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Review of the day for the week of October 13, 1997.

Monday:
Thinner

Thinner
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The book was better, but the movie, Thinner, was certainly admirable, too. Even if it differed quite a lot from the book, it still had that galvanizing StephenKing flair.

Billy Halleck(Robert John Burke) is a slightly crooked lawyer who parks his nice car in front of his nice house in his nice neighborhood. When a band of gypsies come to town, he naturally regards them as "trash", and his uppity rich friends concur. Thanks to them, he gets let off the hook for accidentally running over one of the gypsies (although he was at least partially wrong for not looking where he was going). Now, the gypsy's father wants justice, and he sets about achieving it in his own way: he places a curse on Halleck and two of Halleck's friends. Halleck, who was quite the jolly fat man to begin with, is now losing weight at an alarmingly, expeditious pace. No matter how much he eats, the weight still drops off. One of his friends grows scales - yes, scales; the other develops the worst case of acne on earth. What's Halleck, the so-called "White Man from Town", to do?

Robert John Burke does a marvelous portrayal of a man in the throes of an unplanned but deadly weight loss. He truly appears more emaciated (the makeup was realistic!) as the movie evolves.

Rent this gloriously gruesome, but notably well - plotted, film for a scary few hours.

My Rating = Four Stars

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Tuesday:
Terms of Endearment

Terms of Endearment
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Although more highly acclaimed than it's sequel, The Evening Star, Terms of Endearment is even more torpid and lethargic and less engaging.

Aurora Greenley (Shirley MacLaine), a fifty-ish widow whose only daughter Emma (Debra Winger) has recently married a jerk (Jeff Daniels) - in her mother's opinion - has an affair with her rich and famous former astronaut neighbor. Meanwhile, she often converses with her daughter (well, argue is a better word than converse), whose decisions - and husband - Aurora does not approve of. The attenuated and irksome saga drags on and on, well-acted but not always especially well-written.

Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't known the ending (naturally, I saw the sequel first, which explained most of the first movie's events). Still, the ending was blatantly manifest from about halfway through the movie, and I would undoubtedly have seen it coming anyway.

Terms of Endearment at least deserves points for the excellent acting (especially on the part of Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger), which almost, but not quite, makes up for the sluggish movement of the movie.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Wednesday:
The Frighteners

The Frighteners
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This is what I love about reviewing movies: getting to view admirable films like The Frighteners.

Michael J.Fox plays Frank Bannister, a psychic investigator, on the trail of an amoral apparition. Lucy, a woman whose husband was recently claimed by the specter aids Bannister (meanwhile falling in love with him, only a couple days after her husband's death). Along the way, they run into the psychotic and emotionally disturbed ex- girlfriend of a murderer who "fried" thirty years ago.

Several amusing, if not frightening, scenes occur, including one where the ghost of Lucy's husband has dinner with Lucy (who can't see him) and Frank (who can). Lucy means to employ Frank's "talent" as a go-between for herself and her husband; Frank makes sure they both wind up mad at each other. It is quite amusing when Lucy's husband calls her several names, which she can't hear, then tells Frank not to tell her he lost their money in a bad investment (which Frank promptly does reveal to Lucy).

The special effects were serviceable, the acting excellent, and the plot - well, I can't say the plot was exactly the most innovative thing I've ever seen, but the script was well- written.

My Rating = Four Stars

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Thursday:
Two of a Kind

Two of a Kind
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John Travolta certainly looked better back in the seventies, when Two of a Kind was filmed. Today, although he's in huge demand in Hollywood and maintains his good looks, his great dancer's body just isn't quite sexy these days. If you want to see Travolta as he was in his prime, check out this entertaining romantic comedy.

In order to avoid having his ears cut off by gangsters he owes money to, Zack Melon (Travolta) robs a bank. While there, he meets and flirts with a teller named Debbie (Olivia Newton-John), who gives him an empty bag and keeps the money he demanded for herself. Zack winds up with all the blame, and not even any cash to show for it.

Meanwhile, four angels up in heaven are attempting to convince God not to end the world. God agrees to give them one week in which to create a miracle: they must make Zack and Debbie fall in love and sacrifice everything for each other. But that's not as easy as it sounds, considering the circumstances.

This movie is rather foolish, but it's still diverting to watch - especially if you're a Travolta fan like me.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Friday:
Tommy Boy

Tommy Boy
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Tommy Boy is so annoyingly dense, it's humorous. (As I've said before, intelligent stuff just doesn't make you laugh.) Although it started to get on my nerves a little toward the end, it was, for the most part, an outrageously farcical movie.

Tommy, finally a grad student after seven years of college, returns home to work at his father's large but quickly failing company. After his father's sudden and untimely demise, it's up to Tommy to save the company by selling its latest product, a new line of brake pads. To do this, he relies on his talent for irritating people: first he loses a potential customer by setting his expensive model car on fire (to demonstrate what could happen if you don't use his brake pads). In this manner, he continues to lose customer after customer (not to mention nearly drive his uptight colleague mental).

Meanwhile, back at home, his father's new wife (and new heir) and her "son" scheme and connive to get the whole business and cheat Tommy out of his share.

Rent this movie for laughs (the best scene is when a presumably dead deer awakens in the back of Tommy's car, but I won't tell you any more.)

My Rating = Three Stars

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Saturday:
RocketMan

RocketMan
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I'm trying to be objective here. I'm really trying. I know RocketMan is a "family movie" and that it's going to be a big hit with little kids. But I hated it!

In general, the acting was so pathetic it couldn't even be called acting. They looked like they were reading their lines off cue cards!

Not that the plot deserves any kudos for brilliancy. A computer engineer for NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), Fred Randall, is sent to Mars with two other vaguely more intelligent astronauts. Fred messes up everything. He pulls one ridiculously impossible stunt after another. Maybe there's something wrong with me - most of the other people in the audience were laughing. But I just couldn't find anything amusing about it. Their brand of humor (mostly stupid stunts and jokes about flatulence) might have appealed to me when I was in third grade, but it sure doesn't now. I don't even need to point out why a guy like Fred would never make the space program. It should be obvious.

If your kids want to go see it, send them with their friends.

My Rating = One Star

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Sunday:
Seven Years in Tibet

Seven Years in Tibet
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Seven Years in Tibet is going to be up for Academy Awards, take my word for it. Not only is Heinrich Harrer's (Brad Pitt) and the Dalai Lama's (Jamyang Wang Chuck) acting completely convincing, but the story itself is amazing.

Renowned mountain climber, Austrian Heinrich Harrer is attempting to climb one of the highest Himalayas peaks, when his group is forced by inclement weather to turn back and descend. On the way down they are arrested by British soldiers (the story takes place during World War II) and become prisoners. After several futile attempts, Harrer finally manages to escape, and is forced to cross the rugged country of Tibet on foot, with another prisoner, Peter, who has also escaped. When he reaches the holy city of Dhasa he decides to stick around for awhile, as his wife has left him and he has no reason to return to Austria. For about seven years, he lives a peaceful life with the people of Tibet, learning their customs, and becoming friends with the youthful Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the country. Meanwhile, he thinks about his son, whom he has never met.

The historical facts in this film are depicted with a truthful flair; the culture, religion and significance of the Tibetian people add a remarkable depth to this film.

Brad Pitt was made to play this role, and Jamyang Wang Chuck was the perfect Dalai Lama. Based on a true story, the plot is well written and unique. At no point is the ending obvious.

My Rating = Four Stars

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