The name of actor Djimon Hounsou was misspelled in a review of "Biker Boyz" in the Feb. 7 Weekend section. (Published 2/8/03)
HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN 10 DAYS (PG-13, 112 minutes)
Cutesy, glib and contrived it may well be, but "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" pokes reasonably deft fun at the habits of young singles and should make a pretty successful date movie as a result. One of the looser PG-13's, it's an iffy choice for middle-schoolers and includes strong verbal and visual sexual innuendo, sexual situations, profanity and toilet humor.
Matthew McConaughey plays Ben, a cocky advertising man who bets co-workers he can pick any woman at a party and make her fall in love with him in a week. Kate Hudson plays Andie, a writer at a trendy women's magazine. For a piece on what women should not do, she plans to reel in a guy, then drive him away in 10 days by being clingy and controlling. The two strangers, shoved together at a party, hit on each other. Based on Michele Alexander and Jeannie Long's book, the movie keys into today's brittle "hook-up" culture and hints at a longing for emotional closeness.
SHANGHAI KNIGHTS (PG-13, 107 minutes)
If ever a sequel didn't need to be made, it's "Shanghai Knights." The martial arts buddy comedy that spawned it, "Shanghai Noon" (PG-13, 2000), paired a noble Chinese fighter named Chon Wang (pronounced "John Wayne"), played by Jackie Chan, and a doofus American outlaw named Roy O'Bannon (Owen Wilson) in the 1880s Wild West. It brimmed with late 20th-century slang and was nonsensical but funny. Alas, "Shanghai Knights" beats the original concept to death, especially the anachronistic slang thing. Even teenage kung fu comedy fans will find it often tedious. Aside from fights, swordplay and a stabbing, it contains sexual innuendo about paid gigolos and the Kama Sutra. Wang's father, a noble who serves the Chinese emperor, is murdered, and Wang and O'Bannon seek the killer in London, where they sort of uncover plots to usurp the British and Chinese thrones.
BIKER BOYZ (PG-13, 111 minutes)
"Biker Boyz" wastes the talents of a lot of good actors and it isn't even enjoyably silly. It's not visually exciting enough for its subject matter -- an intense, largely African American subculture of motorcycle racing clubs -- and the story is cliched and predictable. An accidental death early on shows the victim in a pool of blood. Other elements earning the PG-13 include profanity, sexual innuendo and women in skimpy outfits.
Laurence Fishburne plays Smoke, the reigning fortyish racing champ. Derek Luke (of "Antwone Fisher" [PG-13] fame) plays Kid, the son of Smoke's best friend, so embittered by his beloved father's sudden death that he challenges Smoke, whom he holds responsible, for the title. Fabulous actors like Fishburne, Luke, Djimon Housou and Orlando Jones try vainly to make the weak script catch fire.
THE QUIET AMERICAN (R, 100 minutes)
This beautifully nuanced story of love, war, betrayal and murder -- adapted from Graham Greene's novel -- is the only genuine film to open nationwide this week. It offers high-schoolers 16 and older a chance to see great screen acting and, thanks to director Phillip Noyce, complex storytelling. Set in Vietnam in 1952, "The Quiet American" also explores the origins of the debate over the Vietnam War. It portrays graphic wartime violence, including a terrorist blast that maims innocents, and shows opium use, a brothel, a mild sexual situation, drinking and profanity.
Michael Caine etches an indelible portrait as Thomas Fowler, a jaded, drug-addicted but veddy, veddy charming British journalist living in Saigon as the communist uprising against French colonial rule heats up. He befriends a young American aid worker (Brendan Fraser, also excellent) who, Fowler suspects, has some hidden agenda. The younger man's love for Fowler's Vietnamese mistress (Do Thi Hai Yen) further strains the friendship.