One doesn't want to limit Jim Carrey's career options, but he can't go wrong being green. Hewing to the hue has proved comic gold for him in 1994's The Mask and as the Riddler in 1995's Batman Forever. Now the actor covers himself with even greater comic glory by covering himself in lime-colored fur as the Grinch in Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
His embittered meanie is the central figure in this frothily entertaining family film by director Ron Howard, which is based on pseudonymous author Theodor S. Geisel's 1957 children's classic. The Grinch is really Scrooge with a pelt, and just like Scrooge, if he can only be made to understand the true meaning of Noel (that it's not about the gifts but about togetherness), he'll reform. That teacherly task falls to Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen), a wee resident of Yule-obsessed Whoville who recognizes that deep beneath the Grinch's hairy hide lies a big softy who was hurt as a youngster and is still acting out. As she tells him, after he has huffed and puffed and threatened her with bodily harm, "Maybe you need a time-out."
There are laughs aplenty for kids (the Grinch throws spectacular tantrums) but also clever jokes adults will appreciate, including sly film parodies and the Grinch reading off such to-do list entries as "4 p.m., wallow in self-pity; 4:30 p.m., gaze into the abyss." Carrey brings antic zest to his part but also locates the Grinch's bruised heart. Anyone who has ever self-righteously stomped up the stairs to a bedroom and slammed the door twice for emphasis will find it easy to empathize. (PG)
Bottom Line: Yule have a blast
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Rapaport, Tony Goldwyn, Robert Duvall, Wendy Crewson
The 6th Day serves its awkwardly affable star well. While it doesn't rank up there with Schwarzenegger's two Terminator turns, this sci-fi thriller is heaps better than the Austrian Atlas's last effort, the dismal End of Days. It boasts a solid mix of action, futuristic cool and self-mocking humor ("I might be back," he tells a store clerk, playing off his famous T1 catchphrase).
The movie, crisply directed by Roger Spottiswoode (Tomorrow Never Dies), is set in the near future, with Schwarzenegger playing a pilot who comes home one night to discover his clone kissing his wife (Crewson). Human cloning has been banned, but an evil corporate czar (Goldwyn) has covertly recreated Schwarzenegger, and now his henchmen are out to kill the original.
Much of 6th Day's kick is generated by its believable whiff of everyday life in the future. I particularly like the refrigerator that kindly tells you when you're running low on milk and then, at the touch of a button, orders a fresh gallon for delivery later the same day. (PG-13)
Bottom Line: Two Arnolds are better than one
Remember those old Irish Spring ads where the man would praise the soap and then his wife would chime in, "But I like it too"? That's what adults will want to say as kids giggle through Rugrats in Paris: The Movie, a cute comedy featuring Tommy, Angelica and the rest of the toddlin' tykes from Nickelodeon TV's cartoon series. This time out, the diaper-wearing wisenheimers fly to Paris and show the Eiffel Tower who's boss. Paris will never be the same. (G)
Bottom Line: Oui, oui
Joan Chen, Julianna Margulies, Mercedes Ruehl, Kyra Sedgwick, Alfre Woodard, Dennis Haysbert
Seeking inspiration for your Thanksgiving meal? Start here. In mouthwatering detail, What's Cooking? shows the preparation of four different holiday feasts. The comedy, cowritten and directed by Gurinder Chadha (Bhaji on the Beach), uses Thanksgiving as a prism through which to view four L.A. families who reflect America's diversity. The clans are Chicano (tamales), Vietnamese (chili-crusted turkey), African-American (the most ambitious menu) and Jewish (kishkes, anyone?). The family crises that arise aren't subtle—oh, no, our lesbian daughter is pregnant—but the cast is top-notch and the food looks great. (PG-13)
Bottom Line: Scrumptious
>Billy Elliot Totally charming English comedy about an 11-year-old boy who loves ballet tutu much for his dad. (R)
Charlie's Angels Wing-a-ding-ding! There's dumb fun to be had watching Drew Barrymore
, Cameron Diaz
and Lucy Liu
high-kick their way through this action comedy. (PG-13)
Little Nicky Adam Sandler plays yet another seemingly mental defective, this one the son of Satan. Beyond stupid. (PG-13)
Wonder Boys Wonderfully adult comedy drama about a novelist (Michael Douglas) in crisis. (R)
Jim Carrey, Molly Shannon, Christine Baranski, Jeffrey Tambor