For whatever reason, I eagerly hoped this film would come to
town more than any film of 2003. Something about the trailer made
me know I would love it. Well, it finally came and I did.
During one stifling hot summer after the death of his son, an
Irish man migrates to America with his wife and two young daughters
in the hopes of starting anew. They arrive at a decaying New York
apartment and impressively fix it up to resemble an almost decent
place to live.
The dad, Johnny, goes in search of acting gigs and the mom,
Sarah, gets a job at a neighborhood ice cream parlor. Daughters
Christy and Ariel try to make the best of their new surroundings,
Christy with the use of her ever-present camcorder and Ariel with
her newfound interest in “E.T.”
On Halloween, Christy and Ariel come in contact with their
neighbor Mateo (Djimon Hounsou), an artist dying of AIDS. Mateo is
an angry man on the surface, but after quickly warming to Christy
and Ariel, a friendship with the family is formed.
The performances from the entire cast are phenomenal and the
cinematography is striking. Christy and Ariel, played by real-life
sisters Sarah and Emma Bolger, will steal your heart and blow you
away with their acting ability.
If you are not touched and moved by “In America,” you may be
incapable of experiencing those emotions at all. It is unfortunate
that this film did not get a larger release because it is easily
one of the best films of 2003.
4 out of 4 rams
Imagine if Elvis Pressley (Bruce Campbell) really wasn’t dead
but actually holed up in some nursing home in Texas after switching
places with an impersonator shortly before his “supposed” death.
Now imagine that also at this nursing home is JFK (Ossie Davis),
also still alive but now African-American after some conspiracy
dyed him black. And if that wasn’t enough, join the two together to
fight off an ancient Egyptian mummy preying on the souls of the
elderly at the rest home.
And there you have the plot of “Bubba Ho-Tep.” If you’re like
me, this sounds like a film not to be missed, however, if you had
the opposite reaction, chances are you aren’t going to have a
change of heart while watching it. This movie has “cult classic”
written all over it, and it will undoubtedly achieve that status
once it comes out on video and DVD.
Bruce Campbell (“Evil Dead” and “Army of Darkness”) has a pretty
massive cult following already and the ingenious plot makes for a
combination that fans of movies like this should not miss. It could
have used tweaking, but its sheer audacity made me forgive it some
faults. Don’t miss your chance to see it on the big screen.
3 out of 4 rams
Now onto the mainstream movies.
There may be no other moment in American sports history more
revered than when the USA hockey team beat the champion Soviets at
the 1980 Winter Olympic Games.
That moment and the people who made it happen get full cinematic
treatment in the new drama, “Miracle.” Kurt Russell gives a very
convincing performance as Herb Brooks, whose tough coaching methods
and perseverance were as much to thank for the victory as the
players themselves. Russell has the whole cocky, gum-chomping,
aphorism-spewing, stone-faced coach routine down pat and the film
works largely due to his performance.
“Miracle” does not achieve greatness as a film but it
comfortably settles for being really good. Since the movie is based
on a true story, the climax is not as tension-filled as other
sports movies simply because you already know how it is going to
end. Seeing as I was not alive to view the game when it happened,
though, the sports action was still rather exciting and well
In our post-Sept. 11 resurgence of patriotism, the sight of
these athletes taking the ice with USA proudly stitched across
their uniforms has an undoubtedly intentional emotional impact.
“Miracle” is a good ol’ American crowd-pleaser that doesn’t try to
be or need to be anything else.
3 out of 4 rams
“Barbershop 2” (PG-13)
Calvin (Ice Cube) and his talkative group of employees are back
for more hair-cutting high jinxs in this sequel to the 2002 hit
comedy. I liked the first one, but this time around is a cut
The sequel’s plot is almost identical to the original, which may
account for the fact that this retread is not nearly as
entertaining. Many scenes are more silly than genuinely funny and
the movie is unexpectedly slow at times. The characters are still
likeable, but I wish I could have revisited them in a better
2 out of 4 rams