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Review of the day for the week of December 14, 1998.

Monday:
White Man's Burden

White Man's Burden
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In White Man's Burden, John Travolta plays a down-on-his-luck delivery boy who is fired unjustly and can't find other work. All of this transpires because African-Americans run the country and Travolta is in a minority group. Also, his marriage is strained because of money problems. Soon, he and his family are evicted from their apartment; his wife and kids move in with her mother, who refuses to give Travolta a place to stay. (She's a cold one.) In other words, his life stinks.

Henry Belafonte portrays a wealthy African-American who is partly responsible for Travolta's job loss. Travolta tracks him down and threatens him with a gun, demanding that Belafonte pay up the money Travolta lost because of him. Unfortunately, they arrive at the bank a few minutes too late, so Travolta has to hold Belafonte hostage until Monday.

However, things go awry, and the ending is rather tragic - and surprising. (Don't worry, I'm not going to give it away.) At times this film is also quite humorous, too. And the concept was quite interesting. White Man's Burden is certainly a unique film.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Tuesday:
The Usual Suspects

The Usual Suspects
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The Usual Suspects is an intriguing drama starring Kevin Spacey.

Spacey plays a crippled criminal who is shown narrating his story to the FBI. He was mixed up in some dirty dealings with four other criminals, one of whom has "reformed". That's Dean Keaton. He wants to go straight, and it doesn't hurt that his wife is an important lawyer, but he's got a lot of crime behind him.

Now, mobsters are after them, claiming to work for the legendary Keyser S÷oze. Keyser is a big time gangster whom most people don't believe in - but they all fear him. Go figure. Spacey and his friends are asked to do a "job" involving ninety-one million dollars worth of dope; if they complete it successfully their debt to Keyser will be repaid. If not, they might be killed or turned over to the cops.

Spacey's character is interesting because he doesn't seem the criminal type at all. He's very quiet and reserved, which does make sense because he's the "brains" of the operation - he thinks up new, ingenious ways to commit crimes without being caught. The acting was terrific, and The Usual Suspects was suspenseful. I'd recommend it as a good action/mystery type movie.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Wednesday:
Patch Adams

Patch Adams
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Patch Adams is both a hysterically funny yet serious film that was thoroughly entertaining.

Robin Williams plays Patch Adams, a medical student who acts like an idiot. Okay, doctors are supposed to act like idiots, but Patch does it on purpose! Apparently, he thinks that laughter is the best medicine.

And if that's true, then anyone who sees this movie should end up in great health, because you laugh all the way through! Patch's continual antics are outrageous and the audience laughed uproariously at many scenes. (The last scene was the funniest - I won't spoil it for you, but it was a very grand finale!)

However, the doctors who run the university and the hospital aren't amused by Patch's behavior. In fact, the dean of the school attempts to have Patch kicked out.

Meanwhile, there is a subplot about Patch's friends - including his girlfriend. (This ends rather tragically, and Patch almost gives up his quest to be a doctor because of what happens to her.)

One critic I know said he could tell by the previews "exactly which heartstrings Patch Adams is going to pull and when." I thought I did too, but assumed Williams' humor would keep the plot going which it certainly did. However, I didn't see the shocking subplot about Patch's girlfriend coming anywhere in the previews, and a few other parts were surprising as well. Also, I found it amazing that Patch Adams was based on a true story - it was extremely difficult to believe that someone actually pulled all those hilariously zany stunts!

My Rating = Four Stars

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Thursday:
An Officer and a Gentleman

An Officer and a Gentleman
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A young Richard Gere stars in An Officer and a Gentleman a somewhat interesting film.

Gere portrays a young man who joins the navy shortly after finishing college. His alcoholic father, no upstanding citizen himself, laughs at this idea.

Once in the navy, Gere endures rigorous training under a no-nonsense sergeant. Meanwhile, he begins a romance with a young woman - one of many who come to the island every week, conniving to get hitched to a "navy man". (Their tactics include "accidentally" getting pregnant so their boyfriends will feel obligated to marry them.) Subplots revolve around Gere's friends, other Navy trainees.

Parts of An Officer and a Gentleman were too predictable; others were indeed surprising (such as the fate of Gere's buddy, who is kicked out of the Navy during survival training and later meets a bad end). Although An Officer and a Gentleman wasn't exactly boring, it wasn't exactly thrilling either.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Friday:
Jack Frost

Jack Frost
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For the first thirty minutes, Jack Frost was almost a decent movie. Michael Keaton plays Jack Frost, a musician who constantly forsakes quality time with his son in order to chase pipe dreams of becoming a famous singer. The last straw comes when he gives up the better part of a Christmas vacation to meet with an important record producer. Although he decides to turn around and forget seeing the producer so he can spend Christmas with his family after all, he is killed in a car wreck on the way back.

The movie advances a year in time, to the following Christmas. (This is where the movie becomes irritatingly ridiculous.) Jack reappears in his son's life, as a snowman. That's right, it's a walking, talking, SNOWMAN.

My problem is that I just couldn't get over the premise of a live snowman. If Jack had come back in some other way, I might have been able to go for it. If he had been reincarnated; if he had appeared as a ghost, as in the movie Ghost Dad; if he had possessed someone else's body; any of those would have been acceptable. But a snowman? A completely inanimate object? I don't think so. Maybe young children will go for that, but I wouldn't recommend this film for anyone else.

My Rating = Two Stars

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