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Reviews for the week of December 13, 1999.

Monday:
Happy Texas

Happy Texas
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Happy Texas is a mediocre comedy set in an ordinary, small Texas town.

Harry and Wayne are two of three escaped convicts who steal a camper. While driving through Happy, Texas, they are stopped by the sheriff (William H. Macy) - who mistakes them for beauty pageant experts. (They were expecting Steven and David, the gay couple who owned the camper.) Now, Harry and Wayne pretend to be David and Steven so they can not only avoid the cops but also rob the local bank.

This leads to some amusing behavior, and many of the scenes were laughable. Wayne teaches a group of little girls about pageant etiquette - much to the delight of their teacher, Illeana Douglas, who obviously likes Wayne. Too bad she thinks he's gay.

Harry encounters the same problem when he falls for the bank president - only she wants him to act like her "girlfriend". She confesses all her men troubles to him (the guy she's been seeing is obviously a jerk). Then, Sheriff Chappy confesses he has a crush on Harry.

Audio VersionThe good thing about Happy Texas is that it didn't drag on too long - if it had lasted much longer than its 98 minutes, I would have left. (As it was, there were a few slow scenes.) The acting was serviceable (although Douglas' southern drawl was not quite convincing).

My Rating = Two Stars

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Friday:
Green Mile

Green Mile
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I recently reread the Green Mile books, Stephen King's six part series about a death row guard in the 1930's, in order to refresh my memory before I saw the movie.

I was not disappointed in the movie version, as I found it to be very much like the books - little was changed.

And Tom Hanks is the perfect actor to play Paul Edgecombe, a death row guard who discovers something strange about one of his inmates, John Coffey. Coffey, a very large man, was convicted of brutally murdering two little girls. But Paul realizes Coffey is something of holy healer when Coffey makes Paul's serious urinary infection completely disappear in a matter of seconds. Soon, Paul begins to doubt Coffey's guilt, and eventually, he and several other guards sneak Coffey out of jail - so he can heal the warden's wife, who has a brain tumor.

The Green Mile is three hours long, but I didn't find it slow or boring - even though I already knew what was going to happen. All the actors are well cast, the plot is intriguing (whether or not you've read the book) and the pace moves quickly enough that the story doesn't get stale. And for you squeamish ones, I noticed that The Green Mile had comparatively less blood, gore, and violence than other Stephen King book-turned-movies (I could have done with a bit more action). It is still an excellent thriller, however.

Audio VersionYou may also wonder how this compares to Shawshank Redemption, another King book/movie about prison. I also loved Shawshank Redemption, but there were vast differences in these two movies, despite the same basic premise of an innocent man in jail for murder. (Allow me to give away a few endings here for detail.) In Shawshank, the innocent guy eventually escapes, albeit after twenty years in the slammer; at the end of Green Mile, Coffey does die in the electric chair. And Shawshank featured nothing supernatural, like a man with healing powers. But if you liked Shawshank, you'll probably enjoy The Green Mile.

My Rating = Four Stars

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