"Two Weeks Notice" -- Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant star in this charming, witty romantic comedy that works well even though you've probably seen it all before. It's the brisk script by writer-director Marc Lawrence and two likable stars with great chemistry that make it distinctive. Bullock is Lucy Kelson, Brooklyn-born, Harvard-educated
Legal Aid attorney-activist who, when we first see her, is facing down a wrecking ball aiming to destroy a valuable landmark as part of another massive project by the real estate development giant Wade Corp. When she gets the chance she protests in person to the glamorous, billionaire man-about-town face of the company, George Wade (Grant), who is so taken by her bulldog tenacity that he hires her on the spot to be his legal counsel. Surprisingly, they are a perfect fit, a crackerjack team, he promises to save her pet project, she puts a new fresh public face on the company and they are slowly falling in love only, of course, they don't know it. There are some problems on the horizon, naturally, foremost among them George's older, no-nonsense brother, who really runs the show with his own ideas about pet products and such that threaten to break up the team and the budding romance. Easy to figure, easy to watch. 2002. 100 minutes. Warner Home Video. Rated PG-13 (sex-related humor).
"Treasure Planet" -- Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island" switches from high seas to deep space in this entertaining Disney animated adventure that propels Jim Hawkins, John Silver and their booty-boosting buddies toward a planet where "the treasures of a thousand worlds" are hidden. The tale is told with a blend of the new and the old: while there are such phenomena as exploding supernovas and black holes, the rocket-powered space vehicle looks just like an elegant tall ship loaded with sails and manned by a bunch of ugly mugs their wary captain calls "a ludicrous parcel of galloping galoots." Jim Hawkins (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) signs on as a cabin boy under the cat-eyed, no-nonsense Capt. Amelia (Emma Thompson) and is befriended by the ship's cook Silver (Brian Murray), a cyborg with an amazing right arm and a master plan for mutiny. While the traditional hand-drawn technique is largely used, there are also extensive, elaborate computer-generated backgrounds and visually rich action sequences, one of which has Jim making a miraculous escape on a skateboard. The idea of restaging such an enduring classic from sea to sci-fi may sound gimmicky but the outcome is quite appealing. 2002. 95 minutes. Animated. Walt Disney Home Entertainment. Rated PG (adventure action and peril).
By the way, also being released on DVD this week: "Treasure Island," Disney's vivid 1950 live-action epic starring Bobby Driscoll and Robert Newton.
"Real Women Have Curves" -- Bright and ambitious, Ana (America Ferrera) is an 18-year-old second generation Mexican American living in Los Angeles, eager to break out of a dead-end existence but caught up in a tug-of-war with her tradition-bound mother (Lupe Ontiveros). Ana sees college as a door to a world of knowledge and an escape from the grinding garment factory existence that is part of her family's solidarity. Her mother, constantly reminding her that she's plump and needs to slim down to nab a husband, demands she stay home, work in the factory run by her older sister, get married and have children. Ana wants more and her run-ins with her mother are both funny and painful and while the factory can be pleasant at times it's still a "sweat shop" existence going nowhere. But it may come down to future or family. A dandy indie film and a winning directorial debut for Patricia Cardoso with strong performances, especially by the newcomer Ferrera and the veteran Ontiveros. 2002. 93 minutes. HBO Home Video. Rated PG-13 (sexual content and some language).
"DarkWolf" -- Out there, lurking, snarling in the darkness, is a new breed of werewolf, more powerful, more bloodthirsty, determined to find a mate needed to save the species in this low-budget horror flick. He/it has the bride-to-be all picked out, a pretty waitress named Josie (Samaire Armstrong) who's on the run under the protection of a werewolf-wise cop (Ryan Alosio), armed with, you guessed it, silver bullets. The beast finally catches up with them in the predictable climax that decides who has the last howl. Kane Hodder, who plays Jason in the Friday the 13th series, appears briefly as the burly biker who turns into the fearsome creature when the moon is full and Tippi Hedren does a cameo as a fairly elegant bag lady who knows the secret of the nocturnal nasty. 2002. 94 minutes. Fox Home Entertainment. Rated R (violence/gore, sexuality/nudity and language).
Coming up: Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks in the con-and-chase flick "Catch Me If You Can"... "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" and "Red Dragon," a couple of very different offerings, top video charts this week... New Line is repeating its two-release strategy for the continuing saga "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers." The theatrical version hits video on Aug. 26, followed by an extended edition on Nov. 18...
New on DVD: "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral," John Sturges' stellar 1957 Paramount version of the famous Old West shootout pitting Wyatt Earp (Burt Lancaster) and Doc Holliday (Kirk Douglas) against the Clantons. Screenplay by Leon Uris...
The first season of PBS's "American Family" is headed for DVD in a six-disc layout from Fox. Billed as the first drama featuring an all-Latino cast, it's the story of the Gonzalez family of East Los Angeles, headed by a conservative patriarch (Edward James Olmos), constantly challenged by an activist daughter (Constance Marie) who has moved back home. Raquel Welch adds spice as the flamboyant aunt next door. Also with intervfiews, behind-the-scene activity and other extras...
Warner this week unveiled its new label "Classic Musicals Collection" with five remastered Cole Porter films, "Broadway Melody of 1940," "High Society," "Kiss Me Kate," "Les Girls"and "Silk Stockings," individually and in a gift set... New for the small fry: "Dragon Tales: Let's Start a Band," a full-length adventure in which kids get to make music with their favorite Dragon Tales friends. On VHS and DVD from Columbia TriStar.
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