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By Jane Horwitz
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, August 17, 2001


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Also Playing
8 and Older
  • "The Princess Diaries" (G). Julie Andrews as queen of tiny Euro principality comes to San Francisco to groom her estranged granddaughter (Anne Hathaway), an awkward 15-year-old, to be next in line for throne in likable if retro Disney comedy. Talk of divorce and death of an estranged parent; teens kissing.
    10 and Older
  • "Osmosis Jones." Intermittently amusing gross-out comedy mixes liveaction, animation to tell sometimes preachy tale of a junk-food-eating slob (Bill Murray) and white blood cell Osmosis Jones (Chris Rock's voice) teaming with a cold capsule (David Hyde Pierce) in slob's cartoony innards to fight lethal virus. PG line pushed with bodily-fluid, skin eruption gags; in upsetting scene, preteen daughter sees dad near death.
  • "An American Rhapsody." Affecting tale of Hungarian family that escapes communism in 1950s, leaving infant daughter behind until bringing her to United States six years later; story cuts to her as rebellious teen (Scarlet Johansson), angry about wrenching childhood, resolved to visit foster parents back in Budapest; third act is rushed, cliched, but story resonates. Profanity; smoking, drinking. Some Hungarian with English subtitles; all English later.
  • "The Others." Neat ghost story about woman (Nicole Kidman) living with two frail children in huge Victorian house at end of World War II, unsettled by sense of invisible "others" in house. Ghostly occurrences; talk of death, afterlife; upsetting description of children murdered. Not for nightmare-prone.
  • "The Deep End." Tilda Swinton in diamond-etched portrait of stoic suburban mom desperate to protect teen son by disposing of body of gay club owner she fears the boy, his lover, killed. Quiet thriller (based on Elisabeth Sanxay Holding's 1947 novel, "The Blank Wall") starts strong, founders on silly coincidences. Explicit sexual situation; near-nudity; sexual innuendo; violence; profanity; smoking. 17 and older.
  • "American Pie 2." Lewd, crude, yet sweet-natured sex farce sequel to 1999 film with pals seeking summer sex. Jason Biggs as klutzy Jim, determined to become suave lover; Eugene Levy as his nerdy, loving dad. Masturbatory high jinks, explicit sexual situations, innuendo; crude sexual language; homophobia; female toplessness; toilet humor; profanity. 17 and older.
  • "Rat Race" (PG-13, 112 minutes)
    Despite the odd amusing moment, "Rat Race" is a grimly unfunny attempt at a screwball comedy about greed. Often it just lies there like a hooked mackerel. Teen audiences (it's not for preteens) may take pleasure in the slapstick silliness and comic stunts, but the slow, flapping dry stretches won't be lost on them either. Crudeness earns the PG-13 – tossing around a heart intended for transplant, mild profanity, rude gestures, toilet humor, Nazi spoofs, drag queen jokes and a cruel gag involving a (clearly animatronic) cow hanging from a helicopter.

    A Las Vegas resort magnate (John Cleese) randomly chooses six slot machine players to compete in a freestyle race for $2 million stashed in a locker in New Mexico. The casino's high-rollers secretly bet on which poor slob will get there first, by hook, crook, or busload of Lucille Ball impersonators. Competitors include Whoopi Goldberg as a woman reuniting with the now-grown child (Lanei Chapman) she gave up for adoption, Cuba Gooding Jr. as an NFL referee notorious for a bad call, Jon Lovitz as a henpecked family man and Rowan Atkinson as a narcoleptic. They all try – too hard.

    "American Outlaws" (PG-13, 95 minutes)
    A glib, brainless reworking of the Old West myths surrounding the James/Younger gang, "American Outlaws" looks good but gets by on cheap laughs and dramatic hooey. Nor is there an iota of psychological truth in its sitcom-shallow characterizations. That noted, unquestioning teen audiences may find the attractive cast and fast, relatively bloodless action sequences thrilling enough. The violence – shootouts, explosions, falling men and horses – stays just shy of R territory, showing no graphic injuries. The script also contains mild sexual innuendo and rare profanity.

    We meet Jesse James (Colin Farrell) and Cole Younger (Scott Caan) and their brothers Frank (Gabriel Macht) and Bob (Will McCormack) at the end of the Civil War in Missouri, where they'd been ambushing Union troops as Confederate partisans. They head home, but find the U.S. Army and greedy railroad barons are forcing farmers off their land. Soon the James/Younger gang is born, robbing banks and making war against the railroads, a la Robin Hood – heroes all. Right.

    "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" (R, 129 minutes)
    In this clumsy but earnest adaptation of Louis de Bernieres's 1994 novel, a captain with the occupying Italian army romances a Greek maiden early in World War II. With its hardworking but ill-chosen cast and plodding earnestness, "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" is a muddle. It has a distracting array of accents sure to confuse high-school-age audiences even more than the story about Italian occupiers, Greek partisans and German invaders. An American actor (Nicolas Cage) tries to sound Italian, a Spanish actress (Penelope Cruz) tries to sound Greek, both while speaking English dialogue. Still, high-school history and film buffs can glean pleasures from the movie, gorgeously filmed on the island of Cephallonia, where the book is set. There are battles, firing squads and corpses – none overly graphic. A mild sexual situation, semi-nudity and sexual innuendo also warrant the R.

    Captain Corelli (Cage), an interpreter with the Italian army, is a gentle music lover and indifferent Fascist. Billeted in the home of wry Dr. Iannis (John Hurt), he falls in love with the doctor's beautiful, brainy daughter (Cruz). She's engaged to a partisan fighter (Christian Bale) and at first resists the attraction, but war causes personal and political upheaval.


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