, Matt Dillon, John Goodman, Paul Reiser, Michael Douglas
There's basically one joke in this comedy, and it quickly runs out of gas: While all the men are obsessed with bedding the vampy Jewel (Tyler), all she really wants to do is redecorate her boudoir in perfect shades of pink and purple. Tyler, her ample hips and bosom barely contained inside clingy little shifts, sashays through McCool's like a demented Martha Stewart, lusting after frilly curtains, gazing fondly at paint samples and speaking gushingly about the fountain she hopes to install in her living room.
Actually, it's not even her place to redecorate. The house she's staying in belongs to Randy (Dillon), a dense bartender in St. Louis whose misfortune it was to be picked up by Jewel late one night. Once in this temptress's sway, Randy finds himself involved in murder and burglary (Jewel really wants the DVD player that she knows is in that rich guy's house), two lines of work he had previously not considered. Jewel has a similarly deleterious effect on the other men in her life, including a hotshot lawyer (Reiser) and an upright cop (Goodman).
McCool's, which strives to be quirky (poor Reiser is called upon to don leather S&M gear), is one of those movies in which the plot is frantically busy but there's really nothing going on. The characters are all about as bright as a sack of bowling balls, and their dimness soon becomes wearing. Tyler makes like Melanie Griffith, cooing most of her lines in a breathless baby voice and batting her eyelids. She's lushly sexy but never quite gets a handle on what makes Jewel tick. Dillon long ago perfected the likable lug act he trots out here, while Goodman and Reiser huff and puff for naught. Douglas, as a greaser hit man, is dryly amusing. (R)
Bottom Line: This One Night
seems to last forever
Sylvester Stallone, Kip Pardue, Til Schweiger, Burt Reynolds
When the seasoned race-car driver (Stallone) gives the talented but inconsistent rookie (Pardue) the big pep talk in this auto racing drama, he tells him that success is about will and faith. Maybe that's all that's needed at the track, but a winning movie requires a smart script, accomplished acting and an ability to steer clear of clichés, elements all sorely missing in Driven.
This turgid tire opera, written by Stallone, pits the young American buck against a speedy German rival (Schweiger), with both men chasing the same woman (Estella Warren). Stallone's old pro, who retired after a near fatal accident a few years ago, is summoned back by a crusty team owner (Reynolds) to counsel Pardue and back him up on the track.
Stallone is more mush-mouthed than ever and Pardue and Schweiger are handsome but colorless, leaving Gina Gershon to steal her every scene as Stallone's trampy former wife. For racing fans, there are vroomfuls of highspeed tableaux in which director Renny Harlin mixes octane-drenched actual footage of Indy-type cars with nifty, computer-generated special effects. There are also a half-dozen spectacular crashes, though the entertainment value of the latter is questionable, particularly so soon after the death of stock car great Dale Earnhardt. (PG-13)
Bottom Line: Red flag
Hill Harper, Billy Dee Williams, Obba Babatundé
It's a rare film that accurately captures the complicated give-and-take of family relationships. The Visit, a moving drama about a convict trying to reconnect with his kin, accomplishes that and more in its own restrained way, showing that what's left unspoken between family members often resonates loudest.
As a teen, Alex Waters (Harper, in an extraordinarily affecting performance) turned his back on his middle-class home for drugs and the street. Now, in writer-director Jordan Walker-Pearlman's emotionally rich film, he is dying of AIDS while doing time for a rape he claims not to have committed. During prison visits with his worried brother (Babatundé), disapproving dad (Williams), loyal mom (Marla Gibbs) and others, he is alternately resentful, bitter, combative, lost and desperate for approval. Love, he eventually learns, can set you free, even when you're still in prison. (R)
Bottom Line: A most welcome arrival
Uma Thurman, Nick Nolte, Jeremy Northam, Kate Beckinsale
, Anjelica Huston, James Fox
Two lovers confront each other in the overgrown garden of a ramshackle estate near Rome in 1903. The man, an indigent Italian prince (Northam), has just told Charlotte (Thurman), an American of good birth but no money, that soon he will marry another.
"Please, don't do this," she begs.
"I have no choice," he says. His intended (Beckinsale), a pal of Charlotte's, is the only child of America's first billionaire (Nolte), and her fortune will finance restoration of the prince's castle. Desperate to stay close to her amour, Charlotte in turn weds her friend's courtly father.
Money buys unhappiness for all involved in The Golden Bowl
, director James Ivory's plush film version of Henry James's 1904 novel about love and betrayal. The cast is skillful, particularly Huston as a meddling matron. Thurman is the weak link here, acting mostly by stretching her long neck ever higher, giving her the look of a swan in acute distress. (R)
Bottom Line: Didn't bowl us over
Tom Green, Rip Torn, Julie Hagerty
Tom Green, one of MTV's bad boys, has brought his special brand of comedy—dumb is funny, gross is even funnier, and being really nasty to one's parents is funniest of all—to the big screen in the numbingly awful Freddy Got Fingered
. Green cowrote, directed and stars in the movie; Orson Welles he is not.
Green plays a cartoonist still living at home with his folks (Hagerty and Torn). Plot is minimal here, the better to leave room for Green to fondle the nether regions of animals, cane (at her request) his disabled girlfriend, swing a newborn baby by its umbilical cord and falsely accuse his dad of sexually abusing his younger bro, the titular Freddy. (R)
Bottom Line: All thumbs—down
's Diary Pure fun. Poor Ms. Jones (Renée Zellweger) tries to decide between beaus Hugh Grant and Colin Firth in a smart, sassy romantic comedy. (R)
in Los Angeles Blunder from Down Under. Paul Hogan returns in a flat comedy. (PG)
A family feuds at a funeral. Fitfully funny. With Jada Pinkett Smith and LL Cool J. (PG)
Must-see thriller in which the plot runs backward. Guy Pearce stars. (R)