"Random Hearts," "Superstar" and "My Son the Fanatic" 

Quick Flicks

"Random Hearts""Superstar""My Son the Fanatic"

"Random Hearts" Harrison Ford is an investigator with D.C. police's Internal Affairs. Kristin Scott Thomas is a U.S. congresswoman from New Hampshire. As the movie ads say, "in a perfect world these two would never meet." In a really perfect world, this story of two people thrown together in the aftermath of a fatal plane crash would have been much, much better.

Ford is his usual macho male, barely keeping a grip on his emotions. The loss of his wife in the crash is devastating. When he learns that the man sitting next to her — the congresswoman's husband — was her long-time lover, his dogged determination sends him after all the facts. But if he's determined to know every detail of the affair, Thomas' congresswoman is equally disinterested. Besides, she's in the reelection campaign of her life and word of this scandal might lose her votes — particularly since her campaign advisors are earning her votes by portraying her as the grieving widow.

Even though the script calls for the two to become involved — and they do — there is so little heat between Ford and Thomas that the romance barely registers. If you have a long afternoon to spare and enjoy old-fashioned weepies, "Random Hearts" will be worth a peek. However, if you have better things to do — trust me, go do them.

"Superstar" "Saturday Night Live" regular Molly Shannon is the latest from the long-running show to bring an alter ego, Mary Katherine Gallagher, to the big screen. Shannon fares better than some of her former co-workers in expanding a five-minute comedy skit into an entertaining hour and a half. But then again, Mary Katherine and her white cotton panties always peeking from beneath her plaid, pleated Catholic high school uniform skirt make for a pretty unique and compelling combination.

The story is simple, Mary Katherine wants a boy to make out with. But not just any boy, mind you. She wants school dreamboat Sky Corrigan (SNL's Will Ferrell). He, of course, is taken. Deciding the only way to win Sky is to win the school's talent contest, she sets out to make her dreams come true. Of course, she is met with opposition at every torturous step. Fans of the Mary Katherine character will find much to enjoy in the movie. But those who don't quite understand her, "Superstar" won't be very enlightening.

"My Son the Fanatic" Movies about the immigrant experience have been told since filmmaking began. But what sets this tale apart, one of many wonderful things I might add, is that it reverses the customary roles.

Instead of exploiting the culture shock of new arrivals for laughs or poignancy, "My Son the Fanatic" offers us a first-generation son who rejects his new homeland and its mores. Fed up with the sooty small town in northern England where his Pakistani father, Parvez, (Om Puri) drives a taxi, Farid (Akbar Kurtha) decides to embrace the religious tradition his father fled.

Written by the wonderful author-turned-screenwriter Hanif Kureishi ("My Beautiful Laundrette," "Sammy and Rosie Get Laid"), "My Son the Fanatic" is also a love story. Parvez befriends and then falls in love with Bettina (the always terrific Rachel Griffiths), a prostitute he ferries around town in his cab.

Although" My Son the Fanatic" offers no pat ending to the religious and moral divide that consumes Parvez's family and his chosen hometown, it is an engaging and bittersweet drama that always feels authentic.


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