Big Daddy

Big Daddy
Cast: Adam Sandler
Studio: Columbia
Rating: 7/10

Money. It’s what makes Hollywood glamorous and actors desperate. The parents of child actors must be desperate, being that they put their children in films that require them to act out such bad habits. Children are considered angels, that is, until you see movies like Big Daddy.

Sonny (Adam Sandler) is dumped by his girlfriend, has no job, and his father is always after him because he lives like a bum. He seems to always walk into a conversation or party at the wrong time, spoiling everything. Basically, Sonny has bad luck, all of which is self-inflicted. He chooses not to go out and get a good job and his lifestyle defies his father’s wishes.

His roommate and friend, Kevin (John Stewart), has announced his engagement to Corinne (Leslie Mann), and has a business trip just before the wedding. While doing all of the normal everyday things, Kevin’s son, Julian, is left at their doorstep with a letter explaining that his mother has died and it’s now Kevin’s responsibility to care for him. With the unsuspecting father out of town, and Corinne in the picture, Sonny takes it upon himself to be the adoptive father, which in turn kicks his butt into gear to become a better person.

Big Daddy is comical, but doesn’t come close to Happy Gilmore. The film has a very diverse cast. What I mean by that is there are roles like that of Corinne, who hates Sonny; the delivery guy (Rob Schneider) who feeds Sonny; Phil (Allen Covert), a successful gay attorney; and Layla (Joey Lauren Adams), who falls for the shabby Sonny. These actors greatly supplement the film’s humor. Adam Sandler did well with the screen writing, but I don’t think he will get an Oscar. Maybe he has a better shot with Mtv.

If you first prepare yourself for the stunts that Sandler coerces Julian (Cole and Dillan Sprouse) into doing, you will enjoy Big Daddy. If you’re a parent, I would not suggest watching this film, even with the happily-ever-after ending and Sandler dressed in a suit.

+ kim hutchison

The Wood

The Wood
Cast: Omar Epps
Studio: Paramount
Rating: 5/10

The Wood is all about a group of three male friends and their embarrassing boyhood experiences involving women. Bringing back the old school beats, the afro picks, and the Geri Curl is Taye Diggs, Omar Epps, and Richard Jones. The movie goes back to their days of growing up in Englewood, California, which means a whole lot of foot stomping, fist pumping non-stop laughter. The crowd in the theater was going wild. This movie doesn’t have any gang banging or drug dealing. We’re getting out of the hood and into The Wood.

The movie is built around Diggs, Epps, and Jones as three kids growing up and the evolution of their male/female relationships. Narrated by Epps as Big Mike, we hear the story of what has shaped them as men and what has cemented their friendship. The movie is laid out before us based on Diggs’ upcoming marriage. The three naturally get nostalgic and reminisce about life as boys in The Wood. Growing up in The Wood is like growing up anywhere else, and life is sometimes hard, but these guys put it all into perspective. This is a comedy that everyone will enjoy.

+ jonathan lin

In Dreams

Cast: Annette Bening
Studio: dreamworks
Rating: 4/10

In Dreams is a nightmare. The story takes too long to develop and Robert Downey Jr.’s character doesn’t show up until the end of this drawn out production. My flat 7-Up (not a corporate plug) gave me more satisfaction than this bore.

Neil Jordan shouldn’t be blamed for the poor script. His camera style and angles are amazing at times. The scene where Annette Bening walks in front of a semi, although unbelievable, is wonderfully shot and the water scenes are splendid. The entire film’s imagery is brilliant and alive with colors. Unfortunately, ratings are based on actual content rather than imaginative directing.

The plot isn’t very strong. Annette Bening’s character is drawn into a psychotic man’s dreams. Bening engages in some terrible overacting. Her poor one-liners are reminiscent of Nightmare on Elm Street. She reinforces this in saying, “No matter what happens, don’t wake me up!” The film spends entirely too much time on the development of Annette Bening’s character, or lack thereof. There is no cohesion among the various elements in the movie. So much of the film is unbelievable that you can’t help but snicker. The restlessness of the audience at my screening was indication enough.

+ charlie craine

Gladiator

Gladiator
Cast: Russell Crowe
Studio: Dreamworks
Rating: 9/10

A movie set during the time when Rome was all powerful, even more so than God himself, seemed ambitious back when Charlton Heston graced the robes for Ben-Hur. Back in those days, epics were made constantly. Today, movie budgets are usually more epic than the films. Gladiator has all of the ingredients for an epic tale, the old way: the rise and fall of a man who loses all and attempts to win it back in the face of the immovable force of the Roman Empire.

The opening sequence starts out fabulously. The sheer size of the battle is amazing. The fight itself was rather quick, and hard to follow as the camera swept around at a torrential pace. Russell Crowe plays the great General Maximus. After what he thinks is his last battle, he’s in for a surprise that causes him to choose between his family and his love for Rome.

After all hell breaks loose (I’ll let you find out what it is since I don’t want to give too much away), Maximus is bought and sold as a slave-turned-gladiator for the profit of his master. He must fight in what isn’t exactly your everyday sporting event. As a gladiator, if you win, you live at least one day longer. Losers are dragged out and thrown to the desert vultures. The fight scenes between gladiators are wonderful. Crowe shows intensity and deftness that I thought was beyond him. His battle-weary face and calm in the presence of death is chilling.

Joaquin Phoenix plays Commodus, the son of the fallen Caesar and mortal enemy of Maximus. Phoenix plays the part of the whiny and weak yet evil Commodus to perfection. You have nothing but hatred for his character. You find yourself cheering his failures and booing his victories.

The film itself was exquisitely directed by Ridley Scott, from the scenes of battle to the desert gladiator ring, all the way to the pillars of Rome. Everything feels authentic, bringing you in and never letting you go. The costumes are fantastic. The one problem I had was with the usage of words and phrases from an era over a hundred years before the birth of Christ.

The final act doesn’t let you down. It’s perfect because it’s what you expect, but don’t really expect to happen. You finally get what you want to see instead of something ruining it along the way. For a film that lasts well over two hours, you never find a chance to get restless or distracted. I only hope that Gladiator is the beginning of more epic movies to come.

+ charlie craine

Fight Club

Fight Club
Cast: Brad Pitt
Studio: Fox
Rating: 9/10

I was lucky to have an early screening that allowed me the weekend to sit on my review and reflect upon what might be the best movie I’ve seen all year. I needed the three-day weekend to figure out pieces of the film that I missed the first time around, but pulled together once I really thought about it. The bits I didn’t get the first time around will be ironed out when I go and see the film again.

In the end, Fight Club is about empowering ones self. The movie’s synopsis reads: You are not your job. You are not how much you have in the bank. You are not the contents of your wallet. You are not your khakis. You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. These are the amendments that Tyler Durden lives by. This is how he goes through life, one experience at a time. And what an experience this movie was.

Fight Club is about fighting, but that’s not all. As a matter of fact, fighting only opens the door to a whole lot more. And inside this broken-down house lies the dual life of either a madman or someone in search of the opportunity to empower himself. This movie is intense. You laugh a few times, but the intensity is what keeps your eyes on the screen.

Most of the movie seems to be poorly written, as Brad Pitt’s character, Tyler Durden, is the prototypical bad-cool guy. Pitt plays his cool against Edward Norton’s average Joe. As Norton walks on the sidewalk, Pitt walks in the water filled gutter, Norton takes the bus and Pitt steals a sports car. As stereotypical as Pitt’s character seemed early on, you soon realize that the intense creature that is Durden seems to be coming unraveled, as all psychopaths do in the movies, but you are in for a surprise.

Fight Club touches on the strength of a man’s heart and soul, his ability to change the world. It may not be as far-fetched as it seems. The movie leaves you wondering what contribution you are making to yourself and the world around you. See this movie. Let it sit in your mind and swim around. Trust me, it will strike you right away, but it will torment you forever.

+ charlie craine

Resident Evil

Resident Evil
Cast: Milla Jovovich
Studio: Sony
Rating: 4/10

When was the last time a video game spured a hit movie? Super Mario Bros.? Hardly. Tomb Raider? Not close. Resident Evil? You are getting colder.

Resident Evil is much worse than all the other video game movies that you almost want to exclude it from an already bad genre. Resident Evil makes Tron look good.

Resident Evil is nothing more than a hi-tech version of Romero’s flesh-eating-zombie flicks. I’ve got to tell you the plot of The Night of the Living Dead surpass this modern day blunder. There are more frights in that black and white movie that Resident Evil almost feels like a comedy in comparison.

You can do all the visual effects in the world, but that doesn’t mean you are in the makings of a great film. Anyone remember Battlefield Earth? Well Resident Evil has found itself in that kind of asinine company.

+ bob mack