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Review of the day for the week of August 11, 1997.

Monday:
Conspiracy Theory

Conspiracy Theory
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Julia Roberts and Mel Gibson, two of my most favorite actors, star in this thrilling new film about paranoia, theories, and twisted minds.

Gibson plays Jerry Fletcher, a crazed cab driver who has a theory about darn near everything. Convinced that everyone is out to get him, he becomes so paranoid that he not only locks his refrigerator but locks cans of food (perishable juices, coffee, etc.,) as well. Additionally, he has about eight deadbolts on his door (well, O.K. that's not so strange in New York City) and props a bottle up between locks so he'll hear it if someone tries to break in. Oh, and he has a sick fascination - well, it's more like an obsession - with beautiful Alice Sutton, (Julia Roberts) who works at the Los Angeles justice department. Fairly early in the movie, he is kidnapped and threatened by madmen who want to know who he told his theories to - apparently, one of them was true. He just doesn't know which one. Although he manages to get away, he'll need help to survive, and he begs Alice's help in outwitting the people after him. At first, Alice really doesn't take him seriously - she believes he's just a crazy, demented guy who belongs in a mental hospital. ( Frequently, he checks the sky overhead for black helicopters.). Then, when they are attacked at his apartment, she starts believing him - a little.

This movie has a great element of suspense. The characters reveal just enough to keep your interest and the movie moves constantly. Gibson, with his nervous eye movements, furtive body language, and constant nervousness does an excellent job of being a guy with a screwed - up psyche. You know Fletcher is running scared, although you are not always sure why. And Roberts' is a natural sidekick for poor Jerry Fletcher.

My Rating = Four Stars

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Tuesday:
Kingpin

Kingpin
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I remember reading one review of Kingpin that slated it as another Dumb and Dumber or something like that. (It was when the movie was released last year, so I don't remember exactly what it said.) Whoever wrote that was right! This is one comically stupid film about - you guessed it - two stupid guys. One of them, Munson, is a former bowling champion who lost his hand, and any chance of a big bowling career, in an unfortunate run-in with a bunch of thugs. The other guy, Ishmoo, a pleasant Amish fellow, has but one vice : he secretly enjoys bowling and is a great bowler, too. In fact, Munson wants Ishmoo to leave the Amish commune and pursue a bowling career. Munson, of course, would manage Ishmoo's career and receive half the profits. Not knowing any better, na´ve Ishmoo agrees.

This results in some corny but laughable scenes. At one point, while on the Amish commune, Munson slurps from a bucket and proclaims " I got up early so I milked your cow!" Ishmoo's father responds "Um, we don't have a cow, but we do have a bull..."

In yet another hilarious scene, Ishmoo uses a men's room for the first time, and, is the recipient of many odd and unusual stares.

If you're groaning as you read this, instead of laughing like you should be, don't rent Kingpin. But if you have a sense of humor, like I do, check it out!

My Rating = Four Stars

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Wednesday:
Free Willy 3: The Rescue

Free Willy 3: The Rescue
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Free Willy 3: The Rescue, the latest thorn in a movie critic's side, is such a bore that movie theatres should do their patrons a favor and give free coffee away at the concession stand. (I kept wishing I had some to help me stay awake through the movie. Afterward, I thought, for that I should have stayed home and spent two hours watching the Nature Channel.)

It's about Willy, the whale, and his human friend, Jessie, a youngish male adult in training to become a marine biologist. Jessie lands an internship with several scientists who are trying to ascertain the cause of the declining whale population. Meanwhile, the son of an illegal whaler decides he doesn't approve of his father's trade and befriends Willy and Jessie. Sound familiar?

Yes, it's pretty close to the plot of the first two movies (neither of which I liked). Jessie rescues Willy #1. Jessie rescues Willy #2. And now Jessie rescues Willy #3.

If you happen to be a whale, a kid under ten, or a marine biologist, you'll probably find this movie a whole lot more entertaining than I did. But don't see it just because you want to save the whales or are an animal lover : I love animals, and I still hated it.

My Rating = One Star

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Thursday:
Marvin's Room

Marvin's Room
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Unlike other plot-less movies that try to create an entertaining drama out of a few one dimensional characters and stale lines that are nowhere near either funny or profound, Marvin's Room has actual substance. Its enigmatic, twisting plot captivated me - and, despite its serious tone, this movie offers comic relief as well.

Diane Keaton portrays Bessie Wakefield, a frumpy forty-something year old who has spent her entire life caring for her elderly father and aunt. When she learns she has a deadly form of leukemia, she is forced to call her much younger sister, Leigh, whom she has not spoken to in years. Her only chance of survival is a bone marrow transplant from a blood relative, so Leigh reluctantly drives her two sons (her older boy, Hank, had to be released from a mental hospital to make the trip - nice plot twist) down to Florida to be tested. Bitter Hank (played by handsome Leonardo DiCaprio) refuses to be tested; Leigh and Bessie have a few problems with their relationship (No wonder, after all, they did have a good reason for not speaking to each other all those years...) and Aunt Ruth provides several good belly laughs.

Will Hank agree to be tested? Will anyone's blood be a close enough match for the transplant? If Bessie dies, will Leigh take over the care of her father and aunt? Expect a surprising ending!

My Rating = Four Stars

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Friday:
The Preacher's Wife

The Preacher's Wife
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It's no surprise that The Preacher's Wife is a comedy and that Whitney Houston stars as the preacher's wife. Reverend Henry Biggs's wife, that is. Their church is about to be torn down and rebuilt in another neighborhood by an abominable man named Joe Hamilton. Naturally, Reverend Biggs prays to the lord for help. In response, the angel Dudley (Denzel Washington) arrives to help him. But does Dudley actually help or hinder him? Reverend Biggs gets jealous when Dudley seems to be taking his place. Soon Dudley is taking the Reverend's son shopping, and taking his wife out on a date - to the very place the Reverend proposed. Dudley is helping the Biggs pick a tree, and going ice-skating with them, etc, etc. It's "Dudley this", "Dudley that" ...Will Julia fall for Dudley? ( Who wouldn't? Dudley is portrayed by handsome Denzel Washington...)

This is a most pleasurable and enjoyable movie to view. I recommend it.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Saturday:
G.I. Jane

G.I. Jane
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This is going to be a big hit. How do I know? For one thing, the theatre was crowded when I went to a sneak preview and by the time the movie started there were almost no seats left. For another, Demi Moore stars in it, and she's always a big draw. Last but not least, it's a truly terrific movie!

Moore portrays Jordan O'Neill, an Intel analyst who feels she is being treated unfairly because she is a woman. Then, a female senator campaigning for women's rights makes her an offer: O'Neill will be the first woman to train for the Seals, one of the best trained, top military outfits. O'Neill accepts, much to the dismay of her live-in boyfriend (also an officer in the Navy) and many high-up people in Washington. Needless to mention, almost everyone she trains with hates her and nearly everyone she encounters wants her to fail. Top-secret photos are taken to make her look like a lesbian (which she isn't). Even the senator who approached O'Neill in the first place is secretly out to sabotage her.

This movie seems realistic, in that you can believe such things would happen to the first woman in the Seals, and that politicians could easily be so two-faced. It also has enough action to give you a clear idea of what Seals training is really like, but not so much that it's just another bloody shoot-em-up action movie (that kind of movie usually bores me). Actually, this movie has everything and could probably satisfy anyone: there's action for the action movie buff, plot for people who appreciate intriguing stories (not just action, but a point to a movie!), and good, convincing acting on the part of Moore and all of her co -stars. However, leave kids under ten at home because there is violence and bad language.

My Rating = Four Stars

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Sunday:
Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Monty Python and the Holy Grail
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Despite what everyone else said, I did not find Monty Python and the Holy Grail to be a particularly amusing, let alone hilariously funny, movie.

King Arthur and a few knights of the round table set off in quest of the Holy Grail. Along the way, they encounter a score of other medieval characters, as well as your classic booming voice from the sky. For being a king and his knights, they sure struck me as stupid. (One thing I did find amusing was the mild profanity used in this movie - I had no idea that they cussed back in medieval times!)

This movie isn't as risible as it's made out to be although it does provide a few good chuckles. History buffs might enjoy it more than I did.

My Rating = Two Stars

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