"Stuart Little 2" -- In this charming fantasy sequel about a talking mouse living with a normal sized family in a bright, peaceful Manhattan, no one gives a second thought to a tiny, dressed-up rodent buzzing about town in a tiny red sports car or playing soccer with the big kids. Stuart Little returns in all his splendor -- 14 digitally-tailored costume changes -- and things are better the second time around. In fact, it's one of the year's best family movies, aimed at the young, of course, but is quite entertaining for adults. Stuart (voiced by Michael J. Fox) finds a friend more his size when an injured little bird, Margolo (voiced by Melanie Griffith), drops out of the sky and he takes her under his wing, so to speak. But there's skullduggery afoot, in the form of a menacing falcon (voice of James Woods), and our brave little hero, in order to rescue Margolo, eventually has to challenge him on his own turf, the sky, that is, with a model airplane in a daring dogfight. Lending a nervous but helpful paw is the wisecracking family cat Snowbell (Nathan Lane). Geena Davis and Hugh Laurie reprise their roles as Stuart's adopted parents, easily the most relentlessly cheerful couple since the Brady Bunch. 2002. 78 minutes. Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment. Rated PG
"K-19: The Widowmaker" -- It's 1961, at the height of the Cold War, and the Soviet Union, fearful the Americans will strike first, is eager to get its first nuclear submarine on line even before it has been proven shipshape. Harrison Ford plays Captain Alexi Vostrikov, a no-nonsense taskmaster brought in to command the flagship of the Russian submarine fleet, putting him over the boat's original captain, Mikhail Polenin (Liam Neeson), who remains on board as the executive officer and with most of the crew's loyalty. The two captains naturally clash over procedure and when Vostrikov repeatedly takes seemingly unnecessary chances there are rumbles of mutiny. But all that's elbowed into the background by a potentially catastrophic malfunction of the sub's nuclear reactor, causing an overheated core and a leak that if not fixed -- and that could be a deadly mission in itself -- could result in a massive explosion that not only would kill everyone aboard but, given the state of U.S.-USSR relationship at the time, possibly could trigger World War III as well. Ford and Neeson do their best to keep both story and boat afloat in an intriguing, factual tale of underwater heroism but a subject the Soviets found so touchy they kept it a secret for nearly 30 years. 2002. 130 minutes. Paramount Home Entertainment. Rated PG-13 (disturbing images).
"The Emperor's New Clothes" -- This clever, inviting British film tells us that historians were wrong about Napoleon dying in exile in 1821. It was just some guy who looked like the deposed French ruler. Whiling away his time impatiently in relative splendor in prison on St. Helena Island, Napoleon (Ian Holm) hits on an ingenious plan aimed at returning him to France and to the throne. His loyal aides recruit a look-alike, a drunken commoner named Eugene Lenormand (also played by Holm), to masquerade as Napoleon while the emperor slips off the island and is smuggled to France aboard a cargo ship. But, things don't go so well, there are a number of unforeseen problems and the incognito Napoleon faces the possibility of an existence as someone he had never been: a common man. Meanwhile, back at the prison, the fake Napoleon is living it up far more than had been intended. Holm gives a fine performance in a film that like its main character is small but memorable. 2001. 106 minutes. Paramount Home Entertainment. Rated PG (brief language).
"Halloween: Resurrection" -- Twenty-four years after John Carpenter's scary horror movie "Halloween" surfaced the sequels are still coming (this is No. 7) -- and still falling far short of the original. Having survived an apparent decapitation last time out, the masked maniac Michael Myers takes care of some unfinished business and returns to his boyhood home where his murderous rampage began. Unknown to him, six bright-eyed college students have been recruited for a reality TV contest in which they spend Halloween night in his supposedly empty but spooky house. Michael, of course, has his own special way of dealing with intruders and the movie rolls out pretty much like so many other slasher sagas as the unwise, unwary victims get picked off one by one. 2002. 89 minutes. Dimension Home Video. Rated R (strong violence, language, some sensuality, brief drug use).
"The Land Before Time: Journey To Big Water" -- Ninth installment of the popular kid's story of a young dinosaur named Littlefoot and his four pals has the gang rescuing a dolphin-like creature who can't find his way back to the "big water." Direct-to-video on VHS and DVD with music and games. 2002. 71 minutes. Universal Studios Home Video. Rated G.
Coming up: Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise collaborate in the thriller "Minority Report" and Richard Gere and Diane Lane play a troubled couple in "Unfaithful," plus Steve Irwin's "The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course" and the Disney animated family musical "The Country Bears"...
"Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones" and "Spider-Man" are leading the pack in this week's video rental surveys... Disney reports selling three million copies of "Lilo and Stitch" during its first day on the video market this week... New on DVD: "Road to Hong Kong" (1962), the last of the legendary "road" shows starring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby that spanned 22 years -- and still fun. Dorothy Lamour, their sidekick in the earlier ventures, appears only in a cameo...
The Internet is a happy hunting ground for many video enthusiasts, as evidenced by boffo numbers being chalked up this year. Variety says online retailers are expecting fourth quarter VHS and DVD sales to grow 50 percent over the same period in 2001 and reach a record sales figure of more than $1 billion for the year. Among the leaders, Amazon.com reports an 33 per cent increase in video sales through the third quarter and Buy.Com a hefty 60 percent hike. The most requested movie, says Buy.Com, is "The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring."
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