These movies arrive on video store shelves this week.

*BOWFINGER

(PG-13, 1999, 97 minutes, Universal)

Writer/director/performer Steve Martin hits a comic triple with this hilarious farce set in off-off-Hollywood. Martin plays Bowfinger, a luckless B-movie producer with a makeshift cast (including B-movie diva Christine Baranski and wanton starlet Heather Graham) and crew, who shoots an aliens-on-earth movie starring Hollywood's most famous action star, Kit Ramsey (Eddie Murphy), without Kit's knowledge. The story is constantly amusing. And Murphy is a stitch as the already-paranoid Kit, spooked by all these strangers who keep approaching him in bizarre character. He's even funnier in a dual performance as Kit's brother Jiff, a man with a mouthful of braces who describes himself as "an active renter at Blockbuster." Contains sexual situations and really bad advice about jaywalking.

-- Desson Howe

DETROIT ROCK CITY

(R, 1999, 94 minutes, New Line)

This disappointing homage to Kiss fans -- with a 1970s-set story about four potheaded die-hards (led by Edward Furlong) who stop at nothing to make that concert in Detroit -- gets dry mouth pretty fast. Furlong, Giuseppe Andrews, Sam Huntington and newcomer James De Bello are likable as the foursome. But the friends' stoned innocence isn't particularly compelling. And writer/director Adam Rifkin dispatches them on individual soul-finding adventures that detract from the bong-headed spirit of the thing. As for the kids' ardent opposition (including a chain-smoking, God-fearing mom (Lin Shaye) who stages anti-Kiss rallies with a bullhorn; and a rival collection of disco-dancing bullies) doesn't pack enough moxie to make the comedy rock. Real Kiss fans will be disappointed by the real band's slim appearance as themselves at the end of the show. Contains raunch, nudity, profanity and drug use.

-- Desson Howe

*AN IDEAL HUSBAND

(PG-13, 1999, 98 minutes, Miramax)

At the turn of last century, handsome, dapper Lord Goring (Rupert Everett) has to forsake his idle existence to save his dear friend, Sir Robert (Jeremy Northam), from the blackmailing Mrs. Cheveley (Julianne Moore). Lord Goring must save Sir Robert's standing as a politician and an ideal husband -- especially in the eyes of his devoted wife, Lady Chiltern (Cate Blanchett). Wilde aficionados will not be amused to learn that writer/director Oliver Parker has significantly reordered the Oscar Wilde play. But he retains the Wilde wit and, like the playwright, allows no one to escape intense moral scrutiny. We may not be sputtering into our teacups, but we are chortling lightly at this comedy of manners, politics, treachery, misunderstanding and blackmail. Contains mild sexual implications.

-- Desson Howe

THE 13TH WARRIOR

(R, 1999, 103 minutes, Touchstone)

Michael Crichton's "Eaters of the Dead," arguably his best read of all, drew from the true account of Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan, a sophisticated emissary from Baghdad in the 10th century who joined a group of Norse warriors and wrote about his experiences. But the movie doesn't pack the same punch. Antonio Banderas is very persuasive as Ibn Fahdlan, who joins a Viking detail bent on defeating a tribe of marauding bear-men, who seem to be part beast. The actor's Spanish lilt effectively suggests the foreigner status he gets among the warriors as he tries to understand their ways and impress them as a soldier. Unfortunately, the story's too lightweight and streamlined to be memorable. "The 13th Warrior" (I guess "Eaters of the Dead" wasn't upbeat enough) seems like a made-for-TV warrior movie without enough money to get really epic. Contains ancient violence -- head-chopping and all that.

-- Desson Howe

*TWIN FALLS IDAHO

(R, 1999, 110 minutes, Columbia-TriStar)

A hooker named Penny (Michele Hicks) becomes friends with a pair of identical, conjoined twins. But the freakishness of this encounter evolves into something more lyrical and affecting. Through Penny's eyes, we warm up to these brothers (played by twin -- and unjoined -- brothers Michael and Mark Polish), who are taciturn, beatific and tinged with a certain tragedy. "Twin Falls Idaho," directed by Michael Polish, who cowrote with Mark, lulls us into a sort of vigilant trance with its sustained silences, murky lighting and languid music. Everyone seems to be living in an otherworldly dream. The eerie presence of the Polish brothers gives this movie its lasting quality. They don't just play the part, they imprint an aura into our minds for days afterward. Contains some obscenities and mild sexual situations.

-- Desson Howe

THE WOOD

(R, 1999, 106 minutes, Paramount)

The feature debut of writer/director Rick Famuyiwa has some unforced humor and honest performances from its young cast, but this reminiscence about growing up in suburban Inglewood, Calif., is ultimately just another testosterone-laden Peter Pan story about boys being dragged kicking and screaming into adulthood. Omar Epps and Richard T. Jones play twentysomething pals of Taye Diggs, a buddy gone AWOL on his wedding day (sound sitcom familiar, doesn't it?). After many flashbacks to days of "booty-grabbing" by their high-school and junior-high selves (nicely played by Sean Nelson, Duane Finley and Trent Cameron), it's on with the wedding -- even though, in terms of character development, we're not very far from where "The Wood" started. Contains obscenity, a gang beating, armed robbery, vomiting, male nudity, sexual situations and sexual humor.

-- Michael O'Sullivan