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Editor's rating: 
Friday, 13 February 2004 ,  Written by Bill Warren
50 First Dates
When Adam Sandler made “The Wedding Singer” several years ago, even his non-fans were pleased, and hoped for him to try something similar again. Instead, he followed, with uneven financial success, with a string of crude, self-consciously “tasteless” and vulgar comedies. (“Punch-Drunk Love” doesn’t count, as he was not the originator of that project.) “50 First Dates” is what the disillusioned bystanders have been waiting for: it’s mostly a gentle, intelligent romantic comedy that reunites Sandler with his “Wedding Singer” costar, Drew Barrymore. Most of the exteriors were shot on Oahu, but it’s the locals’ Hawaii—there isn’t a single shot of a beautiful beach or of Diamond Head. The locations are beautiful and well-chosen, but they depict something other than the tourist Hawaii. It’s a remarkably attractive movie, and most of the characters are likeable. It has a few drawbacks, though ...
Editor's rating: 
Friday, 23 January 2004 ,  Written by Bill Warren
Demi Moore's current sweetypie, Ashton Kutcher from TV's "That '70s Show," makes what's evidently his serious movie debut in this erratically-paced thriller. He successfully looks very serious and thoughtful throughout, and is occasionally very good, though just as often strained. This applies to the movie, too. It's a convoluted tale involving a novel kind of time travel, mostly ingeniously used. But it doesn't bear close examination, and the final twist, the last "visit" to the past, is badly conceived. The movie was both written and directed by a tag team, Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber, who did the same with the little-known "Blunt" of a few years ago, and wrote "Final Destination 2." (One of the odder sequel titles. Was this destination even more final, or what?) This movie is a sometimes inventive, sometimes clumsy collection of ideas that takes way, ...
Editor's rating: 
Thursday, 25 December 2003 ,  Written by Bill Warren
"Peter Pan" is exactly the movie it should be: beautiful, exciting, dream-like, scary and funny. It even includes the wisps of tragedy that cling to the boy who wouldn't grow up. It's as perfect a realization of a beloved work as are the "Lord of the Rings" movies; it's not just one of the best movies of 2003, but the best live-action family movie in what seems like decades. Every aspect of the movie is splendidly realized, from performances through production and costume design to photography, sound and special effects. And it's as light and graceful as Peter Pan himself, seemingly without any strain at all. James M. Barrie was a popular writer of about a hundred years ago, a warm-hearted man who never had any children of whose own, but who willingly adopted five neighbor children who were left without ...
Editor's rating: 
Wednesday, 17 December 2003 ,  Written by Abbie Bernstein
Look up “epic” in the dictionary and you’ll find a definition that handily fits both J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy of books and director/co-screenwriter Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of them. “The Return of the King,” the third and final installment (following 2001’s “The Fellowship of the Ring” and 2002’s “The Two Towers”) is finally here, and it’s a thundering achievement, both figuratively and literally. Want to experience sights and sounds that will just about convince you that you really are on an otherworldly battlefield, where the ground shakes from the clash of thousands upon thousands of humans and orcs? Here you are – and if that were all “Return” delivered, it would still be one hell of a movie. However, Jackson and his remarkable team – including fellow screenplay adapters Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, cinematographer Andrew ...
Editor's rating: 
Wednesday, 10 December 2003 ,  Written by Bill Warren
Adapting Daniel Wallace's novel "Big Fish" as a movie was clearly a tricky propostion, and hasn't been dealt with entirely satisfactorily, though director Tim Burton is clearly doing very good work. It's highly likely that those who have not read the book (most of the audience, of course) will enjoy the movie more than those who have. Peculiarly, the oddest misstep is that the ultimate message of the movie is almost exactly the opposite of that of the novel. The cause of this unusual difference is an attempt to make the movie as heart-warming as possible, which was not Wallace's goal in the book. The short novel was inspired by events in Wallace's own life, and tells about how a son tries to understand his dying father. All his life, the often-absent father (a travelling salesman) told his son joke after ...
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