"Pay It Forward," Girlfight," Bedazzled" and "The Legend of Drunken Master" 

Quick Flicks

!B! "Pay It Forward"!B! "Girlfight"!B! "Bedazzled"!B! "The Legend of Drunken Master"

"Pay It Forward" — This earnestly manipulative tale of emotionally and physically scarred people yearning to make the world a better place is the movie equivalent of a mood ring: If one feels in an expansive caring mood, then "Pay It Forward" will strike the right altruistic chord. But if one feels cynical and jaded, the movie's blatant emotional blackmailing of the audience tends to evoke more winces than tears. Despite its good intentions, what makes the movie worth watching are the actors: Two-time Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey is the social studies teacher whose extra credit assignment to change the world changes everyone's lives. Oscar-winning actress Helen Hunt plays Arlene, the trailer-trash, alcoholic Las Vegas mom whose son Trevor believes the assignment is doable. Finally, Oscar-nominee Haley Joel Osment tackles the role of Trevor with a maturity and purposeful intensity beyond his years. Many will find the film moving; others will wish they'd moved to another theater. "Girlfight" — Michelle Rodriguez delivers a powerhouse punch in Karyn Kasuma's filmmaking debut about a defiantly tomboyish teen looking for a purpose to her life. As a tough-minded boxing coach Jaime Tirelli matches Rodriguez scene for scene. Kusama has an understated touch that allows her actors — and therefore their characters — room to breathe and grow. The movie only falters when its climax turns true Hollywood: Our tough-minded young woman must box her lover in the ring! In spite of that contrivance, "Girlfight" is a knockout. "Bedazzled" — Satan may be popping up in movies with alarming regularity these days, but his latest incarnation in "Bedazzled" is a temptation that can be easily resisted. Despite his appearance in the fetching, shapely form of Elizabeth Hurley, this remake of the 1967 Dudley Moore-Peter Cook cult fave about unrequited lust just misses its comic mark. Brendan Fraser is the techie dweeb who trades his soul for seven wishes and the girl of his dreams. But that bedeviling Hurley manages to grant each wish without ever giving Fraser what he truly wants. Fraser seems to be having fun more than acting, while Hurley merely models her way through the movie. Those who've never seen the original will find this no-brainer approach to comedy easily entertaining. "The Legend of Drunken Master" — Yes, yes, yes. I know Jackie Chan martial arts movies are an acquired taste. And I readily admit that I am a fan. But even I am conflicted over this reissue (1994) of a sequel to the 1978 movie ("Drunken Master") that made Chan a star. The plot is convoluted and maddening in its illogic, but every true fan knows the plot is merely the skeleton on which to hang Chan's marvelous martial-arts skills. And they do not disappoint here. Chan, even at 40 plus years of age, remains one of the greatest physical stars ever to wow an audience.


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