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Review of the day for the week of September 28, 1998.

Monday:
Big Girls Don't Cry: They Get Even

Big Girls Don't Cry: They Get Even
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While unrealistic and a bit too dopey at some points, Big Girls Don't Cry was, for the most part, an entertaining movie.

Laura is not exactly a happy teenager. She is stuck living with her materialistic mother and annoying step-family. Her mother obviously favors her much prettier step-daughter, Caryn, to Laura, who refers to herself as "a dog". When she gets blamed for one of her step-brother's mistakes, she decides to run away - right before the family trip to Hawaii. Naturally the trip is cancelled while everyone searches for her. Soon the search party is joined by her father and step- other (who are in the middle of a divorce) and her father's pregnant new girlfriend. What a cast of characters!

When they all find her hiding out with Josh, the one step brother she likes - who ran away from home several months earlier - she runs off again. This time she decides to hitchhike - a turn of events that, in real life, would probably end up with her mutilated body being found some months later. But hey, this is supposed to be a comedy.

And it is indeed funny, although the end is quite obvious - who couldn't figure out that she gets back together with her family, that her father and stepmother get back together, and that her dad's girlfriend gets together with Josh? Yet, Laura's sardonic narration is fun listening.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Tuesday:
Simon Birch

Simon Birch
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Ever notice how the people with the squalling babies always watch the good movies but never the lousy ones? So when you want to hear a terrifically written, touching film like Simon Birch, you can't hear it over the wails of a baby too young to enjoy a movie, but when you're sitting in a boring film, silence.

You just have to agree with that gripe. Simon Birch is about two twelve-year-old boys, Joe (Joseph Mazzello) and Simon Birch (Ian Michael Smith) who are best friends. Simon, although twelve, is extremely small - roughly the size of a three-year-old child. Because of his diminutive size, everyone from the priest at church to his own parents treat him badly. But Simon still believes that he was meant to be a hero.

It is a serious story, (did you know that Jim Carrey is the solemn narrator of this film? If you thought he was shockingly somber in The Truman Show just watch him in Simon Birch!), yet there is great comic relief in a Christmas pageant disaster scene. The pageant director reminded of a nervous music teacher before recitals - it was something about the way she hissed, "Spit out your gum!" But she certainly receives what she has coming!

Simon Birch is a wonderful, warm "must-see" movie for everyone. This is one PG rated film that parents and teens will enjoy as well as younger children.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Wednesday:
Urban Legend

Urban Legend
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Here's a safety tip: If you're ever sitting in the backseat of a car, attempting to murder the driver with an ax, wear your seatbelt. That way if he slams on the brakes, skids, and almost runs off a bridge you won't drop your ax and go flying through the windshield, straight out into the river and the pouring rain.

Such is the only apparent moral of Urban Legend, a Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer rip -off with little ingenuity and buckets of fake blood. Someone goes around recreating urban legends by way of bizarre and often brutal murders - wearing a hooded jacket that shields his or her face. Does the latter part sound familiar?

Of course the targeted college students get scared, as they get knocked off - one-by-one.

While not thrilling, Urban Legend, might have held my attention - if it was only a ninety-minute movie, but it stretched on too long. After a while I started to wonder if the only way I'd find out who the killer was would be by the process of elimination - the last person alive on campus has to be the one who did the killing, right?

Urban Legend, like the recent Halloween: H20 disaster, is an overly bloody, sloppy parody of a horror film. No wonder even the good ones such as Scream are too often lumped into the "cheesy" category - movies like Urban Legend give others in its genre a bad name!

My Rating = One Star

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Thursday:
Ronin

Ronin
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While Ronin has some great high-speed car chase scenes, it is, for the most part, terribly tepid and dull.

Robert DeNiro and everyone else in the movie are all after a metal case that contains god-knows-what. Apparently, somebody desperately needs whatever is in the case and has sent an Irish woman to claim it. She in turn hired DeNiro and several others to help her get her hands on the blasted thing. They speed around in cars - occasionally crashing into things - shoot at a lot of people, and even detonate a few bombs.

Although I liked a couple of the car chases, all the action quickly became monotonous. And in between the action, they talk, talk, talk, about nothing, nothing, nothing. Some old guy tells DeNiro about the "ronin" or soldiers who have failed to protect their masters and are disgraced. Apparently this is supposed to apply to DeNiro and the other characters, but it fails to have any emotional impact. There is no character development, and little substance to this movie. Ronin is only for those with extremely short attention spans.

My Rating = Two Star

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Friday:
Joe Versus the Volcano

Joe Versus the Volcano
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Joe Versus the Volcano is a pointless, confusing mess of a film.

Joe (Tom Hanks, normally a great actor) plays a run down office worker who at first seems to live in some strange parallel universe: his boss has the same phone conversation over and over, day in and day out. Everyone sits at desks under low lighting looking grim. This makes no sense.

Then Joe learns that he has a brain cloud - yeah, right, like there is such a thing - that will kill him within a few months. He quits his job, but has no savings to fulfill any last wishes.

Next a peculiar old guy appears in Joe's apartment one night, offering him unlimited money for a few days if he'll sacrifice himself by jumping into a volcano. The way the old guy figures it, Joe has only a few months to live anyway, so he might as well be a hero to the natives of the volcano's island.

Joe Versus the Volcano was silly, nonsensical and unrealistic. I just didn't get it.

My Rating = One Star

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