These movies arrive on video store shelves this week.


(R, 98 minutes, 1999, Tri-Star)

In paying tribute to such comedy/horror flicks as "Carrie," "Heathers" and "Wild Things," writer/director Darren Stein brings nothing new to the table except four (or five) fearsome princesses (Rose McGowan, Julie Benz, Rebecca Gayheart and Charlotte Roldan), who terrorize their fellow students. When one of the girls dies by misadventure, leader McGowan gets busy creating a coverup story, and bringing a social dud called Fern (Judy Evans Greer) into the group so she won't blab. Unfortunately, "Jawbreaker" fails to answer the unspoken question it raises: Why sit through a lesser imitation, when you could just rent "Heathers" for a far more enjoyable time? Contains violence, macabre material, sexual situations and obscenity.

-- Desson Howe


(PG-13, 115 minutes, 1999, Universal)

If laughter is the best medicine, "Patch Adams" is but a sugary, fitfully amusing placebo. Loosely based on the life of Arlington's own Hunter "Patch" Adams, M.D., the feel-good-or-else movie stars Robin Williams as a zany physician who believes in the curative powers of comedy. Williams brings his customary mania to the character, but Tom Shadyac's directing and Steve Oedekerk's screenplay is overly reverent and timid. Contains some strong language and crude humor.

-- Rita Kempley


(R, 121 minutes, 1998, Paramount)

Billy Bob Thornton steals the show as the slow-witted member of a trio of Midwestern schlemiels (rounded out by Bill Paxton and Brent Briscoe) who stumble on a fortune in cash in a gym bag in director Sam Raimi's darkly intelligent and morally complex thriller. Greed and betrayal reminiscent of "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" begin to eat away at the plan to keep the money almost from the moment of its conception, but "A Simple Plan's" most satisfying pleasure is watching the uneasy love that binds brothers Paxton and Thornton self-destruct. Contains brief nudity, profanity, murder, a dead body and shooting.

-- Desson Howe