Capsule reviews by Desson Howe unless noted.


Daddy-wannabe John Ritter adopts the Orphan from Hell who's been returned 30 times to the orphanage. "Combine Dennis the Menace and the Marquis de Sade and you've got Junior -- on a good day," threatens the movie's promoters. Eight-year-old Michael Oliver plays the nightmare brat. Says Ritter, "I've had a vasectomy since working with this kid." Area theaters.


There's a first time for everything, moviemaking included. But that doesn't mean first efforts should make it onto the screen. Actor Bob Hoskins ("Mona Lisa," "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?") makes his ambitious directorial debut with "The Raggedy Rawney," and raggedy it is (and crude and choppy and mawkish). Hoskins has written an allegorical anti-war fable set in England in an obscure day that might be the future. A frightened young soldier (Dexter Fletcher) deserts the force in a panic, and while on the run has a bizarre encounter with a young girl who paints his face and gives him a red dress. Thus attired, he wanders the fields till he's adopted by a band of gypsy refugees who take him for a "rawney," someone who's "magic mad" rather than plain, ordinary mad. The gypsies also somehow mistake him for a woman (Fletcher's looks, an androgynous cross between Mick Jagger and David Bowie, help), enabling him to have a clandestine affair with the gypsy chieftain's daughter, and live among them until their luck begins to sour. Hoskins succeeds in creating a rustically atmospheric look, but the many short scenes don't snap together and the story remains fuzzy. Hoskins the director allows Hoskins the actor (playing the leader of the gypsies, of course) to smush his face with his hands and roll his eyes as if he were still acting next to Toons. Better luck next time, Bob. Biograph. -- Joe Brown