"The Mod Squad," "EDtv" and on video, "Pleasantville" 

Quick Flicks

The Mod SquadEDtvNow On Video: PleasantvilleA note for "Star Wars" fans

"The Mod Squad" Following in the lackluster footsteps of other recent big-screen remakes of late '60s/early '70s TV shows, this retro-cool police drama is a real dog. The pacing is slow, the storyline about dirty cops is uninspired, and the chemistry level between stars Claire Danes, Giovanni Ribisi and Omar Epps barely registers a blip on the screen.

Ex-junkie Julie (Danes), former urban firestarter Linc (Epps) and rich-kid-turned-thief Pete (Ribisi) go undercover for Capt. Adam Greer (Dennis Farina). They are supposed to be getting the lowdown on prostitution and drugs in the L.A. club scene.

Completely incoherent and seemingly never-ending, "The Mod Squad" never comes close to capturing the spirit of the original. A heap of excruciatingly bad dialogue adds to the displeasure.

"EDtv" Playing like "The Truman Show for Dummies," this Ron Howard splice-of-life is calculated to entertain. And it does. But despite plenty of good laughs, the movie is too slick and obvious in its intentions.

Hunky Matthew McConaughey uses his Texas, good ol' boy charm to great effect as a video store clerk who wins the dubious honor of having his every waking moment captured on tape. But he soon learns that fame comes with a hefty price tag: The lives of his mom (Sally Kirkland) and wheelchair-bound stepdad (Martin Landau), brother (Woody Harrelson) and his new love (Jenna Elfman) start to crumble under the incessant glare of the TV cameras. Except good ol' Ed, who conveniently forgets that the cameras are rolling, thereby allowing Howard's crew as well as the cable crew to catch on tape myriad embarrassing moments.

Not nearly as adventurous or sophisticated as "The Truman Show," "EDtv" is aggressively mainstream. The too-slick, dummied-down, "we just want to make you laugh" approach disappointed me. I expected more from Ron Howard.

Now On Video

"Pleasantville" This imaginative fantasy was one of my top-10 favorites of '98. Clever and well-crafted, the movie follows the antics of two very different teen-age siblings, Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon. When the two find themselves zapped into the heart of a '50s black-and-white sitcom, the movie becomes a sly satire on contemporary society's obsession with the perceived family values of the past. The performances are first-rate, especially Joan Allen as the June Cleaver-esque mom who learns about love and William H. Macy as the "Father Who Knew Best," until colorful emotions like lust, anger and fear seep into his world. The visual execution of turning a black-and-white world insidiously into living color is also quite wonderful. Thoughtful without being preachy, "Pleasantville" entertains and makes you think.

Attention "Star Wars" Fans: If you happen to be among the select millions counting down the days to May 19 — the recently moved-up opening date — then here's some news you might find interesting. Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox say there will be NO advance ticket sales for "Episode 1: The Phantom Menace." According to Tom Sherak, chairman of Fox's Domestic Film Group, the move is intended to prevent any ticket scalping, particularly on opening

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