The Proposal

The Proposal
Internal monologue from the sixth row, centerÖ

"Is there even any point to my reviewing The Proposal? Does it matter what I think? Does my critical opinion, however valid or invalid, hold any weight when the obvious demographic isn't me, but rather the weepy woman to my left? How can every sight-gag and one-liner, so incapable of curling the edges of my own lips, somehow manage to curl hers? Why is she laughing? Okay, strike that. Why is she crying? Why is my watch telling me that only twenty minutes have passed?"

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Cadillac Records

Cadillac Records
Cadillac Records, while not a "musical" in the traditional sense, is close to 50% musical content and 50% drama. Accordingly, it's about 50% good and 50% bad. The re-creations of some of the most noteworthy blues and early rock tunes from the '50s and '60s feature high-energy performances that do the originals proud. Sadly, the drama that accompanies them is hackneyed and poorly paced - the kind of thing that makes the average made-for-TV movie appear well constructed. There are plenty of small pleasures to be found throughout Darnell Martin's feature, but a compelling storyline featuring three-dimensional characters is not among them.

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Boiler Room

Boiler Room
These days, few things are hotter than the stock market, and everyone who isn't making a killing on Wall Street is feeling very left out. Of course, for every millionaire secretary who struck it rich by buying low and selling high, there are stories of men and women with the opposite fate - but, in the midst of an economic boom, we never hear about them. Likewise, for every honest stock broker who works 18 hour days to boost his clients' portfolios and inflate his own commissions, there are those who toil in so-called "boiler rooms", where the workload is no lighter, but where few (if any) buyers come out ahead.

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Bad Boys II

Bad Boys II
The only thing as bad as bad comedy is bad action. Bad Boys II has plenty of both. In fact, those two things are all it has, unless you count the small helping of bad drama. When it comes to this movie, the word "bad" initially seems highly appropriate. But Bad Boys II isn't just bad - it's a catastrophic violation of every aspect of cinema that I as a film critic hold dear. It seems to have been constructed with terms like "unwatchable" and "godawful" as its slogans. There are motion picture failures every year - the resumes of Hollywood players are littered with them. But, when something this big - a would-be blockbuster with recognizable names in the cast and crew - collapses in such a spectacular fashion, it's worth taking note. Think of how many starving children could have been fed with the money that was poured into Michael Bay's latest sinkhole.

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Van Helsing

Van Helsing
In the 1930s, monster movies were the staples of Universal Pictures' line-up, a cash cow as the industry metamorphosed from silent films to talkies. Although the monsters came in all sizes and flavors, none could match the appeal of the "Big Three": Dracula, Frankenstein (a misnomer Ė properly, it should be "Frankenstein's creation"), and The Wolf Man. By the early '40s, however, the monsters were getting long in the tooth and losing their appeal. Karloff had traded in the boots and make-up for mad scientist roles. Lugosi had hung up his cape. And Chaney had begun multi-tasking. In 1943, in an attempt to revive interest, Universal introduced the first of three cross-over films, in which more than one of the Big Three appeared. That was Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (the two principals are obvious). A modest success, it was followed by House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula, both of which featured all three. The "golden era" of Univeral monster movies officially ended in 1948, when Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolf Man met Abbott and Costello. This final movie has not aged well, and represents little more than a painfully embarrassing footnote to a series of films that grew increasingly more campy with each new sequel.

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Monsters Ball

Monsters Ball
Monster's Ball is a powerful and poignant motion picture not about racism and redemption, as one might initially suppose, but about one of the most urgent and universal of human needs - that of finding solace for pain and loneliness. Though it has some of the trappings of an interracial romance, Monster's Ball is not that, either. The sex in this movie is not a precursor to love; it is a means by which two people can find temporary refuge from their otherwise bleak existences. An orgasm is an effective way to wipe away everything else, if only for a few moments.

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Shrek 2

Shrek 2
A certain amount of credit must be given to the filmmaking team behind Shrek 2 for overcoming a seemingly insurmountable obstacle and producing an entertaining motion picture. That obstacle is the ending of the original Shrek, which neatly wrapped up every conceivable aspect of the story, leaving little room for a sequel. Originally, Shrek had been designed as a one-off movie, but, when it became a huge hit, Dreamworks decided that a second installment was warranted. However, with Shrek and Princess Fiona married and living happily ever after as ogres, some creative brainstorming had to be done to arrive at a sequel-worthy concept.

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Everyone Says I Love You

Everyone Says I Love You
In the past decade, only two live-action, mainstream musical motion pictures have been released. While the first, Little Shop of Horrors, met with some success, the second, Newsies, was a box-office disaster. The poor performance of the Disney-backed film seemed to confirm the common perception that, as a movie genre, the musical was dead. Now, however, as 1996 draws to a close, two films are arriving to challenge that belief. The better-known of the pair is, of course, Evita. However, another musical has beaten it to theaters by more than two weeks: Woody Allen's Everyone Says I Love You.

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Ninth Gate

Ninth Gate
The Ninth Gate has two modes: tedious and moronic, with the two not being mutually exclusive. Then, one-hundred minutes into this seemingly interminable movie (which clocks in at about 2:10), things take a turn for the worse and The Ninth Gate spirals out of control. A jaw-droppingly bad mixture of film noir and the occult, this picture plods and meanders its way through one uninspired scene after another until it reaches an improbable, laughable climax followed by an equally ridiculous denouement. Only the lobotomized and the brain dead will be able to figure out the logic embraced by The Ninth Gate.

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The Medallion

The Medallion
The Medallion is the stupidest movie of the year. Maybe thatís not the most professional description to use, but thatís the only one that fits. Yes, itís stupid. When it isnít stupid itís weird and when it isnít weird, well thatís how you know that the movie is over. The large Hawaiian shirt wearing fellow, two rows behind me, described it aptly by shouting over the closing credits, ďWhat the fuck was that?Ē Good question. What the fuck WAS that Jackie?

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A Mighty Wind

A Mighty Wind
When influential folk music producer Irving Steinbloom dies, his children organize a memorial concert featuring his three most famous acts: The Folksmen, The New Main Street Singers, and Mitch & Mickey.

The Folksmen trio consists of Mark Shubb (Harry Shearer), Alan Barrows (Christopher Guest), and Jerry Palter (Michael McKean). Their most famous folk song was "Old Joe's Place."

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Foxfire

Foxfire
Foxfire is narrated by Maddie Wirtz, a high school senior living a rather normal life in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon. Maddie is in control of her life, with a boyfriend, and plans to go to art school. One day in science class, the students are watching the teacher Mr. Buttinger try to make Rita Faldes dissect a frog. A mysterious and beautiful leather jacket-clad "new student" stands up to Mr. Buttinger and releases Rita's frog. When Mr. Buttinger sentences them both to detention, the drifter reveals that she's not a new student after all, and escapes through the same window as the frog.

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Private Benjamin

Private Benjamin
When her husband dies in the wedding night Judy decides to join the army. What looks like a bad decision at first, turns out not so bad at all. That is, until her superior makes sexual advances. She is transferred to NATO headquarters in Europe and (re)meets the Frenchman Henri. Judy and Henri decide to marry, but will they ?

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Back to School

Back to School
Millionaire businessman Thornton Melon is upset when his son Jason announces that he is not sure about going to college. Thornton insists that college is the best thing he never had for himself, and to prove his point, he agrees to enroll in school along with his son. Thornton is a big hit on campus always throwing the biggest parties, knowing all the right people, but is this the way to pass college?

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King Ralph

King Ralph
When an accident obliterates the British royal family and most of its branches, a desperate geneological search discovers the next king Ralph, a sleazy American lounge singer. Can Ralph measure up to the job, even with the help of loyal aristocrat Willingham?

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Lost and Delirious

Lost and Delirious

A newcomer to a girls boarding school is befriended by her two new roommates, and later discovers they are lovers. When one of the lovers decides she doesnt dare continue the relationship, the other becomes desperate in her attempts to win her back.

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