Emilio Estevez, Jeffrey Nordling

Ice, ice, baby. That's what you get plenty of in this, the third, and let's hope final, chapter of Disney's series about little kids who, as the Mighty Ducks hockey team, skate swiftly and carry big sticks. Now the kids have reached puberty and are taller than Estevez, who, looking glum and at a loss to explain how his career reached this frozen nadir, reprises his role as the team's main motivator. (Estevez reportedly said he'd do D3 only if Disney let him direct The War at Home, a Vietnam-vet drama due later this year.)

Actually, Estevez is barely in D3. Most of the movie is devoted to the Ducks' adventures at a snooty prep school to which the team's members have been given scholarships. Life at a country-club academy, it turns out, is not all it's quacked up to be. The Ducks' troubles center on the school's varsity team, which objects to the junior varsity Ducks' instant star status. Much intersquad nastiness ensues (dumping street clothes in the showers, setting lab ants loose), along with a couple of rock 'em, sock 'em hockey matches.

D3 follows a predictable, uninspired path, but it is without the potty humor, questionable language and gunplay that has been creeping into so many recent kids' films. Viewers under 6 will have trouble following the plot and dialogue but will eat up the slapsticky sequences on the ice. (PG)

Matthew Broderick, Patricia Arquette

At his wedding in 1941, physicist Richard Feynman (Broderick), then only 23 and with his Nobel Prize still 24 years in the future, kissed his bride on the cheek. This chaste display wasn't due to lack of passion for Arline Greenbaum (Arquette), his high school sweetie, but because she had tuberculosis and the disease was contagious. Four years later, TB would kill her.

Infinity, an earnest effort that might be more at home on PBS, tells the true story of their courtship and marriage. But the movie—which was written by Broderick's mother, Patricia, and which marks Broderick's debut as a director—has larger ambitions. Feynman was among the young brainiacs recruited to develop the atom bomb in Los Alamos, N.Mex., during World War II, and Infinity positions Feynman and Greenbaum's love story against the dawn of the nuclear age. Good idea, mediocre execution. The themes of the couple's doomed love and mankind's possible doom mesh awkwardly, as in a scene where Feynman explains a chain reaction to Greenbaum by pushing olives, representing neutrons, around on a tablecloth during a visit to her sanatorium.

Broderick fares better here as an actor than as a director, needing to learn how to mix up the pacing and snip negligible scenes. Arquette, so fetching earlier this year in Flirting with Disaster, seems curiously passive and ungainly. Maybe it's that unflattering hairdo (a wig?), which gives her a forehead high enough to attract Sir Edmund Hillary. (PG)

Steve Buscemi, Anthony LaPaglia, Elizabeth Bracco, Chloe Sevigny

Life is bypassing Tommy (Buscemi), an unemployed auto mechanic, and he is happy to let it. He'd rather remain stuck to a bar stool at the Trees Lounge, a musty tavern on New York's Long Island, downing drinks and trying to pick up women by telling them that their names are "embezzled in my head." So what if his pregnant girlfriend (Bracco) dumped him for his former best pal (LaPaglia) after Tommy cheated on her yet again? So what if garage owner LaPaglia fired Tommy for filching $1,500 from the till and gambling it away in Atlantic City? So what if Tommy's last shot at turning his life around, a job driving an ice cream truck, is imperiled after he cozies up to his jailbait helper (Sevigny, from Kids)? Another beer, please.

Tommy may be one of life's losers, but Trees Lounge is a winner. It's the first movie written and directed by actor Buscemi, a stalwart of independent films who also turned up this year in Fargo and Kansas City. Lounge shows the influence of John Cassavetes, another actor turned director (Gloria), but Buscemi displays a warmer regard for his characters than Cassavetes did and is more disciplined about cutting off scenes before they wander. Lounge's large, talented cast includes Carol Kane, Mimi Rogers and Debi Mazer, among others, most of whom appear only briefly. (R)

>Geena Davis and Renny Harlin

PARTNERS IN CRIME

It's been five months since Geena Davis, 39, and her director hubby, Renny Harlin, 37, wrapped their action thriller The Long Kiss Goodnight (opening Oct. 11). But costar Samuel L. Jackson still can't get over all the lovey-dovey talk that transpired between the two. "Thank you, Renny. I love you," says Jackson in a sing-song voice, before mimicking Davis's Finland-born spouse's accent. "I love you too, pumpkin." The couple, married since 1993, hope that Kiss, in which Davis plays an amnesiac hit woman, will make audiences forget Cutthroat Island, their 1995 pirate flick that capsized at the box office. Correspondent Ken Baker talked to them recently in L.A.

Do you regret directing Cutthroat?

We almost feel guilty because we had such a great time making it. It was a childhood fantasy to play pirates. Luckily, we are not the kind of people who stress about it and feel pressure.

Is Renny a demanding director?

We lived and breathed Long Kiss. We had 14-to 16-hour days, then we'd go home and talk about it and wake up in the middle of the night and talk about it some more. But he's a very supportive guy. He would subject me to all this [physically demanding] stuff; then he would make dinner at night and give me a back rub, draw a bath.

You directed your wife's love scenes?

I'm right next to them, whispering to Geena, "Lick his neck, put your tongue in his ear." I like to make every scene I do, whether it's erotic or comedy or action, as good as possible. It doesn't matter to me if it's my wife or somebody else. Sam [Jackson] was laughing because it was kind of a weird experience.

What were you thinking as your husband directed your love scenes?

You just have to laugh and go, "God, my life is weird."

  • Contributors:
  • Leah Rozen,
  • Ken Baker.