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Review of the day for the week of August 24, 1998.

Monday:
Return to Paradise

Return to Paradise
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Return to Paradise is not the most original movie - it reminded me too much of Red Corner- but it is worth seeing.

Three college-age guys are vacationing in Malaysia, where they smoke a lot of hashish and decide not to return a bicycle they rented. Two of them return to the states after their trip, but Louis, an environmentalist, stays behind to work on an orangutan project.

The day after his friends leave, Lewis is arrested for drug possession, when the man who rented them the bicycle shows up with the cops. They never find the bicycle, but they do find an awful lot of hashish.

Two years later, Lewis is still in a primitive Malaysian jail, and if his friends don't return and serve their time, he will be hanged. Now it's up to his lawyer (Anne Heche) to convince them.

The acting was adequate, and the story held my attention, but there was nothing really spectacular about Return to Paradise. I figured out the ending about halfway through, and the story dragged on a bit longer than it had to.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Tuesday:
How Stella Got Her Groove Back

How Stella Got Her Groove Back
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How Stella Got Her Groove Back, an older woman- younger man romance story, has some appeal for moviegoers.

Angela Bassett is Stella, a rich, fantastic-looking 40-year-old divorcee who falls for a handsome 20-year-old (Taye Diggs) while vacationing in Jamaica. They have a quick fling, but then he gets hired as a chef and has to spend most of his time working. Since Stella wasn't comfortable about having an affair with someone twenty years younger, she doesn't - at first - seem to miss him. But when she gets home and he calls her, she's thrilled to hear from him, and before you know it, she's back in Jamaica. It's not long before she leaves Jamaica - with her young lover - and heads home for San Francisco. Later, she even reluctantly lets him meet her family - actually, they trap her into it in one of the movie's more comical scenes.

How Stella Got Her Groove Back was a bit long - Stella just couldn't decide if she was going to marry him or not - but it held my attention. Most enjoyable was Whoopi Goldberg's role as Stella's wisecracking best friend; the scenes with Stella's nosy, interfering family were remarkably funny, too.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Wednesday:
Look Who's Talking

Look Who's Talking
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In Look Who's Talking Kirstie Alley plays Molly, a naive idiot. She's having an affair with a married man, whom she actually believes will one day leave his wife and daughter for her. Worse yet, she apparently never considered the fact that he might be cheating on both her and his wife, with a third woman!

Just as you'd expect in this sort of movie, Molly gets pregnant. Her boyfriend once again promises to leave his wife so he and Molly can move in together. That very day, she catches him making out with another woman in a department store dressing room. Then she goes into labor.

John Travolta plays the cab driver who drives Molly to the hospital - rather recklessly, to say the least - and later decides to pursue her romantically. He does this by offering to baby-sit a few times a week, and tells her dates lies. Not that any of them are prizes anyway - Travolta would obviously make a much better husband and father than any of these losers.

In other words, Look Who's Talking is a predictable movie from start to finish. However, it does contain plenty of comical material to distract you from the fact that you know what's going to happen. And who wouldn't want to watch Travolta play this role with his usual smug, wisecracking flair?

My Rating = Two Stars

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Thursday:
Blade

Dance With Me
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Blade starring Wesley Snipes is one of the best horror/action/sci-fi movies of the summer.

Snipes is Blade, a vampire/human hybrid. He can walk around in daylight unscathed, but he is as strong as vampires and sometimes gets thirsty. However, he hates the vampires, and kills as many as possible with garlic, silver, or sunlight. (Aren't silver bullets for werewolves, not vampires? The filmmakers must have mixed up their monsters.)

Blade is joined by a young hematologist who, in true doctor fashion, seeks to cure Blade of being a vampire. Blade's arch enemy, Frost, wishes to start a vampire/human apocalypse and take over the world, so of course Frost has to stop him.

The end is kind of obvious, but the action, great special effects, and talented actors make "Blade" truly entertaining. Even the loud background music adds to the scenes, which is more than you can say for X-Files and many other recent movies. A blood drenched opening scene in a vampire nightclub is especially captivating. And, fortunately, Blade's ending leaves it wide open for a sequel.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Friday:
Dance With Me

Dance With Me
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Dance With Me is a slow, boring, tedious and entirely predictable soap opera that somehow made its way to the silver screen, where it definitely doesn't belong.

Vanessa Williams plays a professional Latin dancer who has worked in a small dance studio since she broke up with her boyfriend and dance partner. At the studio, she meets a young man who has just come to the states from Cuba. She teaches him a few dance steps and it's painfully obvious that they will end up together at the end of the movie. When she goes back to her old boyfriend and begins competing again, he's such a jerk that you know he won't last long. Unfortunately, the movie does - more than two hours, to be exact, although it seemed like two years.

Although the acting was adequate, no cast can make up for such terrible scripting flaws. Even comedic actress Joan Plowright, who normally produces laughs even in the dullest of films, just can't overcome the lack of plot. Dance With Me certainly doesn't make you want to get up and dance - it makes you want to take a nap!

My Rating = One Star

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