"crazy/beautiful"; "Baby Boy"; "Pootie Tang"; "The Fast & the Furious" 

Quick Flicks

!B! "crazy/beautiful"!B! "Baby Boy"!B! "Pootie Tang"!B! "The Fast & the Furious"

"crazy/beautiful" — Incredibly, this teen romance tackles some pretty grown-up issues: alcoholism, sex, suicide and interracial relationships. Sadly, its exploration of those same issues remains superficial. Kirsten Dunst, the troubled daughter of a wealthy congressman, falls for Jay Hernandez, a straight-arrow, working-class boy from the barrio. As cultures clash in this tale of star-crossed young lovers, the real threat to their happiness turns out to be Dunst's character's self-destructive behavior. Aimed clearly at a fresh crop of middle-schoolgirl romantics who perhaps haven't heard of Shakespeare, the movie asks if true love can conquer all. Although surprisingly well-acted, "crazy/beautiful" remains a tough watch for anyone over the age of 14.

"Baby Boy" — It's been 10 years since writer-director John Singleton released "Boyz N the Hood," but for this slice-of-lifer starring singer Tyrese Gibson, Singleton returns to South Central Los Angeles. Gibson is Jody, a jobless 20-year-old with two kids by two different young girls who chooses to continue living at home with his mother. Everything is fine until mom brings home new boyfriend Melvin (an impressive Ving Rhames). Recognizing himself in Jody, Melvin tries to teach Jody to avoid the same mistakes he made. Jody, of course, refuses to listen. Despite a terrific ensemble cast, the problem with this movie is Singleton. Apparently no one ever warned him what happens when you try to go home again. If he hadn't tried to repeat "Boyz," perhaps this "Baby Boy" would have been better.

"Pootie Tang" — Here's further proof that if it takes more than four producers — this odd mess had 10! — to get a movie on the screen, moviegoers need to steer clear. Even at a mere 70 minutes, this nonsensical tale about a gibberish-spouting superhero rambles on too long. Lance Crouther is Pootie Tang, the superhero with the hip-sounding lingo everyone pretends to understand so as not to be mistaken as uncool. Which is perhaps how the aforementioned 10 producers hoped to score big at the box office: Make everyone think it's a cool Chris Rock movie so they'll buy tickets. Rock does pop up throughout the movie in a variety of roles, but none worthy of note. Crouther tries his best, but he can't fix the movie's main problem: This is a five-minute gag stretched beyond its humorous possibilities.

"The Fast & the Furious" — When it comes to good, old-fashioned B-movie action, romance and fatuous dialogue, this tale of the demimonde of illegal street racing in the Los Angeles basin is almost so classically bad it's good. Vin Diesel, playing the head of a racing family, looks like he's trying to escape every frame he's in. Paul Walker puts his blond good looks to use as the cop sent to infiltrate the gang. But wouldn't you know it — he falls in love with Diesel's sister (Jordana Brewster) and soon finds his loyalties tested. Should he honor his badge? Or should he hunker down and live life on the edge? It's all terribly familiar, but fun.


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