Picks and Pans Review: The Shipping News

updated 01/14/2002 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/14/2002 AT 01:00 AM EST

Kevin Spacey, Julianne Moore, Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett

Based on Annie Proulx's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1994 novel, The Shipping News gets it right more often than not. But in the same way that all Southerners are overly colorful in many films set in Dixie, here all Newfies (residents of Canada's New-foundland) are just too eccentric. They talk with thick accents and gobble down seal-flipper pie, and every one of 'em has a secret that by the movie's end Quoyle (Spacey, overdoing his schlump act) will uncover. He's a sad-sack widower building a new life as a small-town journalist. Director Lasse Hallström uses less sugar here than he did in 2000's Chocolat, for which viewers can be grateful. And Moore, as a flinty teacher whom Quoyle courts, is always a joy to watch. (R)

Bottom Line: Mostly see-worthy

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