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Reviews of "Girl, Interrupted," "Supernova," "Next Friday," "The Hurricane" and "Play It to the Bone" 

Quick Flicks

!B! "Girl, Interrupted"
!B! "Supernova"
!B! "Next Friday"
!B! "The Hurricane"
!B! "Play it to the Bone"


"Girl, Interrupted" - "Girl, Interrupted" — Sensitive and well-cast, this story of friendship and survival in a mental institution just can't break free from all the other movies with similar plotlines. Fans of the source material, Susanna Kaysen's 1993 memoir by the same name, will also be disappointed by the director and screenwriter's decision to ignore Susanna's sense of humor and daring. Winona Ryder plays Susanna, a 17-year-old who's committed to a private mental hospital in the '60s after swallowing a bottle of aspirin and downing a bottle of vodka. Once inside, she meets the truly disturbed — though quite charismatic — Lisa (Angelina Jolie). Jolie makes the most of this over-the-top role, dazzling us with her quixotic, psychotic behavior. Whoopi Goldberg is on board as a tough-but-caring practical nurse. Despite Kaysen's book being sharper, funnier and more daring than this adaptation, Jolie and Ryder do succeed in making us care about them. "Supernova" — Although the movie's trailer wants us to believe this is another "Aliens," it ain't. Actually, it ain't even close. Directed by Thomas Lee (the pseudonym of Walter Hill, who bailed out on the project a year ago) but recut by four others (including Francis Ford Coppola), this sci-fi flop deals with a destructive, terrifying alien presence aboard a spacecraft. How on earth Hill got Angela Bassett and James Spader to sign on is the most intriguing thing about this movie. Suspense is minimal, character development hit-or-miss. I did, however, like the "Nightingale," the crew's rescue ship. Made up of glass domes and various antennae, she is something to behold. "Next Friday" — Although it has a few good laughs, this sequel to 1995's "Friday," which launched the careers of director F. Gary Gray and comic Chris Tucker, lacks any clear focus. Tucker's pothead has been written out, but Ice Cube's amiable slacker Craig Jones remains, which really isn't such a surprise since Ice Cube wrote the screenplay. As far as the plot goes, which isn't very far, "Next Friday" picks up where "Friday" left off. At the end of the first movie, Ice Cube's Craig defeats a bully named "Debo" (Tommy "Tiny" Lister Jr.). Now, it seems Debo's out of jail and wants a little payback. While Ice Cube displays his trademark affable charisma, the movie belongs to John Witherspoon. As Craig's father, Witherspoon steals every scene that isn't nailed down. "The Hurricane" — Denzel Washington delivers a knockout performance as Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, the boxer who spent nearly two decades behind bars for a murder he didn't commit. Although the script plays fast and loose with the facts, the essence of Carter's ordeal is indisputably present. Directed by veteran filmmaker Norman Jewison ("In the Heat of the Night," "A Soldier's Story"), "The Hurricane" works on an emotional level because of Washington's terrific portrayal. The antithesis of an action movie, here, Washington shows us the inner strength of his character — a strength that keeps Carter and others fighting for justice. "Play it to the Bone"" — Am I the only one who'd like a moratorium on movies starring Woody Harrelson? That was my first thought after sitting through this disappointing retread of "White Men Can't Jump." Except this time writer-director Ron Shelton gets tricky, substituting boxing for basketball. Harrelson and his best bud — Antonio Banderas subbing for Wesley Snipes — are small-time boxers who are given a shot at the spotlight. But that big-time spotlight carries one heck of a punch: They have to fight each other. Oh no, what a dilemma. Along for the macho ride are Lolita Davidovich (Shelton's wife) and a sex- and drug-addled Lucy Liu. Part middling road movie and part sports bar fodder, "Play It to the Bone" is mostly disappointing. Although the movie features Shelton's double punch of rough characters and their good-natured observances about the sporting life, what's taken a dive here is Shelton's usual wry sense of humor. Without it, this movie ain't a contender.
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