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Reviews for the week of July 26, 1999.

Monday:
Drop Dead Gorgeous

Drop Dead Gorgeous
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Drop Dead Gorgeous makes fun of rich people, poor people, drunks, anorexics, overweight people, and just about everybody else. In short, it's offensive to everyone.

I love this movie.

Kirstie Alley plays Gladys Leeman, a rich, condescending woman whose 17 year old daughter Rebecca (Denise Richards) is entering the local beauty pageant. Naturally, Gladys thinks her daughter is the most beautiful, talented young woman in the town, and that Rebecca deserves to win - at any cost.

Rebecca's stiffest competition is Amber Atkins, a poor girl who lives in a trailer park with her drunkard, yet caring mother. Amber's after-school job is doing makeup and hair on stiffs at the morgue, while practicing her tap-dance piece for the pageant.

A few of the other contestants get knocked off early in the movie, due to a fierce competitive drive on someone's part - we don't find out who until near the end of the movie. (However, it's pretty easy to guess.)

The way Drop Dead Gorgeous makes practically everyone look stupid is refreshing. I loved the acerbic wit, sarcasm, irony, and black humor of this film. Even when it relies on bathroom humor, this movie doesn't fail to be funny. And, the really deserving people get what they've got coming at the end, in a very humorous and embarrassing way - poetic justice.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Wednesday:
The Haunting

The Haunting
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The Haunting is a horror movie that needs a lot of improvement. The script could use some work. The characters could use some work. The special effects were, well, special effects - they were impressive, but they didn't scare or thrill me.

Liam Neeson is at least better here than he was in The Phantom Menace, although I don't see why he received top billing. Lili Taylor had a much more important role than either Neeson or Catherine Zeta-Jones (who is second in the credits). I guess it's all about politics and whose name is going to draw a movie-going crowd.

Neeson plays Dr.Marrow, a shrink who brings Eleanor (Taylor), Theo (Zeta-Jones), and Luke Sannerson (Owen Wilson) to a creepy old house under the pretense of a sleep study. (All three are insomniacs, albeit having very different personalities and prolems.) As you might guess, the house soon starts to display its hauntedness in various ways.

The confusing thing is trying to figure out who did what - Dr.Marrow, whose real goal is to study human fear, plants suggestive scary ideas in his subjects' minds, so they imagine some of what happens. Other things are real, but done by Dr.Marrow to scare them. But the house itself really is haunted, so some of it is real, too.

While Eleanor is the main character, I didn't like her much, and found Theo, Luke, and Dr.Marrow much more interesting. The story should have centered on one of them. Eleanor is too timid and shy, and too much of a martyr figure who has no spine.

The Haunting stretched on about a half-hour past its entertainment expiration date. And I figured out the ending and plot twists long before they happened. This is another one to wait for on video.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Friday:
The Thomas Crown Affair

The Thomas Crown Affair
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Well, this is an interesting switch: our most recent Agent 007 (Pierce Brosnan) is a sexy crook instead of a sexy spy.

That's an understatement.

Brosnan plays Thomas Crown, a rich businessman who steals a $100,000 Monet painting from an art museum - apparently, just for the hell of it. Catherine Banning (Rene Russo) with a very unflattering hairdo) is the European insurance investigator hired to retrieve the painting for the museum. Immediately, she initiates a romance with Crown, and for a while, it's hard to tell whether she's more interested in him or the painting. (Now I know where the writers of Entrapment got their idea - from the original The Thomas Crown Affair. Talk about stealing a plot!)

Brosnan and Russo are terrific together, and the interplay between the two very suave, self-assured characters, is stylishly chic. (You can't help but wonder just who will outsmart who?)

Additionally, the clever tricks and ploys Crown uses prove quite amusing as he eludes the cops.

Despite his James Bond history, and appealing appearance, Pierce Brosnan is totally convincing as the slightly crooked billionaire Mr. Crown, and with Reno Russo as a perfect match for him - in more ways than one, The Thomas Crown Affair becomes an absorbing, yet pleasing drama.

My Rating = Four Stars

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