"Maid in Manhattan" A guilty pleasure for females in need of a healthy dose of wish-fulfillment, this Cinderella redo starts off sweetly enough. But just like those sugar substitutes that come wrapped in pastel-colored packets, the movie quickly begins to leave an icky aftertaste. While pairing Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes may have seemed like dreamy casting on paper, the on-screen result does neither star any favor. Fiennes, although a great actor, is no light comedian, and Lopez, despite her winning screen presence, lacks the acting chops to lighten him up. Lopez plays Marisa, a hotel maid/single mom with dreams of making it into management. She is mistaken for a socialite by visiting politician Fiennes. The usual angst and near-misses follow as the two fall in love, and Marisa tries to hide her true identity. Unfortunately, all of this unfolds with little heat and even less charm. ***
"Star Trek: Nemesis" Incredibly, this latest in the "Star Trek" franchise isn't intended to win over a new set of devotees. Instead, it's aimed squarely at the hearts of true believers, middle-aged fans weaned on the Gene Roddenberry TV series. Die-hard fans will love the overwrought dialogue and cheesy special FX of this fourth spinoff of the "Next Generation" reincarnation. The action opens on the nuptials of Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), but the honeymoon gets put on hold when Captain Picard (the always suave Patrick Stewart) and the Enterprise must fly to the Romulan's Neutral Zone to meet with their new leader. The mysterious Shinzon (Tom Hardy) offers peace, but we all know it's a dastardly trick. ***
"Drumline" A surprise pre-holiday treat that should NOT be missed, this upbeat, infectious tale is set in the demimonde of marching bands at historically black colleges. The film focuses on a cocky but talented Big Apple kid who learns a lesson in humility drumming for the fictional Atlanta A&T University. Nick Cannon ("The Nick Cannon Show" on Nickelodeon) plays Devon, a snare-drum prodigy on a full band scholarship who hot-dogs when he should be blending in. This, of course, does not endear him to either the band director (Orlando Jones) or the upperclassman (Leonard Roberts) who leads the prestigious drumline. And a life-lesson showdown ensues. Predictable? Yes, but it's "Drumline"'s setting, not story, that wins us over. Loosely based on the experiences of music producer Dallas Austin and directed by Charles Stone III, "Drumline" unabashedly celebrates the delight of watching a massive marching band gettin' down perfectly in synch. It also accomplishes another rare feat: underscoring the idea of discipline and hard work being their own rewards without lecturing us.
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