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Review of the day for the week of September 22, 1997.

Monday:
Alien

Alien
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Alien is a gory, bloody monster mash, and, as far as gory, bloody monster mashes go, I found it completely engrossing. (And, yes, it was gross.)

Carrying cargo back to earth on a futuristic spaceship, the crew of workers receives a distress signal. Responding to it, they land on a seemingly deserted planet and encounter a strange batch of eggs, which hatch into alien monsters. Too late, they realize their mistake, and try to kill the creature, which seems invincible.

See Alien if you love science fiction, horror, or just a scary, well planned film. But don't see it if you're chicken, have a tender stomach, scare easily, or lack the guts to read a Stephen King novel.

My Rating = Four Stars

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Tuesday:
Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown

Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown
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Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown includes many difficult-to-define, quickly uttered old English words (like fain), a pyramid of detailed, historical facts about the British monarchy, and too many mediocre British actors to remain entertaining. I kept thinking that maybe if Keanu Reeves appeared, he could save the movie from being an "insufferable bore" as the British would say, but alas, he didn't show up, and the movie swiftly went downhill.

To outline the plot: Back in sixteen-hundred something, Queen Victoria of England married a prince. When he died young from a flu, she kept grieving for an inordinately, lengthy time. And, her entire servant staff, and everyone in the household was forced to remain in mourning with her. (They couldn't even talk at a meal with the Queen, unless she addressed them.) Finally, one of her servants, hoping to cheer her up - and get her back to Queenly duties - sends for Mr. Browne, a servant of her dead husband's. Immediately and predictably, Mr. Browne cheers her up, and a romance of sorts seems to arise between Queen Victoria and Mr.Browne .

Unless you are a big history buff, or happen to have been the Queen of England in a former life, you'll find this movie interminable. (When, I kept thinking, will it get moving?)

My Rating = One Star

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Wednesday:
Inventing the Abbots

Inventing the Abbots
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This sluggish fifties saga isn't worth renting. Inventing the Abbotts has the plot of a daytime soap opera (which is to say that it has none at all) and while the acting is serviceable, I've seen better in the new family drama A Thousand Acres, for instance. The most dramatic scene in the movie (a fight scene between two brothers) falls flat, lacking the right level of emotion by both actors.

Pam Abbott (Liv Tyler), is the daughter of a rich businessman. She wants to date a "poor boy" from "the wrong side of the tracks" which is not to say that he's really poor, just that he isn't rolling in the dough quite like she is. Meanwhile, his older brother romances first Pam's younger sister, then her older sister. Also, a story slowly unravels about the affair Pam's father supposedly had with her boyfriend's mother (still with me?). It was all too confusing and lengthy for me, and I don't recommend it unless you're an insomniac looking for something to put you to sleep.

My Rating = One Star

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Thursday:
Carpool

Carpool
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Carpool is f-u-n-n-y. When Mom gets sick, Dad (Tom Arnold) gets stuck driving the carpool. Naturally he stops at Hammerman's for donuts. Although an important business client of Dad's, Hammerman's sells health food (i.e. barf) and no donuts. So Dad shovels a lot of healthy food into a bag and prepares to pay.

While Dad is checking out, the store is robbed by a couple of idiots. One guy in the store is planning on robbing a bank, but winds up taking good ole Dad hostage, and taking the kids on a joyride across town. Not a bad guy at heart, the robber even stops so the kids can go to the bathroom, drives through a shopping mall, and follows by showing the kids his very own carnival. Trailed by the police, they have the wildest time - and, as the "criminal" puts it "It sure beats going to school, huh, kids?" If you are looking for a total lack of reality, and a whole lot of fun, see the movie Carpool. No cursing, a safe movie for kids, and lots of laughs in store for all the moviegoers.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Friday:
A Thousand Acres

A Thousand Acres
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This is definitely a female movie: When I strolled into the theater, I immediately noticed that there were about thirty people waiting for the movie to start-and they were all women. Not one guy. Just as the previews were starting, an elderly woman dragged in her husband, who wore the look of a death row prisoner being led to the electric chair.

He needn't have looked so miserable. A Thousand Acres was outstanding.

When patriarch Larry Clark tries to divide up his fertile thousand acres before his death, trouble starts. Two of his daughters Ginny (Jessica Lange) and Rose (Michelle Pfeiffer) have lived on their father's farm first as children, and now with their husbands, and they are eager to get their share by forming a corporation. Younger sister Caroline, (Jennifer Jason Leigh) presently a lawyer in Boston, refuses her share. (Remember this was Larry Clark's idea, not theirs.) Caroline and Larry Clark become pitted against Rose, and Ginny. During this fight a lot of nasty family secrets slowly emerge. Ginny and Roses's ordinary lives on the farm are changing fast, and their memories are so profound that the moviegoer won't want to miss a word.

The acting by Jessica Lange, and Michelle Pfeiffer, was wonderful and they rightly dominated the screen. I recommend A Thousand Acres highly.

My Rating = Four Stars

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Saturday:
Wishmaster

Wishmaster
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This is your perfect Halloween movie. Gore, guts (even though they're fake - looking), blood, and a tremendously creative plot. What else could you ask for in a horror movie?

Attractive Alex Amberson, who works at a gem lab, asks best friend (and boyfriend hopeful) Josh to analyze a fire opal. Alone, Josh puts the opal inside the analyzing machine; it explodes and the creature who emerges quickly kills Josh. Feeding off people's wishes, the creature, the Djinn, kills person after person, and causes much destruction in the city. How can Alex stop the Djinn?

My favorite scene is where a blood drenched skeleton steps out of its skin and walks around. Another scene involves one guy pulling out another guy's guts, which was so unrealistic - it looks too much like computer imaging - that it was funny.

P.S. Although even a kid could tell the "guts pulling out scene" was fake, please don't take children under 12 to Wishmaster as it was far-fetched and a bit offensive for the younger set.

My Rating = Four Stars

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Sunday:
Father's Day

Father's Day
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Simply put, Father's Day is one funny movie. Perhaps this can be attributed to the fact that Billy Crystal and Robin Williams, two of the funniest actors around, come together in this silly comedy.

Both Crystal and Williams learn that they may be the father of a runaway teenager who is mixed up with drug dealers. (Should I mention that the kid is too stupid to see that the girl he's drooling over hates his guts?)

Both fathers' combined travels in search of "the kid" provide one hilarious scene after another. My favorite: Crystal is on the phone with his airhead wife and Williams is in the background with the slightly sloshed kid who is hurling in the shower stall. Once I finished laughing over this, there was another scene to laugh at, then another and another, until the movie ended!

The only problem with this hilarious movie was the fact that I found it reminiscent of Jungle 2 Jungle.

Come to think of it, it was pretty stupid, but that's okay; it's a movie, and movies have to be stupid to be funny. My theory is that intelligent stuff just doesn't make you laugh. Check out this humorous, though ridiculous, comedy for some big laughs.

My Rating = Three Stars

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