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Review of the day for the week of October 26, 1998.

Monday:
Deadly Friend

Deadly Friend
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One of Wes Craven's older movies (i.e., before his Scream fame) Deadly Friend is a captivating horror film.

Paul is a boy genius who, while high school age, goes to a big medical school and studies the human brain. He also has an intelligent robot, BeBe, that he designed himself. Which is why when it is accidentally destroyed, he saves its "brain" or the memory chip that powered it.

This chip comes in handy when his girlfriend is pronounced brain-dead and doctors say there's nothing they can do (there never is with doctors). Before they pull the plug, Paul and his friend Ben sneak into the hospital, kidnap her, and do brain surgery. (This gets pretty comical, as Ben is a little squeamish, and quite afraid of being arrested!) Implanting BeBe's chip in her brain seems like a good idea at the time...and it does save her life...but her personality is a bit altered by the chip. In other words, she goes on a murderous rampage.

For a horror movie, the acting was rather skillful. I appreciated the comic relief and the scary scenes, plus the idea of a robot with a mind of its own is original and thought provoking.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Tuesday:
Practical Magic

Practical Magic
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Practical Magic is a wonderful movie - it's sort of funny, sort of spooky, and sort of romantic.

Sandra Bullock plays Sally Owens, a witch who just wants to be normal - in her little town, everyone knows ancestry is made up of witches, and therefore people avoid her. She marries and has two children, but her husband dies because of a curse that dates back to Maria Owens, the first witch in her family.

Meanwhile, her sister Gillian (Nicole Kidman) has been running around all over the country with boyfriend after boyfriend, until one becomes abusive. Immediately, she calls Sally to rescue her, but dearest boyfriend just kidnaps them both. Being witches, they know how to drug him with an herb, but Sally gives him too much and accidentally kills him. They drag his body back home, raise him from the dead, kill him again, and bury him.

This is sort of a "grass is greener" story - Sally just wants to get rid of her magical abilities, Gillian wishes she were half as talented as Sally.

Okay, this movie is something of a chick flick, but it's not as sappy as Bullock's last film, Hope Floats, which became something of a soap opera toward its apparent ending. I thoroughly enjoyed Practical Magic and would gladly see it again. It's the perfect Halloween movie to see this year.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Wednesday:
Soldier

Soldier
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What Soldier, a space age war movie starring Kurt Russell, needed, was a bunch of slimy aliens.

Russell plays Todd, a highly trained soldier who, because of the fact that he was practically raised in a lab by mad scientists, behaves more like a robot than a person. Soon enough, he and his comrades are replaced because some other mad scientists have genetically bred a new group of soldiers. Thought to be dead after a "training accident", Todd is dumped out with other "waste" onto a waste disposal planet. There, he finds other inhabitants, while the new soldiers prepare to land on the planet and make sure no one is living there.

Like I said, if this had been more in the vein of the Star Trek or Alien movies, it might have been agreeable. But what's the point of putting a bunch of people on another planet if all they're going to do is fight each other? They could do that right here on Earth! This is nothing more than a bad action movie in outer space.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Thursday:
Mr. Saturday Night

Mr. Saturday Night
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Billy Crystal is Mr. Saturday Night.

He is, of course, a droll standup comedian who, at the beginning of the movie, is an old man. His career is now limited to doing comedy routines at senior centers, and he resents the fact that his brother, who has always been his manager, has decided to retire. Also, he still feels that he can get his career going again.

The movie repeatedly flashes back to various points in his life - his first stage appearance, his chance on the Ed Sullivan Show, when he met the woman he would later marry, etc. In all these scenes, the audience has a chance to note that his brother always plays second fiddle - also a comic, he was too scared to get up on stage so his brother went on alone, and was successful. Mr. Saturday Night gets the girl, even though his brother was interested in her.

Mr. Saturday Night was an interesting and thoughtful comedy. Crystal's acting was commendable, even in the less comical and more serious aspects of the film.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Friday:
Pleasantville

Pleasantville
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Pleasantville is a tiresome, unrealistic movie that just didn't grab my interest.

Two modern teens get zapped into an old TV show called Pleasantville. This happened because they let a strange TV repairman, whom they hadn't called, into their house for no apparent reason except that their remote control happened to be broken.

Once in Pleasantville they discover that everything is in black and white, and everyone is nauseatingly nice! But when they start messing with people's heads, things start coming into color and everyone panics.

I just couldn't accept the premise of this film - kids getting zapped into a TV show - and the color on black and white effect hurt my eyes. Although the acting was decent, with such a slow moving plot and a ridiculous aura of perfection, Pleasantville was downright annoying.

My Rating = Two Stars

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