, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom
, Peter O'Toole, Julie Christie, Diane Kruger, Brian Cox, Sean Bean
isn't as wooden as the giant horse the Greek army used to invade the titular city 3,200 years ago, neither does it gallop along with speed or grace. Rather, this war epic adapted from Homer's Iliad
and brawnily directed by Wolfgang Petersen (The Perfect Storm
) moves along in herky-jerky fashion, taking lengthy pauses to allow us to admire its imposing sets, its splendid digital effects (look, it's a thousand ships!) and Pitt's mighty muscles. With its acres of sword-wielding, sandal-shod extras, Troy
may echo Gladiator
, but it never achieves the sweep or power of the earlier film.
Pitt portrays Achilles, Greece's greatest warrior, almost as an antihero. It's something of a puzzle why the film revolves around this guy. Achilles has an attitude problem: "He's as likely to spear me as fight for me," complains Agamemnon (Cox), the empire-building king who jumps at the chance to attack Troy after one of its princes, the impetuous Paris (Bloom), runs off with the luscious Helen (Kruger), Agamemnon's sister-in-law. So why does a sullen and reluctant Achilles agree to lead the charge against Troy? Because, the film would have us believe, much like those average Joes who today line up to be on reality TV shows, Achilles is after the supposed immortality of celebrity. This, despite his mother (Christie) having warned him—spoiler ahead—"Your glory walks hand in hand with your death."
Pitt is blond and bland. He excels at the action scenes, fighting acrobatically and with gusto, but he lacks authority and emotion in his dramatic scenes. Proving more engaging are a dynamic Bana (The Hulk
) as Hector, Paris's brave older brother; a self-flagellating Bloom as Paris; and a sorrowful O'Toole as Troy's king. (R)
Fans of the 1990s TV drama Party of Five
watched Chabert grow up playing Claudia, the youngest daughter of the orphaned Salinger clan. Now 21, the Mississippi native revisits school days as a spoiled rich teen in Mean Girls
ON HER PARTY OF FIVE YEARS I have nothing but fond memories. It's a little embarrassing to look back and see myself as a child going through all those awkward years. When I meet people, it's usually, "Oh my gosh! You're a woman now!" What do you say? Thank you? I have no idea what I'm supposed to say to that. I'm just like, "Yeah, it happens."
ON BECOMING A MEAN GIRL They really thought I was a dramatic actress and weren't sure I could do comedy. I fought to get the appointment and it turned out great. I can't wait for the day when I don't have to audition, but there's something really rewarding about it because you went through the entire process.
ON WORKING WITH COSTAR AND WRITER TINA FEY She's so incredibly smart and her humor is brilliant. She's the same way in real life: funny, down-to-earth and easygoing. She was protective of her script but wasn't possessive over it. She was open to ideas and ad-libbing.
ON HER STAR SEARCH START I was 8 or 9. I sang "Happy Days Are Here Again" in my little patent-leather Mary Janes with bows in my hair. I went to the semifinals, and I'm very proud of it!
ON OTHER PASSIONS Photography is my hobby. I love to read, I love to shop. I'm your typical girl. I take college classes on nights and weekends. I'd like to have a degree someday. It's a toss-up between psychology and literature.
ON SINGLE LIFE I'm just dating. Nothing serious. One day, I'd love to be married and have kids, but not now. I do have lots of pets: three Chihuahuas named Teacup, Teaspoon and Kitty. They travel with me wherever I go.
Breakin' All the Rules
It's boy cons girl and vice versa in a genial but familiar romantic comedy. A likable Jamie Foxx stars as a magazine editor in L.A. who, after being dumped by his girlfriend, writes a how-to bestseller laying out rules for breaking up. He promptly falls for his cousin's girlfriend (Gabrielle Union), and she for him, though they keep playing time-wasting games with each other until love conquers all. Morris Chestnut, Jennifer Esposito and Peter MacNicol costar. (PG-13)
A Slipping Down Life
Although it was shown at the Sundance Film Festival in 1999, the theatrical release of this wishy-washy but well-acted adaptation of a 1970 Anne Tyler novel was held up until now by a behind-the-scenes dispute. Life adds another polished link to actress Lili Taylor's chain of quirky characters. Here she is compelling as a troubled young woman who carves the name of a local rocker (Guy Pearce) into her forehead to show her devotion. (R)
A 17-year-old orphan attaches himself to an attractive widow (Emmanuelle Béart), as she and her children flee occupied Paris for the countryside at the start of WWII. A twisted kind of love and, eventually, betrayal follow in an intriguing drama from director-cowriter André Téchiné. (In French with English subtitles) (Not rated)
- Leah Rozen,
- Mark Dagostino.