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"Muppets From Space," "The Wood," and "Lake Placid" 

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"Muppets From Space""The Wood""Lake Placid"




"Muppets From Space" OK, I admit it. I'm a dyed-in-the-terrycloth fan of Jim Henson's Muppets. So I thoroughly enjoyed these warm and fuzzy moppets' latest big-screen adventure. This time out, it's crook-nosed Gonzo who's the star, not Kermit or Miss Piggy. (Although Le Swine Divine does figure prominently in the storyline.) It seems Gonzo is suffering from an identity crisis — he has no idea what he is or where he hails from.

When he gets a message in his fruity Alphabet Bits cereal and then gets struck by lightning, he has a revelation: "I'm an alien." Choosing to disclose this on local TV gets Gonzo noticed by alien-obsessed government type Jeffrey Tambor and his bumbling second-in-command bear. Miss Piggy, who's now pursuing a career as a TV journalist, sees this as her big break. Underscoring the mood and fun is a funky '70s soul soundtrack that plays while Gonzo's muppet pals rescue him from Tambor, get Piggy her big break and wait for the mothership to come claim her long-lost Gonzo.

"Muppets From Space" may not be out of this world, but it's fun for the moment.



"The Wood" This sappy but amiable coming-of-age tale never quite gels. Omar Epps, Richard T. Jones and Taye Diggs star as three best buds who find themselves reliving the past as they try to get one of them to church on time. As the friends struggle to save the day, their buddy's butt, and their decades-long friendship, first-time writer/director Rick Famuyiwa flashes back to the '80s, where the three first met.

These flashbacks are the most interesting scenes of the movie. We grow to like the three young men (played by a different, younger trio of actors). In fact, we wouldn't care so much about the grown-up versions had not Famuyiwa and his younger actors done such a great job pulling us into their lives.

Unfortunately, the wedding-day jitters angle is less than inspired, even though the amiable and talented cast do their best to make something heartfelt out of it.



"Lake Placid" David E. Kelley of "Ally McBeal" and "The Practice" fame refashions Speilberg's "Jaws" with lackluster results. This time out the man-eating monster isn't a great white shark but a mammoth crocodile.

Yes, I know crocodiles are not indigenous to North America, which is exactly what has fish and game warden Bill Pullman, scaredy-cat paleontologist Bridget Fonda, local Sheriff Brendan Gleeson and daredevil millionaire adventurer Oliver Platt so befuddled, petrified, angry and giddy (respectively, of course) about the presence of such a beastie in the waters of "Lake Placid." Trust me, the wonderful pun in its title is the best thing about the movie.

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