"Jurassic Park 3"; "The Closet"; "America's Sweethearts"; "Nico and Dani" 

Quick Flicks

!B! "Jurassic Park 3"!B! "The Closet"!B! "America's Sweethearts"!B! "Nico and Dani"

"Jurassic Park 3" — OK, while this third take is not the "Saur" loser "JP 2: The Lost World" turned out to be, it still can't compare to the original. Except when it comes to those dinos. The dinosaurs seem more lifelike and impressive than their previous incarnations.

If only we could say the same for the humans. Although Tea Leoni, William H. Macy and Sam Neill are well-respected actors, here, they're saddled with one of the lamest, laziest plots and some of the worst dialogue of the year. And once again, humans are trapped on an island where genetically engineered prehistoric creatures vie for the first bite of the stupid humans buzzing around them. If it weren't for the fact that there's something strangely thrilling about humans as prey, "JP 3" wouldn't thrill at all.

"The Closet" — Ah, French comic-master Francis Veber has crafted yet another delight for foreign film fans. Unfortunately, that means in about two years we'll get to see a really bad Americanization hit screens. A sharp and witty satire about political correctness in the workplace, "The Closet" presents us with one man's scheme to save his job. The terrifically talented Daniel Auteil stars as a fortysomething, bean counter about to be RIFFed out of his job. Enter an enterprising neighbor who helps Auteil spread a rumor that he's gay so his bosses will be afraid to fire him. Gérard Depardieu joins in the comic madness as a former gay-bashing co-worker who cozies up to faux-gay Auteil to keep his job. To Veber's credit, he keeps things lightweight and funny, never allowing "The Closet" to become a one-dimensional, issue movie.

"America's Sweethearts" — This frothy romantic comedy falls short, but it's not more romance that this love triangle set among Hollywood's glitterati needs. How about more zing, more craziness and much more diva-style bitchiness? Oscar winner Julia Roberts may headline the proverbial dream of a cast, but as a group, they fail to deliver the comic goods.

There's also the shameful ruse that makes Roberts appear to be the star; she's not. That would be Billy Crystal, playing a studio press agent who's got to keep the media occupied so they don't notice the film they've come to review is MIA. To keep them busy, he orchestrates the reunion of the movie's on-and off-screen lovers (played by Catherine Zeta-Jones and John Cusack). Roberts' character complicates the charade when she and Cusack explore their true feelings for one another.

"Nico and Dani" — Leave it to the Europeans to handle the hot-button issue of teen sexuality without resorting to frat-house hookups or angst-ridden overacting. Remarkably frank, this Spanish import succeeds in striking a delicate balance between humor and tender emotion as it follows two best friends whose orientations diverge with the onset of puberty. The movie covers a pivotal 10 days in the lives of best-buds Nico (Jordi Vilches) and Dani (Fernando Ramallo), who are vacationing at a seaside resort. In that time, we, as well as the two boys, get a glimpse at the men they will become as each deals with the other's emerging sexuality. The writing is fresh and honest, without a hint of gratuitousness. Bold yet sweet, "Nico and Dani" is a coming-of-age picture worth catching.


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