place. Unless you happen to be a deranged serial killer yourself, I don't see how anyone could find this film engaging; it's simply disgusting.

My Rating = One Star

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