Originally created 11/14/97

Mini reviews

Movies are listed with theater location for today through Thursday. Call theaters for times.

Just out

THE JACKAL (* 1/2, R) Glum, flat, unconvincing thriller based on the much better 1973 film Day of the Jackal. Bruce Willis plays a professional assassin, hired by the Russian Mafia to kill the FBI chief; Sidney Poitier is a deputy FBI director; and Richard Gere is the IRA terrorist he uses to try to track down the Jackal.

Masters, Regency, Evans, Augusta Village and Aiken Mall.

THE LITTLE MERMAID (G) Disney classic is re-released to introduce a new gaggle of kids to the tale of a determined teen mermaid and her love for a landlubber prince.

Evans and Augusta Village.

THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO LITTLE (*, PG) The funniest thing about this Bill Murray movie, alas, is the title.

Masters, Regency, Evans, Augusta Village and Aiken Mall.

Special screening

THE RAINMAKER (PG-13) Preview of Francis Ford Coppola's adaptation of John Grisham's novel about a poor Memphis, Tenn., family taking on a powerful insurance company over its refusal to pay a claim. Matt Damon and Danny DeVito are the not exactly Philadelphia lawyers hired by the family, and Danny Glover is the judge presiding in the case.

7:15 p.m. Saturday, Evans; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Augusta Village, followed by free show of Mad City.


BEAN (** 1/2, PG-13) The most popular sitcom star in British history stars in his own feature. Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson), the malevolent malaprop, is dispatched by a gleeful London art gallery to Los Angeles to preside over the U.S. purchase of Whistler's Mother. Everything goes wrong, on both a slapstick and more slyly satirical level. But the film feels a bit long, and a closing scene is tacked on.

Masters, Aiken Mall, Augusta Village, Evans and Regency.

BOOGIE NIGHTS (****, R) A brilliant, low-rent Hollywood epic about the rise and fall of an adult film star. Mark Wahlberg stars as a Valley kid who is discovered by a pornographer (Burt Reynolds) and becomes an X-rated star.

Augusta Village.

THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE (** 1/2, R) Keanu Reeves plays a lawyer whose expertise at jury selection gets him a job offer from a powerful Manhattan firm run by John Milton (Al Pacino), who may be the devil. Part John Grisham, part supernatural, the movie never really comes together, but Mr. Pacino has fun with his role.

Masters, Augusta Village, Evans and Aiken Mall.

EVE'S BAYOU (****, R) The most astonishing and confident debut of the year. Writer-director Kasi Lemmons tells the story of the Batiste family of the Louisiana bayou country, circa 1962, as seen through the eyes of 10-year-old Eve (Jurnee Smollett). Her father (Samuel L. Jackson) is a handsome doctor but a ladies' man. Her mother is played by Lynn Whitfield. In memories fragmented by time and emotion, Eve tries to piece together what happened that crucial summer, and the result, in style and mood, is like one of Ingmar Bergman's great family dramas.

Aiken Mall, Augusta Village and Regency.

FAIRYTALE -- A TRUE STORY (***, PG) -- Based on the true story of the "Cottingley fairies," who were supposedly photographed by two young girls in 1917. In the movie, the girls' photos are vouched for by Arthur Conan Doyle (Peter O'Toole) but doubted by Harry Houdini (Harvey Keitel). The movie fudges by coming down on both sides of the fence.


I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER (*, R) Four teen-agers are driving down a lonely coastal road when they strike a shadowy figure. Fearing arrest, they dump the man into the sea -- although he is not quite dead. One by one, a mysterious killer strikes. The movie would have been much improved if he had struck sooner and more frequently.

Masters, Regency, Augusta Village and Evans.

IN & OUT (***, PG-13) -- Kevin Kline stars as a small-town high school teacher who is shocked when a former student (Matt Dillon) wins an Oscar, thanks him, and adds, "He's gay."

Mark Twin.

KISS THE GIRLS (*** 1/2, R) -- Convincing, persuasive performances by Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd in a thriller about a serial kidnapper who may be collecting rather than killing his victims.

Evans, Masters and Augusta Village.

MAD CITY (** 1/2, PG-13) John Travolta plays a likable everyman who loses his job as a museum guard, goes to get it back, unwisely takes along dynamite and a shotgun and inadvertently sets off a hostage crisis. Dustin Hoffman is a TV newsman who sees the story as his big comeback opportunity. With Alan Alda as the egocentric network anchor and Robert Prosky as the wise old news director. The movie's attack on TV ratings mania is not new, and it doesn't find a fresh spin on the media circus.

Aiken Mall, Augusta Village, Evans, Regency and Masters.

RED CORNER (**, R) Portentous silliness, masquerading as a critique of the Chinese legal system. Richard Gere stars as a TV executive framed for murder and facing certain death. He's given a lawyer (Bai Ling) but is advised to plead guilty; Chinese courts and prisons are portrayed as brutish and biased. Any serious criticism of the system is undermined, however, by a ludicrous chase scene and melodramatic contrivances.

Augusta Village, and Evans.

ROCKETMAN (***, PG) -- Harland Williams is kind of a Jim Carrey for kids in this goofy comedy about a computer nerd who becomes a last-minute sub on a Mars mission.


SOUL FOOD (*** 1/2, R) -- A warmhearted, funny movie about a big black family in Chicago and the crisis it faces when the matriarch (Irma P. Hall) grows ill. There are three sisters (Vanessa L. Williams, Vivica A. Fox and Nia Long), all married, some with problems, and the extended family. Has some of the same qualities as Waiting to Exhale but is more down-to-earth and believable.

Regency, and Aiken Mall.

STARSHIP TROOPERS (**, R) Young recruits fire countless machine-gun rounds into nasty giant insects, in an adaptation of the Robert Heinlein novel for teen-age boys. There's a certain sly, satirical edge to the approach, which is inspired by images from 1950s pulp sci-fi, but the action scenes are endless and depressing, and the movie's militarist vision lacks the humor and exhilaration of the Star Wars pictures.

Aiken Mall, Augusta Village, Evans, Regency and Masters.

SWITCHBACK (**, R) Wonderful supporting characters and good use of locations in a film where the two leads (Danny Glover and Dennis Quaid) play characters we could easily do without. The film is stolen by R. Lee Ermey, as the straight-talking sheriff of Amarillo. Jared Leto is convincing as a hitchhiker picked up by Mr. Glover; both become suspects in the hunt for a serial killer. The movie fascinates us with its digressions, only to jerk back to the helpless main story line.


Budget theaters

THE EDGE (***, R) It looks like a standard action thriller, but there's a subtle, understated humor in this David Mamet screenplay that toys with action cliches and makes the plot more about psychological con games. Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin fight for their lives in the wilderness.

Columbia Square.

GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE (***, PG) Brendan Fraser stars as a dimwitted, likable live-action version of the TV cartoon star, who is great at swinging from vines but tends to crash into trees. Leslie Mann plays the American heiress who falls for him and brings him from the jungle to San Francisco. Not a great film, but it does have great laughs, many of them involving an elephant that thinks it is a dog.

Columbia Square and Mark Twin.

G.I. JANE (*** 1/2, R) Demi Moore stars as a woman selected for Navy SEAL training. If she survives a regimen that 60 percent of the men fail, she'll point the way for "100 percent integration" of the services.

Columbia Square.

MEN IN BLACK (***, PG-13) Aliens are among us, and government Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) is assigned to keep track of them. He gets a rookie sidekick (Will Smith), and they go on the trail of an alarming cockroach of an alien (Vincent D'Onofrio), who has occupied the fast-decomposing body of a hillbilly and plans to conquer other worlds.

Columbia Square and Mark Twin.


Aiken Mall, 300 Eastgate Drive, 641-0000.

Augusta Village, Bobby Jones Expressway at Wrightsboro Road, 860-4990.

Columbia Square Cinemas, 4020 Washington Road, 863-3366.

Evans 12 Cinemas, Belair Road at Washington Road, 869-1269.

Masters 7 Cinemas, 2824 Washington Road, 736-4444.

Regency Exchange 8, 2870 Regency Blvd., 790-7460.

Mark Twin Cinemas, 124 Newberry St. S.W., Aiken, (803) 641-4758.


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