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Reviews for the week of May 22, 2000.

Monday:
Screwed

Screwed
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Screwed is a zany comedy about two friends, a mortician, and a miserable old hag.

Willard (Norm McDonald) is a disgruntled chauffeur and house servant for Mrs. Crock, a rich old woman whose company produces pies and other sweet treats - but she's anything but sweet! Crock treats Willard badly - so badly that Willard and his affable best friend Rusty (Dave Chappelle) try to kidnap her dog. When the dog escapes, Crock mistakenly thinks that Willard has been abducted. And guess what? She won't pay the ransom that he demands for his own safe return!

Finally, Willard and Rusty involve a third party - Danny DeVito as very waggish mortician Grover Cleaver. DeVito's job is to dump a dead body that the cops will assume is Willard (naturally, morticians have lots of dead bodies lying around). That plan turns into a disaster as well.

And let's not forget Crock's boyfriend and business partner Chip (Sherman Hemsley, who acts just like George Jefferson twenty years later). Since George Jefferson was pretty funny, this works out fine for "Screwed", but I like knowing that an actor can play more than one character. Anyway, it turns out that Chip is trying to crook Crock too! (Evidently, no one really likes the crotchety old wrinkle bag - and for good reason!)

Audio VersionScrewed certainly has an interesting and complex plot for a comedy. I've seen some serious mystery/detective movies that don't have such a complicated plot! The twists and turns were hilarious - everyone frames everyone else, and there's a lot that one character doesn't know about another. The poor police assigned to this case have quite a time! Screwed is a good goofball comedy.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Friday:
Gladiator

Gladiator
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Although I review movies with an open mind, I wasn't particularly interested in viewing Gladiator. After it opened, it took my dad a week to talk me into watching Gladiator. (He wanted to see it, and he can't see a movie for free without me, so I had to go too.)

Actually, we were sitting in another theatre, waiting for another movie to start, and Dad found a guy who thought Gladiator was a great movie. This movie patron even protested that Gladiator was not a "guy movie". "I think I women would like 'Gladiator'," were his specific words. Then Dad reminded me that Gladiator was doing quite well in theatres, and I, as a movie critic, really should see it. Thus, I went to see Gladiator.

Hey, I gave this movie a fair chance - I really did. I don't review movies based on preconceived expectations. But it turns out I was right - Gladiator is a monotonous, uninteresting drama.

The story takes place several centuries ago. Russell Crowe plays Maximus, a Roman general. The Caesar wants Maximus to take over as Caesar after the former's soon-approaching death. But the Caesar's son wants to be Caesar, so he murders his father, then orders that Maximus be killed as well.

Maximus escapes, but doesn't arrive home in time to prevent Roman soldiers from murdering his family. Grief-stricken and physically wounded, he somehow ends up being abducted and sold into slavery. Eventually, he becomes a gladiator - he and several other men try to kill each other in order to entertain the crowd. Few gladiators survive long. (And they say the entertainment industry today is too violent!) Maximus hopes that he will have the chance to seek revenge against the Caesar.

Gladiator's weak plot and bland characters didn't interest me for long. Obviously, the budget for this movie wasted a lot of money on special effects that don't even look convincing. In one scene, a severed head that doesn't look even remotely real is displayed. (It looked like a cheesy prop or mask you could buy in a Halloween costume store for about five bucks.)

Audio VersionUnless you're fascinated by movies about gladiators, or you really enjoy action films, I don't recommend Gladiator.

My Rating = Two Stars

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