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Review of the day for the week of October 5, 1998.

Monday:
One True Thing

One True Thing
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One True Thing is an gratifying, marvelously performed film.

Meryl Streep plays a rather dinky homemaker (for a costume party she dresses up like Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz" for crying out loud!). Renee Zellweger is her daughter Ellie, who was always closer to her father (William Hurt). In fact, she followed in his footsteps and became a writer (while her underachiever younger brother, handsome Tom Everrett Scott, fails American Literature at summer school). When she comes home to visit her parents for her father's birthday, she soon learns that her mother has advanced cancer and will need help. Naturally, dear old dad can't take a sabbatical from the university where he teaches - although he was certainly able to take one while working on his novel a few years earlier - so he rather unfairly imposes on Ellie to leave her successful life back in New York and move in. It isn't long before Ellie realizes that he's cheating on her mother every chance he gets.

Both Streep and Zellweger (remember her from Jerry Maguire?) are fine actresses, and One True Thing was well plotted. However, Hurt's character was terribly unlikable for his many infidelities - especially while his wife is dying (you'd think he'd have enough respect to at least wait until she's been cold a few days!). I also thought that the movie dragged on a little too long - as a "People" critic said, you keep waiting for the tearful death scene. Still, One True Thing is worth seeing.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Tuesday:
Slums of Beverly Hills

Slums of Beverly Hills
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Slums of Beverly Hills was, sadly enough, the best movie that opened this week (as compared to Ronin and Urban Legend.

I have to say that at least Slums was short, if nothing else. It doesn't seem to have much of a point, and at the end I found myself saying, "That's it?"

Vivian (why anyone would even give a fictitious movie character that name is no clearer to me than why my parents gave me that name) is a teenage girl in the seventies. Vivian, along with her father and two brothers, moves frequently as her father doesn't work - he gambles - and generally mooches off relatives. In this case, it's Uncle Murray, who will pay their rent in a nice apartment if his daughter lives wit h them - and if they manage to keep her off drugs. (She soon confides in Vivian that she's pregnant by her aspiring actor boyfriend Danny).

While there are some funny scenes in Slums of Beverly Hills there isn't much substance, and it was disappointing. In short, it's probably worth seeing, but only if you pay matinee prices.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Wednesday:
A Night at the Roxbury

A Night at the Roxbury
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A Night at the Roxbury is just the movie to see if you're in a bad mood.

Ten minutes after leaving the theatre I was still laughing, albeit in a crowded restaurant. For some reason the choice of salad dressings struck me as hilarious, and the waiter, obviously new at his job and a little nervous, was looking at me like I was the Crazy Customer from Hell he'd been warned about.)

Yes, A Night at the Roxbury does have that effect on you. Starring Doug Butabi (Chris Kattan) and Steve Butabi (Will Ferrell), those two unforgettable Saturday Night Live characters, this film features stupid stunts, lots of dance music, and more stupid stunts.

As you probably know if you watch them on TV, Steve and Doug have their own style of dancing - yeah, it's the head bop thing, you can get a crick in your neck just watching them do it - their own style of partying - and working. In other words, they're lazy idiots. But, hey, they're likeable lazy idiots. Their future goal is to own a nightclub - mainly because the doorman won't let them into the fancy Roxbury club. Meanwhile, they work at their father's fake plant store, and, although they are in their mid-twenties, they still live at home.

With the exception of those "old fogies" that are Saturday Night Live fans, this film will appeal to a younger generation. My mother didn't appreciate this movie half as much as I did, but then she doesn't like loud music or Dumb and Dumber type movies.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Thursday:
Full Moon in Blue Water

Full Moon Over Blue River
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Full Moon in Blue Water is a slow soap opera of a movie starring Gene Hackman and Teri Garr.

Hackman plays an island restaurant owner whose wife was assumed dead after a boating accident, although her body was never found. Clinging to the hope that she's alive, he watches old home movies over and over, and takes care of her elderly father. He has hired a former mental patient to help him with the latter part - now that's a smart move - but can't pay him often because the business is failing. Meanwhile, he carries on a romance with Louise (Garr).

After thirty minutes or so into the movie, it becomes apparent that virtually nothing has happened. By the time it ended, the stagnated plot still won't grab your attention and sleep won't be far away. Although the acting is fine, Full Moon Over Blue River dragged on way too long, and essentially very little transpired with these two dimensional characters.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Friday:
What Dreams May Come

What Dreams May Come
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You ought to get a free sample of Prozac when you buy a ticket to What Dreams May Come because you'll probably need some by the time the movie ends. This is a depressing, surreal confusion that talented actor Robin Williams somehow got tangled up in.

Williams is a doctor who is killed in a car accident - just four years after both his two young children died the same way. Now his artist wife Annie, who had a mental breakdown after the death of her children, is really depressed, so she kills herself. Because suicide is considered a no-no by the powers that be, she rots in hell while he has been reunited with his children in heaven, and is enjoying a good time. But because he can't live - or not live, I should say - without her, he decides to go to hell and save her soul.

The special effects and surrealism gave me a headache, and you'll have a tough time discerning what really happened - that is before they died - and what was just an illusion created in heaven or hell. This is not one of Williams' better serious roles, like his last film Good Will Hunting. And while the acting was skillful, the movie will put you in a lousy mood. Maybe the ticket-takers ought to give out free Prozac and a coupon for the local shrink. This is what you'd call a feel-bad movie.

My Rating = Two Stars

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