Originally created 02/12/99

Video reviews

Here is a list of what's new in video stores this weekend and a partial schedule of what's coming on video. Release dates are subject to change.


The Rounders and Antz.


Snake Eyes, Practical Magic and Urban Legend.

FEB. 23: Ronin, Permanent Midnight, Your Friends and Neighbors, Shadrach, Safe Men and Digging to China.

MARCH 2: Ever After and Soldier.

Video reviews

Here are reviews from Roger Ebert and other critics of some recent video releases:


Matt Damon and Edward Norton are best friends who inhabit the underground world of high-stakes poker in New York and Atlantic City. Mr. Damon is a mediocre law student but a gifted player, and Mr. Norton is a born con-man who tempts him into dangerous waters. The colorful cast includes John Malkovich as the poker genius of the Russian-American Mafia, and John Turturro as a pro player who grinds out a living.

ANTZ (*** 1/2 , PG)

Wildly inventive animation combined with wicked humor and political satire, in the story of a Central Park any colony infected with the virus of freedom when an ant named Z (voice by Woody Allen) develops a mind of his own. It's sharp and Funny -- not just a children's movie, but one of those hybrids that works on different levels for different ages.


Explosively funny comedy by the Farrelly brothers (who made Dumb and Dumber and Kingpin), starring Cameron Diaz as a babe who obsesses men -- especially her high school classmate Ben Stiller, who tracks her down 13 years later. The plot is just a clothesline for the screwball sight gags, which have audiences howling in disbelief.

MULAN (***1/2 , PG)

It's not an adaptation of a classic, but a new tale about a medieval Chinese teen-age girl who disguises herself as a boy to fight in her father's place against the Huns. An exciting story, inspired comic relief by Eddie Murphy (as the voice of a scrawny dragon) and animated art that blends the Disney tradition with classical Asian drawings and modern Japanese anime.

RUSH HOUR (***, R)

When the daughter of the Chinese consul in Los Angeles is kidnapped, supercop Jackie Chan is flown in from Hong Kong. But the FBI doesn't want outside help, so it teams him up with a loose cannon from the Los Angeles police force (Chris Tucker).


Three Americans (Vince Vaughn, David Conrad and Joaquin Phoenix) enjoy a beach vacation in Malaysia. Two return to New York. The third (Mr. Phoenix) is arrested with drugs and sentenced to death. If the other two will return and testify (truthfully) that the drugs were also theirs, the death sentence will be commuted and the two volunteers will serve three years each. If one returns, it's six years.


A comedy about a Jewish family that moves around Beverly Hills one step ahead of the rent collectors, living in flea-trap apartments that at least are still near good schools. Natasha Lyonne stars, as a girl entering adolescence with resentment and curiosity. Alan Arkin is her 65-year-old dad, trying helplessly to rein in his three kids, and Marisa Tomei is her cousin who comes to live with them.

MAFIA! (**, PG-13)

An Airplane!-style spoof by Jim Abrahams, who worked on that classic and the Naked Gun movies and here recycles the formula. There are laughs in the scenes parodied from Casino and the Godfather pictures, and it's fun to see the late Lloyd Bridges having fun with Marlon Brando's famous tomatoes-and-death scene, but the approach is getting a little tired.


Jim Carrey gives a likable, effective performance as a man who doesn't realize the fundamental truth about his life (a secret the movie's ads did their best to spoil). Ed Harris co-stars as the mastermind pulling the strings; Natascha McElhone is the woman who thinks the hero deserves to know more; and the movie is both comic and unexpectedly poignant, encouraging us to ask basic questions about how technology is shaping our lives, simply because it can.


In a Houston dance studio, Vanessa L. Williams aims for the Las Vegas Latin dance championship but is distracted by a newcomer from Cuba (Chayanne). Afraid of love, she pulls away from his warmth and determines to dance with her cold and domineering former partner (Rick Valenzuela).

OUT OF SIGHT (*** 1/2 , R)

Rich comic chemistry between bank robber George Clooney and federal marshal Jennifer Lopez, in a crime movie whose plot is secondary to the human comedy. Adapted from an Elmore Leonard novel, it reflects the master's deep comic ease. Filled with memorable supporting performances by Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Dennis Farina and Albert Brooks. Like a string quartet written with words instead of music, performed by sleazeballs instead of musicians.


A newcomer to a small island community (James Marsden) is warned by the school wise guy and rebel (Nick Stahl) that the clean-cut kids in class have all been brainwashed by a local cult. Joined by black-clad Katie Holmes, they try to keep free, in a teen-age version of The Stepford Wives.


Angela Bassett is a 40-year-old financial hotshot who goes on vacation in Jamaica and ends up in love with a 20-year-old. Will it work? The movie answers that question at great length, but unconvincingly, in a paperback romance that pretends to be about a smart woman but doesn't let her really think. With Taye Diggs as the young man and Whoopi Goldberg as the best friend. Based on a novel by Terry McMillan.


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