, Ewan McGregor, John Leguizamo, Jim Broadbent
While easy to admire for its audacious vision and lush visuals, this feverishly busy, wake-'em-and-shake-'em attempt to revivify the movie musical keeps tripping over its own aggressive flashiness. Its score is loaded down with light-weight pop tunes (including Elton John's "Your Song," Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" and Madonna
's "Like a Virgin"). And its choreography is more an illusion of choreography than the real thing because the film is so frantically edited that dancers barely strike a pose before the image changes. Moulin Rouge
offers endless eye candy but no nourishment.
Named for the venerable night-club in Paris's Montmartre neighborhood where its story takes place, Moulin Rouge
raids opera's La Traviata and La Boheme—and even that granddaddy of backstage musicals, 1933's 42nd Street—for its plot. Set in 1899, it follows Christian (McGregor), a penniless English writer, as he falls for Satine (Kidman), a jaded courtesan who is the star of the Moulin Rouge's stage extravaganzas. Satine, afflicted with a bad cough (and telltale blood on her hankie), returns his ardor. Her fragile health isn't the only threat to the duo's happiness; there's also a rich duke (Richard Roxburgh) who expects Satine to warm his bed in exchange for financing her latest show.
Talented Kidman and McGregor give their all here, but director-cowriter Baz Luhrmann (William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet
) keeps getting in their way. In trying to remake the musical for the 21st century, he has his 19th-century characters break into late-20th-century ditties. Most of these songs lack the musical and lyrical heft for the emotional heavy lifting required, and Luhrmann's disinclination to let the characters sing the tunes through to their finish further dilutes their power. Only in a few scenes, when Kidman and McGregor are allowed to croon their way through extended solos or duets, does Rouge
touch our hearts rather than just our orbs. (PG-13)
Bottom Line: No can-can do
, Jim Caviezel
Lopez should keep it legal, and I'm not talking about her getting cozy again with ex-beau, bad-boy rapper Sean "Puffy" Combs. In playing hard-edged officers of the law, here and in the far superior Out of Sight (1998), Lopez has found an onscreen occupation that provides an effective showcase for her tough-girl urban persona.
She and costar Caviezel, who has an appealing way of sneaking up on a line, are the main reasons to see Angel Eyes
, a dopey romantic thriller that starts off promising more than it eventually delivers. Lopez is felicitously cast as Sharon Pogue, a dedicated Chicago cop struggling with anger-management issues. ("Go ahead, put it in your report," she challenges a partner after she knees an abusive suspect.) Caviezel plays Catch, a mystery man who saves Sharon from a pistol-waving punk. Soon the two have fallen in love, even though Catch tells her nada about who he is, where he comes from or how he pays the rent on his spartan apartment. "You know scratch, as in starting from scratch?" he says. "Well, this is it."
Both Sharon and Catch have a big secret they must share before Eyes
is finished. Neither secret is much of a surprise, which means Eyes' only suspense lies in whether director Luis Mandoki (Message in a Bottle
) will allow the movie to turn as fuzzy-headed and sappy as it keeps threatening to become. He does. (R)
Bottom Line: High on J.Lo but low on Eyes
Bridget Jones's Diary
Our favorite romantic comedy this year, with Renée Zellweger, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth. (R)
Documentary showcasing a dozen stars of Latin jazz, including the late Tito Puente, Chico O'Farrill, Gato Barbieri, Paquito D'Rivera and Chucho Valdés. The music is marvelous, but viewers will be left wanting to know more about the players' lives. (G)
A Knight's Tale
Jousting for teens. Handsome Heath Ledger stars as a would-be knight in medieval times who lances a lot. (PG-13)
A college boy learns about life while working a summer job on a freighter. Actor Joe Mantegna makes a capable directing debut with this character study based on an early play by David Mamet. Charles Durning, George Wendt, Robert Forster and Denis Leary star. (R)
Must-see thriller. The plot runs backward, and the protagonist (Guy Pearce) suffers from memory loss. (R)
The Mummy Returns
Cheesy, action-filled sequel grows tiresome quickly. Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz return; wrestling's Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson signs up. (PG-13)
Go for the green. In this monstrously clever animated film, a chartreuse-colored ogre named Shrek
(voiced by Mike Myers) learns that it is what's inside you that counts. (PG)