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Review of the day for the week of May 25, 1998.

Monday:
Quest for Camelot

Quest for Camelot
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Reviewing animated flicks for children always puts me in a bind. They're torture to sit through, but you can't really bash them because they're "good, safe family movies".

Well, safe for kids. For anyone older than eight or so, exposure to such mind-numbing drivel could result in severe brain damage.

Maybe I should just give you my email address now so you can get started writing the hate mail I'm sure to receive.

Here's the plot of Quest for Camelot: A young woman named Kaylie wants to follow in her late father's footsteps and be a knight of King Arthur's Court. When Excaliber is stolen, she embarks on a quest to find it and return it to King Arthur. On her way, she meets a two- headed dragon, a silver winged falcon, and a blind hermit with whom she falls in love. And so it goes.

Suffice it to say that you should wait to rent this movie on video - for your kids - that way you won't have to sit through it.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Tuesday:
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
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An insane asylum is always such an opportune setting for a movie. And it turns out that Jack Nicholson was really good looking in the sixties' when One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was filmed. Not to mention he was just as wonderful an actor then as he is now.

Nicholson plays R.P. MacMurphy, a jailbird sent to a mental hospital for evaluation. (Apparently no one can decide if he's really loony, or if he just wants to get out of doing his work.) MacMurphy may or may not be crazed, but the other loony bin inhabitants are definitely disturbed, no doubt about it.

MacMurphy just can't help stirring things up a little. He plays poker with a very pathetic lot of nutcases (and wins), he makes passes at the nurses, and, oh yeah, he takes his "disturbed" friends on occasional outings. When they steal a boat and go fishing, MacMurphy explains to the guy at the dock that they're all from the mental hospital - then introduces them all as doctors!

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is quite humorous, but there's a serious side to this movie as well, and a sad ending. Nicholson has such a flair for playing off-the-wall characters, and he's perfect as MacMurphy. I can see why he won an Oscar for this role.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Wednesday:
The Horse Whisperer

The Horse Whisperer
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Robert Redford and Kristin Scott Thomas star in the wonderful movie The Horse Whisperer.

Thomas plays Annie, a magazine editor whose teenage daughter Grace survived a serious horseback riding accident involving two horses and a semi-truck. The accident was so meticulously portrayed that the moviegoer is temporarily immobilized. (It's the most shocking scene in the movie.) Grace, as well as her horse, Pilgrim, remain seriously injured. She no longer wants to ride, and Pilgrim has become an extremely wild and unresponsive horse - the veterinarian repeatedly suggests putting him to sleep. Annie decides to call Tom Booker, a renowned Horse Whisperer. In other words, Tom "helps horses with people problems". Although Tom tells Annie he can't help her, she packs Pilgrim and Grace up and makes the long drive to Montana to find him. Once there, Tom reluctantly agrees to help her, and they stay in Montana for several weeks. Tom works with Pilgrim, trying to tame the horse, and Annie finds herself enjoying life on a ranch. In fact, she finds herself enjoying Tom's company and seems to forget all about her husband back in New York. It soon becomes apparent that she is falling for Tom - but will she leave her husband for him? Meanwhile, will Grace ever get the courage to ride Pilgrim again? That is, if Tom can tame Pilgrim?

I'm not much of a horse lover, but I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It was an intriguing story and was extremely well performed, by all the actors. My only complaint is that it did get a bit lengthy and drawn out toward the end. If only Annie could have decided who she wanted - Tom or her husband - sooner, I'd have rated it higher. Still it's a highly enjoyable movie.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Thursday:
Continental Divide

Continental Divide
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Continental Divide is a somewhat amusing, if rather dimwitted comedy about a Chicago journalist.

That would be Ernie Koufax (John Belushi), who is sent to do a story on a woman who lives alone high in the Rocky Mountains. An orinthologist, she is preoccupied with watching birds and seldom returns to civilization. After making the treacherous climb up, Ernie's guide deserts him, promising to return in two weeks. But the woman Ernie came to see does not want anyone doing a story about her and tells him to leave. He convinces her that he can't find his way back down the mountain on his own and will have to wait for his guide to return, and she reluctantly agrees to let him stay.

Predictably, he falls for her, although it takes a while before she starts to warm up to him - she does have a wacky boyfriend who lives in the mountains too. But she breaks up with her old boyfriend - although she claims it's not because of Ernie. Eventually she falls for him, but obviously they're very different. Can this relationship work?

Most of the laughable parts are near the beginning, and Continental Divide just took too long to reach its apparent ending.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Friday:
The Spanish Prisoner

The Spanish Prisoner
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The Spanish Prisoner is a twisted, complicated film starring Steve Martin in a horrifyingly straight and serious role.

Martin plays a crooked businessman who pretends to help an inventor. He (the inventor) designed some sort of process that many companies want. The company he designed it for is trying to rook him. Meanwhile, a female coworker keeps coming on to him, and he keeps rejecting her advances. She does, however, turn out to have pertinent information about the people who are apparently after him. Thanks to some photos she took, he now knows that an FBI agent was watching him on a recent vacation. He contacts the FBI, but later finds out they weren't the real FBI agents. Still with me?

I didn't care much for the confusing plot, and Steve Martin just isn't entertaining as a serious actor - he didn't crack one joke in the entire movie! There was little suspense because the plot was too hokey and hard to understand! At one point or another, just about everyone appears to be a bad guy!

My Rating = Two Stars

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