Reviews

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Big Fat Liar (2001)

C- | **½ | -2| Teens & Up*

In the end, when the parents realize all their son went through to win their trust, they can’t help but be proud of him. Another touching Hallmark moment brought to you by a Hollywood committee, none of whom has any children or parents of their own, or knows anyone who does. Read More >

Being John Malkovich (1999)

F | ***½ | -4|

The malleable, plastic vision of human nature in general and of sexuality in particular, in which gender and relationships shift and merge and re-form like blobs of goo in a lava lamp, represents a profoundly anti-human fantasy and an affront to personal dignity. Read More >

Becket (1964)

A | **** | +3| Teens & Up*

Peter O’Toole roars magnificently both in laughter and in rage; his Henry is a simple, direct, utterly unprincipled man who sees the world in two great categories: (a) things he wants, and (b) obstacles to getting them. Read More >

Battlefield Earth (2000)

F | 0 | +0| Teens & Up*

Here is the closest thing to a positive statement I can make about Battlefield Earth: Although it is an adaptation of a novel by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the sect of Scientology - and although it stars John Travolta, one of Hollywood’s most high-profile Scientologists and a long-time champion of this project - Battlefield Earth is not a cryptic tract or allegory of Scientology. Read More >

Babette’s Feast (1987)

A+ | **** | +4| Kids & Up

In the end, Babette’s Feast is a quiet celebration of the divine grace that meets us at every turn, and even redeems our ways not taken, our sacrifices and losses. Whatever we think has been given up or lost, God gives back in greater abundance, one way or another. It may not be till heaven that we truly become all that he intends; but his grace is here and now, whatever our circumstances, and with him all things are possible. Read More >

Babe: Pig in the City (1998)

F | ½ | -2| Kids & Up*

As an enthusiastic fan of the first Babe, I wanted to believe in the sequel, even if it did turn out to be too dark for young kids. After all, Miller was also the screenwriter and producer for the original film, directed by Chris Noonan. So I came to Babe: Pig in the City with high hopes. Read More >

Babe (1995)

A+ | **** | +2| Kids & Up

The judges rating the pig’s performance might as well be grading the entire movie. Babe is a perfect 10. Read More >

Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)

D+ | *** | -2| Teens & Up*

Directors Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise (Beauty and the Beast) keep things moving fast enough to keep them from getting boring, and there are a few laughs along the way. Yet what could have made adequate summer entertainment for older kids and parents with low expectations is ultimately undone by pervasive echoes of New-Age pop spirituality and neopaganism in the film’s imagery and themes. Read More >

Armageddon (1998)

D | * | +1-1| Teens & Up*

“Talk about the wrong stuff” is one officer’s disparaging comment as Willis’ team struts about NASA ostensibly preparing for their mission, hamming it up like class clowns in high school, ridiculing the process, flaunting their lack of couth like a badge of honor — all but letting their butt cracks stick out. Yes, in this film the honors science students are obliged to sit back and watch as the shop class saves the world. Read More >

Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)

B | ***½ | +2-2| Teens & Up*

The Dead End Kids have dirty faces, all right — but they’re no angels. Tough-talking young hoods much given to slapping one another’s faces and terrorizing their lower East Side Manhattan neighborhood, they may tolerate sincere, savvy Father Jerry Connolly (Pat O’Brien) and his efforts to divert them from the dangers of life on the street; but it’s in Fr. Jerry’s boyhood chum, infamous gangster Rocky Sullivan (James Cagney), that the Kids find a mentor and kindred spirit. Read More >

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

B- | **** | -2| Teens & Up*

A.I. is a science-fiction fairy tale: a terrible, revisionistic revisiting of "Pinocchio," the story of the little manmade boy who wants to be real — as told by a nihilist who condemns Gepetto for creating Pinocchio, the world for laughing at him, and the Blue Fairy for leading him on when he’s better off being made of wood, which will after all be around long after Gepetto is pushing up daisies. Read More >

The 6th Day (2000)

B- | **½ | +1-1| Adults

Arnold Schwarzeneggar’s latest vehicle brings us to a rather well-realized, not-too-distant future ("sooner than you think" according to an ominous caption) in which human cloning is possible but forbidden by "sixth-day laws" (so called after the sixth day of creation week in Genesis 1, the day when God created man). Read More >

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

A+ | **** | +2| Kids & Up

The Wizard of Oz is one of a very few shared experiences that unite Americans as a culture, transcending barriers of age, locale, politics, religion, and so on. We all see it when we are young, and it leaves an indelible mark on our imaginations. We can hardly imagine not knowing it. It ranks among our earliest and most defining experiences of wonder and of fear, of fairy-tale joys and terrors, of the lure of the exotic and the comfort of home. Read More >

The Notebook (2004)

D+ | ** | +1-2| Adults

See Noah (Ryan Gosling) and Allie (Rachel McAdams) lie in the middle of a darkened intersection watching the traffic light change, then scramble for safety when a car comes! See Allie enjoying post-coital oil painting in the nude, wrapped in a sheet on the porch! Read More >

The Robe (1953)

B- | **½ | +2| Kids & Up

The Robe is the story of the other Roman soldier at the foot of the cross — not Longinus, but the one who wins a toss of dice and takes home the robe of Christ. Read More >

The Stoning of Soraya M (2008)

C+ | ** | +2-2| Adults*

Highlighting the powerlessness and peril of women under a system that requires them, if accused of infidelity, to prove their innocence or die, but will not punish their husbands unless their guilt is proved, the film’s spotlight exposes a barbaric injustice while for the most part leaving the surrounding social and cultural context in darkness. Read More >

G-Force (2009)

C- | ** | +0| Kids & Up

Parents may be interested to know that the movie tie-in toys are equipped with sound and movement as well as gear. Will the toy Blaster say things like “Pimp my ride!” and “That was off the hizook!” like he does in the movie? Will the toy Juarez riff on the Pussycat Dolls line “Don cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me”? Will the toy Darwin say “Yippie kay yay, coffee-maker!”? There’s a click moment waiting to happen in another ten or fifteen years (hopefully not before that). Read More >

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