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Review of the day for the week of November 30, 1998.

Monday:
The Last Starfighter

The Last Starfighter
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The Last Starfighter is a ridiculous futuristic sci-fi film along the lines of Star Wars.

A teenage boy who wants to impress a girl he likes but can't even impress any colleges into accepting him spends a lot of time playing the video game Starfighter. One night he wins the game, earning the highest score ever.

Later that night, a spaceship type vehicle drops out of the sky, the driver asks if he is the one who won the game, and then invites him into the vehicle. Soon, they're hurtling effortlessly through space, and we learn that the driver is an alien when he removes his face and eyeballs.

Yeah, The Last Starfighter is intellectual stuff. It doesn't even seem that original; everything comes off looking like a rip-off of practically every sci-fi film ever made. The acting was basically ok but could use some work too, and the characters weren't very intriguing.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Tuesday:
Enemy of the State

Enemy of the State
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Although I'm usually not big on action movies, I thoroughly enjoyed Enemy of the State. Maybe it's because Enemy of the State is the first Will Smith movie I've seen that doesn't involve him kicking some slimy alien's butt. Or maybe Enemy of the State is just an intensely portrayed action movie.

Smith plays Dean, a D.C. lawyer who is buying his wife lingerie when he runs into an old friend from college. Without Dean's knowledge his old friend, who quickly pleads with Dean to help him and runs off, slips a tape into Dean's shopping bag. This tape shows a senator being murdered, and obviously that's why he too is murdered. Dean is left wondering why everyone is suddenly after his life, too.

While running from his enemies - who have top-of-the-line surveillance equipment and can see every move he makes from miles away - Dean runs into an ex-government secret agent (Gene Hackman). Hackman helps Dean try to outsmart the guys after him.

Just a warning: Paranoids beware! Don't see this film if you're already convinced everyone is spying on you. Even a sane person might end up thinking everyone is out to get him after seeing this film! Still, I loved this movie and highly recommend it - just don't leave your Prozac at home if you're really paranoid!

My Rating = Three Stars

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Wednesday:
Rugrats

Rugrats
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The one likable character in the movie Rugrats is an all smiles, unscrupulous reporter who shoves his microphone into a hysterical mother's face and asks, "How does it feel to know your children are lost?" He then turns to her brother-in-law and asks, "How does it feel to know your brother lost your only daughter?" This reminded me of a certain phony-smiles news director I once knew, and I found the scene mildly amusing.

Unfortunately, this character makes one and only one appearance in Rugrats an otherwise tedious children's cartoon.

No question, Rugrats is a "safe" movie to take your kids too. But, as usual, "safe kids movie" can be interpreted as "expect to be bored to death if you're older than eight".

If you enjoy the TV show Rugrats, you just might like it the movie. Otherwise, forget it. Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil, and Angelica, the exasperating cast of the show, are naturally the stars of this movie. Joining them is Tommy's new baby brother, Dillon, who soon evokes feelings of jealousy in Tommy. So, Tommy and his friends decide to take Tommy back to the "hopsicle" as they call it (ouch, my ears!), and proceed to do so via the "Kreptar". This is a child-size, dinosaur shaped toy car that Tommy's father, a toy-inventor, dreamed up. The babies have a wild adventure together, while their parents go frantic.

The best thing I can say about Rugrats is that it gave me a good excuse to take a nap.

My Rating = One Star

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Thursday:
Home Fries

Home Fries
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I try not to have any preconceived ideas about movies before I see them, but I really did know Home Fries would be a stinker before I saw it. After all, when you figure out how a movie's going to end just by watching the previews, there's obviously a problem with the scripting.

Oddly enough, I had a similar problem with Drew Barrymore's last movie, Ever After, which was based on the Cinderella fairy tale. Everyone knows how Cinderella finishes, so what was the point of that? And what was the point of Home Fries, which was even more predictable than Ever After?

Barrymore is Sally Jackson, a young fast food employee who is very pregnant with a much older, married man's child. His obviously demented wife (Catherine O'Hara) sends her Air Force pilot sons Angus and Dorian (Jake Busey and Luke Wilson) to give him a scare with the helicopter. They end up scaring him into a heart attack. Then, she wants them to track down the woman he was having an affair with, and murder her.

What a dysfunctional family! Dorian gets a job at the burger joint where Sally works, not knowing that she is having his dead stepfather's baby. She talks him into taking a lamaze class with her; it's obvious they're attracted to each other, yet he doesn't know she's the "other woman" that mom wants him to kill.

If, after that description, you still don't know how this movie's going to end, maybe you're dull enough that you'd enjoy Home Fries. Otherwise, skip it.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Friday:
Babe: Pig in the City

Babe: Pig in the City
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Wanna know how boring Babe: Pig in the City is? It's so boring -not to mention irritating- that I found myself wishing the main character, a mild-mannered pig named Babe, would be slaughtered for bacon. (This, mind you, is coming from a vegetarian!)

Of course I didn't enjoy the first "Babe" movie, so it's no surprise I found this one lacking in originality and fun. Babe is a sweet, cute, pig, who in his last movie won big honors as a sheepdog. Okay, the animals are adorable, but you can't build a movie on viewers' general fondness for animals. You have to have plot, which Babe doesn't.

Well, it has some semblance of a plot, but not much. Babe's owners, Farmer Hoggett and his wife, are in financial trouble. To save the farm, Babe is entered in a state fair, but he and Mrs. Hoggett fail to make it there and are stranded in a big city. There, they stay in a house full of animals and have lots of "adventures".

As much as I love animals, I can only take so much cutesy animal talk and obvious plotting. Babe: Pig in the City is a movie only for people with no brains.

My Rating = Two Stars

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