Robin Williams, Anton Yelchin, David Duchovny, Téa Leoni
At a Catholic boys school in Manhattan's Greenwich Village in 1973, a bored priest teaches a classroom of equally disinterested adolescents about Lot's wife. Years later one of those youths will look back and, rather than turn into a pillar of salt, finally manage to unlock his frozen emotions.
X-Files star Duchovny (see story, page 81) wrote, directed and costars in a stuffed-to-bursting drama. His 12-year-old hero (Yelchin) is overburdened with a dead dad, an unstable mom (Leoni) and a slow-witted adult pal (Williams). For advice, the kid turns to a female prisoner (singer Erykah Badu) at a near-by jail, who screams down pearls of wisdom from her upper-story cell. As a director, Duchovny serves up several lovely, affecting scenes about the confusions of adolescence, but as a writer he tries to cover too much ground, much of it mawkish. The acting is mostly commendable. (PG-13)
The Year of the Yao
Talk about pressure. When the Houston Rockets drafted 7'6" Yao Ming in 2002, the towering 22-year-old became the first player from China to join the National Basketball Association. As league commissioner David Stern put it, "He carries the hopes of a billion people." How Yao handled himself—with gentle grace and good humor, as it turned out—during his rookie year is the subject of a fascinating though hardly comprehensive film. Yao is coproduced by NBA Entertainment, so criticism of the league is limited to a single fan whining about lazy, overpaid players, but the movie still manages to make telling points about the nexus of celebrity, sports and American culture. (PG)